Passing JLPT N1 within 2 years

Hello everyone!
I’m currently in my first year of studying computer science in the Utrecht University in the Netherlands and I want to go to Kyoto University to follow a minor for 6 months during my third year.
There is an exchange programme available, but you are only able to apply for this if you have passed the JLPT N1 test.
Now, I really want to apply for this exchange and I’m more than willing to practice at least 2 hours a day for the coming two years(I’m already practicing at least 2 hours a day).
My current take is growing my vocabulary with Wanikani and practicing grammar on external sites, as well as phonetics.
I also have access to the JLPT vocabulary on memrise, but I prefer Wanikani’s method.

My question being: can you pass the JLPT N1 test by learning all the kanji, radicals and vocabulary in Wanikani or is it not close to sufficient, or is Wanikani’s content even more than the N1 test?

I’d really love to hear your opinions about this and your experience if you’ve passed or tried the N1 test.
Any tips are welcome as well!

Thank you very much.


It’s not close to enough on its own. WaniKani is a kanji reading (pronunciation) website, first and foremost. The level of detail needed for N1 vocab questions isn’t covered in WaniKani. It will teach you that 解釈 means “explanation,” but then you’ll see 4 options on the test where the meaning of “explanation” fits fine, but the difference is the nuance of the surrounding context. WaniKani won’t teach you any of that.

And that’s not even touching on grammar or listening.


Thank you very much for your lightning fast reply.
It makes a lot of sense, now realizing that I have indeed learned the isolated words up until now, and not really in context.
What would you recommend for me in this case?

Well, what WaniKani is great for is getting you started in having a feel for the general idea of words and how to read them, so when you try to read things on your own, it’s not as painful. Even if you can’t understand a sentence, somehow it’s much easier to keep going if you can read it out loud.

That lays the groundwork for you to consume Japanese content and slowly build up your understanding from that context.

So, I would say, use WaniKani, and grammar resources that will tell you the basics, to get to the point where you can try to read native stuff without much discomfort. You can continue to use WaniKani, of course, but more of your time at that point should be devoted to reading and absorbing things completely in Japanese. Looking up definitions in Japanese, etc.


You can check out the website BunPro for grammar.

The free application Torii can help you with going through the core 10K vocab words without doubling up on what WK teaches you (it has a WK mode that excludes all items from the 10K that WK covers). WK has a lot of useful vocab, but selects vocab as reinforcement for the kanji, not for JLPT purposes. Kana-only words, for example, will have to come from other sources.

When you’re more into N4 / N3 territory, which makes reading much more doable, you can look into the website floflo, which can help you a lot with reading.

N1 binnen 2 jaar is echt afzien, maar hopelijk lukt het je. :slight_smile:


That’s a really good advice.
It closely resembles my initial plan because I had downloaded an app called Satori Reader which contains stories completely in Japanese.
At the moment I am not comfortable to read these stories as I lack in vocabulary quite a lot, but I hope to be able to read them within the next few months.

Thank you for your advice, it has given me a good understanding of how I should continue from here.
Have a great day!

Thank you so much for these resources!
I will definitely use these to proceed my journey to N1!
And yes, I really do know what I signed up for but I’m very devoted!

Heel erg bedankt Omun, na mijn bezoek in Kyoto in februari heb ik besloten om daar te gaan werken, dus ik doe er alles voor om dat te behalen :slight_smile: !

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It’s going to be very difficult, maybe you can gauge where you’re at in a year? If you can pass the N2 next year you can be very hopeful I think. With a full-time (bachelor?) study in Utrecht I wonder whether you’ll have enough time to study for it :thinking:

You can look up online how many hours they expect you to study for the JLPT levels, there’s a table on this website that shows the estimated study hours. For N1, they estimate around 3000 hours (of course this is an average estimation so there’s no guarantee it’s applicable to you). So let’s say you’re a fast learner and do it in 2500 hours, that still means you’d have to study 3.5 hours in 700 days, can you get to that?

Things to keep in mind are: reading speed (the reading section can be very difficult if you don’t actually practice reading), listening skills, vocabulary that are not on wanikani and GRAMMAR

Heel veel succes, ik hoop echt dat het je lukt!!


This is a great realistic view to it and I’m glad you told me this.
I’m aiming very high because I want to become a high-performer.
I can manage my studies quite well so far and I’m mainly doing this because I feel like I need to do way more.
Thank you very much for your advice!

Heel erg bedankt, ik zal zeker over een jaar terug inchecken hier!

