WaniKani Making Low Level JLPT Tests Harder?

I’m aware that the point of learning Japanese isn’t only to pass tests, but I was thinking that WaniKani might make the N5 and N4 harder because the words that are in hiragana I’ll know in kanji. Has anyone experienced this? Basically I’m wondering if I’d be better off waiting until I’m ready for the N3. I can always take practice tests before I take the real thing. I won’t be taking the JLPT this year, so maybe by next year I’ll be ready for the N3.


I’m not sure it would be harder… You still know the words, but maybe reading low level or children’s material will get you used to seeing hiragana only.


A lot of words I have trouble recalling without seeing the kanji associated with it, maybe that just means I just need to be more familiar with those words though.

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Well, at least this way you have a chance. The alternative is that you don’t know the word.


It’s kinda late to sign up for the JLPT this year anyways. I’ll probably wait until next year. If all goes well I think I could pass the N3 in that time. But yeah, reading children’s material may not be a bad idea either.


In the same line of thinking, I’d also recommend reviewing verbs in various conjugations.

If you only ever look at 裁く in your reviews, when you see さばいた on a vocab question, it might throw you off.


Download a Japanese keyboard(not a keyboard in romaji which types in kana as wanikani does this anyway…a legit all Japanese keyboard) onto your PC or phone. Toggle to the JP keyboard when the system asks for the kanji reading. Your reviews will take slightly longer but you will not only get used to typing in Japanese but also become more familiar with the kana.


I’m fine with reading and writing kana, it’s just that seeing the word in kana and seeing it in kanji seems different. The kana only feels harder than kanji once you know the kanji for a word. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try, I already have a Japanese keyboard on my phone, in fact my phone is set entirely in Japanese.


Maybe you should feel proud in a certain way, because that’s exactly how it ends up being for Japanese people! Kanji makes everything shorter and simpler, so if you showed a Japanese person a text entirely in kana, they could feel overwhelmed too. Also, Classical Japanese is written either entirely in Kanji or entirely in hiragana, and either way, it’s difficult enough for your average Japanese citizen too.

What makes reading hiragana easier is finding the words and articles that are always written in hiragana, and using those to help you break up sentences into understandable pieces. For example:


Watashi, Tamago, and Ta are all words that would normally be written in kanji. が and を are articles that are only written in hiragana, and (べ)ます is the suffix to verbs, specifically tabemasu.

From what I can remember, these articles are always in hiragana:
と、や、も、に、が、を、は, の、て、って、から、か、 (there’s quite a few more but this should be substantial for N5 and N4)

If you don’t do it already, I recommend always reading the kanji you drill out loud in Japanese. That will get you used to the sound of the word. Then when you’re reading hiragana, say it out loud to yourself, find the articles to break up the sentences, and you’ll find that you’ll remember the kanji word just by the sound. I hope this helps!


I wouldn’t say that WK makes jlpt harder, it’s just a few levels in when you realize that WK alone won’t take you that far, mainly because it doesn’t teach you grammar.

So taking WK as a part of your studies rather than as the only source for reading material takes down this tyrannical figure placing limits to where you can go

Even starting from zero, if you take your time to study grammar, listening and writing alongside WK. I’d say that by your current level having a level equal to a N5 is something by far plausible

I’d even say that because of how WK is built it makes easier to unbalance your studies, putting you ahead in terms of kanji recognition over the other abilities.


I’ve been studying grammar about an hour a day recently. I get what you’re saying though, you could complete WaniKani without ever picking up a grammar text book. You may know a ton of kanji but you could do very little with that knowledge and that kanji knowledge would probably start deteriorating.


Then tbh wanikani won’t help you with this problem. Read more Japanese literature? watch more media with Japanese subtitles? It sounds like you need a more well rounded routine for practicing/reviewing your vocabulary.

Not make it easier? Maybe. Make it harder? No.


Yeah, maybe I didn’t word it well. Basically what I was getting at is maybe it isn’t worth taking the lower levels of the JLPT because a lot of the words are written in kana whereas in native material that wouldn’t be the case.

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In the end, I think that while some words are definitely more common in kanji, you will see everything eventually written in kana if its written that way on the n5 or 4 test.

From a vocabulary standpoint, I dont think theres anything wrong with learning the words used for the test personally. While in light novels and manga, you may never see some of those words written in kana, in childrens books you will. One thing I think a lot of people who use wk struggle with, myself included, when it comes to starting to read is all the kana. When I started with yotsubato and childrens stories, this killed me.

So in the end, it may not be useful when you’re off reading harder material, but it will come in handy in that transition from being able to read nothing at all to being able to read somewhat well.


Yeah, that makes sense. I guess better overall familiarity with the words would help. Maybe I should try out kaniwani, and maybe get an N5 and N4 Anki deck or something.

I must say I have the same problem. Sometimes i read an all kana sentence and there are 1 or 2 words I don’t know. But when I look them up and see them in kanji I realize that I did know them but that the connection just did not click without the kanji :sweat_smile:

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I’ve certainly experienced kana being harder to read than kanji. One thing to keep in mind is that native speakers already speak Japanese by the time they learn kanji, so the solution may be that more listening and speaking practice will have the side effect of improving kana comprehension. And vice-versa, reading kids books with pure ひらがな should help with listening as well. If you have sample N5/N4 level sentences, you could also try transcribing them to kana or recording yourself reading them out loud and then listening to it.


I can see how this might be possible. Past a certain point, especially as a learner (since you don’t have all the pronunciations of words natively in your head), all-kana writing can be a nightmare to navigate. There are no visual footholds.

I probably wouldn’t suggest just suspending Wanikani if it’s working for you, but I would suggest doing some dedicated reading practice for whatever level of JLPT you’re targeting to get used to the types of passages it uses. Grab the Soumatome Reading book, and maybe the 新にほんご500問 problem book for your level, as that has all sorts of stand-alone vocab problems.

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I find words that I don’t recognize in kana are usually words I haven’t been exposed to enough in context and so am unable to spontaneously recall without the visual stimulation. When I run into it a lot, I know that I’m growing at an uneven pace. My cure is usually more listening and writing practice. Pretty much whatever forces me to practice my recognition and recall without a visual aid.

Fun ideas:

  • Listen to stuff. Translate it. Listen some more. Listen until your ears bleed and you hear every stupid tonal change, pause, and individual utterance. Repeat what you listened to out loud. Repeat it like woah. Record yourself repeating it. Listen to yourself and compare.
  • Get a writing prompt book. Make a list of words you want to master. Pick a random prompt. Use those words to answer the prompt, even if your answer is more fantasy than reality. Post that writing on HelloTalk. Behold the corrections. Learn from the corrections. Say the corrections. Thank people for the corrections.