2013 July JLPT Results

2013 July JLPT Results post image

My main focus for this July test was to improve my reading score. That was my base goal – just improve my score from my dismal 9 that I had before. My stretch goal was to pass the reading section which I thankfully did. A 21 is not too bad after getting two 9s, the previous two outings, so I’m quite happy overall.

The other part of my goal was to keep my current scores on the other parts of test and try to raise my score overall. I did in fact raise my overall score, not as much as I’d have liked though, only a measily 5 points. And I took a big hit with vocabulary for the 1st time taking the test, I got a C in this section. I’ve never scored that low before which is a little embarrassing.

It has been a tough year so far though. Just last weekend, we spend 3 to 4 hours walking through the process of getting a house built and that was our 3rd such meeting. And we aren’t even quite sure if we want it built, to buy a used house, or buy a new one. Then there’s gymnastics class for my daughter, doctor’s appointments, and trip preparations. To be honest, I’m happy that I get any studying done at the moment.

What’s Up with Vocabulary?

I completely bombed the vocabulary section, which is where I usually excel. It is after all, one of the easiest sections to study for (in theory). I was really surprised to see such a low score. If anything, I was hoping vocabulary, grammar and listening would give me enough points to pass eventually. Looks like it will have to be more balanced, which is how I usually end up scoring anyway.

I’m a bit disappointed in myself to be honest. This is usually not a section that I do poorly on ever. For every level, vocabulary and kanji have never been something I focused on. I could just write this off to bad luck, maybe the words on this test were a little different or just words I hadn’t seen before. But, I’m not going to whine about, I just need to cover more vocabulary so that I have better chance of knowing what is on that section.

The usual thing to do in this situation I suppose is to pile on more words via SRS, but I’ve gotten a little bored of drilling and I’m trying to keep it to a minimum with SRS. So, I’m going to be expanding my reading as much as possible, so that I get regular exposure to vocabulary in context.

At this level (N2+), I’m starting to believe that reading and watching (jDramas, TV shows, etc…) are the best ways to build vocabulary and SRS should be reserved for the kind of words that are easily confused or forgotten because they aren’t commonly used.

Reading Speed and Review

The last couple of reading passages actually seemed easier and more interesting than the first couple passages this test, but I had spent too much time trudging through the boring passages that my focus wasn’t its best by the time I got to the last passages. This makes me want to increase my reading speed beyond what it is now. I’d like to come close to increasing it by about 30% or so before the December test.

I also need better focus. Thanks to the mild sauna-like conditions we were subjected to at Kyodai, I had some minor issues with focus. I’d like to have a little better control over that, so I’ll be doing a lot more focused reading on the train. I’d like to build up enough focus to read for 20 minutes without being distracted by the going-ons in the train.

I’ll also be speed reading through my grammar book again over-learning grammar structures and expressions so that I don’t have to think about them. I want to make these automatic. This has actually two benefits, first, I can speed up comprehension for the test, but also I can speed up my ability to translate (for work, not on the test) which I’ve noticed I’m still a little slow at and the faster you are the better.

How did you do?

Have you gotten your results back yet? When you get your results will differ from country to country, but you should be able to see your results on the JLPT.jp website starting August 29th at 5pm (JST?).  For those that registered via the JEES site here in Japan, you can see those results now.  Although the site has gone down a few times over the last 24 hours or so.

{ 51 comments… add one }
  • Can August 27, 2013, 4:23 pm

    I think this time round, i would say that the vocab section is quite difficult.
    Based on past experiences, if u spend more time on grammar, i think you should be able to pull up ur marks…

    • Clayton MacKnight August 27, 2013, 11:50 pm

      Yeah, I’m in the process of doing a speedy review of all the grammar, but I feel like N1 covers some ‘N1 Grammar’ but also a whole lot of complicated phrases and grammar from different levels. I think that is where doing a lot of reading can help you at least recognize what is natural and what is not.

      • Can August 28, 2013, 2:16 pm

        Looking at the questions, it’s not that difficult as i expect it to be, to be honest.
        A lot is kinda quite common sense, but u need to be a bit more tactful and spend more time on grammar.

