The N3 Thread

Welcome to the JLPT N3 Thread

N1 threadN2 thread・N3 thread・N4 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

Feel free to check out the other N-level threads and glance at the vocabulary/grammar examples to see where you might fit best.

Advice for first time test-takers

The JLPT is a standardized test, not a holistic examination of one’s Japanese ability. As KemushiChan explains, most first-timers fail the JLPT because they are unprepared for the unique structure of the test.

Ways to Prepare:

  • Take more practice tests than you think you need. These are the best way to familiarize yourself with the structure of the exam and to get a better idea of where your weak points may be.

  • Use real timing and build your stamina. A sprinter and a marathon runner are not the same - you may be a fast reader, but can you maintain that speed for two full hours? The goal is to read quickly for long stretches - time yourself to tighten your speed, but also use scaffolding techniques to add a few more focus minutes each day to build your stamina for long stretches of reading. Regardless of your skill level, running out of time before being able to finish this section kills the scores of many proficient readers on the JLPT.

  • Do choukai-specific practice. This is listening comprehension - the JLPT utilizes several different audio tricks that can quickly overwhelm the listener. Rather than solely listening to podcasts or anime or videos, be sure to add listening practice that specifically uses the JLPT choukai structures. Be aware that there are sometimes no printed questions nor answers, that multiple choice questions will be entirely spoken aloud, and that there are long conversations to listen to as well as very short statements with minimal context.


If you’re going for the N3 level, you must study 650 kanji and 3,700 vocabulary words. If you can interact with everyday situations with relative ease, you might be at the N3 level. When studying for this JLPT level, it’s a good idea to focus on lessons designed for Japanese middle schoolers. You can expect more compound sentences and various conjunctions like sono tame (そのため), meaning “hence” or “for that reason,” and tokoro ga (ところが), which means “even so” or “however.”

Reading Objectives - At N3, you can read and understand written materials with specific contents concerning everyday topics. You are also able to grasp summary information such as newspaper headlines. In addition, you are able to read slightly difficult writings encountered in everyday situations and understand the main points of the content if some alternative phrases are available to aid your understanding.

Listening Objectives - At N3, you can listen and comprehend coherent conversations in everyday situations spoken at near-natural speed, and are generally able to follow their contents as well as grasp the relationships among the people involved.

Examples of N3 Vocabulary:
長期 ・ 出会い ・ 激しい ・ 本人 ・ 権利 (Click for full list)

Examples of N3 Grammar:
だけでなく ・ いくら〜ても ・ 代わりに ・ を始め ・ ために (Click for full list)

Estimated Study Hours Required*: ~1100
If you study 1 hour per day, this level will take: 156 weeks
If you study 2 hours per day, this level will take: 84 weeks
If you study 3 hours per day, this level will take: 52 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

i began my N3 prep about a week ago now so my anxiety is growing despite the test being 5-ish months away :sweat_smile: has anyone else chosen N3 for this coming december?


Hmm, I might consider signing up. When does registration close?

I’m not all that driven by the JLPT in general, but this might help me work towards some goals and actually progress in a few areas that I’ve been slack about recently…


Registration is actually not open yet! If you’re in the US like me, N3 registration opens on August 17th.

This is exactly how I look at it - whether or not I pass doesn’t really effect anything, but having a concrete goal will help me locate the tools I need to improve!


It varies widely by country. You need to check with the individual organization running the test where you are going to take it.


It most certainly is not.


Even just with regard to kanji it’s a bit off, since students are required to learn 1000+ kanji in elementary school.

But yeah, in case there was any doubt… Japanese middle schoolers likely know 10000+ more words than someone in N3 and double or more the kanji. And can use them naturally.


I just got my confirmation for the test in December in Germany, so now I feel like the stakes are getting higher :smile: I’ve been training listening and reading quite a bit this summer, but I’m not as confident in grammar.


I am preparing for the N3 in December! I took N4 a couple weeks ago here in Japan. Besides WaniKani I am going through Tobira, a bit of Satori Reader daily, and Miku Real Japanese for listening and speaking practice. As the test gets closer I will use the N3 Shinkanzen Master to brush up.


Good to know. I’d be taking it somewhere in Fukuoka, most likely, if my schedule allows for it…


I must ask - where does one get these comparisons? I see this exact parallel often and it’s always wildly wrong. A middle school student is able to read light novels on different topics at native speed. N3 doesn’t give you that. Not even close. In practical terms I would argue that’s more towards N1.

JLPT doesn’t test production, though? :sweat_smile:
I have plenty of colleagues who are by all means at around N3 level and can’t hold a conversation.

I think that’s N2-N1 in most cases.

No, because JLPT levels don’t scale like this.

I have my doubts here. Navigate - yes. Navigate easily - hmmm no.

I think it’s a good idea to verify sources :slight_smile: . The information I pointed out above are half-truths at best.


I’m planning to study to retake the N4 in December, with the goal of taking the N3 the following December. No way will I be ready for the N3 this December - but as far as kanji understanding goes, having just started level 12 of WK, I should be well along the path toward learning the N3 kanji by the end of this year.

The big stumbling block for me, for both N4 and N3, will likely be grammar. I’ve mostly been avoiding studying grammar, but having a December 2023 N4 JLPT goal in front of me, that will need to change ‘real soon now’.


Same. Basically, as soon as I finished the N4 test I started N3 vocabulary despite still being unsure if I was going to take the N3 in December. But after receiving some books from a friend, I have dived in and hoping to boost my listening and speaking through intensely focused sessions of listening, speaking, vocabulary and grammar. Let’s GO!!!


Nice!!! I am using ShinKanzenMaster as my main grammar book actually. How is Tobira? I want to get this after the test in December dv to use as a bridge for N2.


Personally, it’s a bit challenging but bearable, I am taking my time with it! Very comprehensive. I try to use it every other day or so and the days that I do it, I start with it first because it takes the most mental energy for me ! I find it relaxing to do listening and speaking practice towards the end of the day.


I’m on the fence about this, I have soumatome for N3 here and I read somewhere it wasn’t the best and that put me off from this resource.
I’ve mainly been focusing on reading native material, satori reader and listening to stuff.
I can’t shake the feeling I should be studying more formally though.

I’ve seen SKM here mentioned a lot, does anyone know if it would be a good idea to buy SKM and use them instead of the Soumatome ones?

1 Like

I’ve found SKM helpful at times and not as helpful at other times. I like a lot of the N4 Vocab book, and I liked enough of what I looked at in an N3 book to buy it, but generally speaking I have to be in a drill and study and check mode to find them useful. I do think they are organized well. I recommend taking a look at a copy before purchasing, if possible.

In general, I like Tobira and Quartet more at this level, but I also prefer short stories and contextual materialized a little more than the contextual but focused on test prep sort of material you get with these books.

I’ve really struggled with textbook motivation recently, however, so take what I say with a grain of salt, haha


I am using Tobira and will star soumatome for grammar as well, but I’m also curious about what people use as other methods. Since I don’t have thaaat much time daily, I don’t want to work on too many resources simultaneously though,

By the way, does anyone have experience with these books? I bought it long ago and still haven’t used it:


For N3? If you’re unsure whether you would manage with the test, I would recommend SKM books. One doesn’t necessarily have to buy all of them. Maybe only the Grammar and Listening books, and optionally the Reading one? The rest of the stuff one can easily practice by doing stuff in Japanese.


I used the N4 version of this book when taking practice tests but I found the format lightly confusing and didn’t end up practicing in it heavily. I do enjoy using a physical book over a sample test website, however, because I can make lots of margin notes.