Preparing for JLPT

Hi there! I am studying to take the N3 whenever it is available in NYC again. It’s been put on hold because of the pandemic. What can I do, and should be doing in preparation. I study although probably not as consistently as I have 2 babies. I know that my biggest weakness is listening comprehension. I eventually would like to pass the N2, but I am in no hurry.

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Listening was the hardest part for me when i took the N4. The test itself wasn’t that hard, obviously if you know the stuff. But listening was purposefully convoluted, so I’d work on listening comprehension, and also basically just take notes and use them to answer if you think it’s going too fast.

To give an example:
Where are you going next?
Well, I was thinking of going to the store two blocks from here, then the spa, and finally back home.
Didn’t you hear that there was an accident near the store? It’s closed for the moment.
Oh well, I’ll go to the spa first, then.
Well, the spa is open, but the owner said they were going to offer a discount after 6pm, so you should go at night.
Oh, that sounds nice, I’ll go to another store and wait until 6, then.

Where are they going first?

I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get it.

There’s (I think is the site) where you can listen to a bunch of audio and they ask you what word is missing and stuff like that. Plus just conversations in YouTube and stuff.

Of course, if you also struggle with kanji or vocab, then there’s that.


Listening wise I recommend the practice tests on youtube. If you dont understand them maybe consider extra practice with things you enjoy like Dramas or YouTube videos that are in Japanese. N3, I would recommend upper elementary level cartoons like Doraemon and Chibi Maruko-Chan. Plus those are fun to watch with kids.


As @Kazzeon mentioned, the listening test is horrifically convoluted. Personally I think the content of the listening section isn’t that difficult, but the format is horrifically difficult, especially when compared to how listening exams for other languages are formatted.

I’m usually not a huge fan of excess test prep and tend to take an approach of “improve your overall skills. Tests are just there to measure you’re general language skills,” but when it comes to this listening section, I think it’s such a badly made test that if you’re confident in your general listening skills, I think you just have to do a bunch of practice tests. The biggest thing you can do is just get yourself used to the formatting and get your note taking system down. It’s honest to god more of a test of your memory and note taking skills than it a test of your Japanese skills. Also keep in mind that the listening section is at the very end of the test, so you’ll already be pretty tired, so make sure you’ve got the mental stamina for all the short term memory that that listening section requires


Also agree that the listening is the hardest part, I previously failed N4 because I got such a bad score on the listening section. As mentioned, the conversations seem to be intentionally convoluted and confusing. They are also really boring so you have to listen carefully to avoid zoning out.

One other non study related piece of advice I would give to everyone is to make sure you bring enough food/snacks and water. When I took N4 in the past I was getting hungry near the end of the exam and it was getting harder and harder to focus, having some snacks would have really helped.

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All this is really helpful. I use to watch a lot of Japanese tv on Netflix with a VPN, but that isn’t as helpful anymore because Netflix seems to have cut back on TV shows that are Japanese. I was unaware of the practice listening on youtube so I will start looking into those resources asap. Listening is really the skill that frightens me the most, and keeps me from trying to pass the N2. I’ve never taken the exam. When I started thinking of it as a goal, the pandemic came along and caused all the cancellations.

This week I started using some new study tools. I started using Anki, I am using some free grammar decks that were available that were organize according to JLPT levels. Today after my regular grammar study, Nihongo sou matome and anki, I signed up and took the placement test for a graded reader website, JGR Sakura tadouku. I found out about it on Tofugu, and decided to give it a try. It’s free, and I liked the fact that there was a placement test to figure out what level reading one should try. Anki has really helped me be more consistent with the grammar because I can do it on my pc, and phone. I wondering if anyone has tried this graded reader before.

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