Fine Wine Expert Seeking JLPT and WK Reset Advice

I’m a fine wine expert in NYC that wants to expand into the Japanese market. I need advice on resetting my WK level, and what JLPT to apply and study for (between 4 and 3, and I only have 5 months to study).

Current WK Stats:
LVL 38
Kanji Burned: 900~
Lessons: 286
Reviews: 1573


Thanks for checking out this post. I was studying Japanese daily during my undergrad 2017 to 2019. Due to life being life, I lost motivation, especially after transfering universities and not being able to take anymore Japanese classes.

My life has changed a lot since then. I finished University in '22, I moved from Utah to New York to pursue art, writing, and wine. I’m a wine expert certified through WSET (Level 3). Much of my work life is reading about, talking about, and thinking about wine. While I do consider myself to be an artist first, and that’s what I truly pursue, I love being multidisiplinary. In the food and beverage industry there is opportunity for me to bridge my love for wine and my love for the Japanese language, and while I don’t know what that looks like (or would look like) I want to be open to possibilities.

Since I stopped learning Japanese in 2019, my exposure and practice has been severly limited (besides some casual speaking with friends as a party trick). I live in NYC now, though, and intend to take classes on weekday nights or weekends to help with my listening and speaking. If anyone has language school/class recommendations for NYC, please share. Right now I’m looking at the Tenri school, does anyone know if they are any good?

I have decided to sign up to take the JLPT this year. When I was in university we finished the GENKI 1 and 2 books and I was preparing for the JLPT 4, but never followed through with it (a big regret I have). I think I can get JLPT 4 ready in 5 months, but I would love to hear some insight on level 4 versus 3 and how much of a difficulty gap there is between the two and if I could feasibly catch myself back up and then some.

Furthermore, I need advice on resetting my level. 1573 reviews is untainabel and demoralizing for me. I have tried to get back into WK to lower my review count, but the combination of being out of the game for so long, the new radical mneumonics, and memory loss makes it too difficult. I don’t think I want to reset to 0, I definitely haven’t lost everything, but I need advice on where to start. What levels have the majority of JLPT 4 kanji and JLPT 3 kanji?

Any study advice and new resources would be very welcomed. I’ve been out of the game now for a while and I don’t know what new SRS tools are available. Shadowing/Speaking resources, grammer resources, anything you’ve got, and money is not an issue.

A good portion of my study time would be during my commute. I commute 4 days a week for about an 1h30. Is there a way to use WK while on the train? I usually come home on the bus so using WK then will not be a problem. How do you study on your commutes?

I think that’s all. Thanks!


You’ve raised a lot of interesting topics, most of which I am unqualified to address.

FWIW I would suggest that you may be in a better position of you pass N4 as opposed to potentially attempting and failing N3, simply to have the N4 credential in-hand.

I passed the N5 several years ago (prior to Covid). I took the N4 test in New York City last December, however I missed the passing grade by 3 points. While I don’t particularly ‘need’ the JLPT certificate for anything other than personal achievement purposes and ‘bragging rights’, I have decided to re-take the N4 this coming December, rather than trying to frantically level up to the point where I have a realistic expectation of passing the N3.

Obviously I can’t speak to your own proficiency level vs. mine, but your WK level is far ahead of my current level. When I consult the wkstats charts that attempt to relate WK level with JLPT coverage, I already have covered almost all of the N4 kanji, but to get to 100% I still have a number of WK levels to go. Whereas my current WK level vs. the N3 kanji comparison shows that I am far, far away from having learned a majority of the N3 kanji.

It is indeed too bad that they only give the JLPT exam once per year in the US. If you’re on the fence between N4 and N3, and since you have a goal of parlaying your wine expertise into some kind of Japanese connection, perhaps it would make sense to take the N4 in December (and hopefully pass it), and then plan to visit Japan in July of next year to both attempt the N3 and to maybe make some wine industry contacts while you’re there. If you fail the N3 in Japan, you can then aim to take the N3 again in December in the US.

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Welcome back! :wine_glass:

As you mentioned, I think people generally put the end of genki II around N4. I would guess your kanji level might be close to N3 with the wk level you reached, but without a lot of reading and grammar practice you will probably be struggling quite a bit with those sections at an N3 level.

One option for trying to figure out your current level is to check out some sample test questions and see what feels obvious or not obvious at the levels you’re considering: For Examinees: Let's Try Sample Questions! | JLPT Japanese-Language Proficiency Test

Wanikani doesn’t follow the jlpt or kanken order for introducing kanji, so if you really want a focused study tool then you might want to try to get an anki deck tailored specially made for the kanji, vocabulary, and grammar on a specific level of the test.

here's how jlpt levels compare to wk levels, if you're curious

For trying to figure out where to reset to, you could try using wkstats to see what level your items stop being burned/enlightened, resetting to that point will immediately chop most of your reviews, and then when you manage to make it through the remaining ones, most of those items will end up being burned, giving you almost a fresh slate to start adding lessons again.

