Should i go for JLPT N5 or JLPT N4 Later this year

Hi everyone, i started to study japanese on May(2023), and i set a goal to myself of taking a JLPT on december this year, but i been struggling with the decision of choosing the N5 or the N4.

So far i invested 146 Hours on learning

Active Listening (Netflix) - 51 Hours
ANKI - 29 Hours
Kanji (WaniKani - Books) - 17 Hours
Youtube Lessons (Toki ni Andy, Japanese From Zero) - 17 Hours
Grammar (Textbooks - BunPro) - 16 Hours
Passive Listening (Podcast while walking) - 12 Hours
Reading - 4 Hours

I’m still level 4 on wanikani (hopefully i’ll get to level 5 tomorrow), but based on my estimates i’ll be level 13 or 14 on the final week of november (Which covers 90.36% of N4 kanji)

With Anki i already finished my JLPT N5 Vocabulary Deck (currently working to get all cards "Mature)

And i still have a long way to go on my JLPT N4 Deck Card (currently learning 10 cards a day, but i will increase this number later)

Kanji is being pretty easy so far, and vocab as well, my main problems so far are grammar points, and listening, for example, i can read some begginner material just fine, but listening takes too much brain power and i end up getting lost mid-sentence.

I’m averaging 2 hours of study everyday, knowing all of that information, is that enough to get me to N4 level until december? or should i just play it safe and go for the N5?

Also, any advices on things that i need to focus more on?

It’s hard to give reliable advice to someone whose path to learning Japanese has differed greatly from my own, so feel free to ignore what I have to say, but…

I had a much more extensive background in beginner-level Japanese learning at the time when I took the N5 than you would have, including lots of listening comprehension practice and known vocabulary in hiragana and katakana as well as by ear, and while I passed the test, I found it to be an extremely challenging exercise. I was an ‘older learner’, and so it is quite possible that a younger student might not have found it to be quite that challenging. Only you know your own capacity for learning and test taking - while I have always had excellent results on standardized tests, it’s not surprising that working towards language acquisition at a younger age can have great advantages for the learner.

I would expect that you would have difficulty passing the N4 in December, and even passing N5 in December might turn out to be a bigger challenge than you are anticipating (not saying that you can’t do it, just that it would not necessarily be ‘playing it safe’ to take the N5 test in December).

A good self-assessment step for you to try before making any decision would be to take at least one full mock/sample N5 exam, following the same time constraints for each section that will be enforced during the real exam, and see how well you fare with that.

While clearly it’s important, learning the underlying material is not the only prerequisite for passing any JLPT exam. Rather, learning the structure of the exam questions ahead of time, and understanding what the test writers’ goals may be, are also quite important.

For example, the listening comprehension exercises and questions are often structured in a way that will intentionally try to confuse you. So you will need to develop a strategy for minimizing the intentional pitfalls built into the test questions and getting quickly to the proper answer.


It would be good to check your level:

The JLPT is generally the same format (different exam sections & timings though, and vastly different difficulty). For your first exam it’s important to be somewhat familiar with the format.

For people outside of Japan, the listening might be the most tricky. They usually have a lot of questions with a format of: a woman and a man are talking, what will the woman do, and then they discuss 4 items and she decides on the 1st or 2nd (or something like that). It’s necessary to pay attention and notice when some options are decided against.
Familiarity and practice help.


That’s a good advice, i did 2 N5 mock tests this past month, and while i was able to pass it, i say that some luck was involved, because on some questions, i understood maybe 50%, but that was enough to answer the question, and of course on the listening section, i was really bad.
Its funny, because when i first learned english, listening wasn’t that challenging…maybe it could be because i already had much natural exposure to the language (movies, music), and with japanese i don’t have that much yet