How much harder is the JLPT N4 to N5?

Hi all, first off apologise as I feel this question comes up a lot, so I feel iffy that I still don’t get it. Basically, online searches show me that N4 is double the hours/vocab of N5. And I’m hearing everyone saying both N4 and N5 is quite easy (N5 doable in 3 months, N4 doable in 6 months).

The problem I’m having is I don’t get if that’s cumulative or if that’s extra hours/time/vocab. I’m following the N5 of lingodeer (50% through) plus kitsun for vocab and on level 6 on wanikani.

I had hoped to be quite a fair way through but stared studying on February, I feel like I’m really only just on track for completion of N5 in July including 1 month of revision (if it wasn’t cancelled).

I feel like I had to put quite a bit of effort at this rate though (due to work and other personal situation). But if N4 is “double” the work of N5 then I don’t think I’ll be able to do it in time for December, if however N4 is double the hours because it assumes you’re coming from scratch (essentially learning N5 and then N4) then thats different as they’d be essentially the same amount of work.

Would love to hear advice, as I’ll go for N4 in Dec if I can, but also wouldn’t mind relaxing for an easier N5 (to ease into my first test) and then N4 next July instead (while I’m studying N3).

Thanks everyone.


I always assumed the hours needed were cumulative, but I’d honestly never thought about it until now. So I’m not really sure.

As for whether you can pass N4 in 10 months, it’s impossible to say. Some people certainly can. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to. I only took (and passed) N3 this past December, which was after 4 years of studying. I probably would have failed if I’d taken it a year earlier, but again that’s just me personally. I’ve never taken the other levels.

Thankfully you have several months before you need to sign up for the December test, so you can wait and see how you feel. As long as you practice all aspects of the test (kanji, vocab, grammar, reading, listening), you might be able to pass N4 then. But no need to decide now.


I passed N4 after 1 year of studying. But I kniw other people who needed a lot more time to get there. If you have a teacher, I would ask their advice.

If you are using a textbook, certain books correspond roughly to a jlpt level. For example, みんなの日本語, if you understand book 1 (ch1-25), grammar wise (and vocab, too, mostly), you’ll be able to get a good N5 score, maybe even by chapter 18, but that’ll be a queeze. Book 2 (ch26-50), will get you N4 by chapter 42.

But this is assuming you are practicing kanji (no problem with WK), are getting your reading speed up to par, and not neglecting listening, either.


I think grammar-wise N4 isn’t that hard. You have a lot of time to do grammar drills until December. I can recommend picking up 新完全マスターN4 series. It has brief grammar summaries, example sentences and practice tests in JLPT format.

The N4 book is even a bit higher level than the N4 test, so thoroughly going through it will give you an upper hand.

But before that, I recommend spending as much time as you need to understand particles as they are so fundumental to Japanese grammar. You need to be able to understand what they mean and why they are used. Not only the common way to translate them into English.

Then, if you stick with WK and get to ~lvl. 20 by December you’ll know more kanji than you need for N4. It’ll make the kanji section a breeze and simplify all reading.

Now, the challenging part is vocab in my opinion. There’s a lot of vocab that is required on N4 that you won’t learn just doing WK. But you say you’re doing other SRS for vocab, so it’s good. Just make sure to read in order to understand how the vocab is actually used.

And regarding N5, it’s up to you. I wouldn’t take two tests in a year personally. N4 is reachable, so I’d focus on it. You can do a few practice tests and time yourself to get a feel for it. But you can put it off till autumn. You’ll also need to build a test strategy (e.g. how much time to spend on each section, when to skip questions etc.).


From now until December is more than enough time to get the JLPT N4, you could even push N3 if you revise correctly and commit to it depending on what other responsibilities you have right now. If you a lot about 4-5 hours a day of studying and do it the right way you definitely won’t have a problem reaching N4.

There is a good series called Nihongo So-matome which will teach you each JPLT level in 8 weeks per level, then you just have to reinforce it so maybe about 10-12 weeks per JPLT level. If you revise properly and keep to it. There is also practice books with mock questions that you can buy to revise even more. Doing all this you’ll easily obtain JLPT N4 and push towards JLPT N3.

I studied Japanese as a degree, so I did have help, but with this as a guideline within 24 weeks (Two semesters at Uni) I had basically got N3, Another 24 weeks and I got N2 and another 24 weeks and I got N1. Baring in mind that the whole study method wasn’t just Japanese language, but I did other cultural modules, extra activities, societies and even slacked off for a lot of it by hanging out with friends and doing part time. Which meant that I wasn’t religiously revising and keeping to it, so the weeks mentioned above could be decreased even more if you keep the revision time up and the frequency.

You also have to keep in mind that you can only learn so much in a day before your brain basically just stops withholding stuff, so it’s better to revise for less everyday but keep it up everyday then it is to revise a lot in a day. i.e it’s better to revise for 4-5 hours a day every day than it is to revise for 8 hours a day because more will stay in your memory.

What i mentioned above won’t necessarily work for everyone and suit everyone, but it is a decent guideline.

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I’ve been wondering the same. I started (again) early this year but just started WK 3 weeks ago. I’ve heard N5 is postponed for where I live: Edinburgh is my closest testing centre. So I was thinking of trying for N4 in december instead.

Reading the answers you got below, I think I’ll register for N5.

I work, I have kids… I don’t have the hours D-Hermit mentioned to level up in time.

For me the exam is just a goal to keep motivated. Even if I work for Fuji, my chances of going to Japan are very slim booo.

I think N5 will give me confidence if it feels easy. Am still very worried about speed as well. I rely so much on english in all the lessons. I crawl through when reading.

I wonder how pressed for time people feel at those tests.

Good luck to you!

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You can assess yourself by taking a mock JLPT N5 test. Print out a question paper, time yourself & follow the instructions - make the environment as close to a real examination as possible.
You can grade yourself afterwards & see where you stand.
I faced the same dilemma & found out that I got about 80% in all sections. So I can say with some confidence that I’ll be able to clear N5 & have decided instead to apply for N4 in December for a challenge.
You can use this to test yourself:


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