JLPT study routines?

So I’m now studying for the jlpt n4 (not what I originally planned but it doesn’t matter because everything is delayed because of COVID)I study for 3 hours a day at least that’s what’s i like to think :joy:.
I want to know about very harsh study plans , I have all n4 shinkanzen master books. I have a obsession for buying textbooks because I think they make me improve don’t judge me…. please help me create a study routine and share your study routine in comments see you!

(Also anyone know what time in British time zone on March 17th soas university jlpt examination application open?)

Goodbye! See you in the comments


How many SKM books do you have? Five? (I have all the N1 books, but I haven’t touched any of them other than the grammar book in a while, so I can’t remember how many there are.) And how are your three hours distributed? Are you free for three hours straight, or are they split up?

I’m studying for the N1, but I don’t really have much of a routine, not least because I have other work to do in university, and my schedule is pretty irregular. At the moment, I just open the dictionary or Google whenever I can after encountering new words. What I’d like to do (and advise) is to break study sessions up into short blocks (25-45 min) and to switch between fields of study (or books) from time to time.


I haven’t bought any yet, but I was planning to. Does anyone vouch for the Shin Kanzen Master books? Are they alone sufficient for studying for their given JLPT level or are any other resources recommended to supplement with them?


I can vouch for them. They are enough, though pretty dense material.
So sometimes you maybe need to look up stuff outside of them if the explanation and excersises aren’t enough for you.

Some of the excercises in the N3 one felt even a little harder than the actual test.

For OP I would recommend looking up how much study time you have left and then dividing your materials roughly in a way that you finish with all the materials you want to use 1¹/₂-2 weeks before the test. The second to last week is for revision of points you feel unsure about and the last week you can do all the practice exams you can find.
I would also reserve some “less intensive time” still. Something like reading for pleasure or watching a show or something. It’s way easier to stay motivated if not all of your study time has to be super productive.

For @EigaKantoku: I am also a fan of Try! to get an overview over a level. It’s pretty easy and introduces all of the grammar in a cursorary fashion. Altough using Try! alone might be enough to make you pass I wouldn’t recommend to go that route.
For OP: Also don’t forget to adjust your plan to your situation. Do something for 2 weeks, see how you like it and adjust. That is by far the most efficient way instead of trying to optimize your routine from the get go and wasting a bunch of time in the beginning.


Can second that. And also if the motivation and fun is there, that time might end up being even more productive in the end :).

That’s great to hear, especially if SKM is harder than the actual JLPT tests themselves! I’ve never heard of Try! before, what is it exactly if you don’t mind explaining? Is there a link you could please send me for it?

Amazon.com: TRY! Japanese Language Proficiency Test N3 Revised Edition: 9784872179026: Ajia gakusei bunka kyōkai.; Ratekkusu intānashonaru.: Books here is the N3 one but they also have other levels.

It would be best if you have a physical bookstore which has these and maybe Sou matome to flip through and see which one fits your own style best.

Shin Kanzen is the hardest of the bunch but I heard from some people that they just didn’t like the format…


Thanks a bunch for the link! So basically you think some people prefer the format of the Try! books to SKM, however the SKM series is harder and prepares you better? I’d be curious to check out the Try! series, and they’re definitely a far cheaper price. But I feel like the SKM series sounds like the much better route based off what you’ve told me.

I honestly haven’t heard of many that used Try!. I like it but I feel it is pretty unknown in the Japanese language learning community. Many like Sou Matome series but I really don’t like their format and explanations. So I’m probably biased in direction of the Shin Kanzen books.
Note also that we are only talking about JLPT prep books here. There are other intermediate series that go up to maybe N2 level but aren’t organized specifically in a JLPT fashion.

Ah… and theres also a good selection of purely drill books without explanations and stuff. I haven’t tried too many of these but if pressed could also say one or two words about some of them.


Nothing wrong with that but your plan MUST involve listening vs. reading. I’m assuming you skipped N5 (also nothing wrong with that) but the listening is always the most demoralizing part of the test. You can’t cram for it. You have to do a little at a time, all the time.

I don’t have very many suggestions that don’t cost money though. For me, watching anime or japanese TV shows is too much out of my range to get much out of it, and there are only so many YouTube practice tests - eventually you just memorize the answers and it stops helping. Not everyone has a Japanese-proficient friend, and iTalki (etc) cost money.

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Sounds good. Thanks for all your helpful input!

The possibly irritating thing about SKM books is that they’re fairly dense, and separating things into sections may mean that you’re going to have to look quite a few things up yourself (e.g. if you’re using the grammar volume and there’s a word or expression you don’t know, you’re going to have to look it up, because it’s not explained by the book). In essence, SKM books are workbooks with explanations, not textbooks. That aside, while I’m not sure what the SKM books below the N1 level are like, let’s just say that they give off a bit of a ‘hardcore’ feel – even with all the furigana, the N1 volumes are 100% in Japanese. All that being said, SKM is very detailed and well-designed: for example, the exercises in the N1 grammar volume target the differences between grammar points highlighted in the lesson section, and similar grammar points are taught together, meaning that you’ll only get those exercises right if you’ve fully understood the lesson. It’s very good reinforcement. I will say though, that ‘hardcore’ feel can be slightly tiring – there are just so many exercises – and if the 2009 sample N1 questions are anything to go by, I think SKM questions are definitely harder than what’s on the actual test.

