JLPT BC 25 | JLPT N4 Reading Section

JLPT N4 ReadingThis is a special edition podcast on the reading section for the N4 level only, so if you aren’t study for that exam, you might want to go ahead and skip this podcast.  Don’t go too far though, because I’ll be going over each level of the test over the following weeks or you can listen to the JLPT N5 Reading section podcast if you are taking that test.

The JLPT N4 Reading Section consists of 10 questions, 4 short passage questions (100 ~200 characters), 4 medium passage questions (~450 characters), and 2 information retrieval questions (~400 characters).  For this level, as well as for the N5 level, these passages are original, meaning they have been specifically written for the test.

Topics for the passages will range from Japanese customs to current trends inside Japan, so it helps to stay up on Japanese culture.  There will also probably be a fake advertisement or a mock set of rules or instructions on how to, for example,  reserve a meeting room or when to throw out your garbage.  They may also be about events or how to enter a contest or something similar.

The key thing to look out for at this level is that there will probably be one keyword in the question that you have to catch.  In other words it won’t be asking for the most obvious information.  There will most likely be a small trick in each question.  If you are rushing through the test, you might read the question too fast and miss the one keyword that can change the whole meaning of what they are asking, so be careful.

So, how do you prepare for this section?  Well, you can pick up some kids books to read if you are in Japan.  These will have a lot of kana in them, but may also have a lot of odd vocabulary that won’t be covered on the test and might be of limited use to you.  You can also use any intermediate level text.   The Intermediate series from Japan Times (shown in the image above) or Minna no nihongo series are both good.  They both have some kana/kanji reading in them.

Another option, is to sign up for JapanesePod101.com.  With a basic subscription, you can download the pdfs for any lesson and each pdf has a kana version of the dialog used in the lesson, as well as an English, romaji and kanji version.  In the interest of full disclosure, I am an affliate of JapanesePod101.com, but I do use the product on a daily basis (I have a premium subscription), and can speak for its value.

Action Steps

Have you taken the N4? If so, what kind of topics came up on the test? What did you find difficult about the test?

Let me know in the comments below!

P.S. I’m now in iTunes.  If you like the podcast, please be sure to visit iTunes and leave me a review.  If you have comments or suggestions for the podcast, by all means let me know in the comments below or contact me and let me know what I can do to improve the show.  Thanks! Music by Kevin MacLeod

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • S.A. July 29, 2011, 2:50 pm

    Thanks alot! This provides a great help!

    I was just wondering why did you recommend chukyu level from minna no nihongo? I mean, I am studying from this series but I thought that shokyu I and II is enough for taking N4 test. Are they enough or shall I start chokyu level?

    • Mac July 31, 2011, 1:19 am

      Looking back in this I might have gotten book II confused with chukyu. I’ll take a look at it in the bookstore and let you know.

      When I studied for the N4 I used the old kanZen master series for then sankyu (in addition to books I and II of minna). It was a little red book and it was magic. I’m not sure if it’s still available though.

      There was some grammar in that book that wasn’t in the two books. Anyway, let me do some more research.

      • S.A. July 31, 2011, 2:30 am

        Thanks, I’ll be waiting for your answer.

        I have previously heard that minna I and II don’t cover all the grammer points in N4, I think I’ll try to find kanzen master. But I was wondering if kanaen master 3 is cumulative or not? I mean does it cover (review if not explain) grammer points needed for N5? Coz I have finished minna I few months ago and I think some grammer for N5 was not covered.

        Also, I wanted to ask if you recommend ‘Nihongo Challenge N4’ series, it’s new so I didn’t find any feedback about it online.

        Thanks in advance!

        • Barbara January 21, 2012, 11:13 pm

          I’ve been using Minna 1 and have started Minna 2 (up to ch. 36) but I’m getting a bit bored. Intend to use for my online lessons but I just don’t find it enjoyable for private study and the grammatical explanations and lack of answers isn’t always helpful. I want to take the N4 test this year and was wondering if Genki 2 ( I liked the first one) and Japanese for Busy People 2 would cover it. I’m also using the Kanzaen Grammatical bok designed for the test – rather like this. What do you think about these textbooks?

          • Mac January 22, 2012, 5:27 am

            I always used the Minnas because they seemed to have a lot more useful stuff that I could use living in Japan. Especially the little reading section at the back of each chapter. But then again, I used it with a tutor. The Genki books are fabulous as long as you have someone to practice with. There are a lot of pairwork exercises if I remember correctly. Japanese for Busy People always gets mixed reviews. I saw it as a good book for people living outside of Japan that need to use the language on visits because a lot of the situations revolve around that. But, for someone living in Japan, it was almost worthless because I learned a lot, but nothing really fit the situations that I was encountering every day, living in Japan.

            To be honest, one of the things that really brought the language alive for me was Japanesepod101 because they were easy to listen to, and they explained the grammar that helped you get an idea of its whole use, not just what they wanted to teach you that day if that makes sense. Another thing that is cool about that site is that they will answer questions and correct your Japanese in the comments of each lesson (even if you aren’t a paying subscriber), so you can practice the grammar using your own language, which is great if you don’t have a tutor to bug.

  • Barbara January 22, 2012, 6:39 pm

    Thanks for the advice. I will keep Minna going, then. I’m just not a fan of the textbook though I do like the separate supplementary workbooks (listening, reading and writing). I will balance it with other books/resources and hopefully I’ll cover everything for N4 that way. Thanks again

    • Mac January 27, 2012, 1:04 am

      Yeah, the N5,N4 levels can be a bit frustrating because you don’t quite have enough to really explore the language. Do you have any opportunities to chat with native speakers? That should make things a little more interesting for you.

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