        Grammar is something that u can score points, given that you have difficulty with Kanji. Trust me. I have trained a few batches with purely focus in grammar and passed. Read this.
        I have been studying Japanese for 5 years and underwent Can’s tutelage for the 2nd half of 2011 for JLPT N1. Can was able to find out my weak areas quickly through an interview and helped to arrest the issue. Using a variety of materials imported from Japan, he went through the grammar points slowly with me and made sure that I understood clearly the subtle meanings and usage of the N1 grammar. With his help, I was able to pull my grammar score from 25 to 39 and scored an A for grammar within half a year.

        Can exhibits great passion for teaching Japanese and he sometimes uses innovative methods to help his students learn, such as improving listening via dramas and songs, which makes his lessons very interesting.

        I would definitely recommend Can as a Japanese teacher for serious learners of the language.

  • Lauren August 27, 2013, 4:34 pm

    I sympathize and understand your disappointment with scores lower than you anticipated, however, I must congratulate you for your hard work up to the N2, for taking the JLPT, and of course, for the areas where you did improve. Congrats to you for this accomplishment!

    It appears that you have your study regimen pretty much dialed out, and that you are motivated to improve. I have no doubt that your scores on the next JLPT you take will be greatly improved.

    • Clayton MacKnight August 27, 2013, 11:52 pm

      Thanks, I’m still happy about the result. I was worried a little bit that with the steamy classroom and lack of sleep would actually reduce my score, but managed to pull it up. It’s definitely motivating to see progress, too.

  • Ryuu August 27, 2013, 5:12 pm

    Congratulations on improving your reading and overall score (5 points is 5 closer to passing)
    Unlucky about the drop on vocab
    Hopefully you’ll pass next time round, you’re not that far off now right?

    One thought on something you said; surely the aim is to not improve mental translation speed but instead to just recognise words for the thing they’re describing?
    For lower levels; mental translation obviously makes sense but at N1 I’d expect it to be more fluid. What do you think?

    • Clayton MacKnight August 27, 2013, 11:58 pm

      Yeah, mental translation is actually a proven tactic for lower levels (N5-N3) because there seems to be this idea that you are not capable of overall comprehension in a second language until you get to a certain point with it. Some linguists call this the ‘threshold’. Once you hit that threshold you can think in the second language and comprehension, reforming your thoughts can all be done in the second language. Until then, it is still okay to translate to help you comprehend something.

      However, at N1 you should be doing this all natively in Japanese.

      But, what I was talking about in the post was the ability to translate for a job. I currently do freelance translation and so the faster I can read, comprehend, and translate the more money I make per hour, because you get paid per character (in freelance). Sorry that was a little unclear. I need to hire an editor. 🙂

  • Jperb August 27, 2013, 8:01 pm

    Passed N5 in my first experience with the JLPT. Solid score, but certainly didn’t ace it. For some reason, I was expecting either to find out that I failed or that I got 180, I wasn’t really prepared for “decent passing mark”. Although the scoring system is very mysterious, it appears I struggled most with Reading (I was expecting listening to be the worst). As I mentioned on the reactions thread, N5 has only one long passage, and one question set with very similar answers, I assume missing this question really dings my score. Time to sign up for N4!
    Sorry to hear about your struggles with N1, just want to say that even getting close to reaching that level of fluency as a native English speaker is an incredible achievement that I can only marvel at at this point of the process, so don’t forget that. My wife and I (also) recently had our first child, I started a new business, all these kinds of things definitely interfere with ones’ focus, so cut yourself some slack.
    Reading about your (and your readers’) experiences with is helpful, because studying a language can be a very isolated universe. Thank you!
    You know, a blog post about the scaled scores, A/B/C grades, and what a passing grade seems to require based on the data might very interesting now that I think about it…

  • Hilary August 28, 2013, 6:54 am

    UGH… I failed the N3 exam by ONE. POINT.

