December 2013 JLPT Results and Reactions

December 2013 JLPT Results and Reactions post image

Strangely enough, I made a marked improvement in my score (up from 12 points overall in the July test).  I’m a bit surprised because the whole month before taking this test I was barely able to study.  I was moving into my new place and dealing with paper work and packing up.  The whole week before the exam was the physical move, which meant heavy lifting and heavy cleaning.  I was bruised and battered by the time I walked into the exam room.

So, I wouldn’t have been surprised if my score went down, but it keeps going up. So far, my scores have been 58 (July 2012), 64 (Dec 2012), 69 (July 2014), and 81 (Dec 2013).  Yes, I have taken the exam 4 times, but my daughter was born, I bought a house, and now I’m working 6 full days a week, so all in all great progress.

My experience with taking the test and talking to people that have taken the test, it seems like there is a critical point of knowledge and skill that you hit.  After that point the particular level you are studying for becomes a lot easier and you can pass.  Until you get to that point, you only seem to make small baby steps in terms of score, but you are actually learning a lot.  What I usually see in scores is either somewhere around the 33% mark, just passing mark, or totally blew the test away, either full score or pretty close.

I feel like I’m very close to the critical point.  I can definitely read at an incredibly fast pace.  For some material, I feel like I can read it faster than if it were in English because I’ve only really practiced reading fast in Japanese.  It also helps that once you know kanji it is a lot easier to get a general idea of what the material is about with a glance, than it is in English.

Strengthen Weaknesses

It looks like vocabulary was my enemy again this round.  I kind of felt that coming out of the test.  Looking back on it, I made some dumb mistakes with some of the words.  I mistook words that I knew for words that I didn’t and guessed wrong.

To bring that score up, I’ll be doing a lot more reading.  I’ve found it motivating to work through novels, especially slightly easier to read elementary school novels, but I’ll probably be switching over to something a little more difficult in addition to that.  At a higher level, reading is a lot more fun and useful than simply out right drilling of words.  Useful in the sense that you get to know how the word is used and get a feel for it instead of just the definition.  This is critical to getting the vocab questions on the JLPT right.

Words that I know I’m not going to see that often, but are still useful, I’ll probably put into Memrise courses to study, but with Japanese definitions only.  I’ve already started a course for the JLPT N2 words I was having a little trouble with, and it has been quite useful for me.  In my opinion, it gives you double practice, a little reading practice for the definition as well as the word you are practicing.

Going Forward

With this okay performance, I’m going to be moving more and more away from drill books except for grammar.  I still want to work out the few minor kinks I have with some of the phrases before just letting it all go.  Basically, I’ve done the drill books and they helped prepare me for what the test looks like and what kind of skills I need, but I need to take a slightly different approach.

This is going to involve doing a lot of reading, which includes, thankfully, some fun reading.  Lately, I’ve read through some elementary school level books (Surf’s Up and Toy Story), but looking to take on the Game of Thrones in Japanese.  They have a new edition that is also available as a kindle book, so I’d like to try to see if I can work my way through it and also see what kind of vocabulary they come up with because a few of the English words are unique.  For example, they don’t say birthday, but name day in the book, so I’m a bit interested in how the translator tackles things like that.

Game of Thrones, if you haven’t heard, is a HBO fantasy TV series and book series that has become quite popular in the States.  It is rather crude and involves a lot of killing and other medieval things like that, but the characters are very realistic and the story is absolutely huge.

I have a ton of obstacles currently though.  I just took on a new teaching assignment that will take up a little bit more of my time than before.  It might mean that I will be able to create some more courses for Memrise as a by-product though, so I’ll keep you posted.  Also, my daughter is 2 already! and that means a lot of work and more sleepless nights.  That’s why I will be publishing posts a little less often than before, but I’ll be doing my best to polish up the Memrise courses I have, and sharpening up the tools on the site.

How did you do?

Did you take the test in Japan?  Are you still waiting for results?  Let me know in the comments below.

P.S. You can only currently get online results if you took the test in Japan and registered online in Japan (through myJEES).  There are other regions and countries that also have internet registration and results though so please check with the institution that you took the test with if you are looking for results.  Also, I think results will be available on starting on Jan 30th for pretty much everyone that took the test.

{ 146 comments… add one }
  • Chad January 27, 2014, 11:52 pm

    Passed JLPT 2 with a score of 100. Strong scores on listening and vocab/grammar, low on reading (I didn’t come close to finishing, honestly).

