Study methods of people taking JLPT N3 this year

I am wondering about for people who are interested in taking the JLPT N3 this year, what kind of study methods you are undertaking to hopefully pass the exam.

At the moment I am going through N3 grammer Shinkanzen Master with a japanese tutor once a week. And of course doing wanikani, 10 minutes reading daily, vocabulary and watching 1 episode of a Japanese drama daily.

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I just recently passed N3 this past December. I used shinkanzen master n3 books as the main thing, mostly the grammar and listening books and got the shinkanzen master n3 vocab deck into my anki and did like 10 new cards a day.

This is in addition to WK, bunpro drills, and the usual reading whatever, watching whatever, playing whatever.

One thing I don’t think gets discussed super often with the JLPT though is test taking strategies. It’s all fill in the bubble with a limited amount of time to get through each section. I know people who failed out because they were spending too long on questions and just didn’t get all the bubbles filled in. So read up on test taking strats if you aren’t familiar. For me it’s only spend a second or two trying to reason out the answer and if it takes too long mark what your gut says, and then in the question booklet mark the question to come back to. If you’ve done it right, you should have time at the end of the section to go back through your answers and recheck yourself. This at least works for reading/writing/grammar/vocab, for listening you just gotta mark down a bubble as soon as possible because the next track is gonna come up quick.

Also work out how you’re gonna snack/keep your energy up during the test. It’s long and exhausting, but at least N3 gets two breaks so plan wisely.


I’m hearing a lot of good things about the shinkanzen master books, how are they? Were the kanji and vocab sections useful considering when you were going through WaniKani?
I hope to take the N3 at the end of the year, so I’ve been going through WK and reading from simple news articles and short comics, but need to find some sort of grammar regimen.

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I think the kanji book can be skipped, but there’s a shared anki deck out there with the vocab I did use to make sure I had gaps covered (I suspended any vocab card of stuff I already knew from WK elsewhere and still had cards left to review) and that’s based on the vocab book so…

As for how I found the books, grammar notes are short and to the point, with lots of short practice test sections to check and make sure you understand before moving on. Same with listening, full of good tips with short test sections. Of course they also had big test sections in the back which are also useful. Can’t get enough practice tests.


The N3 is a lot more straight forward to pass imo. You still have english explanations in most of the text books and everything is pretty basic. I just did a JLPT N3 Anki deck and Shinkanzen Grammar/Reading and did practice listening tests on YouTube. I also did the Soumatome 500問 question book about a month and a half before and a 14 day pre-test prep book to the day of the test.

It sounds like a lot, but if you space things out and plan it isn’t that much.

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Thank you for the suggestions and insight etc.
I have the shinkanzen master n3 reading, vocab and grammar books. I am working through the vocab and grammar and I think I’ll start on the reading textbook when I am semi half way through the year maybe. And for JLPT listening I have one n3 textbook for that so far. For n4, I had the 三回 practice test textbook, which maybe i could also get for N3 maybe. I didn’t know about the shinkanzen master n3 vocab deck on anki, I have been since the start of this year trying different anki decks.

I did N4 last year and passed, with the Shinkanzen master vocab book I found it good when practicing vocab to help maintain it but not when learning it. I usually used anki or quizlet. The grammar book has been helpful to go through with my tutor and if i need more in depth explanations i can look online, the book has also been helpful when I am writing and looking at it for the conjugations rules etc with the grammar point. side note: when I took N4 last year, because of Wanikani I found that I got a higher score on the vocab sections.

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Thats a relief lol.
For N1 and N2 is it more difficult to find explanation of nuances etc in english?
And I have heard about the textbook Tobira, does that work with N3, or mainly higher levels?

Tobira is an intermediate textbook after finishing Genki 1& 2 or MNN 1 & 2 that used to fill the gap for some people from N3 to N2, but with Quartet 1 & 2, there’s not much of a reason to use it anymore unless you started with Tobira’s beginner course. I went through all of Tobira and while I appreciated that it forced me to get into reading Japanese more, the layout was not good for learning. I went back for some refreshers with Quartet and found it much more complete and logically laid out in a way that was meant for me to understand.

All that being said, Tobira is not gonna help you with the N3. I might get you around that level, but its a textbook designed around improving your Japanese level, not your test score. I am starting prep for the N1 and if I am being honest, I wouldn’t touch the JLPT stuff unless you’re just really bad at test taking. Personally, I think if you focus on your language abilities in a more natural way doing things you enjoy, you’ll go a lot further and quicker. If you did Genki, I suggest Quartet 1 & 2, and then stop getting text books and get native materials that interest you.

N1 & N2 resources typically are only in Japanese, minus Soumatome and Try! (same publisher). At a certain point though, these resources are harder to understand with English explanations than with Japanese ones, if you can’t do that you probably aren’t ready anyways (like I was).

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Thank you for the suggestions and information!
At this moment I am using JLPT as motivation (such as doing test) and using the grammar + vocab as a reference.
I did go through Genki 1 and 2, and would Quartet 1 & 2 be a better fit to strengthen intermediate grammar etc than Tobira?

Yes. Basically if I was in your shoes I would go through the quartet books next (ignore JLPT prep materials for now). After you do those + the workbooks, maybe get like a review book like the 500問 JLPT N# book and do that to check where your gaps are.

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When you went through the quartet books, did you go through them in a group/classroom setting or just on your own?

If my memory serves me right, I did do iTalki lessons once a week for each chapter to do the group activities for speaking. Usually whatever I didn’t get in the chapter would come up there anyways if you have a teacher that has the book and is familiar with what’s in the book.

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