    (Vocabulary/Grammar) 33 / 60
    Reading 27 / 60
    Listening 34 / 60
    Remarks Vocabulary B
    Grammar A
    Total Score 94 / 180

    But, on the plus side, I increased my scores in all sections – including reading, which gives dyslexic me the most troubles.
    My husband suggested that I just skip the N3 and try for the N2 but now I feel like next time, I’ll get it for sure.

    • Clayton MacKnight August 29, 2013, 11:28 pm

      Oh, that’s a bit sad. Well, progress is the main point here. As for skipping N3 it depends on your study schedule. You could start studying for N2 and take the N3 this December than take N2 for the 1st time next July. It is a little difficult to move from N3 to N2 in just a couple of months.

      Anyway, thanks for sharing, looks like your grammar is pretty good. That’s definitely something to be proud of.

  • Tim August 28, 2013, 9:25 am

    Haven’t posted here in a while, but I just wanted to chip in a little bit. Firstly, grats on upping your score, Mac. That puts you just a little bit closer to passing such an insane level of Japanese.

    Since leaving Japan… goodness, it’s been nine months now. 😮 Anyway, since leaving, I’ve barely had time for any sort of Japanese study. The only usage I get is in speaking to my kids and forcing myself to text in Japanese to my wife. I’m at the N4 level (as I haven’t even begun to study for N3), but even then, because of the huge amount of holes in my grammar and vocab, if I have any hope of ever picking up my studies again and going for the N3, it’s going to be a long, hard road to make that happen.

    So, good luck to everyone that finds time to study, listen, speak, watch, and all that necessary stuff. I hope to get back into it all one day, and hope that the things I once knew that I know have slipped out of my sieve-like brain will come back easier than the first time I tried stuffing them in.

    Here’s to future study and passing the N3 one day. 😉

    • Clayton MacKnight August 29, 2013, 11:48 pm

      It’s hard to keep studying when a big change comes into your life like moving to different country. I would try to replace things in your life with Japanese as much you can, TV shows that you watch, music, so you can keep it alive. But, at the very least you have your family to help you out.

      Good luck with your studies, I hope you keep them up!

  • Hannah August 28, 2013, 2:10 pm

    Oh no! 🙁 It’s obvious how much work you’ve put into it, I’m sorry you still haven’t passed. But improvement is good! You have very balance scores now and they are all above the individual pass mark. So you can focus on a well-rounded study regime instead of worrying about one of the other, and everything should rise together. 🙂

    I was getting worried as the 27th got closer, but I was so pumped to get my N1 pass! It’s not great, but a pass is a pass, and my overall score went from 82 to 109 in the past six months. I actually hate studying vocab, so I’m happy I managed to get a B there. There was definitely some guessing done on that section. A on grammar has me pretty excited, but that’s always been my strong part. My scores were pretty balanced: Language 37, Reading 32, Listening 40, and I’m glad they all passed the 50% mark.
    Pretty sure I’ll take it again in December to boost the scores. My N2 was very solid, around 140, so I’m thinking N1 around that level would look very good to employers. But I’m not going to stress about studying specifically for the test anymore. Focusing on the Japanese I’m interested in (TV and baseball, plus keigo for employment) should keep me in practice and improving. And it’d be nice to walk into a test room without being stressed. That hasn’t happened since I took N3 two years ago…. Being relaxed would probably help me a lot. ^^;;

  • Willian August 28, 2013, 3:53 pm

    Hello Mac, Increase your reading speed by 30% till December is an amazing goal. I don’t know if I can do that. I think my reading speed is “good enough”, but there’s no such thing as speed limit, right? When I took the N2 last year I finish the first part (Vocabulary/Grammar/Reading) with 15 minutes to spare (although I took 15 minutes to fill the answer sheet). What you plan to do to increase you reading speed? Just read something every day is enough?

    • Clayton MacKnight August 31, 2013, 11:00 pm

      Basically a combination of speed reading techniques and doing some re-reading so I can recognize the structures quickly. I think I’m capable of reading faster already I just get distracted and lose focus to easily, especially with terrible heating and cooling systems that JLPT centers are known for.

