Cramming for JLPT N4


I’m due to take the N4 in five days (July 3rd) and was maybe being a bit optimistic when booking by overestimating how much I could study before the exam.

According to wkstats, my Wanikani level covers around 90% of the N4 kanji. I’m taking this figure with a pinch of salt but I’m not super worried about the vocab section.

Unfortunately I’m only just on the last chapter of Genki 1 — my question is, should I continue studying at this pace (doing the practice and workbook) and hope for the best or speed run the grammar points in Genki 2 for the next few days?

I’ve been out of education for a while and so don’t really have much experience with study techniques or how best to revise for an exam.

Any advice / tips would be greatly appreciated!


Have you done anything else other than Genki & WaniKani? such as reading a book or doing listening practice?


I’m just about to finish the N4 section on bunpro which has taken me almost 60 days in total studying 3 new points per day, which I honestly couldn’t see myself going much faster than that while hoping to also actually retain anything. Might as well give it a shot though.

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There can’t be 180 grammar points just for the N4. :sweat_smile:

Is this cumulative?

Does it consider small variations different grammar points?

I agree that 5 days is not enough to cram for the test. That’s barely enough time to review everything so that you’re confident in what you already learned so far.

If it makes you feel any better, the test isn’t actually that hard, but I don’t know how the Genki books translate to it.

I studied for 3 months for the stuff that was going to be in the test, obviously after getting a bit past N5 in classes, and I was overprepared.




Huh, I guess I need to take a look.

Might have been the fact that I was taking classes that weren’t for the JLPT, and then just had to study a bit more for the N4. But still…

I counted around 100 here:

Yeah, I see other sites have different numbers from 100 to 180.


I guess this advice is too late to be useful, but I might as well say it.

In my experience, kanji knowledge is only a small part of what you need for the JLPT, so don’t be deceived by the idea that you know all the N4 kanji. First, you also need to know the vocab, which is something WK won’t get you by itself. Then grammar and reading are a much bigger obstacle. You can practice reading by just reading a lot (I like Satori Reader for this), but I have yet to find a good way to learn grammar. I tried Bunpro several times, but don’t like it, and I don’t think that doing Bunpro in isolation will help much either.


Imo, reading for the N4 wasn’t that hard. It was mostly pretty simple texts and pretty straight forward questions that meant you didn’t even need to read the text, just skim through it and find the relevant information.

Stuff like, where’s the meeting going to take place, or at what time does the bank close.


I think that might arguably be the biggest issue. N4 already requires some vocabulary so one can’t wing it as easily as the N5. It’s not very difficult, but something to be aware.

@mmtbarr if you haven’t done any studying other than Genki 1 and WaniKani, it might be challenging for you to pass it :frowning: .


I can confirm that from my own experience. I remember when I tried to take practice JLPT tests in my first year, grammar was by far the hardest part, but reading was also a huge struggle. And it’s not like I even was avoiding reading - I did try practicing reading a fair bit with Watanoc, NHK News Easy, SR, Yotsubato, etc.


I wish I had really useful, relatable advice, but I know that I learn languages quite differently from many people, so no guarantees anything I do will work for anyone else at the same speed…

How about this? Do you have a list of these?

If I have a list, I might be able to give you an idea of how to give them an overarching structure instead of memorising them one by one. (Yes, Genki and all other textbooks typically organise grammar points in a decent way, but the fact that they treat these things as ‘points’ to be learnt individually instead of things to be compared and understood together is often counterproductive in my opinion.)

The issue is that even if these alone allow you to break sentences down, you’ll need vocabulary in order to understand what’s going on. There are usually relatively few kanji on the N5; I don’t know how things are for the N4, but there generally won’t be a ton either. I think knowing words is going to be more important. It’ll probably help you if you can run through the Genki passages quickly. Do you have translations available? That should help you get through them faster. The key thing to focus on when working with translations is understanding how Japanese words literally come together to give you the meaning given in the translation. Of course, direct translations don’t work very well for Japanese beyond a certain point because English and Japanese express things quite differently, but you can at least try to see a connection. That should help you understand Japanese at a more fundamental level, which should (at least in my experience) make it easier for you to remember things and to learn new ones, because they make more sense.

As for how to learn words… depends on you really, but for me, I do a lot of visualising, reading aloud and writing, and I try to combine them all. My goal is to create a vivid, even emotional connection between symbols, sounds and meaning, and to make that connection intuitive (i.e. if I can find a shorter mnemonic to ‘explain’ what I’m seeing that makes me go, ‘Of course, so that’s why it means what it means!’, I take it). If visualising is hard for you though – which is fairly common here, honestly – then you’ll have to look for other ways to make what you’re learning interesting or memorable, maybe by noticing a funny sound in a word or a similarity to something you already know. Whatever you do, I think that a good strategy is to look for connections with things you already know, even if they’re not clearly connected to Japanese, because it’s easier for your brain to use something you already know as a stepping stone to learn and recall something else. That’s what I would suggest.

Finally, whatever you choose to do, if you’re stuck, don’t hesitate to ask questions on the forums. Sometimes, it’s faster to do a Google search, but at other points, especially for fairly specific questions at a beginner-intermediate level, it can be faster to just ask.


When I started learning sometime in mid-late 2020 and after completing my first JapanesePod101 courses, I did some N5 mock tests and I was getting most stuff correct, but not all and was lacking key vocabulary (coffee house, post office, etc.) which the courses were supposed to cover, but didn’t. Out of curiosity I had a look at N4 material - it was way above my skill level back then, both vocab and kanji wise.

After finishing Genki 1 + 2 I had more of a fighting chance, but not all N4 grammar points or vocab one would encounter at the exam were covered.

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How do I say this… Its too late to learn new stuff so at this point just review the stuff you know and know it as much as you can.

The time to stop learning new things was 2 weeks ago. So drill as much as you can of what you do know. Good luck.


Thanks very much for the replies!
I had taken a 10 week beginners Japanese course and am reading short texts and watching Japanese TV shows/films.

I realise it’s too late to cram new grammar concepts in such a short time — I will power through with the books to reinforce what I know and see how I get on. :smiling_face_with_tear:

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Just do your best and see how it goes! At the worst, it’ll be a good learning experience. :slight_smile:

PS: I signed up for the N1 aiming to get full marks believing I could do it, but I haven’t had the time to study over the past few months, so I’m sort of in the same position, just at a different level. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: I’ve never taken the JLPT before.


I wish you all the luck in the world. Seems like a tough spot!

I really liked reading these two graded readers with grammar explanations and gloss after the stories. They’re aimed at N5/N4 level-wise, and I believe they cover the most essential grammar. Since you can’t cram, these might at least give you a feel for some of the grammar in context.
First Japanese Reader
Second Japanese Reader

I get if you don’t have time to check them out, but I thought I’d mention them.

Good luck on the test!

PS: Need a practice test?

That I would kind of disagree with. I’m still doing prep work and still learning new words and putting them into Anki. Whatever one learns until the exam can be beneficial :slight_smile: .


I know @Belthazar can attest to this


You can definitely look up information before and use it but the more you cram the less reliable each data point becomes.

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