    For reference, I had two years of Japanese classes in college and had lived in Japan for a total of 3.5 years (not consecutive) over the course about ten years. While in Japan, I actively study about one hour per day. While outside of Japan, it was closer to 20 minutes. Total study time was approximately 2000 hours, plus 3.5 years of environmental soaking in my mixed Japanese/English work and social environments.

    • Clayton MacKnight January 28, 2014, 1:57 am

      What was your work experience in Japan like? Did you have a lot of everyday exposure to it or did you just work mostly in English?

      • Chad January 28, 2014, 8:48 am

        I first worked in an academic lab for a year around 2005, and have spent the last 2.5 years in a corporate lab. The English level is fairly high in this business even in Japan, as the English scientific literature is by far the largest, and many of our clients, customers, and partners do not speak Japanese. My Japanese has gone from a novelty to the majority of my conversation over these scattered 3.5 years, but since I spend the bulk of the typical workday either in the lab more-or-less by myself, researching the English-language literature or internet, or dealing with non-Japanese speaking partners, I would guess I spend about two hours a day at work in “Japanese mode”. This is split between reading emails and dealing with other random bureaucracy, talking with my co-workers, and passively sitting through meetings and struggling to understand. I also get about an hour a day at home with my Japanese wife, chit-chatting or watching her J-dramas with her. Active study (mostly SRS and reading, except for the grammar cram before the test) adds another hour a day.

        So overall

        ~2000 hours of active, direct study (including two years of university classes)
        3.5 years in Japan
        ~6000 hours of actively engaging in Japanese (hanging out with Japanese, watching Japanese TV, navigating things like signs, store clerks, etc)

        I’d guess this is a bit higher than usual, partly because in my case my studies were spread over thirteen years, with several gaps in the US where I only studied lightly and definitely slid backwards.

        • Clayton MacKnight January 28, 2014, 2:50 pm

          Sounds about what I have to be honest. I lot of off and on studying and a little chit-chatting here and there. I can’t imagine what Japanese meetings are like in a lab. I have a few students that do medical research and they struggle with their English and always talk about how hard it is to get to the level they need to be to continue research.

          • Chad Brick January 30, 2014, 12:51 pm

            I’ve developed a great appreciation over the years for the intense effort my foreign colleagues have put into their English, particular those from non-European countries. It takes a huge effort just to get to the point where you mostly understand what is being talked about and can extract what you need from documents. It drives me nuts when people complain about their accents, because it is almost certain that the complainers wouldn’t know a konnichi wa from their cojones.

  • Victoria January 27, 2014, 11:57 pm

    Vocab/Grammar 30/60
    Reading 20/60
    Listening 39/60

    Total 89/180 (N2)


    • Clayton MacKnight January 28, 2014, 1:58 am

      So, did you just miss it? You need 90 points to pass right?

      • Victoria January 28, 2014, 2:29 am

        Yup. Just one point. Haven’t decided what I’ll do next yet. I don’t really like the JLPT as a test of language ability or the way it is administered, so the prospect of giving them more money to sit in a 28C+ non-airconditioned room in July does not appeal. In fact recently I’ve found that in practice employers here will give you at least one verbal assessment/interview in Japanese anyway, and perhaps a written test. So the value of the JLPT seems even more questionnable than it was before. I might just take the J.TEST from time to time – a genuinely helpful, well run exam.

        • Clayton MacKnight January 28, 2014, 12:39 pm

          The j-test seems to be getting more and more popular for that exact reason. I can understand not wanting to sit through the unbearable temps. What a joke. Its the same at our facility.

          The JLPT is really useful to a point. Once it becomes demotivating it can almost be bad for your studies.

          • Victoria February 1, 2014, 1:11 pm

            Yeah, I’m reaching that point I must admit!! Last year I put a lot into study on every level – but I would actually quite like some quality of life as well!! While I use some materials structured around JLPT grammar and keep the test at the back of my mind, it’s not really my main focus now, or I think I’d just go nuts. JLPT success is quite distinct from being able to function in society with Japanese, and I think it’s more helpful to focus on the latter. Just hope I don’t end up needing that N2 to pay my rent before I get the chance to take it again 🙁

            Thank you for all your support and for maintaining such an excellent site. It’s great to see everyone posting their experiences here and sharing tips and study methods – you’ve created a fabulous resource for everybody. Good luck with your study, too. You’re so close, I reckon next time you’ll nail it 🙂

  • Joost January 28, 2014, 12:07 am

    Took the N3 level (138/180).
    Vocab and Grammar 41/60 (68%)
    Reading 41/60 (68%)
    Listening 56/60

    i worried about reading and grammar, but the results are better than expected!

