JLPT N3 Practice Test

The N3 is a bit of an odd man out.  A lot of people don’t quite know how to study for it because it didn’t exist before 2010.  It was created to help learners move up from the old level 3 (now N4) to the old level 2 (now N2).  It does this pretty well by adding more vocabulary and grammar, but not adding too many difficult skills like reading for inference.  For more details about N3, I did a whole podcast episode on it a while back.

The books that cover the grammar and vocabulary for this test are pretty accurate though.  I personally recommend the So-matome series. I used the grammar book, and it really helped me get through the grammar section of the exam.  There are some lists available on the web, but these don’t compare to doing some exercises with the grammar and really get a feel for it.

However, you can go through all these exercises all day, but it doesn’t compare to the real test.  There is a big difference between sitting down and studying for 15 to 30 minutes and sitting down and taking a test that can last 3 and a half hours (if you include the breaks).  Even without the breaks, you are going to be testing for 140 minutes.  That is enough to fry a brain if you are not prepared.

So it is a pretty good idea to take a practice test or a mock test before you head into the exam.  Note: This article covers just N3, but I have a JLPT N5 Practice Test and a JLPT N4 Practice Test as well.

Taking the JLPT N3 Practice Test

So, how should you actually go about practicing for the test?  Well, unfortunately you don’t have the option of taking previous tests because the test didn’t exist before 2010.  And since 2010, previous tests are no longer being released.  So, there are no old tests to take like all the other levels.

JLPT N3 Practice TestThat gives you only two options.  The first one is to take a JLPT N3 Mock Test.  These tests are usually pretty helpful in that they resemble the real test, right down to the font and answer sheet that is used.  Even the voices in the listening section are pretty close to the same voices on the real test.  Making it an excellent choice to prepare for the exam.

On top of it being a mock test, it also contains feedback to help you understand what you did wrong.  The mock test also gives you advice on how to score higher on the exam as well.  So, they can be a good deal and a real lifesaver when it comes to preparing for the exam.

The other, free option, is to take an official practice test from JEES , Japan Education and Exchange Services (the company that puts on the JLPT).  These practice tests aren’t full length, but they have at least 2 examples of every type of question on the test.  This can give you a general idea of what to expect on test day.  Here is a list of all the goodies you get with the practice test:

JLPT N3 Sample Test with Notes

This is the practice test from JEES, but I’ve included notes on all the sections of the test explaining what to look out for, timing, and how many of each question is on the test.  In order to access this information, be sure to click on the yellow question mark icon -> yellow question mark  If you’d prefer the clean version, you can get that here.

JLPT N3 Listening(mp3) and script

This is the listening for the practice test.  Unfortunately, the audio only includes the first question of every section along with the instructions, but the script has all the questions go figure.  Anyway, if you’d like to play it from your computer, be sure to right-click and click ‘save link as…’ or something similar.  There is also a listening script to help you look up anything you might have missed while listening.

JLPT N3 Sample Test Answer Sheet

This is the official answer sheet for the practice test so you can practice filling in the answers at lightning fast speeds.

JLPT N3 Sample Test Answers

All the answers to the questions.

Anki Flashcards for the first 14 questions

Here are some Anki flashcards that I made for the first 14 questions.  After the first 14, there are text grammar and reading questions which can’t really be easily put into Anki.  You can either add this to your personal deck or study them on their own.  You can also download them off AnkiWeb by searching for “N3 Practice Test Questions”.

Finally, if you want to download all of this stuff in one big wad of practice test goodness, you can do so below:

JLPT N3 Sample Test Pack (13.1 MB)

Timing Out the JLPT N3 Sample Test

The sample test is a good deal shorter than the real test, so the timing for it will be a little different.  I still recommend timing out each section with a stopwatch or a cellphone so that you can get a feel for how long you should spend on each section.  Here is an estimate to how much time you should spend on each section:

Language Knowledge Grammar/Reading Listening
Sample Test 8 minutes 41 minutes around 5 minutes
Real Test 30 minutes 70 minutes 40 minutes

Action Steps

Take the JLPT N3 Sample Test.  How was it?  What was the most difficult part?

Let me know in the comments below.  I hope to hear from you soon!

P.S.  Are you preparing for the N3? You are going to want to Sign up for the newsletter then!


{ 24 comments… add one }
  • Afoofoo October 29, 2011, 5:50 pm

    Thank you! I’ve given it already at the JLPT website, but I like having it conveniently downloaded onto my computer. 🙂 The notes and tips you added were useful, especially the recommended time spent.

