N2 in four months? Help!

I apologise in advance for the post being so long.

Now hold your horses and let me explain. Last year I did my thesis in Japan (Gifu University) and got along well with my japanese colleagues and professor there. Despite some troubles, I really enjoyed it! The duration was three months and it ended in October. My Japanese professor used to work for Shimizu Corp. and still keeps in contact with the company now and then and so fast forward a few months I asked him if there were any possibilities for foreigners like me to work at the company. He sent an email back saying it’s unlikely but that they’re asking for JLPT N2 and he’ll let me know soon.

So I’ve found myself in a position where I may be able to get a job in japan, it’s only a slither of hope though but I still think it’s worth a try. However it requires JLPT N2 and seeing as the next test is in July I thought I’d set that as my goal, giving me just over four months. I’ve never taken a JLPT test before but I’d like to think I’m N4 as I did both Genki I and II and perhaps a quarter of An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese while at uni.

I understand the prospect of getting to N2 from N4 in such a short time may sound a bit absurd but putting that aside and focusing on what should be done to achieve this, I decided to ask you guys for help on what I should do!

The first problem I realised is that I won’t even be level 30 wanikani by the time the test rolls around, and so I’m really scared on what I should do for kanji. Kanji has always been my bane but thanks to wanikani I’ve really been enjoying it so far. However, it’s clear it’s not going to be enough so how should I supplement this?

Particularly, I’ve heard good things about Shin Kanzen Master and Sou Matome for jlpt N2 and besides kanji, they cover reading comprehension, listening, grammar, and vocab. I’m thinking of picking up at least the kanji and grammar books of one of the series, the question is which? And would I really need all 5 books? Is it a good idea to go for these books and which series would you guys recommend? And if you don’t recommend this then what would you recommend? I read somewhere that the kanji and vocab books are largely unnecessary as you would naturally pick up the kanji and vocab through the grammar book and reading exercises.

Sou Matome seems to be able to be completed in 6-8 weeks, I’m not sure about Shin Kanzen Master. Besides books I’ve found this website called Japanesetest4you which seems like a treasure trove of content for N2 as they have all five areas of vocab, kanji, grammar, listening, and reading! Perhaps this website would make the books unnecessary? I’ve been thinking of picking up Bunpro again for srsing grammar that I learn as I can just add any new points in, I got halfway through N4 before my trial ended lol but at $3 a month that seems like a steal. I’ve just stuck with Torii, houhou, and wanikani and even recently installed bunpo to use on my phone. I use houhou along with Torii as I can’t add any new lessons beyond the 50 it’s restricted to a day, so if I want to add new vocab from a reading exercise for example I have to use houhou. I looked at memrise but their SRS intervals are longer than wanikani’s so I’ve just been using Torii’s N5-N2 + kana + wanikani deck and it has about 4000 items in total. Before I was only doing about 20 a day but I’ll see how I go with 50.

My plan right now is probably to go with whichever books you guys recommend from Shin Kanzen Master or Sou Matome or just use that jtest website, and complement it with 50 vocab a day in Torii, add anything else to houhou, stick with wanikani, and add grammar I learn into Bunpro. Does this seem valid? I eagerly await your thoughts!


I should also mention I found this blog post where it mentions an advertisement for getting to N2 from complete beginner in four months! Although they are korean.

I will say that I think the Shin Kanzen Master books are pretty good.

When you get into the reading and grammar books, you will be faced with a wall of Japanese text full of kanji and vocabulary you don’t know. Makes it quite challenging. I mean maybe you could look them all up one at a time as you went but I think that would be tedious.

If it were me I’d focus on kanji and vocabulary first before moving on to reading / listening / grammar.

What you’re proposing is potentially an unrealistic endeavor, which even if you did succeed, does not guarantee a job opportunity. But, if you want to challenge yourself - go for it. Hopefully you have quite a few hours a day you can dedicate to this…?


You will need ALL the hours of the day to dedicate to this.


Not sure how much time you have every day and if you can handle this immense work for 4 months straight, but I guess it’s possible?

I passed N2 (barely, mind you) in 1 year, working almost every day for 4+ hours, if not 8 sometimes. At the beginning I only had Genki 1 done, although I forgot a lot from it. After I did 1 Genki 2 chapter + all exercises from grammar book in 1 day, making notes and all that stuff. I moved to Tobira then, but quickly stopped after 5th chapter, and went for Bunpro for some time.
I was doing 2~ grammar points per day, so you can try doing that. Calculate the total amount of grammar points, divide by the days (4 months, so 120 days) and see. According to BP now you’d have to learn 3.5 grammar points per day.

Don’t also forget the vocab, that was a thing that killed me on jlpt. There’s a WK vs JLPT spreadsheet, add the words from level like 30 (or whichever you’re gonna reach on WK during those months with comfortable speed) and start adding them on SRS platform, don’t add the words you already have on WK, you can’t really spend your energy on that.
I used Kitsun’s 10k, it worked wonders for me. It has audio questions with your normal reading, meaning and English->Japanese, plus example sentences helped me a lot with understanding the word in context and listening. Do the same thing like with grammar, calculate the amount of words needed and divide them by days.

