The N1 Thread

Welcome to the JLPT N1 Thread

N1 thread・N2 threadN3 threadN4 threadN5 thread


If you are studying for this level now or have it as a goal for later on, feel free to join the conversation, ask questions, share resources, and discuss difficulties.

What is the JLPT?

JLPT stands for “Japanese Language Proficiency Test”. It is the recognized language proficiency exam for Japan and Japanese employers. The exam is given worldwide every December, with some countries also offering a July exam date.

More information: Objectives and History | JLPT Japanese-Language Proficiency Test

What are the levels?

The JLPT is split into 5 levels of N-proficiency, where 5 is the most basic and 1 is the most advanced.

  • N5: The ability to understand some basic Japanese
  • N4: The ability to understand basic Japanese
  • N3: The ability to understand Japanese used in everyday situations
  • N2: The ability to understand everyday situations and a variety of circumstances to a certain degree
  • N1: The ability to understand Japanese in a variety of circumstances

N2 proficiency is the JLPT level most often sought out by Japanese employers.

More information: N1-N5: Summary of Linguistic Competence Required for Each Level | JLPT Japanese-Language Proficiency Test


You must know 2,000 kanji and 10,000 vocabulary words to pass the N1 level. You’ll notice that this level expects twice as much kanji as the previous level. It’s definitely a challenge since these include specialized words or those you’d find in academic situations.

Studying for this test in an environment where you have easy access to everything Japanese is a great advantage. Listen to news reports as they appear on television or even read the latest hit novel from a nearby bookstore.

Reading Objectives - At N1, you can read writings with logical complexity and/or abstract writings on a variety of topics, such as newspaper editorials and critiques, and comprehend both their structures and contents. You are also able to read written materials with profound content on various topics and follow their narratives as well as understand the intent of the writers comprehensively.

Listening Objectives - At N1, you can comprehend orally presented materials such as coherent conversations, news reports, and lectures spoken at natural speed in a broad variety of settings, and can follow their ideas and comprehend their contents comprehensively. You are also able to understand the details of the presented materials such as the relationships among the people involved, the logical structures, and the essential points.

Examples of N1 Grammar:
ばこそ ・ だろうに ・ 放題 ・ もしくは ・ にかかっている (Click for full list)

Estimated Study Hours Required*: ~2600
If you study 1 hour per day, this level will take: 369 weeks
If you study 2 hours per day, this level will take: 199 weeks
If you study 3 hours per day, this level will take: 123 weeks
*assuming that you are starting from 0

Discussion Guidelines

This thread may be used for goal-tracking, celebrating, lamenting, and asking for advice. There is an expectation of respect towards others, particularly in instances where your ability may be above that of someone asking a question. Be mindful of condescension - we are ALL learners.

Please share resources! However, make sure that any links you share abide by the forum guidelines against advertising less-than-legal file sharing websites.

Helpful Resources

Book Sets - Series containing each subject separately

Practice Books - Individual books covering multiple/all subjects

Subject Books - Books on one subject that are not part of a series

Which category will you focus on improving the most?
  • Listening Comprehension
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Kanji
0 voters

Ooh, I like these thread ideas. The JLPT is inconvenient for me to take and I don’t really NEED it so I only barely fit in here, but I do intend to probably take the N1 some day, when I’m feeling confident that I won’t have to worry about possibly failing. I’m sure that’s not yet. I don’t anticipate using any direct study materials, maybe just a practice test, but who knows what the future holds.

I’ve been learning purely through reading and listening to real Japanese for quite a while now, and I think I’m comfortable around the language, but vocab is easily going to be the final, Sisyphean hill. Stopped Anki for a while and at least proved to myself that I CAN pick up words without it, and I don’t regret taking the break when I desired it, but I definitely think I’m seeing that for the really high level Japanese proficiency I want to aim for, I’m not going to be happy with my pace unless I’m grinding those flash cards.

My only actual interaction with JLPT stuff was taking a practice N2 test (one of those full scale official ones, and I timed it too) about a year ago to see what would happen. I passed it, but only barely, so I would hope by now I’m at least pretty solidly in the zone between N2 and N1. I found the practice test draining and don’t feel like I desire the validation right now so no true desire to check again, yet. Ultimately the kinda stuff I jump between reading and listening to is definitely not most JLPT efficient – VNs are super slangy or might get a little chuuni, I recently read some Soseki and I don’t expect words written in their ~1900 forms, watching people play videogames and stuff on youtube isn’t exactly professional business conversation, but it’ll get me there eventually. No rush on the JLPT front. I don’t have a word count but I want to say I know/could intuit 10,000 words (I think I had more than that in total that I TRIED to learn between WK and my old anki deck), yet a lot of them… I mean recently I mined the word 阿鼻叫喚 (あびきょうかん, agonizing cries), and while it might describe the atmosphere around the testing site, I doubt it’ll be on the test.

