This is a special podcast specifically about the reading section (読解) of the JLPT N3. If you have already taken this test or are not planning to take it, you might want to skip this podcast this week. Stay tuned though for podcasts on N2 and N1 that will be coming in the next two weeks. If you are studying for the N5, you might want to check out my podcast on the JLPT N5 reading section or if you are taking the N4, you might want to check out my podcast on the JLPT N4 reading section.
The JLPT N3 Reading Section consists of 16 questions, 4 short passage questions (150 ~200 characters), 6 medium passage questions (~350 characters), 4 long passage questions (~550 questions) and 2 information retrieval questions (~600 characters). For this level, as well as for the N4 and N5 levels, most of these passages are original, meaning they have been specifically written for the test. The long passage might be a piece that has been adapted for the test though.
The topics will still be about daily life, but will be more like commentaries or critiques. You may also find business letters or other types of formal writing on this section of the test. For the information retrieval it will most likely be an advertisement or brochure detailing different options that you must select from.
Something to start looking out for at this level is reading speed. A lot of people taking the test that are more use to speaking and listening to Japanese might find there reading speed is too slow to get through this section on time. The best way to check for this is to take a N3 mock test before the exam, and keep to the times for the official test so you can get an idea of how good your time management is. I detail how to go through a practice test and some reading strategies in my “5 Biggest Mistakes People Make on the JLPT”, so if you haven’t picked that up (for absolutely free) I encourage you to do so.
So, how do you prepare for this level? Well, you can pick up some teenager books at your local recycle shop. These will have furigana to help you look up words you don’t know. They will also generally contain useful vocabulary that you can use on daily basis.
I would also highly recommend picking up some books on reading comprehension specifically if you are not taking a class in Japanese (i.e. at a Japanese university). College students studying here in Japan, generally have to do a lot of reading for class, and will score higher on this section of the test. However, if you aren’t use to that level of reading, it might be a good idea to pick up a book that focuses on it.
There are two good books available for N3. Nihongo So-matome N3 Reading Comprehension is a good book for all around reading comprehension not just the JLPT, so might be useful if you live in Japan and want a more rounded experience. The other option is Quick Mastery N3 Reading Comprehension, which has a lot of example questions that are similar to the test along with time goals. This would be a good option if you just want to get a feel for the test questions and get some reading comprehension practice as well.
Have you taken the N3? 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!
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