Should I reset to Level 1 before N1 in July?

Have you considered a japanese related hobby? After some months into calligraphy I’m finding it’s the first time that actually japanese is “necessary” for me to do something; there’re no similar books in english or my mother language, translated books are lacking in depth and variety as far as I’ve search. So picking up my caligraphy texts feels like a puzzle to be solve, I will go to the bookstore and I would look for another resource with hopes of making use of it in coming years (If I get any good at it that is :sweat_smile:). All in all is been a clear change to my approach with japanese… don’t caring much about japanese actually, but enough to overcome it and accomplish something else.

I will read to get the meaning because I actually care about it; if I understand an explanation I will be super ok with that phrasing that sounded weird in my head and maybe too with somewhat guessing the reading of that kanji that I’m not 100% certain but looks like a keisei one and will put on the closest reading coming to my mind when reading to myself.

Actually I’m reading my first novel as well (ペンギン・ハイウェイ) , I don’t find it specially difficult, probably 中学生 level; but still find myself jumping to my Shodo stuff more often. Been “easier” doesn’t makes it more engaging as I’m realizing :man_shrugging:

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I really appreciate your candor and honesty with regard to sharing this struggle. I could imagine in your shoes I’d probably feel similarly.

I forgot whether or not you’ve mentioned this before in previous threads, but is there a particular reason why you want to take N1? I know for me, after passing the N2, some of the Japanese people around me that helped during my learning journey just assumed that it was best for me to take N1. I told them that focusing my goals to study for a test rather than improving and refining my current skills would frustrate me and opted to review old grammar that I hadn’t mastered and consuming more media to improve my reading and listening skills. This is what I’ve always done and used the JLPT as a measuring tool to gauge my progress. In other words, I opted for communicative competence.

Just a wild guess, but perhaps your frustration toward Japanese is really you not feeling fully comfortable with interacting and using the language? I know you’re working on your improving your Japanese, but considering that your opportunities to use the language are infrequent, this supports why that would be true. Ncastaneda’s advice of adopting an activity at your local community or even attending community Japanese classes to give you opportunities to get more comfortable with Japanese may help.

I think that once Japanese is established within you firmly, this frustration will also go away.


Thanks Lucas. If I look at my progress I think you’re absolutely right. It’s as if my desire to get N1 has been so strong that I have lost sight of the fact that my speaking/confidence suck. Combined with lack of usage, recall and memory also suck (through nonuse), all of which combine to make passing the test a long shot. I think through your method honestly I’d probably have a higher chance of passing.

Since landing in Japan my goal has been to study super hard and attain minimum N2 to get a job because I want to stay here. I actually ended up getting that within 1 year. I guess utilizing the language from the beginning or at least from then would have been good but I had a lot I went through around that time and was thrown off. I ended up getting a gf and although it helped through my trying times (other major life issues), ironically, although we speak Japanese, this resulted imo in less speaking. I could be not realizing my own progress but we met semi regularly (med. distance) and that also meant I didn’t go out and wasn’t adventurous. I didn’t push myself to meet various/multiple Japanese people to make friends etc.

Sorry for the life story but ultimately yeah I think you’re right. I think your method probably helps you really remember the joy of the language too. I actually did end up securing a job and although I have had anxiety and stressed over all of this it seems everything has worked out so far. Hopefully this will teach me to just be chill and everything will be OK.


I love LucasDesu’s advice and am taking it down for myself as well.

But from this thread, it sounds as if you’re not doing much practical reading in Japanese?

Rather than spend all that time on WK content that’s already been mostly solidified for you–and this might sound cliche, but–read a book. A harder one. Crack open a postmodern novel or short story collection. (I can send recommendations if you want them.) Start reading newspapers daily.

Especially since it sounds like you’re struggling with reading and vocabulary–any term that didn’t get cemented by the SRS once is probably just going to fall out of your memory again, and that’s fine. Let practical exposure to the language dictate what sticks.

You can also do what I did before the N2 last year and start timing yourself on drier, more test-like readings.

Good luck! (Also taking N1 in July, but with no real goal of passing; just to get a feel for the test. Just passed N2 this past December, so December is when I want to have my first non-zero shot.)

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Yeah! I actually am looking forward to this incredibly when I move to Tokyo in just about two months. Right now, I don’t live in an area with a lot of activity but I’m super excited to attend meetups to attend everyday after work. I’ll also be signing up for a gym (I’m thinking boxing/muay thai as I’ll be able to meet people as opposed to regular gym).