  • Mario August 28, 2013, 5:05 pm

    I’ve studied Japanese for 3 years (currently on my year abroad in Japan) and I passed N1 on my first try with a pretty decent score. Glad I won’t have to do this test again, it’s quite stressful and to be frank, not worth the hassle since it doesn’t test speaking and writing skills.
    Anyway, as a European with no prior knowledge of kanji I’m quite proud to have achieved this.
    As for how I did it, well… I just did what I enjoyed. I didn’t bother with Jdramas because I find them unbearable to watch (western TV shows are just better, let’s face it) but on the other hand I did read a few novels while limiting the use of the dictionary as much as possible.
    Since novels are written vertically they will increase your reading speed – at least that’s how I felt.
    I also avoided SRS like the plague because mindless repetitions make the whole process of language learning tedious and just not fun. But everyone is different, so that might just be me 😉
    Best of luck for your December test!

    • Clayton MacKnight August 31, 2013, 11:04 pm

      That’s a great accomplishment, passing N1 with 3 years of study. Did you do a lot of drills in addition to reading novels?

      I agree, SRS can only go so far. It’s really useful when you are just starting out, but once you have a good base, it’s important to go read and use native materials.

      Anyway, thanks for comment, always good to hear how N1-ers do it.

      • Mario September 1, 2013, 1:28 am

        In addition to novels, I also used the Kanzen master books (Kanji and Grammar). I didn’t drill any of the content, but I did write down some kanji and their readings to help me remember them.
        I also used a pretty nice iPad app called 漢字読めるカナ. It’s intended for Japanese people and tests readings for thousands of kanji. The easiest level of the app is around N1 and it gets progressively harder. It also includes words that appear in university-entrance exams, so I found it quite useful (and challenging at times). Definitely less boring than SRS!
        However, I can’t stress enough how useful reading novels was for me. It improved my reading speed by a lot, to the point that I didn’t have to rush the reading section in the JLPT.

  • Jennifer August 28, 2013, 5:53 pm

    Hi guys!

    I managed to pass N2 this year but am disappointed in my scores because they weren’t as high as I was expecting. The exam itself was a lot more difficult than all of the ones I’d practised with up til then.

    My aim now is to take N1 but I think that’ll have to wait until next July. In the mean time I want to go back over everything for N2 to get it solid. Lots of studying ahead but this site defiantly helps me going!

    • Clayton MacKnight August 31, 2013, 11:07 pm

      I pass is a pass. I wouldn’t worry too much about the score. Scores can fluctuate a lot at the higher levels depending what kind of questions are on the test. Anyway, good luck with your quest to the top. I’m sure you can do it.

  • Veigar August 28, 2013, 9:47 pm

    I also failed my N2 test I got 30/8/50. I took the mock test in Tokyo and had 23/35/45 but on the real test i only scored 8 points in the reading section. 8 points is worse than guessing. I dont know why there was such a big difference.

    • Clayton MacKnight August 31, 2013, 11:08 pm

      Reading on the N2 and N1 can have a lot to do with the topic they choose, and, to be honest, how interesting or how much you care about the topic. They can sometimes have some pretty lame essays you have to drag through. I’m sure you’ll pass the December test though.

  • niemand August 29, 2013, 5:58 am

    Passed N3 with 153/180, 1 point more than N5, 2 points more than N4 :), . I knew it would be OK before taking it and have actually been preparing for N2 since last year’s August. However, that’s the first level at which I get this satisfying feeling of some (very) little “achievement” made since I started to self-study Japanese “just for fun” on a daily basis four years ago, making this a real part of my life. But enough self-righteousness, it’s still a long way to go and even getting N1 (a utopia for the time being!) would only be the beginning of something in my eyes. I have already signed up for N2 in December in Stuttgart, Germany. This will be the first real challenge for me regarding the JLPT, I was always sure to pass for N5, N4 and N3. I might be a little short this time and wouldn’t make a big deal out of failing, I fear that’s the very step where my never being to Japan might begin to show up. I’m rather aiming at July 2014, but who knows…

    • Clayton MacKnight August 31, 2013, 11:12 pm

      Passing N2 and N1 can be difficult for those outside of Japan. If you look at the statistics of who passes and fails, most of the people taking and passing the N2 and N1 are in Japan.