Like I was talking to @javerend about in their study log, if the JLPT was the goal and I really needed it, I think my path would be just grinding through tons of essays and news articles.

Best of luck to everyone aiming to break the top level soon :grin:


Took the N2 this summer and hoping I passed so I can start slowly working my way up to N1 :joy: I want to work in a career that uses my Japanese in some way, so it’s going to be pretty essential for me to pass, but getting all the kanji and vocab down is going to take a while.

EDIT: don’t know why that turned into a reply, whoops - that’s what I get for typing on my phone lol


I remember writing about an Aozora story I really liked and saying something like, “You’re probably never going to need to know 阿片窟 (opium den) so this won’t help you study for the JLPT, but it’s still great.”

I find the JLPT reading passages (mostly) deeply boring.


A bit off-topic, but I don’t really find the test description that great :sweat_smile:.

There are really no official numbers for these. I personally found the kanji knowledge a bit overblown, and the vocab is quite specific topically, so you could do with less. But if you just sum the words from all previous tests together you could arrive to these numbers, probably higher on the known word count even. Anecdotally I have a friend who passed not knowing nearly all the kanji since he was just great at navigating the language and extrapolating information. Couldn’t read a novel to save his life.

This is a bit misleading, since Japanese are expected to write these as well. It’s not really comparable. And their vocabulary is way, way higher than 10k words. Probably in the 25k range.

I think you’ll find that the average Japanese company has no idea what the JLPT even is. If it’s a company hiring foreigners regularly, then maybe. But even then they will have their own interview process and tests of Japanese proficiency, so it’s in no way something that just “secures” you a position.

I guess many people know that the N1 is not nearly the end all with proficiency (for one it only testing input), but just wanted to point it out just in case.


Same. It makes getting together for studying much easier too, since the general JLPT threads were nice, but mixed all levels.

I agree about the ‘not knowing the JLPT unless they’re hiring foreigners regularly’ bit, but I’m not so sure about the rest of the process. Yeah, there’ll probably be interviews, but it’s hard to know how stringent their conditions will be. Many people in Japan seem to think that the N1 level is ‘native level’, and it’s not a matter of whether or not they know the JLPT: the highest levels of the Eiken (Japan’s national English test) and the Futsuken (their French test) are both around the CEFR C1. That’s where they stop. An article I found about the ‘CEFR-J’ (a means of interpreting the CEFR levels by Japanese standards) likewise stops at C1 and calls it ‘close to native level’. In other words, the level the JLPT tests for is considered ‘good enough’ in Japan for a language learner, or even way above average. (Case in point: both my Japanese teachers – from Japan – think my level on the CEFR is C2, but I’d only give myself a C1.) It really depends what the demands of the job and the company are in terms of Japanese. If they’re not too demanding and you can carry a decent, polite conversation in the interview, they might not require much more.

I hope I’m not being too optimistic here, but all the Japanese people I’ve met so far have shown me one thing: the expectations for foreigners’ Japanese levels really aren’t high at all. It’s going to depend on the job description more than anything else, and the JLPT can help get a foot in the door. (My teacher told me N2 was the minimum for employment in general.) However, conversely, you can also get in by showing how proficient you are – e.g. submitting a CV in Japanese and handling the interview well – even if you don’t have a JLPT cert.


Completely agree with this. Even if the 2000 kanji thing were accurate (and it’s close to the Jouyou knowledge requirements for high school students), the requirements at the high school level for vocabulary and just general understanding of Japanese are far higher. After getting my N1, my uni Japanese teacher had me doing exercises involving summarising newspaper editorials (high school entrance exam level) and dissertations (university entrance exam level). That was all at or above N1 level, so really, while N1 kanji knowledge might theoretically be high-school-equivalent, N1 general Japanese knowledge is closer to junior high school level unless perhaps you got full marks with very little effort.

Speaking of which, what I’m doing on this thread: I have passed the N1 once, but I hope to take it for the second time in December 2023, and hopefully get full marks this time as I cross the five-year mark on Japanese learning. Let’s all 頑張る!:grin:


My kanji and vocabulary knowledge seems to be good enough for the JLPT N1 but I still need to work on all other parts. It would be better if I watched more japanese tv but unfortunately I often don’t have time to.