    • Clayton MacKnight January 28, 2014, 1:59 am

      Wow, really strong score, especially the listening. How did you practice for the listening? Did you do a lot of natural practice? Or just textbooks ?

      • Joost January 28, 2014, 3:49 am

        Thanks! After listening to the example questions I figured it wouldn’t be that hard for me. I think most of the listening practice takes place at my work place here in Japan. Most of the teachers are too afraid to use their English, leaving Japanese as the only form of communication. On the other hand I’m already here for 3,5 years so if I started studying for JLPT earlier I might have been able to passed a higher level.

        • Clayton MacKnight January 28, 2014, 12:52 pm

          I get a lot of listening practice at work as well. A lot of times it involves a lot Kansai-ben though. 🙂

  • Kamen January 28, 2014, 12:18 am

    I’m feeling more nervous about my next JLPT than about the N4, which I took last December… The results for Bulgaria aren’t up yet, but I don’t really care that much. I’m studying really intensively hoping to pass N2 this December.. I try reading manga and NHK easy aside from all of the textbooks and SRS. After I’m done with N3 textbooks I’ll read lots of manga/ 中学校 novels to improve my vocab and reading speed, while learning the N3 kanji. In June/ July I’ll complete Sou Matome N2 and then again move on to reading/ learning kanji. I’ll try doing lots of past exams, fine tuning my grammar and completing the Shin Kanzen Master before December. I’d like to have around 8-9000 words under my belt , so I can feel well prepared for the test. How’s that for a plan?

    • Clayton MacKnight January 28, 2014, 2:05 am

      That’s quite a plan. I think it is possible as long as you have a good 2-3 hours a day to dedicate to it. The important thing is the reading speed, but if you are doing that much studying you’ll be so immersed it should be easy enough to bring it up.

      I would suggest adding kanzen master reading and listening for N2. Those books give you a good grasp of what it will be like.

      • Kamen January 28, 2014, 7:42 am

        Yes, I’ll definitely use them! I have around 4 hours almost every day and I’ll have around 12 hours of free time for about 2, 5 months.

        P.S. I’m so glad you were able to make huge progress! You’ll definitely pass it next time!

        • Clayton MacKnight January 28, 2014, 2:53 pm

          Thanks! I whole-heartedly thought I would go down in points this time. I almost didn’t show up for the test. Maybe I shouldn’t put so much pressure on myself and just take it easy next time, I’ll probably end up passing.

          Good luck with the test, I hope to hear from you next year when you pass.

  • Joe Robson January 28, 2014, 1:46 am

    Passed the N2 finally!

    Language Knowledge 39/60
    Reading 21/60
    Listening 41/60
    Vocab B
    Grammar A
    Total score 101/180

    I was expecting about a 100. Pleased that my Grammar score was an A because that was my weak point for a long time. I could have worked on my reading speed and technique a lot more though.

    • Clayton MacKnight January 28, 2014, 2:09 am

      Wow that is a really good grammar score. You’ll have to push your reading if you want to tackle N1. But, that is just a matter of picking up a few good books and maybe kanzen master reading N1 (although it is only so-so for N1 to be honest)

      Do you focus a lot of your study on SRS? It seems like your score leans more toward vocab/grammar.

  • Tim Gough January 28, 2014, 2:44 am

    Congratulations on upping the score, Mac. You are well on your way to acing it, and I look forward to the JLPT follow-up post that reads やった!できた!;)

    Haven’t say the test for a couple of years now, but when I do it will be N3. I speak a little Japanese around my kids and with my wife, but living in New Zealand these days means I don’t really get in a lot of natural practice. Really wish I could say my reading skills were good, but just about all of my Japanese is still at a very intermediate, if not basic level.

    Good luck for studying for the July test.