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I’m not saying it’s impossible, but you’d be trying to complete a marathon by sprinting the whole thing. I burned myself out putting between 1-2 hours in per day for 3 years (now on my 4th year), and I only passed N4 last July. Obviously everyone has different paces, and I’ve been very busy over the past few years, but that sort of speed even if you were putting in 4 hours a day, is unheard of. Not to mention how additional time helps massively with comprehension, which (I’m sure) is key to completing the test on time.

The fact that you need N1 Japanese to do an exchange seems mad. N2 maybe, but N1? That’s the level employers expect of you.


Yes, I was quite shocked when I heard that as well.
There are actually two different exchange programmes, one is completely in English and the other is completely in Japanese.
Now I COULD go for the English exchange, but I really wouldn’t prefer that because I want to prove myself that I can work hard.
Kyoto University is actually quite hard to get into, so next to speaking academy level Japanese, I’ll need to have good grades as well to apply for an exchange.

I know I have my bad days or moods, but Japanese is one of the few things that I can always learn because I see it as something to come closer to my goal instead of it being a goal itself!
Thank you for the heads-up though!


I feel very similar and learning Japanese always brings me joy😊
If you think about it like that, the odds of you staying motivated are definitely high, but do indeed be careful not to burn yourself out! Getting high grades and the N1 is a true challenge!

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Hey there, I’m kind of in the same situation as you. I study computer programming in Breda and have been thinking of going for an internship in Japan aswell. Now in my second year my plans have changed a bit but anyway(my school didn’t accept going to Kyoto University as my third year internship:(. ) you should look up for volksuniversiteit in Utrecht. I’m sure they have Japanese classes aswell.


It’s even hard to get N1 in 2 years even if you live in Japan all this time. N1 means you have to be able to understand writing and speaking almost like nativespeaker. There will be audit test with complex terminology without pauses or slowdowns, and you have to understand it on the fly in real time. To train your mind to decode Japanise audio on that level you have to literally live in Japan ecosystem 24/7/365. This way you will train Japanese every minute whole day without stops.

I’d advice to find Japanese girl/boy friend in your University, and live together all those 2 years, speaking only Japanese. Then you have a good chance :slight_smile:

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i’m not really qualified to answer, but i’ve heard a few things.
Of course the N1 is hard for learners, but it’s not even close to native ability.
I’ve also heard some chinese people passing it while being very bad at japanese conversation.
you only need to listen and read after all.
So, it could be possible in 2 years, but will probably require more than 2 hours per day.

quote from another thread:

N1 covers the Joyo kanji, so WK will mostly cover you on the Kanji part, but you’ll need to learn a lot of grammar, vocabulary, and listening comprehension as well.

For grammar i personally like Bunpro, but there’s also the free Tae Kim guide, Genki, etc
Of course at some point (~lvl 20 WK) you should start reading a lot, which will make you reinforce everything and learn a lot except listening skill.
For listening, try News, JDramas, anime, etc. Maybe podcasts in the end to prepare for the test, but in the beginning visual media give more clues towards meaning.


I want to express my gratitude here for you, guys and gals, for answering so quickly and sharing your honest opinions with me.
It really helps a lot, I mean it!


take advantage of the free trial of japanesepod 101. if you like it, you get grammar, listening and reading in one package. coupled with wk’s kanji studies, you can advance pretty quickly.


Btw, i just discovered Torii, which is a free vocab learning tool similar to WK.

It might be a good idea just to learn the N5 vocab in the beginning,
because WK doesn’t teach hiragana vocab, and puts a lot of common vocab toward the end, if it’s there at all. The vocab here is mostly for reinforcing the Kanji after all, and that’s great.

For example, 僕 (ぼく, I) is only at lvl 12, and i hear 確かに (たしかに, certainly, lvl 20) all the time.
Of course, the WK order is to make the kanji easier to learn.

Now, most people already feel the pain to keep up with one SRS system, but personally…
4th parallel SRS, here i go!

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To echo the others… N1 in 2 years with only 2 hours of self–study per day is highly improbable.

But, suppose after 2 years you “only” get to N2. That’s still a high level of achievement. Ok you wont be able to attend that specific Kyoto University program, but having an N2 would still give you a ton of options including possible jobs & internships in Japan. Even an N3 can open up some doors.

You don’t want to put yourself in a situation that you’re putting in all this effort in a (somewhat unrealistic goal) of get to N1, and then completely quit mid-way when you wake up one day and realize that you’re not progressing as fast as you should and that specific goal is no longer achievable.

What I’m trying to clumsily say is… in the bigger scheme of things, that consistent 2 hours / day you put in is more important than the specific level (N1/N2/N3) you will actually get to after the two years.


It might be a good idea to also research some backup options ahead of time, just in case the Kyoto University thing doesn’t work out.