According to the test specifications, the new N1 test is supposed to be the same level as the old 一級 test. However, they’ve added a few nuances to it. I don’t have any personal experience with the old test. But, a lot of people say that the new test has a lot more vocabulary.
The new test is also in a different format. Mostly, the reading and listening questions are a little bit different than the old test. Also, the new test is administered as two sections compared to three sections which was what the old test (and the lower levels of the new test) are administered as.
The N1 test is also pretty tough obviously. Although it’s very similar to the N2 in format and the overall skills needed to pass. So, if you study the vocabulary and grammar that’s needed at the higher level, it shouldn’t be that big of a job. Having said that though, you do have to study a lot of vocabulary. The grammar isn’t so difficult but you do still have to study it.
As always, I recommend picking up the S0-Matome series first, especially the grammar book and possibly the reading and listening books. Then move onto the new Kanzen Master series. In particular, the grammar, reading and listening books of that series are really good. I think with these six books you can pass the test, which might sound a little extreme, but you have to think about the fact that this is the highest test so going through 6 books isn’t that bad.
If you are wondering about kanji and vocabulary, I would recommend using memrise or a smartphone app. Also, at this level, you can do a lot of reading to simply absorb the language naturally. That is one of my favorite ways to learn vocab actually.
No matter what you do to prepare for the test. You should definitely take a practice test before you take the real test. This particular article is about the N1 test but I have other blog posts for the JLPT N5 practice test, the JLPT N4 practice test, the JLPT N3 practice test, and the JLPT N2 practice test.
Taking the JLPT practice test
Like most of the other levels of the test you’ve got three options: 1) You can one take a mock test 2) You can take old pass tests or 3) You can take a sample test from the JEES. All of these options have their advantages and disadvantages so let’s go over them one by one.
Mock tests for the N1 are quite useful. They have all the same sections and number of questions as the real test. So they are as close as you can gets to the real thing as you can get. They also come with some tips and suggestions on how to score higher.
Ask Publishing (vol 1, vol 2)has two books of 2 mock tests that I used before. Both of these volumes have basic explanations of the answers and how to score section. They also have explanations available in Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
Your other option is to take old tests (一級) that were released by the JEES in the past. These tests follow a different format, but are still incredibly good practice, especially for the reading section. So, if you have trouble with reading I recommend picking up a copy of these as well. They released the tests from 2004-2006 and July 2009.
The third option, is to take a free practice test that are made available by the JEES, the organization that puts on the JLPT. These tests only include two of each question, but they will give you a good idea of what the real test is like.
I’ve posted the JEES practice test below along with some extra goodies.
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 12 questions. After the first 12, 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 “N1 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 N1 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:
|Sample Test||65 minutes||~10 minutes|
|Real Test||110 minutes||60 minutes|
Take the JLPT N1 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!