Jlpt 2018! (Results are now online!)


yep, i thought the listening was a lot harder than most practice tests.


It’s not specifically for JLPT, it’s a Japanese app called 語彙力診断.


This seems to be a recurring theme at all levels.


Is this maybe the one about information accessed online not being as valuable as committing information to memory? (And how people who don’t use/rely on written languages may form memories more easily?)


i passed N2 last year and I don’t recall the listening being as difficult as it seems to have been this year. seems like just bad luck :smiley:


Yes, that’s the one! Ok I wasn’t too far off on that. Where was the one about the guy who couldn’t remember people’s names then?


raises hand

Same here. Took N2 after passing N3 last July. I had a burning enthusiasm to pass N3 last July and was studying everyday for 3 hours a day after work. I then vowed to pass N2 next July but since we are obliged to take the exam every JLPT, I had no choice. I only did half of the grammar of Kanzen Master and Vocabs while leaving the Reading and Listening book untouched. Lol.

And yes, the listening was harder than I expected.


Big shrug

I don’t remember anything like that, so now I’m nervous. But I also did like ten other reading passage that morning and the night before, so I definitely don’t remember every one individually.

Can we talk about bread dad though?


Loool bread dad. What about him specifically?


Just bread dad.


We call him パンパパ :sunglasses:


Now I’m imagining a trumpet playing パンパパパンパンパンパンパーーンパンパパパンパンパーーン every time he walks in anywhere.




:frowning_man::cherries::apple::arrow_right::bread:, :no_good_woman::arrow_right::ok_woman::question:


So I took the N5 after waffling about whether to take N4 or N5. Man, I’m glad I stuck with N5. I was killing it on the vocab and grammar sections, I only had to guess twice and looked up the answers after - guessed right. But like everyone else, I thought the listening section was a disaster. I know I got a few right, but that’s about all I can say. I know a lot of my answers were different from those in casual eyesight around me - not that I’d change any answers, but I did peek after pencils were down and they were collecting sheets.

If I remember right, there’s no hard cutoff passing score. It’s a “weighted score” calculated each time by having professional educators take the same test after it’s already written and evaluate which questions should be easily passed by someone at the N_ level and which wouldn’t be. That pretty much guarantees that there are questions that are too hard, and they know it. Those questions don’t count against you as much as the “easy” ones in the passing score calculation.

It was my first JLPT, and quite the experience. Our test leader was definitely the stern schoolteacher type. I kept expecting to have chalk thrown or hit with a ruler. Someone didn’t take the wrapper off of their eraser, so I got a little early listening practice hearing him get a good scolding. Wristwatches were allowed on the desk, but everything else had to be under the seat. NOT the seat next to you, NOT the seat in front, UNDER! YOUR! seat. (More listening practice when people got scolded for that). No time anouncements, just hajimete! and jikan!

It was fun, but jury’s still out whether I passed the listening section. :man_shrugging:


Thank you all for sharing. Regardless of the outcome it’s at least comforting to know that it wasn’t just me who had a rubbish time with listening (and across many levels too, it sounds!) :yellow_heart:


(Please do not feel obliged to read any of this message. This is more of a gigantic note-to-self that just happens to be posted publicly.)

2018 JLPT N4 reflections

This was my first time ever taking any JLPT test, so I did not really know what to expect. Actually, since I never studied Japanese in school, this was my very, very first time ever taking a test on Japanese.

I think I probably scored around 70-85% overall. I am 99% sure I passed.

Below are some of my observations and reflections, mainly as notes to myself, but maybe someone else will find them useful, so that’s why I’m posting here. (Certainly my future self will.)

(I took the test at SF State in San Francisco.)

Overall long term pre-test preparation

  • It was not necessary to do any vocabulary studying whatsoever. WaniKani and general studying had already prepared me well for that section.
  • It was a good idea to study grammar.
  • It was a bad idea to NOT study and practice the listening section. The style of the questions surprised me a little. I would not have been surprised if I had prepared more seriously for the listening section.

Objects that were brought to the test

  • Analog watch: There are clocks in the rooms in the HUM rooms at SF State. Bringing a watch was unnecessary.
  • Pencil: Other test-takers brought normal refillable lead pencils. Buying and bringing a box of sharpened No. 2 pencils was unnecessary.
  • Eraser: Having more than one was a good idea.
  • Earplugs: I am glad I brought earplugs. They were necessary to block out the noise from the squeaky old desks.
  • Snack and water: I was glad that I had brought a snack to eat during the break between sections. I could feel my stomach growling during the grammar section.
  • Arrival time: I regret arriving early; more specifically, I regret entering the room early. The schedule said 12:00 - 12:30 PM would be for ID verification. This meant sitting in silence in a room full of strangers while watching the proctors make small talk. I should have arrived at the building by 12:00 PM (to have enough time to find and use the washroom) and purposely entered the room a little later, perhaps at around 12:20 PM.