There is a book club starting this month for the quartet textbook series, which is supposed to pick up about where genki II leaves off and go through most of the N3 stuff: 4️⃣ Quartet 1 and 2 Study Group [ongoing - Chapter 3], if you are in a textbook kind of learning mood! If not, then I’ve enjoyed using the 新完全マスター series, which has separate books for reading, grammar, and listening practice questions that are styled after the jlpt tests.

Depending on what kind of phone you have, there are mobile apps that let you access wk on the go yes! Anki also has mobile apps that will sync progress as well, if you choose that route. Smoldering durtles is the updated android wk one, I don’t remember what the iphone one is off the top of my head though

For commute studying, pretty much any sort of reading or listening practice will be good too! There’s lots of beginner oriented podcasts, check out some of the stuff people listen to regularly in the listen every day challenge thread for some good recommendations and ideas.

You could also try out reading the NHK easy news articles, or move up to the full articles/other newspapers if those end up being too simple.

I generally just bring my kindle with some easy manga on it to work, and that’s been helpful, I think. Check out the Absolute Beginner Book Club for some good recommendations and good resources for starting out reading native content!

Ultimately deciding between N4 and N3 is just a “how much time can I commit to studying” question, since the study-hour gap between them is fairly large. If you’re already working full time and have adult responsibilities, it might be a real challenge to push for n3 in time for december, depending on what you determine your current level is.

But anyways, best of luck with whatever you choose! I like your zeal!


Also I think personal preference factors into it – psychologically are you happier going for the “sure thing” and walking into the exam room feeling confident you’ve got this, or are you more motivated by the challenge of a really stretching goal that you might fall short of? At the N3/N4 level I think there are almost no situations where anybody is going to care whether you have the certificate or not, so it’s really down to how you feel about it yourself. (Not taking the JLPT at all and measuring yourself by other yardsticks is also an option.)

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I wonder if in the long run you will struggle more if you dont just reset to 0 and start again. If i was you and i hadn’t done any kanji reading for four years i would start at level 0.

0 is a long way back from 38. I think you can find various suggestions in other forum threads for how to judge what level it’s most effective to reset to.

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I have an idea! Why not go through the vocabulary from level 1 on this list:

WaniKani / Vocabulary

When you reach a level where you are starting to struggle reading them then maybe you could reset at that level

You can use wanikani on the train if you have a smartphone. I would also recommend Fluentu if you don’t mind about the cost, which you can also use as an app on the train. My Japanese study consists of Wanikani and Fluentu and i’m very happy with them!

I’ve also I think seen it suggested to order reviews by ascending level order (probably needs a script) and then just do reviews until you get to a point where it feels like you’re failing too many, and reset to that point.

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Thanks to everyone who has replied to this so far, that’s really cool.

Just attempted the level 4 section. I got 7/15 with listening being my most troubled section. Other fails were from not remembering vocabularly, which hopefully I will re-remember as I take classes, textbook study, and read.

Thank you for this, this was super easy to see where I am at. Level 20 seems to be where most of my trouble begins, many items are still aprentice - enlightened. That being said though, as I was going throw and looking at the kanji for each level…I hardly remember a lot of these meanings off the top of my head. It makes me wonder if it would be beneficial to start even lower so I can go back through and gradually relearn all the kanji (and the vocabulary). I also think a lot of meanings could come back to me as I study, but I want to make a reset decision sooner rather than later. I think it’s a reset to 20 and if I can’t get a grip, I’ll rest further.

I’ll be checking this out since I think level 4 is a more appropriate starting goal for me.

Thank you, I think one of my best qualities is making impulse decisions but really comitting to the bit.

I figured as much. When I got my Level 2/Level 3 Sommelier, that only got me into the room for interviews–employers wanted to know what I actually knew, not what certificate I had. “What’s your favorite wine, from where, and why?” “Here is our wine list. Pick a wine and tell me everything you can about it.” Going for the JLPT 3 or 4 is going to do for me a similar thing that my WSET2/3 did, which was give me a specific goal and curriculum to study for–but what will really matter is what I learn from studying and how I apply it. Passing is important to me too, so I think N4 is a more reasonable goal.

Taking the N4 in NYC to then following up with an N3 test during an all-out networking trip is the most on-brand thing for me to do. What a delicious plan!

Thanks everyone, that’s all for now. I’ll keep you updated because I think it will be interesting.