I personally think those JLPT style texts are interesting. Maybe I’m a weirdo. I have very broad interests there is hardly anything I’m not interested in.


Reading was my strong suit when I passed the N2 but I’m struggeling a lot with the N1 texts. I’ve been using the Shinkanzen Master 読解 book and the texts are really difficult. I recently came across a text that uses many medical terms which I didn’t even know in my native language. On the other hand, I also encountered a passage from a novel by an author I’m familiar with and it was easy to understand.
I still think that reading skills are the most important thing for passing the JLPT because you have to read so much in a short time.


Forgot to mention it day-of, but JLPT registration is now open for N1 in the US:

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for compilation enjoyers!


Hi! I’m be going for the N1 in June or December of next year. Right now I’m working on N2 vocabulary mostly.

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Been mining N1-level content, listening to audio when I am just walking around or doing nothing. On my commute I’m reading 狼と香辛料 and then an article from NHK before work. I am still kind of experimenting with that one. Listening to the video, reading the article, and then rewatching the video to see if the vocab I got came up in the video.

I think I need to read one more article to test skimming articles in some way, because I can seemingly do it for a bit but then I get hung up on stupid words to see if I can remember the reading. It’s a habit I need to break. There’s some AI tools that quiz you on the articles your reading, but they have a 5 question limit if you’re doing it for free.


I took the N1 in the summer this year and failed with a score of 84 (you need 100 to pass). I was able to get at least 19 in each section though, so that is a small victory.

My weakest section was reading, which surprised me because I read Japanese short stories and novels often, and the practice for the test went well. However, the big issues was the amount of reading they wanted me to do for the test in such a short amount of time. For me, reading by itself was not practice enough - I also need to do more reading within a set period of time.


I have learned most of my Japanese by reading but the JLPT reading section is always my weakpoint. I think I need to read more opinion pieces and news.

Someone recommended this to me as a resource ages ago but I wasn’t ready for it. However I think a lot of JLPT articles are in this style, so it might be a good idea to use this plus the Wisdolia chrome extension to generate quizzes might be a good idea. I just wish Wisdolia had a multiple choice answer option so it could emulate the JLPT format.


I started the morning reading the news using the Pacer extension for chrome to see if I could understand the news a slightly faster pace. After using pacer, I would summarize to myself what I read, then go back and find the words I couldn’t understand and compared my original understanding and if that changed. THEN I watched the video at the top of the page to see if I could gather any more context that I might have missed. I did this for 3 or 4 different articles.

After that I started reading the 読解 book from SKM. I could read all the intro pages just fine, the questions however I missed 3 out of 4. I could blame it on external forces, but overall, after the 2nd question I got too in my head about skimming and not reading… which ironically distracted me from what I was reading (room temp IQ thinking).

Rather than accept my losses and move on, I just wrote the reason why my first answers were wrong (didn’t write the correct one) and in a few hours will try again and be mindful of why the original answers weren’t correct. With the N2 I just did the “do it and move on” approach, but I think when the test day came that did nothing for me. I am surprised that I can comprehend more info, but I am letting my brain do too much guesswork when it comes to the answers. As in letting inference determine my answer when these particular prompts explicitly don’t do that. All of the right answers will be included in the text. So I need to just keep that in mind.


I’ve decided to go for the N1 this December. I’m currently working my way through the SKM N1 文法 book, aside from that my game plan is to read as much as I possibly can before the test, hopefully with a little more variety than what I’ve read so far. I took a mock test and didn’t do too badly but I plan to take another one in a month or two to gauge my progress and see if I need to buckle down more.


Bought the JLPT N1 日本語能力試験ベスト総合問題集 workbook. I made flashcards out of the vocab and grammar they say you should remember, but I am curious if I should make flashcards of the answers I missed since I kind of feel like just missing a question isn’t gonna really prepare me for anything.

Edit: mindlessly made the cards and after reviewing everything it looks like at some point I’ll be reviewing the words that are in the daily exercises. Weird they just kind of pack it all in 4 random spots in the book. Oh well.


Got the vocab book for Soumatome, turning the words into flashcards with GoldenDict. Gonna probably slow down with new words from my “immersion deck” (5-10 new words a day) in Anki and up the JLPT one to 20 new words.


Sounds like you’re studying enough for both of us, that must mean I can take it easy :relieved:


Statistics is nice, right? :blush:

Recently there was a news report that one in three German students had not yet applied for the heating support money the government hands out, so I sent an email to three student friends in order to remind them, but strangely enough they all had applied for that payment already :exploding_head: