How do you study for JLPT?

I want to take the JLPT Test and stuff but I don’t know where to start studying. I’ve mainly studied Japanese by listening to anime and video game voice acting and reading explanations on grammar when I felt like it. Aside from WaniKani, I haven’t done any “serious” studying and I don’t know where to start for studying JLPT N5.

I was wondering what you guys do to study for JLPT.

Thanks in advance!

There are books specifically for studying the JLPT. There are also numerous resources online. Might I suggest for grammar and for the JLPT in general?

If you have Genki I and Genki II, going through both those books will get you well prepared for N4.

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May I ask how exactly Genki textbooks help you prep for N4?


It doesn’t specifically prep you for N4, but the content (including grammar, kanji, reading, listening) that is taught in those two Genki books is equivalent to the knowledge you’d be expected of on the N4 exam, even some of N3.


I think it’s better to focus on learning Japanese in general, rather than studying specifically for the JLPT. Once you have a good foundation, you can then take JLPT practice tests to see where you stand, and review areas you’re not as strong in shortly before the test.


That makes sense but I’m not sure what to study. Up until now I just studied things that I was curious about.

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I started out the same way. Since you’re already learning kanji here on WaniKani, I’d recommend also getting a grammar book. Grammar is what allows you to make sense of sentences, even if you have to look up a lot of words you don’t know. I personally used Japanese From Zero when I first started learning seriously, which worked well for me. Many people also use Genki, which was mentioned already in an earlier post. No matter the book you pick, make sure you do the practice exercises included to really learn the fundamentals well.


So aside from WK I recommend learning Japanese grammar in some way. Grammar is going to help you turn the individual words you know into sentences. My personal favorite is Cure Dolly’s youtube videos. The creator uses an artificial ‘doll’ avatar which some people don’t care for, but the explanations are very easy to follow. You will learn a lot in a short time. Aside from teaching grammar she also has videos on what to study once you reach a basic level of structure and vocabulary.

If you don’t like Cure Dolly there’s Tae Kim’s grammar guide, a free website that covers a lot of the same topics. It reads a little more like a textbook with explanations followed by exercises. And then of course there are actual textbooks that you can purchase. It might be a bit hard to get anything shipped to you right now, but the typical favorite for beginners is Genki. Other posters can probably tell you about grammar resources I’m not familiar with, or you can just google ‘Japanese grammar’. There are tons of choices.

Whatever your primary source, I recommend using an SRS system to reinforce what you learn. I personally use BunPro, which isn’t great for learning grammar but is decent for reinforcing it through an SRS system. I’m sure other options exist as well.

Once you know some vocabulary and have a decent feel for grammar, I’d recommend finding easy native material that interests you, and using that to help you learn new words.


Step 1: Decide to take the test
Step 2: Study in earnest using online course, textbooks, all that good stuff
Step 3: Give up
Step 4: Panic, because the test is in a few weeks
Step 5: Cram as much vocab as you can into your dumb, procrastinating head
Step 6: Fail.
Step 7: Wallow in shame.

Hey, you never asked how SHOULD you study…


Having passed a few of the JLPTs, I would recommend going through Genki 1 and 2 if you have them, emphasizing vocab and grammar. I think you can use anime or any other listening resource to practice your hearing, as well as the audio included with the books. But you won’t be able to catch words from what you are listening to if you do not even know what the words mean. So if you already started with listening to Japanese more aggressively, it might be more frustrating at first because you haven’t taken the time to associate a Japanese word to the English meaning. I think you will easily be able to pass N5 with Genki 1 if you work hard to ingrain everything in that book. I think Genki 2 could take you through to N3. The things you will need to practice for N3 that I think make it harder than N5 and N4 is that you start to do more reading comprehension questions. You have to read a passage in a certain amount of time and then answer questions either about the passage or choose the correct grammar point that should be in that sentence according to the context in the passage.

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Having failed N4 twice, I can see myself in this comment and I don’t like it.


I borrowed the first two books from the library a while back and I still have it. Should I just go through the whole book in general or just focus on the grammar itself?

What does SRS mean?

Spaced repetition system

WaniKani is an SRS. The review intervals get increasingly longer.

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Ah. Thank you :relaxed:

Oh! Understood! :grinning:

I feel the same way, at least through elementary levels. After that, though, I think several JLPT-focused resources also happen to be the some of the best resources for self-studying lower-intermediate Japanese on up in general, so at that point you might as well take the tests too. (Or not, but just emphasizing that at later levels of learning, the “JLPT” material also happens to be pretty good general Japanese material if you’re outside the classroom. I’d take Sou Matome or Kanzen Master over Intermediate Japanese, for example.)

But yeah, @Solista–echoing the general sentiments of this thread that it would be best to go through the elementary-level course/material of your choice first, and worry about specifically targeting JLPTs later.

If JLPTs are really on your mind for early goal-setting, if you go through an introductory book/course of self-study (like Genki, or whatever alternative calls to you), you should be ready to take N5 with a little prep/review. Same for N4 with a follow-up course (Genki II or alternative). If that appeals to you, you could always go through an elementary course, then grab a round of JLPT review material (like the しんにほんご500問 line), to check yourself before the test. Whatever material calls to you, I’d definitely recommend picking something that will give you sequential elementary grammar, and sticking with it to the end.

Even though it’s designed for classroom use, I tend to recommend Genki because it’s a complete-package introduction with a workbook you can use for self-study (I personally feel that the ability to test your own comprehension of lessons is essential for self-study), though there are definitely other options too. If you go through a book/course like that in combination with Wanikani, you’ll have a pretty potent combination of materials to ramp up Japanese learning.


So yea there is great stuff above, definitely start out getting your basics down. The one recommendation that I have is that once you’ve reached a level where you think “Ok now I can take the test” that’s when you should start working with practice tests and other material spacifically associated with the test.
The JLPT is very much a big level standardized test. If you are from America think SAT or ACT type test.
There is no English in the test at all (I cant remember for n5 it has been a long time, but n4 and n3 DO NOT) so doing practice test and familiarizing yourself with the types of questions that will be asked is usually pretty helpful. The questions were made by the Japanese government so they may not all seem very intuitive.
And yea just keep your hopes high, you dont need a perfect to pass (I think it’s like 60% in each category and you pass). And you can always retake the test.


The foundation of a language is a combination of all four skills right? You should go through the whole book and remind yourself that the learning curve is high when you are a beginner. But once you get over the initial bump you will find yourself in the intermediate category for a very long time. Just don’t give up.

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