    P.S. I found it fairly ironic that you didn’t see doing paperwork as a means of study. In my eyes, anything you do that involved having to use and understand Japanese is going to help build on your existing repertoire and in the long run assist with the test. 🙂

    P. P. S. Going out for drinks with my brother tonight and the bar is called はしご酒. The irony is not lost on me. Apparently the owner/bartender though not Japanese did spend time in Japan and speaks it fairly fluently. Perhaps this is an opportunity for me to practise a bit of “natural” Japanese (and look like a country bumpkin when I slip into 土佐弁). :p

    • Clayton MacKnight January 28, 2014, 12:43 pm

      I guess doing paperwork can be studying but, I don’t know, I’m not motivated to do paperwork I guess. 🙂

      I hope I can finally get it done soon. Unfortunately other things are starting to crop up. I’m finding more and more opportunities for speaking japanese these days, which I’m really happy about. It was getting really rusty.

  • Michael Vogt January 28, 2014, 2:50 am

    I passed N3 with 114 points, with an A for Vocabulary and a B for Grammar.

    Since my timing for the reading part was completely screwed, I didn’t expect to pass. So reading is what I definitely need to concentrate on for N2. Kanji and Vocab was easier than expected.

    • Clayton MacKnight January 28, 2014, 12:47 pm

      There is a sizable jump to N2 when it comes to reading. The vocabulary can be a bit of a headache as well. There is a special section which is unique to N2 where you have to form words. You can’t really prepare for it.

      Anyway, with your score it looks like you are in a good position to pass N2.

  • lazuli January 28, 2014, 12:03 pm

    oh man results aren’t available for me yet (other countries lol)
    i feel so nervous now that I see everyone’s results

  • Mitchell January 28, 2014, 3:08 am

    Took the test in Tokyo and then posted a huge rant on your previous, “Reactions to the December test” post, going on for paragraphs how much I hated the test and was convinced I failed. After failing the N1 in July, I was convinced by friends to have a second go in December, and looks like it was worthwhile:

    Language Knowledge: 51/60
    Reading: 34/60
    Listening: 51/60

    Kanji/Vocab: A
    Grammar: A

    Total: 136/180

    If I were to pass, I was expecting something around 100-105, essentially, a ギリギリ pass if you will. So to get this kind of score, I’m absolutely thrilled. This time I got a score in listening that I thought I would (above 50) after the surprising 35 I got in the July test despite feeling I did a lot better than that. Reading is about as expected, but an improvement of 7 points from my July score so I’m happy – especially given some of the boring crap we had to read in the December test….
    Kind of surprised to get an equal score to Listening in the Language Knowledge section – I thought at most, mid-40s.

    Overall, insanely thrilled that I passed. Even scored 2 points higher than when I passed N2 a year ago. Glad to be done with the JLPT!

    • Clayton MacKnight January 28, 2014, 12:50 pm

      Yeah, that’s a huge jump in points. Is there anything you did differently or was it just the luck of the draw? There seems to be a huge leeway with points sometimes.

      Congrats in passing and with such great scores to boot.

      • Mitchell January 28, 2014, 4:02 pm

        This time around I spent a lot more time focusing on my vocabulary. I bought the 日本語能力試験ターゲット2000N1単語 book and made an Anki deck of all the words in that book I did not know. I also went through Sticky Study and did as much reading as I could to learn as much vocabulary as possible. I guess it helped a bit because I definitely recognised a lot more words in the December test than I did in July. But there were still a sizeable amount that I just had no idea of.

        I had the grammar pretty much nailed down from studying Shin-Kanzen Master N1 Grammar and I know I did well in the July grammar section (got an A for it) so I didn’t spend too much more time on it but I ended up working through another book called 耳から覚える文法トレーニングN1. I don’t know how well known it is and people don’t seem to like its format but I enjoyed using it. It also introduced some additional ones that the Shin-Kanzen Master book didn’t include. Like SKM, it was all in Japanese but I definitely felt the explanations were a lot easier to understand which was nice. I worked through that and all was good – though I must admit, from memory, the grammar that these N1 books teach weren’t really tested all that heavily in the December test (or was that just me?)

        I tried to improve my reading in a few ways. I really wanted to crack 40 points in reading but was unsuccessful. I am studying at a Japanese university this year taking Japanese language classes, including a reading comprehension class where we read this 新書 on communication skills. It was slightly hard to follow at times but my teacher was insanely supportive and helped us analyse the text a bit more to find the answers to what we were looking for. The class was not really aimed at answering JLPT reading questions (in fact the teacher was heavily opposed to the idea of creating a class solely based on that purpose which I definitely appreciated) but the skills I gained in that class did help a lot.

