I may need a pep-talk... preparing for JLPT

Hi everyone, みんなさん, this is my first post to Wanikani. As of right now, I might need a pep-talk. :melting_face: Or, I would really like to hear peer experiences. I have been preparing for the JLPT N4 test religiously since this summer. Today, I attempted to do a mock test. I really struggled with every section: what I mean is, there would be absolutely no chance to pass at my current skill level. There’s still eight weeks to go, but I’m really doubting whether that is enough of time for me. I know I really have a lot to do when it comes to vocabulary especially. Still, I have decided I will go and take the test regardless of if I feel like/know I’m going to fail or not. I just know trying to motivate myself for what seems like an imminent failure isn’t exactly the best way to approach this test. :sweat_smile: How’s your studying going? Any tips on motivation when there’s so much to do still? Anybody else’s brain feel like teflon - nothing sticks??


I haven’t taken the JLPT yet so maybe it’s not a good idea to take advice from me. But have you considered taking the JLPT N5 instead of the N4 (or have you already done that)? Because in my opinion it’s more motivating to take an easier exam that you’re more likley to pass rather than a more challenging one you wouldn’t.

As for motivation to study and the problem of nothing seeming to stick, don’t worry. I have looked up some grammar points and vocabulary more then ten times before I nearly started to remember it. That’s very natural. What I would recommend is start reading instead of focusing on studying specifically for the exam (except if you have to pass it or something). If you have fun while learning you won’t have such a hard time. And, you don’t have to try to punch above your weight. I’m almost level 30 and still have problems with some very easy writing sometimes.

We’re all in this together and I think what you’re describing is a very normal feeling among learners. So, just don’t stress yourself too much and everything will work out. I believe in you! :smile:


First thing is to take a deep breath. Everything will be okay!

What motivated you to start learning Japanese? Oftentimes we get so caught up in the “how” of language learning we forget the “why.” This test is only there to test your knowledge and has zero impact on the outside world.

Once you stop looking it as a test that you need to pass and rather one that you’d like to pass (acknowledging that it’s actually not that big of a deal) you’ll have a much better time – and you’ll certainly be less stressed.


OP, where do you think you struggled on the mock exam? Time constraints, general comprehension, listening?

I know the last time I was “fit enough” to try a mock exam, I did great…until the listening section came along. It was paralysis… I just seized, and rather than try to listen along…it was all just mumbo jumbo and I panicked. That’s when I knew I wasn’t ready, and decided to spend another year in the oven. My achilles is the listening section at least.

My overall advice at this point, if it’s your first time taking the exam, is to stick with it and at least sit. You already paid, right? That way…even if you fail, you at least know what to expect, have done it before…and will have a much more focused scope and attitude come next year… WHEN YOU NAIL IT!

Good luck @teapotpia :smiley:


Hi @saraqael @SteveDoesJapanese @HeyDuda32, thank you for your very kind replies. You are all correct and your comments helped me pull my head out of my [redacted].

I have decided to take the test no matter what, and before that, focus on making the studying as fun as possible. I still want to have the experience of sitting the exam, whether I pass or not. And since I don’t need to pass (for work or anything), I’m going to try to take the pass/fail factor out of my mind at this point.

Something I realised helps me a lot is to also have plans for what/how I want to study after the exam. This way the test becomes just a step amongst many and doesn’t seem so daunting. After the exam I want to focus more on reading fun materials (instead of just my Genki 1&2 and Kanzen master). I think the pre-exam cramming will give me a good basis to slowly start reading manga (something that, I should remind myself, felt like a completely impossible thing not too long ago).

My biggest downfall at this point is vocab I think. Or, I think increasing my vocabulary would increase my changes the most at this point, and more importantly, my ability to use the language.
So for today on the agenda of fun is first, decorating my notebook with stickers I found and second, writing down a list of verbs and their conjugations I want to get the hang of. (Call me crazy but I- um, I… enjoy hand-writing lists.)

@saraqael, a fun feature of JLPT: unfortunately, once you’ve registered for a certain examination level, you cannot change it afterwards. So, as we say in Finland: onwards, said the granny in the snow!


I think it’s also worth doing a few more mock tests. The JLPT is one of those tests where it helps massively to have familiarity with the test format, the kinds of questions they ask, and how much time you have for the different sections. Getting familiar with the format isn’t a big time investment and hopefully you’ll be able to feel your score is a real reflection of your abilities and wasn’t because the test threw you a curveball or you ran out of time or whatever.


I’m actually right up there with you! :grin: Especially if I’m stressing about something, writing out a nice list (by hand) helps me to get the “you’re gonna forget something!!!” sensation to lay off a bit, because I have a lovely little list of things to reference.

Also, writing things by hand isn’t a bad idea for studying, either. It’s good practice for hiragana/kanji writing, and even if you don’t plan to focus on writing skills too much the actual act of writing them out can help to cement them in your brain.

I haven’t taken the JLPT yet myself (I’m aiming for the N4 this December, too!) so I don’t have specific advice on prepping for it, unfortunately. I would ask though – do you have any friends studying Japanese? Something that has been helpful (albeit kind of hard) over the years has been chatting with a friend in Japanese, either written or spoken. It helps you to recall vocab, or gives you a list of things to look up or study afterwards.

(I say afterwards because I think it’s a good skill to try and keep a conversation going using what you know, rather than stopping to look up a word every two seconds. For example: if you don’t know what the word for frog is, but you do know the sound for ribbit ribbit, you can ask someone ケロケロの動物は何ですか? or “What is the ribbit ribbit animal?” instead of just pausing the conversation to look up 蛙 on your phone.)

If you don’t have friends to chat with, maybe check out some of the forums here on WK? I don’t hit too many of them myself because I get plenty of practice chatting with coworkers (and I’m trying not to fry my brain by going Plus Ultra at all times), but I know there’s a bunch for constructing or reading a sentence each day, things like that.

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Editing because I forgot to say first: Welcome to the forums! :smiley:

It’s 6 1/2 weeks left isn’t it? Unless different regions have different dates.

If you want to focus on JLPT vocab in a hurry, I would suggest installing the KawaiiDungeon app. It has just over 1100 words total, with tons of the usual suspects in N5/N4 tests. Almost all the words I’ve encountered show in up other JLPT materials

If you spam it every day and unlock all of the levels, you can enter the “Fox Realm”, which is basically an infinite quiz for all of the items in that level. Since you will know a decent number of those words already, it’s actually a reasonable goal, but it will be a bit of a grind.

The KawaiiNihongo app’s sentence exercises also did wonders for my listening comprehension, so check it out too.

Plus honestly, they’re some of the most fun Japanese learning apps I’ve used (and they’re both free).

Whatever route you decide to go down, remember that JLPT is not really the goal or the endgame for your study - it’s just another way to motivate yourself! Good luck!


Interesting…downloading now. Admittedly, I would have never thought to download just from the icon & name…but if they have good sentence exercises, I’m all for it! Thanks for the suggestion.

@teapotpia I agree with other posters that it will help a bunch to orient yourself with the actual “test format” itself. If that’s one less thing you have to worry about when taking the test, the better. Then you can just focus on the questions themselves.


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