      But, I think it is possible if you can surround yourself with it as much as possible. Hopefully you can find a chat partner and do as much reading as you can, which is pretty easy these days with the internet. Good luck in Stuttgart!

  • sanjib August 29, 2013, 7:58 am

    Hi Mac,You may not remember me but I do follow your write-ups and your website…I passes N2..!!…I analyzed the marks..first attempt score was 85..sthis time it has improved to 111/180… well..what helped this improvement–i) I practised almost 6 years of previous test question with a watch for tracking the time. ii) Strategy–for reading I started last question which is more of information pick up and then divided the section (N2 so-matome helped in this)..iii) For grammer–tried method of elimination for tough questions..:-)

    For N1, lets see..I have to study harder..probably..:-)

    • Clayton MacKnight August 31, 2013, 11:15 pm

      Sounds great! You really improved your score. And it sounds like you have the skills and routine to beat N1, just a matter of doing the practice. N1 requires good and fast reading skills. Of course, the higher passing score is definitely a hurdle as well. I hope we can make it through N1.

  • Daniel August 29, 2013, 8:01 am

    Passed N2 with 108/ 180
    Vocab/ Grammar 26
    Reading 40
    Listening 42
    Vocabulary B
    Grammar A
    I just want to start off by saying that your website really helped me pull my mark up from my December score of 76, so thank you so much! I think you’re on the right track with the whole “go native” approach, and to no surprise, your reading mark improved dramatically! I really think if you continue this approach and have ample study time, you will be able to pass next time (or come really close to it). I did the test backwards this time because reading is my best section. I then proceeded with grammar and vocabulary. I ran out of time on the vocab section and had to guess about 15 questions. I’m a little disappointed with the low language knowledge score, but oh well at least I passed. My main study method was pretty much the same as yours — all natural. I read Japanese newspapers/ essays and watched the news on Youtube every day, and then put new vocabulary in Memorize. I of course to a lesser extent watched a lot of anime and dramas. For more natural listening practice, I tried my best to use Japanese with my girlfriend and all my Japanese friends instead of taking the easy way out and using English, which of course improved my speaking as well. Because I do not live in Japan, I also had to use a lot of language exchange. To get the most out of it, I had to meet Japanese people with a very low English ability which gave me the opportunity to speak in mostly Japanese. I was able to pass within a year of passing N3! I hope this information helps anyone studying for the JLPT.

    • Clayton MacKnight August 31, 2013, 11:22 pm

      Sounds like a great study regime. I wish I had the time to do more speaking practice. I used to be able to get in a good hour or so at least once a day, but I just don’t have it anymore. Always in a rush.

      What news do you watch on YouTube? anything that you see or do watch a specific channel?

      I’ve been watching a lot of dramas lately to get used to more conversational Japanese and the occasional fast explanations that they have. Some people complain that dramas are boring and predictable, but I think that is why they are good for language learning. You can predict what they are going to say.

      Anyway, I wish you luck with the N1, looks like you have a good plan.

      • Daniel September 8, 2013, 7:35 am

        Yeah dramas are a great way to squeeze in natural listening practice.
        If you’re interesting in watching the news on Youtube, there are two main channels. One is FNN news which is Fuji Television. The other is ANN news. Both are in HD and cover all sorts of stories ranging from economics and politics to traffic and car accidents.

        ANN News: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGCZAYq5Xxojl_tSXcVJhiQ
        FNN News: https://www.youtube.com/user/FNNnewsCH

        Best of luck. Hope this helps!

        • Clayton MacKnight September 8, 2013, 11:32 pm

          Thanks for these resources! Looks like a great resource, especially since the clips are so short you can watch them a few times to catch what you missed.

  • Ed August 29, 2013, 8:57 am

    I failed the N1 as well Clayton, and had a total shocker on the vocab section, 15/60 compared to 48/60 on the listening. I thought I’d failed it on that and the reading, but it was mainly the vocab section.

