JLPT N1 Self Study

Hello Wanikanimates,

In this new year I have set a goal for myself to pass JLPT N1 by the end of the year. But, I have a very busy research job and do not have anytime to join a Japanese class. I can at maximum spend 2h a day for practice including my Wanikani lesson.

Are there people like me in this community? Please share your tips and tricks to prepare for that immensely difficult (atleast to me) test. What kind of materials do you use and what is your study strategy?

Share your thought here!! Thank you.


The various N1 video series on Nihongonomori’s Youtube channel.


What are your Grammar, Vocab and Kanji(you’re obviously lv17 on WK but you could just be using it to review haha) abilities right now?
Have you taken the any of the JLPT exams before(if so, what was the highest level and when did you take it?
Do you live in Japan?

Edit: Sorry, just looked at your profile and realised you live in Kumamoto

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Thank you.

I am living in Japan for 7 years but sadly I never studied Japanese seriously (before I was in downtown Tokyo for most of the time and seriously I did not need it at the university or outside too, as most of my Japanese friends spoke English). My study over these years had been very sporadic and mostly self study, but now I really want it to be organized and fruitful so I am setting this goal for me.

I have never taken any JLPT and I think my weakest point is grammar ( recently I am using Bunpro and it is making more sense to me).

Vocab level is basic, I can comprehend when people around me is speaking, even I can understand most of my Japanese driving classes. And regarding Kanji I can read and write them on computer (around Wanikani level 17) but obviously I can not write on a paper.

What do you think now?

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Ah, so it’s not the case that you are going from about N2 level to N1 level? So you also need those other resources as well?


Kanji: keep using wanikani. If you are diligent, you can finish it by the end of the year. Even if you go at a slow pace you can get up lv45 which covers most of N2 kanji.

Vocab: Memrise App. Find and complete N5, N4 and N3 courses. Should help review what you already know and fill out the gaps. (it’s a SRS app and like WK, you have to “learn” the words before you can review, potentially making it time consuming, Quizlet is a great alternative if you just want flashcards.(search N5, N4, N3 vocab and you should get comprehensive sets)

Grammar: Ditch Genki and get a JLPT focused book like Lets Try for N5 and N4(you’ve been here a while so you should breeze through(I’m sure there are copies online)). I like Genki, I used Books 1 and 2 but it’s more loosely focused on the JLPT so you want something more honed. Bunpro is great for review so if you’re confident up to N4 then use that (not good for LEARNING the grammar though in my opinion.)

After that, Shinkanzen Master for N3.

Immersion: Netflix, manga, bars(my personal favourite).

Overall advice:
Round out your knowledge for the N3 and take it in July(if you use WK diligently you will have covered N3 kanji by that time). You have plenty of time and it will be a confidence booster. On the off chance that you fail, you will know where you stand and can adjust your goals and study for December accordingly.

After that, go for the N2 in December then N1 next year.
Since you don’t have heaps of spare time to attribute to study, this seems like the fastest, most realistic route.

Sorry, I wrote a thesis, hope it helps.


Yeah right. I think I need to build up from pretty basics. I have seen some people going to Japanese language school for a year and writing N1 directly, this is quite ambiguous to me. Does that mean those levels (N1, N2 …) are not connected to each other or to appear in N1 I need to cover up all the basics since N5.

bdw, I have just checked Nihongonomori channel it seems a lot of resource of which some I can understand and most are still above my level.

They do build on each other. But doesn’t mean you have to take all the other, lower levels, as you noted. Things you would be tested on in N3 or N2 will appear on N1, but it’ll just be assumed you can understand them and use those parts to grasp the answers to other questions they ask.


It does help indeed.

Thank you so much for taking your time and chalking out a detailed study plan for people like me. This plan looks easier to attempt and a step by step approach towards my goal. I am going to follow it.

Previously for very short times I have used Memrise for a few times but it started from very basics every time so I thought it was boring. Now I have iknow subscription and I have finished around 1800 vocabs. What do you think about that app? I am going to check Memrise again now, to find out the option to practice based on JLPT levels, if I find that I will certainly use it because I like Memrise approach any way.