Specific test-taking notes and observations

  1. Filling in your name. Don’t forget to the 5 digit test taker ID numbers on the scantron sheet. I somehow totally did not realize there was a section for that at first. I don’t know why. Also don’t forget to write your name on the question booklet. They collect those too.

  2. Vocabulary section

    • Jumping to reading the underlined word, and skipping the reading of the entire sentence is a good idea. I still barely had enough time to double check my answers.
    • The test tries to trick the test taker by providing options that visually are very similar. Be wary of this, and make sure to double check your answers.
      • び・ひ
      • つうっ
      • りょう・りょ
      • しょう・しょ
      • ご・こ
      • ぶ・ふ
  3. Grammar and reading section

    • Grammar questions:
      • There were a handful of verbs I was totally clueless about, and thus had no idea what the question was asking about.
      • I also noticed that for some more obscure topics, there was probably only 1 or 2 questions on it. So despite lots and lots of studying for a particular grammar topic, it may end up only being on 1 or 2 questions.
      • When doing questions of the style: ____ ____ __*__ ____, it is a good idea to WRITE IN the numbers for each possible option, in the blanks, so that you can use them to double check later. DO NOT draw lines from the options to the blank spaces – I almost accidentally wrote the wrong answer because I did not carefully look at where my lines were going. I have no idea why I drew lines, even though I had never done that in practice questions before.
      • When doing questions that ask for the best possible option in a blank of text, it’s good to cross out the options that you know are DEFINITELY ungrammatical, so that you don’t reread them later when you are double and triple checking answers rapidly.
    • Reading comprehension questions:
      • Some of the reading sections had instructions at the top explaining what the text was. These should be read. It was not necessary to read the instructions of most of the rest of the test.
      • There was a question about what the author of the sentences wanted to do this winter, at the lake where she usually went in the summer to swim in. The answer was implicit (the text said she wanted to do something else).
      • There was a question about why the author liked going to the ベル restaurant. The answer was implicit, from the text. It was never explicitly mentioned that the author like ベル because of kindness of the couple who owned the place. I would expect more and more implicit, derived answers to be on higher level tests.
      • In the long reading passage about the ベル restaurant, it was a good idea to read the questions BEFORE reading the passage. The answers to some of the questions were scattered throughout the passage, both before and after where the number reference in the passage was. In other words, you shouldn’t just start by reading the passage, stop at a numbered point, and jump to the question – that is not an efficient way to do those kinds of questions (and you probably won’t have all of the information you need to answer the question, because the answer may be embedded in text after the numbered point).
      • There was a 図書館の知らせ question.
        • It was not necessary to read the whole thing. It was a good idea to skim it.
        • The first question involved a time and the options were written in ways such as:
          • Afternoon 2 PM.
          • Morning, 10 minutes before 11 AM. It was a good idea to read these first and write out their equivalent actual times (e.g. 10:50 AM).
  4. Listening section

    • Overall, most audio clips are made in such a way to purposely try and trip up test takers. i.e. the audio will somehow be worded in a way so that 3-4 of the 4 possible answers will have some or all of their text spoken at some point. Simple pattern matching along the lines of “Oh I just heard this text being read in the audio, so it must be the answer!” will never work.
    • I definitely was not able to catch some of the words that were said in some of the listening sections. They spoke at normal native speeds. Even though I have passively practiced listening for days by watching drama and anime, it was not enough to prepare me for this specific kind of listening question. It’s better to actively focus on practicing for listening questions in the exact style of the test.
    • There was a section about directions from the station to the 運動somethingsomething (track and field area?). I totally did not catch some of the sentences involving directions, crossing the street, turning left at the traffic light, etc. This is mostly because I have been purposely ignoring learning such things because I think they’re totally useless in a world where everyone has a smartphone with GPS and Google Maps. But maybe I need to force myself to learn them just for the sake of passing such questions.
    • There was a question that involved a girl taking the bus to some location A.
      • The 4 options were:
        • Bus to location A
        • Bus to location B
        • Bus to location C
        • Bus to location D
      • The question asked which bus the girl should take FIRST (まず). I could barely remember the things that were mentioned, but I was glad I drew a quick diagram showing that there was no direct bus to A from this current bus stop, but the route involved:
        • Taking a bus bound for B, transferring to a bus bound for C, getting off at the stop at location D.
      • If I had not drawn a diagram, I would have totally forgotten what was just said, and totally blanked out. I think I did in fact blank out for some of the other listening questions that were like this. My short-term memory is just too limited, no matter what language it is. Writing things down during the listening dialogue is key. Even if it’s written in English.
    • In the very last listening section, the one with no written options, at the very back of the booklet, the test takers are asked to choose the most natural response from the 3 options of the audio. Some of the possible options were so blatantly wrong, that they were funny. This caused me (and perhaps a few others, including one of the proctors) at one point, to laugh. Such laughter is a strong hint that that option is incorrect.
      • Some of the questions in this section had 2 choices that both seemed good. I didn’t know what to do, but just kinda chose one randomly. Oh well?
      • I was glad that I immediately drew out, on the giant blank space:
            1  123
            2  123
            3  123
            4  123
            5  123
            6  123
            7  123
            8  123
        • This helped me keep track of my immediate judgments of options. General lesson learned: taking notes during the listening section is a GOOD IDEA (even if those notes are in English, for the sake of speed).

