How to know when you're ready to take the n1 test

hi :slight_smile: I’ve been learning Japanese for the past three months and I’m just kind of curious how long people in the WaniKani Community took before feeling ready and strong enough in their knowledge of the Japanese language to take the n1 test.I’m alone and because of this my knowledge on conversational Japanese is pretty weak. I bought Genki which is an elementary book for Japanese (If you didn’t know) But I find myself stuck progressing in the book because so many aspects of the book require and ask for the reader to work with a partner which is an obstacle I tried to get around by downloading the app Hello Talk but it’s just helpful–I’m rambling sorry


Hi ihrtbears4, welcome to the Wanikani community!

I’m probably not going to be of much help here, but I’ll try my best.
First of all I think it’s great that you’re thinking of many aspects of Japanese language, not just readings of kanji and vocabulary, but also having conversations. I’m in a similar boat to you in the sense that I don’t have any practice partners, but my goals are mainly in listening and reading, so I don’t mind it too much.

As far as my understanding goes, I believe Genki has a work- and textbook. Dependent on what you bought, you might want to take a look if the other one adds any value. Before buying, perhaps you can find a version on the internet. Other people here (like myself) have an account on, a Wanikani like system for grammar. Compared to Wanikani though, you’re a lot more free to determine your lesson tempo. Perhaps you want to give it a try as well.

I’m not nearly good enough to try N1, but am a fan of taking smallers steps. You might want to start slow and see if you are able to answer some questions from N5 or N4 from the following website:
You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see that conversational skills aren’t tested during the JLPT. (at least they weren’t when i took it last time).

Personally I went looking into JLPT when I was level 14 in Wanikani, and figured that N5 was too easy. I went for N4 and passed that when I was around level 18. Wanikani level is not the best indication of skill, but it is at least an indication of time spent. If you’re doing grammar together, you should be fine at similar levels.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask or browse the forum. People here are generally helpful as long as you’re respectful. There are topics on grammar, words, other resources and topics on reading for beginners, containing word lists, etc. So you should be able to learn a lot here :slight_smile:
Also: simple wanikani related questions can be asked for example here: New People Questions! ~~~<3 [Lost?! Confused?! We're here to help!]

As a character from a certain christmas carol would say: Come in, come in, and know me better, man!


By the time you hit level 50 you’ll probably have that figured out.

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I took the exams in order after one and a half years of studying, starting with N3 (once a year). Once I passed N2 I figured I might as well go for the N1 as well, so I did the following year. Never really thought I was ready for it though, I just went and took the exam.


Just to be clear… You’re aware that N1 is the hardest level and N5 is the easiest, right? You won’t accidentally become ready for N1 as a beginner. It will be the result of a long process of studying, whether specifically for the test or more organically.


How long would you estimate for an average learner who does Japanese 1 hour every day Leebo? 4-5 years? More?

Do you want to take the test for a specific purpose or just to measure your progress overall?

I’ve been studying for around 1.5 years now (if we exclude years of watching anime with EN subtitles :joy: ) and am ~N3, probably not strong enough to take N2, much less N1. So definitely not there yet! :smiley:

You can take a look around the forums for past Genki study groups or start a new one where people who already went through Genki or are currently studying can help you out with practice :slight_smile:

I guess at the core you’re asking how many hours it takes to get to N1 level. I’m not sure if there are stats like that around, but I imagine it would be hard to pass with less than 1000 hours of study, however someone spaces that out. That’s not to say you should be able to pass after 1000, but I feel like less than that would be surprising to me.


Ok thank you good to know.

Since the N1 is the most difficult test to past, I only know of one or two people who have passed the N1, they studied Japanese before coming to Japan in college, and then it still took them 10 years of dedicated study with the combo of immersion to pass the N1. I’m not saying you had to have taken japanese in college to get to N1 level, but I have heard many people who said after they passed N2 it took around 3-4 years to finally pass N1.

I will say this is all hearsay as I haven’t taken the JLPT yet so I can’t confirm myself how long it takes, but I know none of my classmates have been able to get close to N1 despite many passing the N2

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When you can take a practice N1 test and not cry?


I really like this guy…it might help you with Genki practice.

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According to the US Dept of State, it takes about 2200 classroom hours (roughly 88 weeks) to learn enough Japanese to a “Professional Working Proficiency” standard. Roughly 6 years if you learn 1 hour a day, or roughly 2 years of school (4 straight quarterly semesters).

So yeah, Japanese will take you a while, even for a professional level (which I think is what the N1 tests for). Personally, I’m banking on taking the N1 test in about 5-7 years, seeing as I’m about 6 months into learning myself :sweat_smile:

As for another source, I’d recommend Japanese from Zero for self-teaching yourself Japanese grammar (the author even has free supplementary material for most lessons on YouTube).

Nonetheless, I wish you the best on your Japanese learning Journey!


This is great info to have since you’re curious, but it’s also worth noting that it’s from the Foreign Service Institute, who would themselves be teaching in what it would be reasonable to assume is a pretty expedited, efficient manner to reach their goals. I’ve also seen arguments about if this excludes expectations of outside of class hours or not, but regardless, interesting data point.

For a second one, on the JLPT wikipedia page, it lists “Study hour comparison data for students residing in Japan, published by the Japanese Language Education Center.” There, with no prior kanji knowledge, they estimate anywhere from 3000–4800 hours of study to reach N1. Couldn’t begin to tell you how accurate these numbers are, but suffice to say you have a lot of studying ahead of you, haha.

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It took me six years from day one.

It’s very hard to come up with a number of hours estimate because it changed a lot during the way, but I would say around 2000 hours of formal study (classes/homework/anki/whatever).

That plus living in Japan during the last year, so I would say maybe another 1000 hours of passive learning from hanging out with Japanese, talking with staffs, reading random stuff on the street, etc?

That was all before even knowing Wanikani, just to be clear.


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