The Try! series N1 book is much more friendly, and is more like a textbook that’s centred around grammar: there are Japanese explanations, and there are English translations as well. You get to see and hear grammar and words used in passages and dialogues (or so I believe), along with example sentences. However, the explanations in Try! are generally less detailed than those in SKM, with fewer nuances mentioned. That might just reflect the possibility that actual usage is less restrictive than what SKM suggests, but if I were facing very difficult test questions, I would rather have what SKM says in my head than the relatively loose explanations from Try!.

To sum things up, I think that Try!'s material is honestly easier to absorb because there’s more context, and given my learning style and history with language learning, I should probably use Try!, particularly since it’s just one book versus SKM’s five, and I don’t have a lot of time. On the other hand, all that context (especially the passages) can feel like fluff, which SKM has none of, and SKM’s explanations are just soooo precise, and the exercises are so well designed, that I don’t want to give them up, even if they can be tiring.

That’s my experience, basically: I own all six books. I think what works best really depends on you. In my opinion, SKM is a much more comprehensive test prep series (truly 完全), but there’s no point using something like that if you don’t get through a good chunk of it, in which case something like Try! might be better.

What did you dislike about them, actually? My impression of them from a quick search is that they feel like Try!, just broken into test sections. I’m not sure which series provides better explanations and more realistic questions though.


Thanks a bunch for the super detailed reply! I don’t mind looking things up, so I think SKM sounds perfect for me. If it’s all around the best resource to use, that’s what I want to go with.

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I can’t remember who said it, but isn’t it partially the intention of SKM? That they’re meant to be harder than the actual JLPT? :slight_smile:

Tobira goes to N3+ (old N3-N2 equivalent) and the higher level Quartet books cover N2 or around that.


I have 5 I think :joy:I don’t study 3 hours straight I split up my time but sometimes I get distracted and just don’t do anything so that’s why I thought it would be better to have a set schedule.That’s why I asked for peoples routines​:joy:


To be honest I don’t remember exactly. I think the grammar explanations were longer winded than in the Try! book but equally as shallow so I didn’t see the benefit. I also think the used vocabulary and layout resonated less with me. + the excersises in the Try! book were more to my liking as far as I remember.
It seemed to contain a lot of uneccessary fluff somehow :man_shrugging:

But it has been a long while since I opened a Sou Matome book maybe today I would see them in a different light.

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Books are good. :+1:

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I also bought all of the SKM volumes before I started WaniKani.
Now I am planning to take the N1 this year and had a look again at the Kanji book recently.
You don’t need this volume at all eg if you study Kanji on WaniKani.

I try to focus on grammar because reading and comprehension is good enough. But it is very tiring for me because I don’t like studying grammar that way. I think the explanations are not always easy to understand and I came across some sample sentences I don’t understand completely.

If I would take a lower test than N1 I would rather choose a series with just one volume for everything because it is really a bit unrealistic to go through five books.


If you still are willing to buy more textbooks, I recommend buying some drill books. There should be a few on Amazon - I like the ones with 10min drill sections. Mine has 30 drills, so since I have some time before July, I’m going through each book doing one drill of each per day (I have the grammar and vocab ones because those are my weak points). Then, I’m going through each book a second time, comparing my answers to see which ones I’ve gotten wrong both times, and adding those to an Anki deck.

For other paid materials, of course iTalki is great because you can find a teacher/tutor to take you through material and explain things.

For free material, the nihongonomori YouTube channel is a lifesaver. There’s also a few free full practice tests online, so I recommend doing a full test in a timed setting to feel comfortable with pacing.

No idea. I do know that they’re known for being harder than the actual JLPT though. I was just mildly surprised by exactly how much harder they are. Not that I mind though, since I intend to reach the level at which I can muddle my way through Japanese university lectures…

Hahaha. Well, I’ve found that breaking studying into shorter sessions (it’s the ‘Pomodoro method’, if you’ve heard of it) tends to help me stay focused. It may not give me the motivation to get going, but at least it’s easier to start. :rofl:

You can try picking the three areas you’re probably weakest in to start with, and commit to spending about 1hr on each every day. Try to set goals in terms of a certain number of chapters to finish within that hour. I think that might help.

Ah, ok, I see. I mean, someone who did a review did say that Sou Matome tends to have a reputation for being easier than the test itself, so perhaps it’s not so great anyhow.

Hahaha. Yeah, I understand the feeling. There are a lot of details in the explanations even though they’re quite short, and it’s not always easy to remember everything.

I’m usually OK with the examples once I look things up, but there’s actually one that includes incorrect keigo. (「ぜひ…いかがですか。」or something like that.) I looked it up because I felt like the sentence made no sense, and turns out I was right. Oh well, keigo involves a lot of parts to begin with, so I’m not surprised if things go wrong when people try too hard to be polite.

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