How much time until I can take the JLPT N1 and pass... help!

Hi! So I’ve been studying for 3 years approximately, but 3 non-continuous years, I’m currently studying with the A2 Rikai and Katsudoo from Marugoto. I just entered to university and I want to study abroad in Japan but obviously they ask for N1 or minimum N2 JLPT certificates. I was planning on taking N4 this year and my exchange, if possible, would be in three years. If I study every day will I be able to make it? Please be as realistic as possible!
Also if you have tips and thoughts please tell me!
Thank so much in advance.
I read some of the forums I feel like I sound rude! so many of you have been studying the language for nearly a decade and here I am trying to binge it all at once, I’m sorry if this offends you in any way, it is not my intention and I apologize!


Here I would just briefly repeat my story: in Sep 2014 I have joined a Japanese course and made friends with another student there. Both of us started from zero. In Dec 2018 I passed N2, and she passed N1. We went through the same ups and downs along the way: quit school 1, had a self-study time for around 8 months and joined school 2 until May 2019.
What the differences were:

  • I’ve been to Japan a few times, including 2 1-mth courses in the language school, while she visited the country first in late 2019
  • I was going with the flow (the courses, the textbooks, you name it), while she in addition to that was diving into the language: looking for chat partners, browsing the Japanese net for news and articles, joining speaking clubs, analyzing why people say this in situation A and this in situation B etc…

The result is as you see.

So to your question:

  1. N1 in 3 years is possible
  2. Given you put there a conscious effort, training the whole variety of language skills and using native material as early as you can afford

Having a structured guidance will be of immense help for reaching your goal. I mean tutoring in any form.

P.S. I believe that JLPT certificate has a weak correlation to the actual language ability :slight_smile:


N4 to N2 in three years is definitely possible. N1 I would say depends on how much you study. There’s a huge gap between N2 and N1

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Don’t worry there was recently someone who wanted to do N2 in three months, so 3 years for N1 is quite doable compared to that :slight_smile:

Study daily and listen a lot :+1:


@FlamySerpent passed N2 in 1 year, she might be able to help :eyes:


I mean, it’s totally possible to do in three years imo, so I didn’t even comment xD

I did give some tips to that person who wanted N2 from N4 in 4 months, they might help you too:3 I talked about how much time I spent on things like grammar, listening and reading, so you can have a better perspective of how much time per day you need to spend. Even still, 3 years is a lot and it’s very doable imo.

Vocab was my problem in N2, so make sure to study like 10k on other SRS resource (if you like srs of course). WK is not enough for that, but it gets easier with more kanji you know and you have enough time to finish WK and get done with that :ok_hand:
I have no idea yet about grammar for N1, but after ~N3 grammar is more like a combination of the old grammar points you already know. So getting N4 and then N3 will take you far with getting to read and seeing it in the wild, that helps a lot.

I also agree that the certificate doesn’t really reflect the actual amount of knowledge you have, I barely understood anything on JLPT last time and I still lucked out and passed. Doing more tests and practicing them will surely help you with knowing the questions and getting used to the format.

All in all, I think you can do it, it’s gonna take time for sure, but language is a journey for your whole life, not just a couple of years;) Make sure to have fun with it, read books/manga that you love and want to know more of, listen to the music that you like, watch youtube videos, anime, drama, anything to keep you interested in the language. Have some goals like “I want to play Ace Attorney in Japanese”, or something like that to be motivated along the way. Also motivation can come and go, so have some steady schedule that you can be happy to follow :ok_hand:

Good luck, and if you have any questions, be it grammar, vocab, what to read next, which textbook to choose, ask them on the forums and I’m sure there are gonna be some people who can help you :smile:


Also, you mean exchange or applying for a Japanese University directly? To my knowledge exchanges don’t usually require any JLPT certificates. I didn’t have any.

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Thank you so much!, I’ve actually been to Japan, almost three years ago and I took a 5 week course, 4 hours daily! That definitely gave more confidence to speak even if what I was blabbering was wrong. I’ll definitely talk to my Japanese teacher about my concerns so we can make a plan together. Thank you so so much.

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Wow, this definitely put some things in perspective, first of all, congratulations for you effort! I’m relieved and this helps me a lot, since today I’ll start a plan. Thank you so so much, I’ll tell you how my journey goes! :panda_face::heart::heart:

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Right! I thought so too, glad you could make it, unfortunately I did look onto the guidelines and the classes that I could take given that I’m studying a Graphic Design undergraduate were all in Japanese! It did say that once the semester is going forward English would kick in gradually. I will do of course more research. Thank you :relaxed:

I started studying by myself in 2014, and with a native tutor starting in 2015. I passed the N2 in December 2016, and the N1 in December 2017. So, speaking from experience, 3 years is plenty of time.


As long as you’re more dedicated than me :slight_smile:
I passed N3 after 4 years.
A tutor would probably help though…


I doubt I’d have made it so quickly if I didn’t have the tutor. To be fair, I might have quit Japanese studies altogether at some point without him :sweat_smile:. I’m bad at being consistent, so having a few hours of structured study every week was the bare minimum to keep me engaged all this time. Even now I still have 1 session a week, mostly to keep my conversation skills sharp.


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