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.
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, regardless of their language ability.
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.
N4 is considered a high beginner JLPT level where you have to be familiar with at least 300 kanji and 1,500 vocabulary words. These include some uncommon words such as terms for extended family members, as well as verbs that might be found in print ads. Grammar covered in this level includes basic conjunctions and verb conjugations.
Reading Objectives - At N4, you can read and understand passages on familiar daily topics written in basic vocabulary and kanji.
Listening Objectives - At N4, you can listen and comprehend conversations encountered in daily life and generally follow their contents, provided that they are spoken slowly.
Examples of N4 Vocabulary:
安心 ・ 踏む ・ ごちそう ・ 恥ずかしい ・ 匂い ・ 落とす (click for full list)
Examples of N4 Grammar:
でございます ・ ことにする ・ 間に ・ 〜たらどう ・ 〜ても (click for full list)
Estimated Study Hours Required*: ~700
If you study 1 hour per day, this level will take: 99 weeks
If you study 2 hours per day, this level will take: 50 weeks
If you study 3 hours per day, this level will take: 33 weeks
*assuming that you are starting from 0
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.
Book Sets - Series containing each subject separately
- 新完全マスター Shin Kanzen Master
- 日本語総まとめ Nihongo Soumatome
- スピードマスター N4 Speedmaster (No Natively link, sorry)
Practice Books - Individual books covering multiple/all subjects
- JLPT Official Practice Book
- 新日本語 Shin Nihongo 500問
- にほんごはじめよう Try!
- にほんごチャレンジ Nihongo Challenge
- “JLPT Best Practice Tests” Series (No Natively link, sorry)
Subject Books - Books on one subject that are not part of a series
- Listening Comprehension
- Reading Comprehension