Thanks again for the details.

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Oh hey, me too! ^^ Taking N1 in December!
Imma just … steal all the advice in here … :eyes:


You know last year I was told way too many times that I couldn’t pass the N3 in December starting from scratch in January… And I don’t know if I managed to do it, (we’ll see in a couple of days) but it was not that easy for me.

Now, you want to write the N1 in December, so that would be going from zero to hero in less than 2 years.

I understand you’re sorta genius kid, (I mean at your age I barely could speak my own language) and I don’t want to discourage you. But it is indeed bold of you to have such a lofty dream… I haven’t heard of anyone accomplishing that. What i’m trying to say is that I really want you to achieve it. Because that’d be something huge.

Now, no pressure, but my eyes are on you. I’ll try N2 this year and N1 the following


Hercules could do it :)
also I’m not a genius in any sense of the word but I’m glad you think so

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Let her go crazy. The worst it can happen is she failing but still learning a lot of Japanese (and oh damn, I wish I failed more often as a kid… gaining endurance to failure is a good trait to have).

It’s always awesome when you find someone so young and so daring to achieve some goals. These goals aren’t stealing her teen years of having fun, because she seems to be having tons of fun already :slight_smile:


I can’t wait to get to study that level and see if this is actually true. I bet it’s the biggest myth around it. Like how they say that the Cambridge C2 exam for English Proficiency is full of archaic wording, but I have close friends that have taken it telling me that’s bs.


Having both the N1 and C2, I’d say both are a myth.
About the N1, some questions in the reading section are written in a confusing way, though. So I think a native can get it wrong not because they don’t know the answer, but because the question is poorly framed. Kinda like the questions they ask you for the driver’s license :rofl:


I’ve never seen an adult native get a language knowledge section question wrong. I mean, they give you multiple choice for crying out loud.

Sure, they will go on and on about how hard what you’re studying is. Right after they say 上手ですね.

Reading and listening questions, maybe, but only because they don’t care enough to give their full attention, which those do require.


I am taking driving lesson now and facing the same problem, the questions are so poorly framed. I had to practice a lot of mock tests just to align my brain towards those question frames. It is good to see that there are other people feeling in the same way. Because every time I write any test in English in Japan I kind of become doubtful about my English comprehension skill too :frowning::frowning:


I’m chiming in with the chorus that I think it’s overblown. I think the “difficulty” is actually knowing why something is correct or not. Because many people will know the correct answer because they are used to speaking Japanese, they can’t go farther beyond that without formal study of Japanese grammar. The same is true for many who speak English as the native language. Explaining meta-linguistic concepts to a learner is difficult.

I can’t say the about the test, but some of the volunteers at the Japanese classes I go have gotten some of exercises wrong from the Shin Kanzen Master N2 grammar book. Not because they chose the obviously wrong answer, but because the choices are so similar and seem to work if one isn’t careful about the small nuances. Though, the volunteers who’ve teach Japanese as a discipline have never been tripped up by these questions.

To the OP, first of all, it's always nice to hear people living in Japan taking the initiative to really learn the language. I can't judge whether or not your goals are realizable in the time frame you're proposing or not, but I think that provided that you have the right foundation and get plenty of input you'll be well on your way to achieving N1. One piece of advice that will help the speed of building your vocabulary is reading. You can go through vocabulary lists all-day, but their effectiveness pales in comparison to extensive reading (reading for fun). Not only do you learn tons of vocabulary, but you internalize grammar, which in turn supplements your grammar studies in an organic way. I also think extensive listening would help a lot too because then you'll get used to a lot of different speaking styles, accents, and registers.

In addition to doing those things, explicit grammar study, shadowing, and weekly Japanese conversation, I was able to go from zero to N2 in about two years. Since you’re determined, I sure you can make a lot happen over this year.

Keep us updated about your progress!


Are you implying i’m not?



Not at all! It’s just that she has already been told by several people how crazy going for N1 sounds and how she should be more reasonable (by myself included) :stuck_out_tongue: I wanted to use the opportunity to give MusicalNinja some words of comfort :grin: