Overwhelming amount of resources

Hi there

I had a question to ask since this is a problem I have been facing since over a year. It’s been a while since I took up Japanese, and 157 days to be precise, since I started Wanikani. Wanikani has boosted my confidence beyond expectation when it comes to reading.

However, I am overwhelmed by the amount of resources available. Everywhere I look, there is more and more and more material to cover and I feel I will never be able to study it or know it all.

My goal is to get N3 this december and yet I find myself jumping from one book to another, one site to another. Can someone please help me out with only a few resources that can help me crack N3? I have working knowledge of n5 and want to get through N5 to N3 …

Wanikani is taking care of my kanji needs. Grammar and Vocab are my main problem areas where I can find bunpro, tae kim, MNN, Genki, etc etc etc… :frowning::cold_sweat:


I like Japanese from Zero. Not only are there a series of books, but they have a website to accompany the books. It is a paid site if you want to access the videos for each lesson, the games, etc. They explain the grammar and, of course, they cover vocabulary as well. The site is www.yesjapan.com. I like it a lot.


It’s not a lot of time left to JLPT. I’d recommend getting ShinKanzen Master (SKM) N3 and N4 for grammar. I think that N4 book includes quite a lot of grammar that you’ll need on N3, that’s why I’m recommending it.

Also get SKM Reading N3.

You can also get official practice test books. There are 2 available. You should do one now to gauge your level and one a a few weeks before the test to see what to focus on in the remaining time.

I recommend SKM because it is designed for efficient JLPT prep and covers a lot of material with concise explanations and numerous examples. Each chapter has a practice exercise in JLPT format, each section has a test, and there’s a final test in the end of the book that simulates the respective section in JLPT (grammar/reading).


If it’s specifically the N3 you want, there are study guides for all the N levels I think (haven’t used them myself). You can use whatever you prefer alongside that to supplement your studies.
If you only want to take the N levels because you want to check your progress, then a structured program (Genki, Minna, JapFromZero, etc) can help, but you can also simply decide for yourself which resources to use from the ones you already found.
Important part here is that a lot of resources teach similar things. It’s better to choose a few and go through them entirely than it is to read the first 5 pages of everything - which will all pretty much teach you こんにちは. If there were obvious ‘best way to learn’ resources, everyone would be using them by now - a lot of resources can be ‘best for someone’, because everyone learns differently.


If you want to pass the JLPT the best study tools are those aimed for passing the JLPT. Like Sou Matome or Kanzen Master. You can also go onto youtube and search N3 listening or JLPT N3 聴解(ちょうかい) or some such and it will help you with the listening. I recommend also taking a look at the official test materials and taking a mock exam so you get a feel for how long it takes and how much time you should spend on questions.

Lastly I suggest you READ READ READ. If you are able to read quickly then you will feel much more relaxed and able to spend more time considering your answers.


I’m pretty sure Japanese From Zero goes to N4 at the very most, and I’m assuming that if their goal is N3 by December they are already past that


Once you try to figure out how Japanese works beyond just ramming in vocabulary/grammar/kanji into your head JLPT style,

you’re really starting to get the impression that Japanese is a clusterfuck more than it is a language.

That being said:
Kanji - WaniKani
Grammar - Bunpro
Vocabulary - Torii SRS
for all the stuff that’s in the same category. Beyond that, if you don’t just pick a textbook (and probably optimally you should go through more than one), the resources don’t really overlap that much.

I had Tae Kim’s grammar guide, I still needed the Dictionary of Japanese Grammar on top of that.
I had the Kodansha’s Kanji Learner’s Course, I still needed something like World of Kanji or the Complete Guide to Japanese Kanji.

I could go on, but once you start going down that rabbit hole it’s never enough. I began going down the path of looking into straight up linguistics, and even there every time you get new information you end up with more questions than you do answers.

It’s like Stockholm syndrome except you keep learning shit, and now I’m learning about the origins of the Japanese language and considering picking up Mandarin.

It’s madness, run while you still can.


Ah, and my textbooks for JLPT N5 to N3 were Genki and Tobira.

I’ll add that if I were you, I wouldn’t depend on WaniKani for kanji.

Some of the mnemonics that WaniKani is using are lowkey inane, and you’ll see once you do need to write down the kanji you learnt on WaniKani that you can’t even reproduce them.

It isn’t even just a matter of stroke order. I guess if you really needed to you could just look it up for each kanji you learn on WaniKani or even get a plugin for that that would fetch that data for you (pretty sure there is one) and then get something like genkouyoushi type stuff and just SRS yourself on doing that, but honestly I’m having an easier time also knowing the actual reasons why the kanji are the way they are.

Like for example, knowing that the “moon” radical is really the “meat” one alone clarifies a decent amount of things.

I’d have to disagree with that if you’re not looking to learn writing. Modern IMEs have made that a non-issue and I haven’t had any issues producing Kanji when typing. Honestly, if I had to actually write something down, I’d just type a note on my phone’s Japanese keyboard and muddle through.

1 Like

Take a step back and take a breath. :wink:

As an example, you’re basically doing the same thing as looking at the entirety of mathematics all the way to Multivariable Calculus and Linear Algebra and worrying about learning long division.

Pick one and stick with it. It really doesn’t matter. Like @cringe said:

Analysis is good but don’t get caught up in it. If you can’t pick one, then pick names out of a hat. The important part is starting and finishing.\

1 Like

Okay now say that for any other language.

I’m not sure how that’s relevant.

The whole idea of Wanikani is learning Kanji to recognition, not to reproduction.
If that’s for some reason not enough, you might as well use the old-fashioned drilling methods of writing the Kanji again and again and again.

1 Like

@alo @M4tthi4s91
Yeah sure, not learning how to write is definitely a genius idea. Good luck.

No sarcasm. That’s exactly what it is. A genius idea.


I guess the question is, what’s the value in learning to write the kanji by hand? I agree that reproduction / learning to output is important, but I find a resource like kaniwani is great to go hand in hand with WK. Heck, even in English I can’t remember the last time I had to write out something by hand that was longer than a few words.

1 Like

Do you need the N3 this year? Going from N5 to N3 level grammar/vocab/reading/listening in 3 months will be challenging :slight_smile:
But if you have the time and energy to devote yourself to it, then all the best to you :muscle:

Soumatome is ok, I’ve heard good things about ShinKanzen Master too. And practice tests will help!


OP wants to try for N3 this December so they don’t have a lot of time. I agree that learning to write beneficial but it’s just not a good use of the limited time available when you can get more out of other things that are directly relevant.

The JLPT doesn’t require writing at all so while it’s fine as part of a long term study of Japanese, in this case it’s better put off as something to learn later.

1 Like

Learning how to write can absolutely he a rewarding venture of Japanese language learning and I totally believe most people should learn the basics of writing and be able to write common characters.

That being said it definitely isn’t necessary for the jlpt or any other Japanese test aside from kanji specific tests like the kanji kentei.

I’ll add this anecdote as well. My husband, an intelligent college educated born and raised Japanese man, could NOT write 家族 on the ema at the shrine. He had to use his phone to look it up.

This is certainly not an isolated incident. You’ll find Japanese people typing on their phones or computers to recall a kanjis strokes. Just like how we might check spelling.

So in this case while you are bogged down with jlpt prep I don’t think kanji recall is super necessary.

Most important is to get a feel for the test and improve weak areas.

After you finish your test feel free to study writing, just know it will absolutely eat into study time and the benefits may be less than anticipated.