    Time to get busy and crank out the vocab I guess!

    Keep on keeping on!


    • sapna August 30, 2013, 5:39 am

      For me , the result was better than I expected in the first section. I passed and got an A in all the three sections -reading ,Grammer and Vocabulary.While I was expecting more in listening ,I got 38 in it .But still I am happy that I passed.

      It is so horrifying to think of N1 when N5 itself keeps us in doubt that whether we will pass or not. Hats off who have even reached to that level. N1 must be very hard .

    • Clayton MacKnight August 31, 2013, 11:23 pm

      Yeah, I was surprised with vocabulary obviously. I think it just came down to bad guesses. We’ll see what happens next I guess.

  • Umeko August 29, 2013, 1:00 pm

    I cannot understand the rating. I failed N1, the language knowledge part is 18/60 and I’ve got two Bs, while yours are 21/60 and you’ve got C and B???
    I passed N2 in 12/2012 exam and try N1 just to know how difficult it is, but I’m still a little bit disappointed. I’ve got only 76 and my strongest part (language knowledge) is unbelievably the lowest. In N3, I got 57, in N2 – 45 for that part and now in N1, it’s even below the required pass mark.
    I will try the 12/2013 the exam, but I still have work to do and don’t know if I could make it when I have only 3 months left :((

    • Clayton MacKnight August 31, 2013, 11:27 pm

      The test is based on a complicated curve (to make a really long story short) and the grades are based on raw scores, I think. So, there will be a slight difference between the two. Or at least that’s my understanding of it.

      Anyway 76 for your first outing is pretty good for the N1. From your scores you are doing pretty well, just need to diversify your reading more I would say. Pick up a few philosophy books, or essay magazines. That is probably what I’ll be doing more of in preparation for the December test.

  • Josh August 29, 2013, 3:42 pm

    It was my 5th try to take N2, but I finally passed it. Just lots of willpower and long nights of studying got me to where I am today. Oh yeah and a few thousand dollars flying all over the world to take it in Japan twice, Los Angeles twice, and the UK 😉

    My scores were:
    Language Knowledge 33
    Reading 35
    Listening 33
    Total 101/180

  • Tommy August 29, 2013, 5:49 pm

    Pulled off 102/180 at N5, but I didn’t really study that much to be honest, due to limited freetime. I’m going to take the N4 test this winter, but I will really need to study way more.

  • Tez August 29, 2013, 8:54 pm

    Just found out that I passed my N5 (over the moon here!) and wanted to thank you as your blog has played an important role in my success. Now, looking forward to N4 next July!

  • nammae August 30, 2013, 1:04 pm

    Just checked the result. Thanks god that I passed the N3 exams. Here is my scores:
    Language Knowledge: 55/60
    Reading: 48/60
    Listening: 41/60
    Total: 144/180
    I wish I had known your website earlier, Maybe I will have a chance to get the “manten”. 😀
    I will start to prepare for N2 soon. Do you think I can pass the N2 exam with only 3 months preparing for it?
    Thanks in advance,

    • Clayton MacKnight September 2, 2013, 5:54 am

      With the score that you have it looks possible for you to pass N2 pretty quickly. I’m not sure if you can do it 3 months, but maybe in a year. The biggest thing to work on will reading speed. You have to read a lot faster at the N2 level.

  • David August 30, 2013, 3:16 pm


    What level of vocabulary was included in the N1 test? Was the vocabulary required above the level needed to read, say, a novel in Japanese?

    I am taking the test in December here in the States.



    • Clayton MacKnight September 2, 2013, 5:55 am

      If you are able to work your way through your average novel, and only have problems with 2 or 3 words per page, you should have enough vocabulary for the N1.

  • Tom September 5, 2013, 2:16 am

    Hello all,
    I just passed the N1 with 133/180 and here’s how I improved my reading and vocabulary : http://www.rikai.com.
    This site allows you to change any web page into a japanese learning tool since it will give you the meaning of every kanji/word made of kanjis by just hovering the mouse over it.
    This makes reading japanese way smoother, since you don’t have to look for every word in a dictionary.
    You can then just read news sites like asahi or just yahoo japan, or sites talking about a subject you like.

