Should I go for N5 or N4 in December?

The reason I want to do the test as opposed to using my money on something else is because if I pass the exam my college will count it as a course even though I self study. But I’m not really sure which one to go for. I’m familiar with all the n5 kanji and grammar, can’t say the same for n4, but my vocabulary is a little all over the place. I’m definitely even missing some n5, yet I know some n3/n2 level stuff. If I had to go with my current level I’d definitely go for the n5, but there are still a few months before the exam so I’m tempted to aim higher
On one hand I’d like to really challenge myself to study hard and reach that n4 level before December, but on the other I also have other very important exams coming up and I’d like to be sure that I pass the exam so that I can get that course.
What do you guys think I should do?

6 Likes

I think it depends on your objectives. Will getting the N4 give you additional benefits, or will it just be a personal challenge? In terms of stuff like employment in Japan, my understanding is that only the N2 and higher are really helpful. Outside of Japan though (or for university exchanges in Japan and the like), the other levels (e.g. the N3 and N4) are helpful.

If you’re not that confident in balancing your exams and the N4, then maybe it’s better to give the N4 a miss for now and try the N4 or a higher level next time. (I took the N1 while preparing for retests in engineering school, and let’s just say that while I’ve been promoted for the next academic year and I did pass the N1, I’m not particularly satisfied with my scores on either end.) If, on the other hand, getting the N4 instead of the N5 will give you tangible benefits, then it might be worth considering. That’s my take on this. :slight_smile:

8 Likes

You have a point. Since I am mainly focusing on school right now and don’t really have time for a job I don’t think the N4 benefits would do much for me. The course value is the same no matter which level I pass, so maybe I’ll just do N5 for this year. That way I won’t feel the need to neglect my other studies just because of the JLPT test (I have a bad tendency to overfocus on one subject), and then I can do a higher level a year later ':slight_smile: Perhaps this year’s goal will just be N5 being really easy and getting a perfect score

9 Likes

I agree. Better to go for N5, score really well and get confidence, than to go for N4 too early and risk not passing and losing confidence. After all, what’s half a year extra to prepare for N4 after passing N5 - not a huge time in the grand scheme of things and it seems there’s no rush, so take your time, score well and enjoy :smile:

4 Likes

Yup! Although I’ll have to wait a year before my next chance to take the test because in my country the test is held only once a year. It was also one part of why aiming for N4 was tempting, but it also means that if I failed it’d take a whole year before I’d get to retry

Have you tried any practice exams? I’d try to at least try sample questions and if you have time, do a full n4 practice exam. If you pass that, then there’s your answer.

I’ve got a headache, but I can’t imagine that there isn’t a link to full practice tests in this thread

3 Likes

I did N5 last year. It did cross my mind once or twice that maybe if I pushed I could maybe get N4, but like you I have nothing i specifically needed an N4 or N5 pass for and also i have a lot of other things going on, so I went with N5 to not put myself under too much pressure and it was the right call. Likewise my country you can only take it once a year, but I feel pretty ready for N4 this December.

One of the thing that tipped it for me was someone telling me that it’s worth getting used to the format of the exam as well. I hadn’t done in an exam in years before doing the JLPT, and I’d never done an MCQ exam at all so it was good to get a handle on things. So that might be something to bear in mind too.

3 Likes

I really wish they didn’t hold every single level at exactly the same time as each other and you could try for multiple levels in one exam session.
More profits for them from more entry fees, better deals for staff who could choose to work on multiple days, no need to try and source huge venues so that so many people can take all these tests at the same time as each other, etc.

1 Like

With more than 6 months of study N4 is very doable. Why not go for the challenge?

1 Like

Yeah I did both an N5 and an N4 practice exam today, the official ones. N5 was rather easy, N4 I definitely struggled with

3 Likes

Agreed. I’m guessing this might be cheaper for them in the way that they only have to hire people to grade the tests for that short amont of time, but as you said they’d get more profits if people could do multiple levels a year at different times. But I’m not sure, I’m not too familiar with all the preparations they have to do

It really is tempting, I feel like it could be possible, but the pressure would probably result in me neglecting my other resposiblities :'D

1 Like

Yeah, even if it’s just spreading it over a weekend that would be better, like N1/N3/N5 on Saturday and N2/N4 on Sunday as it’s unlikely anyone would want to do 3 neighbouring levels in the same exam session.
Then you could do both N5 and N4 over the course of a weekend - though admittedly that is quite a lot of one weekend spent in an exam hall! :sweat_smile: So spreading out could still be preferable anyway.

2 Likes

When I was preparing for the test, I didn’t really care about passing/failing, so what I did was - I did the official online N5 and N4 sample tests. In N5 I made one mistake or so, and overall I was answering without needing to think. In N4 I got about 50% of answers right, so with a few months left before exam I just went for the more advanced one to challenge myself, and also to push myself into a corner to focus on learning more.
However, if this is your first time, you might want to go for lower one. The atmosphere itself can be a culture shock in itself. Everyones rigid, the examiners are japanese, some questions are really convoluted to throw you off, and I wasn’t even allowed to have a tissue on a desk for my very obvious seasonal allergies. Not to mention the rulebook containing clauses like “in case of breach of rules <…> exam results invalidated <…> prohibited from taking test ever again <…> any involved companies informed of the breach”.
So, it’s a question of balancing out your stress, knowledge, and learning aptitude.

4 Likes

Oh wow, that really does sound quite stressful. Honestly kind of good to know in advance.

Out of curiosity, how’d you do on the test?

Worst result possible - one answer away from passing :slight_smile:

I remember thinking that I’m going through answers superfast, so I was just marking questions I was unsure about to return to think in detail - seemed like a great idea with my speed. With only a few questions left to answer I then heard the examiner “5 minutes left for part 1”. This was my first clue I might not be doing too well :smiley:

My wife, meanwhile, was taking the N5 in different hall. She shared somewhat similar experiences, with everyone panicking how fast you need to go and the way some questions are intentionally misleading. She said there was clear “i’m laughing because I’m way beyond simply panicking” after the test.

It can be brutal on the first attempt if you’re not ready - both in terms in knowledge and mental fortitude.

6 Likes

how long is the test? same duration for every N level?

For English, TOEFL was 4h and I finished it 15min remaining total time. I had a strong headache right away. :smiling_face_with_tear:

3 Likes

Checked on Google
N5 - 105 min
N4 - 120 min
N3 - 140 min
N2 - 155 min
N1 - 170 min

2 Likes

They seem to slowly extend each one by a few minutes per section - i noticed doing listening practice that the N4 level is just slightly longer than N5, by about 5 or 10 mins. Makes sense to slowly increase the length with each exam I guess.

1 Like

What was your score though? I think that’s going to be a better indicator of which level you should take rather than asking random strangers who don’t know you or your abilities which one you should take.