The N2 is a test that is supposedly the same level as the old 二級 or at least that is what the test specifications will tell you. However, it is at least a little harder than the 二級 test, especially for the grammar and vocabulary sections. The reading and listening also practice different skills that the old test didn’t go over. Also this test is given in 2 sections not 3 like the old test (or N5-N3). This makes it more of an endurance test to finish.
The N2 test is pretty tough. I know more than a few people that have taken it a couple of times and failed. I highly recommend picking up the So-Matome Grammar and Reading Book at the very least. You may also want to pick up the New Kanzen Master N2 book for listening, grammar, and reading as well. This may seem like a lot, but you can probably pick all of these books up for around $100 and be well on your way to passing the test. That really isn’t that bad. Heck, I spent $500 a quarter on Japanese college classes that didn’t really do that much for me.
If you have the money to spare, you might want to think about picking up the entire So-Matome and New Kanzen Master series. These will give you a fuller picture of what is on the test. It may seem a little overboard, but there is a lot of material, and the more exposure you have to different explanations of the different grammar points and vocabulary, the better off you’ll be.
No matter what you do though, it is a pretty good idea to take some kind of practice test. This particular article is about the N2, but I have separate blog posts for the JLPT N5 Practice Test, JLPT N4 Practice Test, and JLPT N3 Practice Test.
Taking the JLPT N2 Practice Test
You have basically 3 options for taking a practice test for the N2. You can 1) Take a mock test; 2) Take old past tests; or 3) Take a sample test from the JEES. All of these have their advantages and disadvantages of course, so let’s go over them one by one.
The mock tests available for the N2 are quite useful. They typically contain all the same number of questions and are laid out the same as the actual test, so they are pretty much as close to the real thing as you can get. They also usually have tips and suggestions on how to improve certain trouble areas that you might need working on.
Ask Publishing’s practice test is pretty good, this is the one I used. It is about the same level as the test. It includes short explanations of the answers as well as timing information (how much time to spend on each section). There are also explanations for each question in English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. My only problem with it is that there don’t seem to be enough questions for the medium reading passage. They are missing two questions for these passages. I’m not entirely sure why, but just something to keep in mind.
There is another N2 mock test. However, it only includes one mock test and doesn’t have much in the way of strategies.
The second option is to take an old 二級 test. There are some definite differences between the old 二級 and N2. I went over them in two separate blog posts, part 1 and part 2, that you might want to read up about. Essentially though, the old 二級 is a little easier than the N2, but still good practice. You can get a hold of the 2009 test that comes with the old level 1.
The third option, is to take a free practice test made available by JEES, Japan Education and Exchange Services (the company that puts on the JLPT). These practice tests don’t contain the same number of questions as the real test, but they do include at least 2 of each type of question and will give you a general idea of what the test is like. I’ve put together a few extra goodies to make it worth your while though:
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 -> If you’d prefer the clean version, you can get that here.
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.
This is the official answer sheet for the practice test so you can practice filling in the answers at lightning fast speeds.
All the answers to the questions.
Here are some Anki flashcards that I made for the first 16 questions. After the first 16, 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 “N2 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:
Timing Out the JLPT N2 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:
Take the JLPT N2 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!