WaniKani Making Low Level JLPT Tests Harder?


I don’t plan on quitting WaniKani, that’s not what meant. What I was getting at is maybe I’ll just skip the first two JLPT levels.


This is what I do. It is true that it might take slightly longer looking around the keyboard for the right kana; but it is better to think in hirigana than in romaji. Actually, sometimes I will get the reading wrong even though I know it, because I typed the wrong kana. Either I was going too fast or not paying attention. Still, I think it is good for my brain to start registering that way.


Dude, that has definitely happened to me, too. Not with the JLPT but with trying to struggle through some picture books.

If you want a free way to practice reading all kana, check out the app Pibo. It lets you read 3 Japanese kid’s books per day through the app. There are a variety of levels, you can turn a narrator on or off, and you can spend as much time per page as you want/flip back and forth as much as you want until you “close” the book.

I took N4 when I was around WK level 18 and passed with flying colors, so don’t worry too much about it. The kanji section I only got 1 wrong. :sweat_smile: Grammar is by far the bigger hurdle, as was the listening practice (which was brutally fast compared to the practice resources I found online).


I can’t speak to the JLPT, but I have found that wanikani can make conversation in Japanese more difficult. Instead of knowing one word for something, e.g. “buddhist priest” or “recommendation” or “structure,” I know 3. Each of course has a different nuance and often collocates differently. Thus I’m sometimes left mid-sentence, wondering which is the best to use.

It’s like being chased by a wild animal: if someone opens a door, I’ll flee right through it. If three people open three doors simultaneously… a moment of indecision and I’m on the ground being ravaged.


True, choosing between synonyms is one of the most difficult parts of speaking a second language (it’s also the #1 question I get from friends studying English). But, just as you would understand if someone said “I got this new skateboard by Christmas” that they meant FOR Christmas, the listener will most likely understand you even if you choose the wrong word. And almost instinctively, they will usually offer a correction - just like you would if your friend said the example sentence above.

It’s also a really helpful skill to learn how to ask for the word you need. For example if you said “hey, what’s the word for a map that’s kind of like a ball?” someone would most likely respond, “oh, you mean a globe?”

I used to tell my English students all the time, it’s more important to take a chance and communicate, even imperfectly, than to keep it all inside because you’re afraid of making a mistake. Because if you take a chance and get it wrong, I can correct you (and you’re likely to remember it because mistakes stick in our brains better) – but if you just sit there silently, I can’t help you at all because I have no idea what you’re trying to say.


I would highly recommend waiting until you’re prepared to take N3. This is for a few reasons.

  1. As you already know, N3 has more kanji than N4 or N5 and this would help you avoid unfamiliarity with words that normally are written in kanji but instead are in hiragana.
  2. You could save about $120 (assuming the prices don’t change next year) by skipping N4 and N5.
  3. This last reason may not directly apply to you but if you want to put Japanese language ability on your resume/CV, many Japanese companies only acknowledge applicants with N2 or N1. If you pass N3, then you’ll know much sooner that you’re ready to take N2.

Best of luck studying for the JLPT no matter which level you take! :grin:


I took the N4 last Sunday and struggled with reading the majority kana sentences. I wish they would use kanji with furigana throughout the test.


To some extent, kana only is a fairer test of if you know the Japanese. Otherwise the Chinese test takers get a huge advantage at the low levels.


Its WK’s fault I fail? Damn you WK


Sorry if all of this was said already but:

  • No, I think having a solid kanji basis helped me at the N5 and N4 tests. Some extra points to make up for my bad listening skills :wink: and I was doing much better than a lot of other test takers in my room who were learning kanji another way and describing them as their weak point

  • Unfortunately, while speaking, kanji don’t magically show up above people’s heads so I figured I have to learn to not rely on kanji anyway

  • That’s why I have a separate vocabulary Anki deck with JLPT vocabulary that is just kana on the front. Kanji and translation in the back. I don’t know how things would have been otherwise but I think that really helped me


Why can’t we subtitle people, damn it? When people talk in Japanese Japanese subtitles should appear above their head.

But yeah, I get what you’re saying. Although it still seems like easy native Japanese text uses furigana for harder kanji.




I took advantage of children’s books for this very reason. With me, it wasn’t as much that the word was hard, more that I found it difficult separating one word from another when it’s mostly in kana. The problem with learning kanji for me is that I end up relying too heavily on it to separate words in sentences. That and also the damn homophones!

Books like わたし、ちいさい? were great for getting me back into kana mode for the exams!

It’s a shame that I didn’t know about wanikani sooner, and just spent ages drilling myself on kanji I didn’t even need to know for the exam


This is true but for me it took longer to understand a vocabulary word that I have grown accustom to seeing in kanji when it was written in kana only. I think it is because I see the kanji and in my head I know the English meaning first then the Japanese pronouncation second. I’ve noticed that lately this also is happening for vocabulary that I previously knew but was reintroduced in Wanikani. I’ve been using Kaniwani to try and overcome this problem.


Perhaps its obvious, but maybe it’s worth mentioning that N5 is a significantly easier test than N4 and N4 easier than N3 respectively. The kanji knowledge that WK will give you is a huge benefit at all levels, but there’s more to learning Japanese than just learning kanji. Sure, there’s more kanji in the reading passages in N3 than N4, but the amount you have to read and ask questions about goes from 3 or 4 pages in N4 to around 20 pages in N3, so kanji is only part of it. I wouldn’t expect higher levels of the JLPT to get easier just because you know more kanji.