    For the listening part (54/60 at N1 and 60/60 at N2 in december 2012), I watch a lot of japanese entertainement TV programs on Youku or d-addicts. The way they speak in dramas and animes are just to fake and formatted…it will not help you much unfortunately.

    I only studied 30 hours tops with a book to go from N2 to N1 in 6 months. The important is having fun.
    Oh, one last thing, I passed N1 by being able to read 1500 characters, not 2100.

    Good luck for the december test.

    • Clayton MacKnight September 8, 2013, 11:18 pm

      Great advice. Especially the last part. I don’t think you need to learn the official N1 list of kanji in order to pass as long as you are picking up kanji as you go along, there really isn’t a need to specifically study them.

      I have my fingers crossed for December, but house hunting is starting to really heat up. Takes a lot of time.

  • Janice September 6, 2013, 1:31 am

    Hi everyone,

    I passed N3…just! I had a score of 99/180. Nothing to brag about, but as a few of you have said, a pass is a pass. I was not surprised at all as I knew I was totally borderline. N2 dreams are still far away but I’m finally going to tackle writing kanji and start 3 day a week private lesson. The best lesson I learned from the test was that daily study is essential. I didn’t study over the summer and am feeling the pain of restarting now.

    My heart goes out to all those who may have failed by a few marks. You should be proud that you came so close.

    Cheers and happy studying!

    • Clayton MacKnight September 8, 2013, 11:19 pm

      Exactly, a pass is a pass, time to keep on moving to the next level. In my opinion, the biggest thing to work on to get to N2 is reading speed. You really have to read fast in order to get through the test at a good pace. Good luck!

  • Max October 11, 2013, 6:03 am

    I passed the July 2013 N2 Exam. My scores were 37/60 (Vocab), 27/60 (Reading) and 58/60 (Listening) for a Total Score of 122/180. A in Grammar, B in Vocabulary.

    I moved to Tokyo in June 2012. From July 2012 to April 2013, I studied at the Naganuma School’s Intensive Japanese program and worked 2 part-time jobs while being a student.

    From April 2013 through June 2013, I took a 3 month preparatory class at Naganuma aimed at preparing students for the N2.

    Here are some thoughts on methods that helped me:

    1) Books: Kanzen Master Series, all the way. There are some other texts that are useful, but the Kanzen series is far and away the best method for preparing. Whatever your level is, go through these books in their entirety and you’ll generally be very well-prepared for the exams. If you have more time, then by all means, also go through additional texts, but the Kanzen books should be your foundation. You should have gone through the pages so many times that you’ll be sick of them by test day.

    2) Practice Methods (Kanji): Different strokes for different folks (pun intended). I prefer the brute force method: keep going over the Kanji and the readings until you have them memorized. If a particular character is proving difficult to remember, then write it 20 or 30 times. Rinse and repeat, don’t stop, get it, get it (bad lyrical reference, I know). You’ll notice over time that you can instantaneously recall meanings and readings.

    3) Practice Methods (Reading and Grammar): Time yourself. No matter how much or how little you understand of the section, spend your allotted time (2 minutes for each “short section” and so on) and make an educated guess if you have to. Important as it is to pick up certain key words so that you can choose the right answer, you will have to become comfortable with making a calculated guess. Run through a few sections and then go back, analyze your mistakes and learn from them.

    As far as trying to increase reading speed, it will happen naturally as you go through more and more Reading Comprehension exercises, and as your Kanji knowledge grows. Even when you’re relaxing and reading your favorite Manga, try and go through it at a quicker pace than you usually would. As the weeks go by, you’ll notice improvement in your speed. Reading books is also a great way to do it, although I personally didn’t use this approach, and stuck to going over the Kanzen series and other books’ reading sections over and over.

    For Grammar, try and gain an understanding of the structures and the contexts within which they’re used. Is something for formal situations only ? Is something used for negative inferences only ? That sort of knowledge can make a huge difference.

