JLPT organizers have made practice tests available online ever since they changed the format back in 2010. These ‘tests’ aren’t actually complete. A lot of the sections only have 2 questions whereas the real test may have 5 or more for each. I have added some comments to the practice tests that you can pick up for all the levels – N5, N4, N3, N2, N1. There are also full-sized workbooks that are about the same size as the real test available for all the levels – N5, N4, N3, N2-N1. You can also take the practice test online for N5 level.
This week, I’m going over the answers to the second section of the test, the grammar section or 言語知識（文法）. This is actually grouped together with the reading section or 読解, which I’ll be going over in a separate post. These two sections can be the toughest for a lot of people taking the test. At the N5 level, a lot of the grammar focus on particles like は (topic marking particle), が (subject marking particle), を (object marking particle), も (too, also), etc…
Selecting Grammar Form
In this first part of the grammar section you must choose the appropriate grammar point that will fit in the sentence. About the first 5 of the 16 questions will be about single-mora particles (も, が, を, etc..). The rest will be a mix of multi-mora particles (だけ, しか, ぐらい, ごろ) as well as forms (e.g. past vs. present continuous) and phrases.
Let’s take a look at the two questions on the practice test:
1) 4 – の. Your first reaction might be to choose #2 を, the object marking particle. Generally speaking, in well-formed sentences at this level, you are not going to see two を particles in the same sentence. They do exist, just not simple sentences like this.
The に particle can mean ‘to’ as in traveling to a place. So we can go to the room:
I’m going to the room.
But, cleaning doesn’t usually involve moving to a new location so it sounds strange here. Using the が particle, might sound like the room is cleaned your poor younger brother:
弟は へやが そうじを しました。
As for my brother, the room did the cleaning.
2) 3 – かえって. This is basically a question about the correct form to use. As long as you know how to use these forms it is easy to eliminate answers:
1 – かえる can not be used in front of 何 like this, you could use it in a clause before a noun, but not here.
2 – かえるから is an incorrect form. We can’t use から in this way to talk about the sequence of events. We can however, use the te-form before kara to mean just after:
いえに かえってから くつを ぬぎました。
Right after (I) returned home, (I) took off my shoes.
4 – かえったり is a form used in the structure – 〜たり 〜たり する, which typically doesn’t use 何. Also, there are usually two verbs in the structure, not just one:
しゅうまつは 本を よんだり テレビを 見たり します。
On weekends, I read books, watch TV and stuff like that.
In the 2nd part of the grammar section of the exam, you will see the scrambled sentence questions. These seem a little complicated at first, but once you get used to them, they are not that bad. Basically, you need to unscramble the answer parts and place them into the blanks. The answer you mark on the mark sheet is the one that goes where the star is.
３）2 – (1423). Looking at the answers you see the casual past tense of とる – とった. This needs to go in front of a noun to make a clause. You can’t take an ocean, so it probably goes in the last position in front of しゃしん.
Then, you have が, which marks the subject of the clause. In other words, who took (とった) the picture? The answer is probably わたし, so let’s put が after that to mark it. That leaves us with 海 and で. で can mark the location where something takes place, so it makes sense to use it with 海. In the end, we have the following sentence:
これは きょねん わたしが 海で とったしゃしんです。
This is a picture I took at the ocean last year.
４）１- (2413). Quickly looking at the answers we see 行きました. Since it is in polite form, we can make a guess that it will either be at the end of the sentence, or it may go in front of a conjunction like から, ので, or が. Since there are no conjunctions here, we can assume it will go at the end. Remember the structure “V-masu + に + 行く”? You can use it to show the purpose of going somewhere. In this sentence, we literally went to shopping.
After you put 買いに in front of 行きました. You just need something to buy. Luckily じしょう (dictionary) is marked with an を particle, which makes it the object (i.e. what you are shopping for). That just leaves 日本語の, which describes what kind of dictionary you are shopping for – a Japanese one. Put it all together and you get the following:
きのう、日本語の じしょうを 買いに 行きました。
Yesterday, I went shopping for a Japanese dictionary.
In the 3rd and final part of the grammar section of the test, you are giving a paragraph of Japanese text that you must choose the correct answers to fill in the gaps. The idea here is to give you more context and test your ability to see if you understand what forms fit into the particular context. This is something that language teachers sometimes call appropriateness. More than one answer might be grammatically correct, but only one answer is correct in this context.
５）4 – 来ました. Although, some of the other answers are technically grammatically correct, This is the only answer that makes sense based on what is written later about being in Japan:
As for (doing something) in Japan
Also, when using the particle から (from), it isn’t common to use 行く (to go), at least when introducing yourself. So, that only leaves 来ます and 来ました. We know the author is Japan, so they must have already came – 来ました.
６）3 – でも. The sentence before this is affirmative:
アメリカの えいがは よく 知っています。
I know American movies well.
The sentence after it is negative:
日本の えいがは あまり 知りません。
I don’t know Japanese movies that well.
To show a contrast between two sentences, we need to use でも (but). The other answers simply don’t fit here – では (well), だから (so), and それから (after that).
７）2 – 見たいです. In the previous sentence the author says they don’t know much about Japanese movies:
日本の えいがは あまり 知りません。
So, we can assume that the author hasn’t seen many movies. That means answers 1 – 見ましたです and 3 – 見ていました are probably not right. Answer 4 doesn’t sound right either. When we end a sentence with から like this, it is to show a reason for something:
日本の えいがは あまり 知りません。日本では、日本の えいがを たくさん みるからです。
I don’t know much about Japanese movies. The reason is in Japan I’m going to see many Japanese movies.
Doesn’t exactly make much sense, does it?
８）1 – さびしくありません. The author wouldn’t be asking the audience a question here. She is obviously talking about herself and her sister – 姉. So, we can eliminate the two answers with か. That just leaves us with the non-past sentence (さびしくありません) and the past sentence (さびしくありませんでした). Since all of the sentences before this one are in non-past, the non-past sentence makes the most sense.
９）3 – うちに あそびに 来て ください (Please come to my house and play). In the previous sentence, the author says that they want to have friends in Japan:
わたしは、日本で たくさん 友だちが ほしいです。
In Japan, I want to have lots of friends.
So, it makes sense that they want to have fun with their classmates. Let’s take a look at some of the other answers:
1 – 学校に 毎日 行きませんか。
Why don’t you come to school every day?
2 – 学校で 友だちと あそびました。
I had fun with my friends at school.
4 – うちで 姉と あそびたいです。
I want to have fun with my older sister at home.
For answer 1, you could make friends at school, but this sounds more like a request from someone that wants to learn. Answer 2 is talking about the past, and the author doesn’t seem to have so many friends currently. Answer 4 doesn’t seem very friendly at all.
Did I Miss Anything?
That is it for the grammar section of the N5 practice test. Let me know if you have any questions about the explanations. Be sure to comment below, so that I can help you out.