Best N3 Book material

I was wondering which books should i take for N3 prep, cause i took a look inside Shin Kanzen Master N3 文法 but i am not convinced to continue with that book one of main reason is that some review sections give you grammar that you didn’t learn and then you learn it later or.

Also should i study grammar, vocab, reading and listening book at at the same time or should i learn it separate?


I passed N3 and N2 using the Nihongo Sou Matome books, going through them in the following order:

  • Grammar and vocab simultaneously

  • Reading and listening simultaneously

  • Kanji prior to the test to fill in any gaps from WK, which I did with writing practice (this is probably optional, if you’re using WK and are at an appropriate level)

  • With the remainder of the time before the tests, I used the 500-problem books by the same publisher. (These are fantastic.)

Basically 1. acquisition, 2. application, 3. review.

That said, I switched to Kanzen Master for N1 study and think it’s a better course. But really, your daily commitment and overall study/note-taking/review system will make a much larger impact than what series you pick. Just choose one you like and develop a consistent routine.


I really liked Kanzen Master, but I didn’t try anything else


Thank you for explaining it thoroughly. I want to take N3 test this December but i just dd’t now which order to begin with and with which book.

Also did you finish grammar book and vocab book first and then started using reading and listening book?

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Yep. That’s how I did it. Or roughly in that order. There may have been some overlap as I finished the vocab books a bit later than grammar, but had already replaced that with reading.

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May I ask what you used before those? I’m currently working through Genki II at the moment, but looking for something after. I wasn’t sure if there would be a gap or overlap or anything. I’m more focused on grammar than the other aspects for now as I have other ways to practice kanji and vocab (WK obviously and the abundance of vocab lists).

I finished Genki I & II about 3 weeks ago, I’m now going through Tobira (and Shin Kanzen N3 at the same time) and it is absolutely incredible.
Tobira is more challenging than the Genki series so you’ll always be learning at a level slightly higher than your own which is perfect. Each chapter has 16 (YES 16) grammar points which are used throughout the texts on each chapter. After reading the whole chapter and grammar points over and over again for a few days, I move on to the Tobira exercise book and do all of the exercises. So far it’s been amazing.


How are you balancing the two books? I’d guess you’re planning to take the N3 sometime this year then? I’m only afraid of getting Tobira if it is a little difficult, but I guess if I keep up with it, it will be better in the end that way.

Edit: I should also ask if you have/use the grammar power (or something) workbook for Tobira.
Edit again: I overlooked the part where you talked about the exercise book.


This exercise book?

I bought Tobira but didn’t realize there was an exercise book. From a peek the textbook seems kind of daunting and not thorough at all for the grammar part. Have you found the grammar explanations to be sufficient? Also, do you think the exercise book is essential for making Tobira work?


I’m doing 1 Tobira chapter a week, and 2 “sections” in both the Reading and Grammar Shin Kanzen Master N3 books a week. 2 sections in SKM Grammar is about 10-12 extra grammar points, as for the SKM reading book it’s 2 texts that I study throughout the week. At the end of the week I do all of the exercises for that Tobira chapter, and all of the exercises for the SKM grammar.

It’s really not that bad, it’s difficult in the way that it challenges you to actually read/follow long texts and recognise new grammar contrary to Genki short texts/dialogs, not at all in a frustrating way. If you’re motivated in to continuing to progress to a higher level, Tobira is worth its weight in gold.

Yes, that’s correct.

It isn’t, contrary to Genki where a full 2 pages is used for explaining a single grammar point, Tobira uses about 2-5 lines of explanation, and about 5 examples for each grammar point. Tobira doesn’t hold your hand like Genki does, which I think is great, but if there is a piece of grammar that isn’t quite clear to me, I simply read up on it on Imabi for example, just to make it clearer.
In general the grammar explanations are sufficient, and I read all of the grammar points every day for a week and at the end of the week I’m ready to use them in exercises.

HELL YES! Reading the grammar points and understanding them without using them will NOT make you able to reproduce them or remember them in the future, that’s why the exercise book is essential, and it’s actually really well made and the exercises aren’t boring, repetitive or too hard/long.

Jeez I sound like a Tobira sales representative.


I really like TRY! and the 500問.
They were the ones I used mainly for N4 and they’ll be the ones I use for N3.


How did you use the try series? I used the try 3 for a bit (until grammar point 22ish?) but the lack of reproduction kind of bothered me and I lost the will to continue.

Did you use the 500 series so supplement the grammar you were doing at the time?

What kanji level on WK would you recommend to start on Tobira. I saw a few people say level 30ish and of course a decent understanding of genki 1 and 2, but I got to level 23 back a few years ago and it was really tough getting through a few pages. I don’t remember anything from them except going over basic geography and Japan being something like 70 percent mountains, lol.

Of course I did cheat myself using reorder and ignore scripts to level faster, which screwed my knowledge foundation up, I refuse to touch those again for any reason.

For example, on the android app Kanji Tree, they have all the kanji split up into N levels and grades, I did some self study on them and my N5 and N4 kanji knowledge according to that app are 97.8% and 99.5% respectively. Which is nothing in the grand scheme of things. I haven’t really tested my N3 kanji knowledge but I looked quickly at the list and tons of them were completely unrecognizable to me. I want to go through Genki 1 and 2 again to reinforce my basic grammar knowledge, but I am daunted by my past experience with Tobira. What would your recommendation be since you obviously know it so well?

Well I’m currently level 16 on WaniKani and started Tobira 3 weeks ago (I’m on chapter 3) and so far the texts are perfectly understandable.

  • Do I understand every single sentence in the text the first time I read it? No.
  • Is it because of unknow kanji/vocabulary? No, it’s because of the new grammar structures that are introduced in that chapter.
  • Are there kanji that I don’t know? Yes.
  • Are there a lot? No, maybe 2-4 per chapter.
  • For those that I don’t know, does it make the text any less clear? No, because for the kanji that I don’t know, Tobira doesn’t expect you to know them either, so their meanings are explained in the vocabulary lists after each text/dialog.

Before I bought Tobira I also saw a lot of people saying that it was a good idea to start after level 30 on WaniKani, or that it was a big jump after Genki, but it really isn’t (obviously this is my experience, you might find it even easier or harder than I do).
I think after level 10 on WaniKani you’re able to start chapter 1 on Tobira without any comprehension problems.

Also there’s a list somewhere on Tobira’s site where you can find all of the Kanji Tobira expects you to know before you start the textbook. I haven’t given it a look though.


Thanks for the information! Couple more questions.

  1. Are the exercises designed for individual use or pair/class use?
  2. Are answers (even if just sample answers) included in the exercise book?

Thanks again!


No worries!

  • The exercises in the exercise book are all designed for individual use, the ones in the Tobira textbook are for pair/class use but I don’t do them.
  • All of the answers for every exercise are in the back of the exercise book. When you are asked to create your own sentences, they also offer example sentences.

Great! I guess I should get the exercise book too then. :sweat_smile:

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Basically, yeah.
And practised it by reading Graded Readers.

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A little late on this (vacation), but I went through Genk I and II and maybe 3/4ths of a textbook titled Intermediate Japanese in college, then didn’t touch Japanese for six years, and came back in with Nihongo Sou Matome’s N3 line of books.

For self-study, I would seriously just consider jumping into JLPT N3 prep courses after Genki II, since I think the kind of daily schedule and drilling they provide is more useful than standard textbooks. But, uh … I’m also only like 80 percent confident on Genki II being a smooth jump into them, since I don’t remember exactly what it covers. I just know that most lower-intermediate textbooks tend to be roughly identical to what JLPT N3 prep books cover.

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