Don’t forget about listening too. I watched a lot of 日本語の森’s videos on youtube, like 3 a day from N3 and then N2, adding words/grammar to SRS when I see it. Recently I finished 国語 series, it was great for listening, highly recommend it after N3, closer to finishing N2 (link to the playlist).

I also read a lot, about 1-2+ hours per day for half a year, then I kinda stopped because I finished manga series and now I try to go back to it again. Look into bookclubs here on the forums. I started by reading Yotsuba with the help of list of words translated, which helped with understanding colloquial speech, and then I went full on with 時をかける少女, catching up to the bookclub, reading one week of work in one day, every day. That took so much effort and time, but it helped a lot with understanding long passages of text. I also read Breaking into Japanese, but oh boy was it challenging, but really fun.

All in all, it really depends on you and your ability to spend so much time and effort on it. Four months is really really hard for N2, but technically not impossible, that depends on your brain’s ability to handle this. Please don’t burn yourself out with this though, it’s not like it’s the best way to go about it. I lacked a lot of vocab and deeper undestanding of grammar points with that method, so you’d have to work on your weaknesses after this. Plus, it’s better to go steady for 1, 2 years than to stop after 1-2 months and be unable to go back to Japanese for a year or something like that.


So just for grins, I pulled up the ol’ Foreign Service Institute Language Difficulty Chart. Puts Japanese at about 2200 hours of study for general proficiency.

Four months, 30 days a month, call it 120 days. 2200 / 120 = 18 hours a day, including weekends. So it would appear you’re pretty much spot on with that comment!

Granted, studying specifically to pass one specific test is a bit of a different animal. Maybe that’s doable.

But then if you get to a job interview and stumble because of not having real command of the language…


I also used their videos ever since N3, all the way up to N1 and can testify that they’re awesome. The only problem might be that there’s many of them and you might end up getting overwhelmed with all the information. But considering you plan on making the jump to N2 in such a short time, it’s a good place to start.

I’d also +1 for reading. The jump in difficulty for texts from N3 to N2 is incredible so you’ll need a lot of reading practice to get through that section. I’d recommend starting with something like NHK easy, then find blogs, articles, etc on the Internet and challenge yourself with them. You’ll need to invest a lot of time over the next four months if you want to cover the gap to N2.


According to that chart, Japanese is the most difficult to learn for English speakers. Even more than Cantonese and Mandarin. WTF are we doing here? lol




How are your writing, speaking and listening skills?

Don’t forget that the goal is to get that job…you’ll no doubt need to pass an interview in Japanese (the N2 thing is just a signal that you may be able to communicate in Japanese).

Anyway good luck :slight_smile:


The thrill of one more kill?


You should probably also get some practice books with official (past) N2 tests. Make sure to time yourself. I only did one practice test before taking N3, but it gave a decent indication of what to expect on the actual test. I didn’t feel the need to do more than one because I was coasting to N3, but if N2 is a stretch for you, more practice tests spread throughout the four months might be a good idea.

unrelated but for seanblue

I’ve been gone too long. Where the heck is your badge?!
Screen Shot 2020-02-20 at 21.14.49

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Can you see it’s a purple level 60 circle?:



But that’s a title, not a badge ree

Sorry, OP. I shall shoo now. Gambare!

Sorry OP, will fly away now

Hold onto my turtle. The WaniKani Sale Begins (Dec 18, 2019 – Jan 8, 2020) - #62 by koichi


There are a lot of long messages here that I can’t be bothered reading. My advice for N2 in a few months … panic … a lot … After that, maybe panic a little more but then start to identify your weaknesses and focus on improving them

This site is indeed a trove of info but it is full of errors. I use the vocab and sample sentences for exposure and make a game of spot the mistake. The listening quizzes have been eye opening at N5 . They sound like they were ripped from actual tests… Low quality audio but may accurately mimic the test environment.
I use another site for grammar.

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Maybe do an N3 practice test right away, to see where you stand?

Also, do not underestimate listening. Maybe start listening to Japanese podcasts and radio on your commute.

How far do you think you can go on WK without taking away too much time from other studies?

Reading to get the gist of a paragraph, so not too detail oriented, is also a good skill to develop. You won’t have time to think over every word you don’t understand. Being able to quickly identify the subject, agent, object in a sentence. Develop a strategy for how to divide your time between sections.


I should have mentioned I graduated, so I have all the time in the world! (Or four months to be exact)

Is that this spreadsheet? I count 2806 items total from N5 to N2 from wk level 28 onwards. I don’t know how to modify Torii to do this. I’m currently doing the N5-N2 which has a little over 4000 items. Perhaps I should start using kitsun if Torii can’t be modified?

You mean like this?


Thanks for mentioning this. Was wondering how good of a site it was. The last thing a person learning wants to see is that the very content he’s learning is erroneous!

  1. Alright, how should I go about doing this? Just do all four of the sample N3 tests on this site and mark myself to see what percentage I get?

  2. Will do!

  3. I plan to go as far as I can, which I believe is a level a week and so I can’t go any faster than this.