Things to do between sections

  • Eat your snack.
  • Go to the washroom.
  • I didn’t bother checking my phone, but many other people did that.

Miscellaneous observations

I’m fairly certain that the question books and scantron sheets have randomized questions and answers for all sections, except perhaps the very last listening section, because I could see people’s circles vary from sheet to sheet when one of the proctors flipped through them after everyone was done.

Being sleep-deprived certainly does not help with focus on the listening section. Since it’s the last section, I was fatigued, so I had troubles focusing on just paying attention to the audio. I don’t know if closing my eyes while listening to the audio good or not. Either way, I probably should have studied for more than 15 minutes for the listening section.

Two of the other people in the room I was in were probably under 10 years old. This was the first time in my entire life where I was taking a test where the age range spanned decades. In university, some of my classmates were a few years older. But usually not decades older. I thought this was interesting.

Overall impressions

I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I finished the grammar and reading section. I was fully expecting it to be the hardest section and when I first flipped through the booklet and saw a wall of text, I was worried that I would not be able to read it all in time.

The listening section turned out to be the section I probably did the worst on. This is my fault though – I did not do enough listening practice exercises that were identical in format to the tests. I am glad I purchased all possible kinds of exercise books for N3 (including the listening one, even though I previously thought it would be a waste of time and money).

Preparation for the N3 next year

I think I will substantially have to adjust my preparation strategy for the N3 test next year, since I’m fairly certain the vocabulary section will not be so easy and the listening section will be even harder.

I’m fairly certain that I will not benefit much from passive studying by watching anime or drama, even if I do study the grammar I don’t recognize. I think I will just need to buckle down and plow through both Tobira and the N3 set of Kanzen Master books, while forcing myself to write out many sentences from Tobira (and reading entries in Group Jamassy’s book). While I do like Satori Reader, I don’t think it directly helps me that much. I’ll continue to use it though.


I noticed a couple where the reading of the word depended on the context and both answers were choices. I don’t remember now what they were, but at least one point I mentally told myself “good thing you read the whole sentence”.

OMG I hate those questions. So time-consuming. I have to not only write in the numbers, but write the word in, then read it over. Somehow I can’t remember the four phrases at once (probably even in English).

That’s a great tip. Wish I’d thought of that two days ago.

I had at least one of these, too. Not simple “look for the answer in the text” questions.

Yesssssss so much that.


I noticed a couple where the reading of the word depended on the context and both answers were choices. I don’t remember now what they were, but at least one point I mentally told myself “good thing you read the whole sentence”.

Haha, oh man. That makes me feel a little uneasy! Good to know though. Thanks!


I’d like to hop on the N4 experience sharing wagon! I took the N5 in July and passed, and decided to take N4 this december, becase I knew I won’t have time to study next July and next December was way too far away … so I studied a lot of extra grammar, vocab and kanji compared to the japanese class I am attending.

The kanji and vocab part was surprisingly easy, thanks Wanikani :slight_smile: I was honestly surprised myself, when I found out that I knew all of the words in the vocabulary section, where you have to choose which sentence is correct with the given word - thanks iKnow and Wanikani :smile: The grammar and reading wasn’t hard for me either, but I specifically studied a lot of grammar for this exam, so I kinda hoped this would be the case.

For the listening part I wasn’t worried originally, because taking the mock test that was my strongest section. I listen to a lot of japanese talking, I had the N5 exam in July so I knew what to expect (purposefully trying to make you mess up by wording, saying something important RIGHT at the end so that changes the whole conversation and stuff like that) - but man did I lose my confidence instantly … the first part of the listening I also found way harder then the practice tests, they spoke quite fast and the vocabulary threw me completely. I had a hard time keeping focus and kept telling myself to just calm down and focus on the next question, forget about the previous one. I really had a hard time not losing complete focus due to loss of confidence after the 4th or so question … the second part was easier though, so I hope I got enough points to pass, but it was a rather well not-so-positive experience. It did make me feel better to read a lot of you say basically the same thing here, so now I don’t feel like “it wasn’t hard, I’m just not good enough” so much anymore :sweat_smile:

As for how the exam went, we had a big clock on the wall, but they also announced halftime, 10 minutes left and 5 minutes left, so it was nice. We could also have watches, it was no problem, that we looked at the time on our watches. Phones had to be in the bag, and bags had to be under the table. The coats were needed to be hanged in the back of the room, so you couldn’t put them on your chairs. Food and drinks were permitted, which was a surprise, since in July at the same test location it was specifically not permitted :smiley: But the results time was the best - 3 different rooms, in one they said end of January, in the other the beginning of February and in the third the beginning of March :smiley:

So N3 next December :slight_smile: But until then 皆様、お疲れ様でした ٩(◕‿◕。)۶


gibberish. there’s a word here and there, how randomly pressing keys on a keyboard might give you.