    4) Practice Methods (Listening): Get creative. Find Podcasts that you like. In your idle time, try and watch the news, or some movies / dramas / anime. Try and “listen” to the conversations. Sit with a notepad and write down words you hear in Hiragana and look them up. Try and understand, “Why did she use the passive form of that verb ?”, or “Why was that adjective used in such a context ?”

    As you do a lot of Listening Exercises from the textbooks, go back and actually read the transcripts of the conversations. Identify the reasons for your mistakes and make mental notes not to repeat them.

    5) Apps and Other Factors: 2 iPhone apps helped a lot: Midori (an excellent dictionary) and StickyStudy (kanji learning). The latter was great for all those times that I was on trains commuting back and forth for work. It’s essentially a flash card type system that you can use to refresh your Kanji readings.

    I also worked with a private tutor, meeting once a week for 8 weeks or so leading up to the exam. She helped me cover some of the gaps in my knowledge, specifically with Grammar, as there are always some tricky patterns that take time to master.

    6) Mentality: This is as important as your preparation methods. Be positive. This is for you. Your future. Your personal satisfaction. Whatever your reasoning is, understand that the feeling of achievement you get from passing the test gives you an incredible feeling of satisfaction.

    Regardless of what people say about the test not being an accurate measure of a person’s true Japanese ability, understand that reading and understanding of written or spoken information is a key foundation of your holistic Japanese ability. Understand that inapplicable as parts of the test may seem, it is still incredibly useful as a way for learning.

    There is a Zero Sum nature to the JLPT. The content isn’t endless. Every Kanji and word that you learn is one less standing between you and certification. Keep that in mind, especially when you feel a little overwhelmed.

    Be disciplined. Each day, you should be spending at least an hour preparing for the exam. Even if you got back late from drinking with the homies, put some work in before you hit the sack. Every moment spent going through material matters. Don’t lose sight of it. The best test-takers are armed with 2 swords, called Hard Work and Dedication. Natural talent will only carry you so far.

    Don’t give up. Don’t get frustrated. Those are the easiest of pitfalls. Get up, go for a walk, clear your head and then get back on the trail.

    As a teacher once told me, 最後まであきらめずに勉強して下さい。

    You’ll get there. This is a horizon that actually gets closer, every step that you take.

    Good luck !

    • Clayton MacKnight October 12, 2013, 11:37 pm

      Thanks for the comment. I totally agree with everything you said. Sounds like you have a really through approach to tackling the JLPT.

      Are you headed for N1?

    • Ryuu October 13, 2013, 7:33 am

      I completed agree with you. It seems things properly “get started” from N3 onwards (N5 and N4 seem to be a bit of a breeze).

      I bought Kanzen N3 and thought it looked a little brief so put it to one side in favour of other books (but still used it as a reference). Huge mistake on my part as I’m going through it now and finding that it’s actually really good – it could also be in part due to having already covered most of the grammar, but I seem to be developing a much stronger understanding of each point. Without a doubt; I’ll be getting the N2 series.

      Thanks for the tips and advice too. Had a look for Midori on Android, seems it’s not available on there :/
      There is still the Aedict dictionary which is great but it would be nice to have another.

      Can’t argue with you regarding putting in at least an hour a day. I’m pretty busy on weekdays, hardly any proper free time, so I use the commute to work and lunch breaks to get in as much study as I can. As you say, you have to make the time for it otherwise it will take much longer to succeed and may even hamper success due to not enough “continuous exposure” to the language.

  • An Lin February 7, 2014, 9:58 am

    I passed the N5 test in summer 2013. I got 119 of 180 scores and would like to know what you think when I might be ready for N4 with such a score number. I now started practicing and learning again some weeks ago and do so one to three hours every day. I am going to leave out the summer test and register for winter then. Well, I guess we will see what happens!

    • Clayton MacKnight February 13, 2014, 2:11 am

      I think you shouldn’t have too many issues if you can stay focused between now and then. The jump between N5 and N4 is not so serious. It just involves working through the vocabulary and getting the new grammar down.

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