Calligraphy sounds pretty cool too. I think with using WK, I have ignored writing skills completely so I cant write kanji. I recall one time seeing a Filipino lady I went to this bilingual gaijin professional training program with taking notes in Japanese. I thought that was so cool.


Yeah I saved his comment. The jump is big but if you are solidly training and using the language as you’ve mentioned I think you’ll be good. I know several foreign professionals here who have N1 and the thing all of them have said is that they simply read books.

I think they studied grammar etc. but they mentioned actually reading, consuming, using Japanese was key. It’s interesting that I passed N2 at all without really doing this. 95% of my studying was WK and JLPT books. You can imagine why it became a grind. I do take mock tests and time myself etc. I’m actually going to start taking mock tests next week.

How would you say you cultivated the skill of “letting things go”? Last night I was doing some exercises in the N1 読解 book and I cant shake the problem of

  1. worrying about time - I always feel like I’m reading way too slow even when it may not be true. This causes me to rush through, then ironically I have to read the same sentence 2-3x because I worry I missed something (i often do). I just blaze the sentences basically using kanji to understand.

  2. Accepting it is virtually impossible to know every word- Being N1, they can literally put any word they want on the exam. Even in an English exam (my native language), there will be English words I dont know. I can glean from context. But while I can do this pretty much all the time in English, I feel my contextual gleaning ability is much lower in Japanese (naturally).

Any tips you’ve found that help on this?

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necessity is king … :sweat_smile: … when speaking will be similar probably.
I will be speaking (though in my case is usually a mix between japanese and english still) and bump into this moments where loose words are in my head, but the line to express the idea is simply not there, so It will go like this: turn to english–> sign language → abandon all hope :sweat:

Then back at home I will be watching a show and bump into the words I was hoping to get out of my mouth, just coming out out some character’s mouth instead. There will be this :exploding_head: moment… and I would practice how it could have been in my case… sort of shadowing drill.
Will go back to my meetings with japanese people… and is all over again… :no_mouth:

I find that switching back and forth between English and Japanese is actually really not good for me.

I prefer to get in a rhythm and brainwave of speaking just one language. If I do this I find I make much better progress and can focus more. Switching back and forth seems detrimental


For #1: I’m afraid I don’t have any super specific advice. For me, time fears fell the more I actually timed myself, at least for N2, because I knew I was genuinely within a comfortable timeframe when tackling reading problems. Timing myself increased my skimming ability as well. I haven’t done the full practice-test grind I did for N2 for this test yet (I will prior to December), but I’ve been timing myself on reading problems here and there and finding that I can geeeenerally get through them okay. If I couldn’t, I would continue to focus on practical real-world reading and skimming strategies for test material. I also wouldn’t read any sentence 2-3x on a first pass. Get to the end and only do that if you think the section relates to a question. Don’t try to swim around in the text without a guide; get as much as you can, then use the questions to guide specific information retrieval. That’s when it’s time to drill down and reevaluate your understanding of specific sentences if needed. (This also doesn’t mean a kanji-only blaze-through. This might be where more prose reading in general would help, to increase your speed at getting through sentences without just glancing at the kanji. More reading and specifically more reading out loud or carefully reading each word “out loud” in your head, perhaps.)

For #2: Oh man. I’ve long accepted that. One of the things that actually helped the most with swallowing that was, strangely enough, following a bunch of working translators on Twitter. They speak all the time about the importance of look-up, of research, etc. It really reinforces the idea that, as a secondary learner of a language (unless you’re raised in it from a young age), you’re probably never going to know every nook and cranny, but that also doesn’t mean you don’t have enough knowledge to work with or in it. The unfortunate upshot is that a test which could conceivably test you on any word, like the N1, has a minor luck factor to it, but there’s no way around that. You just have to read and listen to as much Japanese as you can to minimize the potential of those bad surprises. Make sure you’re actually putting the new words you encounter somewhere for later review too. I started out making physical flashcards, but as that got cumbersome, I switched to using Quizlet (an online language flashcard site). Whenver I hit a word while reading or watching TV that I want to remember, I add it into a deck on there for later review.

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You mentioned a few times that a given book you were reading was not good practice for the reading section of JLPT. I think that’s to be expected. Newspaper articles aren’t good practice for that either, but they are important to read. Books for middle schoolers still have lots of good vocab, but they tend to be things like verb compounds you’ve never seen before. Newspapers have all those business, politics, and society words.

The most common category of passage on the reading section is from エッセイ collections. If you search for エッセイ on Amazon you can find books that have these compiled.


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