    I feel that the sample was rather… easy? I was also thrilled to see the question on mensetsu, since I ran into that in some example sentence. ^o^ Then again, I gave this test like, three times. So, I’m panicking and thinking of buying the mock test, haha. It’s so expensive though!

    Ah, the test is in a month… *panic panic*

    • Afoofoo October 29, 2011, 8:56 pm

      Ah, whoops, there are questions I haven’t seen! Even better~~

      Thanks again!

    • Mac October 30, 2011, 1:39 am

      If you think about the fact that you might have to take the test again if you fail (plus wait another 6 or so months) the mock tests are a deal really. They also usually have good explanations of different sections of the test so you know what to look out for. Anyway, the practice test should at least give you a good start.

  • Isaura January 16, 2013, 4:43 am

    I think the best idea is learning for N2, and taking N3:)) Lots of my friends are doing it, because for N3 passing you have to know lots of N2 Kanji and grammar, too. Now I am studying the N2 Reibun de Manabu Kanji to Kotoba, and I am reading articles of shinbun “Karin”. If somebody wants, I can send some number of this shinbun in e-mail.

    • Clayton MacKnight January 21, 2013, 4:15 am

      That’s exactly what I did, study for N2, but took N3. Seems to be the best for me.

    • denson chua September 24, 2013, 1:57 am

      hi, can i get some number of this shinbun in e-mail from u.. i am sitting for JLPT N3 this december. thank you…

    • md shahnawaz kalim August 21, 2016, 7:23 pm

      plz give me name of the shinbun and reading comprension which is better for me.

  • nisha March 24, 2013, 3:12 pm

    itz really helpful …. thanxx 4 it…

    • Clayton MacKnight March 25, 2013, 3:44 pm

      np, hope it helps you ace the test!

      • Tripti taneja August 20, 2017, 2:05 pm

        Hello i hv given exam in july of n3 result is still awaited. I want to improve my communication skills i have no one with whom i can converse in japanese what should i do to improve my communication skills.

        • Clayton MacKnight August 23, 2017, 12:45 pm

          You need to find a good communication partner. Depending on where you live you might be able to find a native at your local University or online.

  • Alpa March 28, 2014, 7:29 am

    I need help, i sat N3 twice and failed but my marks improved so it was a bit of a improvement on my side, i need some help on preparing a time table on what to study everyday, i have many N3 books which i ordered from Japan i just need some guidance. My N5 and N4 i aced but N3 no teacher and doing it on my own was not easy, Help would really be appreciated. I can spare two hours on tue and wed as i am off work and the rest of the days i can spare an hour to 30mins. i want to retake N3 again.
    please help

    • Clayton MacKnight April 1, 2014, 2:12 am

      How much work do you do with native materials? Do you have a regular chat partner?

      • Alpa April 1, 2014, 4:59 am

        Hi Clay,
        i have firends who have dne hte exam but no chat partner. We have a class for 2 hrs but not much is done in that class and to be honest i am overwhelmed with the books i have , i need a some guidance on how to make the time table and sit and study everyday to help me pass the exams. I Nairobi the exam is taken only in December, i want to prepare before that and pass this time.

        • Alpa April 1, 2014, 5:04 am

          Oops spelling mistake friends and the class is once a week at the Japan information culture centre and its just once a week.

        • Clayton MacKnight April 9, 2014, 2:15 am

          Sounds like you just need to set up some clear study habits. Have you been following the study guide series:


          I walk through a general overview of how to get ready for the test there.

  • AASHISH April 14, 2014, 12:45 pm

    it’s a good expercience ..

  • irfan muhammad June 1, 2014, 6:35 am

    sogoi desu

  • isturisme June 26, 2015, 1:20 pm

    thanks for the sample^^ 頑張ろう!

  • rosalie April 4, 2016, 1:08 pm

    i will directly go for the n3 test i dont have n5 or n4 but i know some kotoba but zero kanji. do i have a chance to pass?

    • Clayton MacKnight April 5, 2016, 2:51 pm

      You should try the practice test and see. You can’t really pass without knowing a good amount of kanji though.

  • KanjiGuy November 28, 2017, 4:21 am

    Hopefully next year i can take this test!! 😀

    • Clayton MacKnight November 28, 2017, 2:21 pm

      Good luck, N3 is good level to shoot for! Hope to see you there!

      • KanjiGuy November 28, 2017, 9:11 pm

        Thanks! This sunday is actually the JLPT test day for Australia 😀
        I’ll be taking N4 only this year, but hopefully N3 next year 🙂

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