JLPT N2 - opinions on doing reading section first?

Hey everyone, I’ve heard differing opinions on this, but I’m curious if anyone has ever tried doing the reading section first in JLPT, particularly N2. Reading is the hardest section for me; my score in that section was the lowest in N3. I think I spend too much time on the vocab and grammar questions and get nervous about not having enough time in the reading section, which makes it even harder to focus. I’ve heard that someone like me should do the reading first and then go through the vocab and grammar quickly, since if you don’t know that stuff when you see it you’re not likely to remember it even if you think for a long time. Is this a good strategy though? I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially from anyone who has tried this.

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I took the N3 in december and managed to pass. My biggest regret was to spend too much time on grammar. I should have started with reading, but it’s actually a strong point in my case. For N3, I had so much little time that I would read the text once then answer the questions and next T_T
So my plan for N2 will be to start with vocab (thanks to Wanikani I am super quick at kanji, so they are easy points for me) then move on to reading and finish with grammar, which is a weak point for me anyway. :slight_smile:

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I don’t know about the N2, but as for general test taking, starting with your worst skill is the opposite of what’s recommended. Get the things you’re good at over with fast so you’ve got those points secured and then move on to harder things. I don’t see why it would be all that different for the JLPT :thinking:


What you said would be true if only the total of points was taken into account. However, for the JLPT you need a total of points AND a passing score for each section to pass. So, if reading is a weakness and you have too little time for that you may not make it. However, I definitely can’t recommend to spend too much time on reading if it’s your weakness.
Finding the good balance is actually difficult because of this section passing score. Otherwise, I would recommend as @GrumpyPanda to just work on your strong point to get the best score possible :confused:


From what I learned from others and applied for myself I would tell you do the grammar first, information picking exercice, reading comprehension, then kanji.

Grammar is easy points if you know your lessons so it would be a shame to not have time to finish. And it’s good to warm up your brain into Japanese reading mode

Information picking is the easiest of the comprehension section, so again easy points.

Reading comprehension is the tricky part so use most of your time on this, read carefully the first and last sentences of each paragraph, because very often that’s where your answers are gonna be, then fast read the rest. Don’t block on unknown kanji, you only need to understand the general idea of the text to answer the questions.

And kanji, well you’ll only know what you know, try to quickly guess the rest but I wouldn’t spend more than 30 mins on it.

That’s the advice that worked best for me. I think it came from a KemushiChan ロレッタ video on YouTube.
I trained myself doing it on mock tests beforehand and it did work on the real exam too.

Good luck to all!


I think it’s better to do Vocabulary and Grammar first because it’s a smaller section with far less reading.

Set aside an hour for reading and do the vocab&grammar first. If you don’t know an answer for sure, skip it for now, go to the next. After you went through all of the questions circle back to the ones you skipped and pick the most probable answer. For the questions you can’t even guess just circle one of the options (e.g. answer 1 for all of them).

Make sure to do all of this within the time you have, so that you still have an hour for reading.

If you start with reading you risk using too much time on it and not finishing the other section. Reading can be a time sink because most people will be able to figure out an answer given enough time. But you don’t have enough time. It may be worth preparing to skip certain texts from the get go and allocating more time on the rest of the assignments.


Reading is also my weak point and I tried that with N1 (first attempt) and it sure showed me something :rofl:
Not necessarily because I was weak, but because of time management. It’s easy to lose track of time with one item (even though I had a watch :melting_face: )
Anyway, unless you’re good with time management and all, I wouldn’t recommend it.
It’s not impossible to finish the exam doing this section then that section etc, but I can’t say that you’ll have the time to be doing that kind of spinning. Avoid le panic plz.

Just set the amount of time required to finish the Vocab+Grammar section and stick to it.
I didn’t finish N2 reading but passed. It was the lowest of three scores but a pass is a pass :pray:t6:


Maxspeed the first section as a warmup and then smash the reading (that’s always been my strategy).

I don’t do any ‘circling back’ to any questions that I don’t know the answer to - I just pick what has the best ‘feel’ in my mind.

Just try not to panic :slight_smile: (that’s my problem… exam phobia)


Thanks so much for sharing your experience and advice!

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Thanks so much for the replies everyone. It’s really useful!
Best of luck to everyone in their studying!

I only just barely passed the reading so I don’t know how much you ought to listen to my opinion, but here it is anyway.

What I did was go through the grammar at whatever my natural pace was, and then at the end check my watch to see how much time was left. I divided the remaining time by the number of readings, and then just took a mental note as I went along saying, “I won’t take longer than X to get through this section.” If it started getting close to X, I’d rush through the remaining questions for that reading and then move onto the next.

Doing that, I still had a chunk of time leftover at the end to go back and review the questions that I had rushed before.

…but I guess that kind of depends on how fast or slow you are in test taking, because if I were too slow on the grammar that would’ve ruined me.

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I’m not sure dividing your remaining time evenly makes the most sense since the reading passages vary in length. Given that you already took the test using this approach, would you change your strategy at all in retrospect?

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To be fair, I did take that into account and tried to finish the earlier ones a little faster.

But in the end I didn’t really have a problem with the time, and I never really have had a problem so far taking N4, then N3, and then N2.

So again, maybe I’m not the best person to get advice from, but for me, just kind of keeping an eye on the time and pacing myself accordingly has been enough to get everything done and pass every time.