JLPT : how much time should one spend on each section

Hello all,

My question is pretty simple but I cannot find anything online anymore.

When you take the JLPT exam (N2, in my case), you have 105 minutes dedicated to Language knowledge and 50 minutes for Listening.
However, the Language knowledge part itself is divided into three subsections : Vocabulary, Grammar and Reading.

So, does anyone know if there’s a rule for how to use your 105 minutes ? I stupidly failed on N2 last summer, mainly because I spent two third of the first part on Vocab and Grammar, before realizing Reading was not just a bit longer, but really, really longer.

Thanks in advance !

2 Likes

The number 1 rule would be to not spend too much time on each individual question, or you might find that you don’t have much remaining time to answer even those that you could have solved easily.

Just quickly go through all the questions, answer the ones you can answer quickly, and then go back to the difficult ones and try to do those too. But again, make sure you don’t waste too much time on each individual question. If you find you don’t know it, just answer randomly and move on.

Especially for reading, that can end up taking too much time. What I did on reading was skip the text and look at what is being asked first. Chances are you can get the answer quickly by just scanning the text for the relevant information, without needing to read the whole thing and waste time. For the N1 that’s mostly what I did to prepare. Just non-stop mock tests until I could do it timed properly, because on the N2 I didn’t have time to finish going through the reading section and I got a lower score than I could’ve, which frustrated me a lot.

That was my strategy at least.

11 Likes

The rule of thumb for any exam is that you should spend the same amount of time on a question as what it’s worth - basically, if a question is worth half the points, then you should give it half of the total time. A hair under, even, if you want to have extra time for going over your work.

So, basically, the Vocab/Grammar part gets 50 minutes, and the reading part gets 50 minutes, with 5 minutes left over to scribble in random answers for whatever you didn’t get.

That’s always a good tactic for a sight-reading passage.

6 Likes

If the JLPT is an exam like any other, then I can give general exam tips:

  1. First read through, check if everything is correct. Not sure how this works there, but here if any item or question is incorrect and someone mentions it, but you already marked it, you won’t get compensated m, even if it was misleading (unless the question itself gets voided).

  2. Second read through: get the easy questions out of the way. If you find a question you need to reread or think about, skip. Do the ones you can do in one go. Of course, don’t just read hapharzadly, no need to rush and risk getting a guaranteed question wrong, just do it like you would do a normal homework sheet.

  3. Once you finished all easy questions, start working on the medium ones: these are the ones you might need a reread or two to get it, think a little bit, but should still come to you after a bit. Depending on the amount of questions you left blank, I’d give maximum a minute or two of trying before you skip. If there’s less questions left, you can be a bit more lenient.

  4. Last read throughs: These are for the remaining hard questions, and your timelimit is the rest of the test for them, now that you knocked down easy and medium questions. Try to do the ones that you feel you know a bit better, they might save you some time.

I’m not sure if the JLPT has you writing down answers in a smaller sheet, but if they do, reserve at least 20 mins for that. You don’t want to lose questions you know out of stress to finish on time. Once my card arrives, I usually look at all my answers first to check if they’re correct, if I didnt fall into a trap, etc. After that, I put down everything I’m sure about, and finish the last questions left, which are usually the hard ones.

2 Likes

This site pretty much breaks down how much time you can spend on which question:

This can give you a pretty good idea. Also, make sure you know the question types beforehand so you don’t waste time with the instructions.

11 Likes

Thank you very much, that will help a lot. I’ll do several mock tests using your tips, and especially the ones from the website. It should give me a pretty good idea.
Cheers !

1 Like

Do you have any recommended site or sources for JLPT mock tests?

1 Like

If you want to practice getting the speed right in the language knowledge section without doing a whole 50+ minutes mock test every time, I can recommend the パワードリル N2 series. Each volume (kanji/vocab or grammar) contains many short versions of the relevant test section that are supposed to be done in 10 minutes each, and I find them extremely useful for getting used to the proper exam speed :smiley:

Unfortunately they are quite hard to find online. One’s here, and I bought the book 日本語能力試験ベスト模試 – three mock exams for 30 euros in my country.

It’s probably obvious, but I really recommend to do some mock tests before you take the JLPT.
I took it thinking it will be enough to know the content, but actually it’s also (if not especially) a matter of form. I’m still comfortable with the content, can basically answer most of the questions, but I need twice or three times more than what’s recommended on the site NicoleRauch mentioned to answer.

2 Likes

Thank you for this one too !

1 Like

Oh thanks!! I bought 2 mock tests materials in my country as well. I just thought it could be of them available somewhere on the internet. (Legally of course)

I’m using the todai easy japanese news app it has some free JLPT mock tests, other are behind a paywall.

4 Likes

Thanks for sharing it ! I already did three complete mock tests, I think I’ll just have time for one other before the actual test next week.
By the way, the time management page that @NicoleRauch shared is extremely helpful. I’ll probably write a short review after I got the result. (Only if it’s positive.)

1 Like

Get an overview of the test. Then start going through it, if you are struggling with something, skip it for now and then get back to it. Then take things you struggled with during the second pass. Then during the third pass you check for errors and if you’d like to add something. Doing tests linearly is stupid.

Did you already take any JLPT ? I’m not sure that general exam tips, like “doing tests linearly is stupid”, are accurate for it.
From my experience with the N2, you don’t have enough time, at all. Turning a page needs one second, it’s already a waste of time. Getting an overview of the test is a waste of time – if you prepared it, you know exactly how it is made. Even reading a question twice, at least in the vocabulary and grammar sections, is almost a waste of time.

Using the method someone gave above, which means spending no more than 42 minutes on the two first sections, is on the contrary very helpful. Then, on the reading section, I think you can go through it not linearly, or less linearly. For example the last exercise is pretty easy and worth 8 points for two questions, so I wouldn’t keep it for the end.

3 Likes

Spent way too long on mobile trying to figure out what the hell this means :joy:

3 Likes

Haha that looks crazy :rofl:
Did you figure it out in the end? (I only did because I know what the tables are talking about)

Yeah, switched to PC and the tables stopped exploding.

1 Like

It depends on you ofc but practice books sometimes have time limits printed. Like you said,

According to a certain video/ textbook, you should give yourself at least 70min for N1 reading. So, about 40min for Vocab+Grammar. For one textbook I use, I try to finish that section in about 35min (My practice times went like this 50min >> 67>> 40>> 45>> 36>> 37>> 32>> 28min ). So, 35min-ish? Lol

For each short reading, 3~5min (max), mid-length 5~8min(?dangerous max) and long passages 10~15min.

Cheers!