        Like I said, I was insanely shocked by my July listening score. I thought I had done insanely well and just put it down to the scaling or something. I do watch a lot of Japanese TV though: J-Dramas, game shows, variety programs, and to a certain degree, news programs so I guess exposing myself to all different genres of programs helped me a bit there. I did also use 耳から覚える聴解トレーニングN1 but I wouldn’t say that helped me all that much. Though I did get full marks in a couple of the practice tests at the end of that book. Something must have happened though because I did end up getting a 16 point increase in my listening score.

        Overall though, I guess just being in Japan for a bit longer and exposing myself to the language as much as possible just helped me improve more than I actually realised.

        • Andrew January 30, 2014, 8:47 am

          I like the 耳から覚える series. Good for travel down time.

        • Clayton MacKnight January 30, 2014, 2:43 pm

          I think people tend to hit upon a tipping point where it all becomes quite clear and your score goes right up. I know I can now read N3/N2 level stuff without any real issues at a good speed, just need to get N1 to that level.

          I have noticed (and have been told) that the grammar section doesn’t really cover the grammar that is for the level. It tends to cover really complicated examples of previous grammar points. I guess it comes to a point where you’ve been exposed to enough Japanese, that certain things just look right or don’t. It makes quite a devil to deal with.

          Thanks for taking the time to leave such a big helpful comment.

  • Andrew g January 28, 2014, 7:36 am

    I’m with Mitchell. Was expecting not to pass but… やった!

    Third time taking N1 and will be in Japan 5 years as of April. I only could take December tests because of heavy summer work so I’m glad I don’t have to wait another year to try again.

    I still couldn’t believe some of more scores. Really a happy day in my home.

    Language knowledge: 44
    Reading: 28
    Listening: 39

    Thanks for building this wonderful jlpt community Mac. It definitely has helped me and I’m sure many others.

    And for those who failed::: for me it was very frustrating when I failed but I kept reminding myself how much I learned in my prep for the test. It was good motivation to try again!! 頑張ろう!

    -Andrew of Hiroshima

    • Clayton MacKnight January 28, 2014, 2:56 pm

      Andrew! You made it!

      That’s so awesome. Looks like you killed the language knowledge. Any pointers? That has become an enemy for me. I think I’ll go back to having fun with Japanese and put in as much reading as I can. I hope I have good news for you soon.

      • Andrew January 28, 2014, 3:21 pm

        Vocabulary and grammar seems to be my strong point. This year I would put any words I didn’t recognize into StickyStudy and make sure that I am always studying at least 15 to 20 words a day using StickyStudy. Really that was my main source for vocab but I added a ton of words to it.

        Im sure a little luck was involved as well 😉

  • Ed January 28, 2014, 10:51 am

    Mitchell that’s a fantastic score. Can I ask what you did between July and Dec to make that leap.
    Andrew congratulations too.

    Interesting you both thought you were girigi but both nailed it. I’m pretty sure I failed it but you’ve given me a bit of hope!

  • Hannah January 28, 2014, 2:11 pm

    81 points this time around is big, I think! The test seemed a lot more challenging than in the summer. Here’s hoping you break 100 next time. 🙂

    I wanted to take N1 one last time just to prove I deserved to pass. I went in feeling pretty good and ready, but like I said this one seemed more difficult. But, I raised all three sections, for a total score increase of 10 points!
    December 2013:
    Vocab/Grammar: 41
    Reading: 35
    Listening: 43
    Total: 119

    But what feels better is thinking I’ve raised my score over 40 points with just one year of hard work. 🙂 (Though I’ve been doing as much as possible outside of work in Japanese for the past two years or so.) I won’t be taking it this year, but I’d like to give it another shot down the road and aim for 40+ on all sections and 140 points overall.

    • Clayton MacKnight January 28, 2014, 3:02 pm

      That’s incredible, 40 extra points. It must feel refreshing to finally crack that 100 point barrier. I hope I can at least come close this year. I’ll keep taking it because it is the one thing that keeps me fueled to keep studying, especially when I see others post returns like this.

  • Wesley January 29, 2014, 2:41 am

    I passed N3! I really felt like I wouldn’t pass, considering the I only felt I did very poorly on the Kanji. But I did it with a 118/180

    Language Knowledge (Vocabulary/Grammar): 28/60
    Reading: 30/60
    Listening: 60/60 (WTF)

    The listening was easy, but I’m seriously floored by that score. A student’s phone even went off twice during that section before they through him out, and I had a lot of trouble focusing. The plan is to try N2 in July for practice, and then again in December in earnest. Need to put in a lot more work on kanji/vocab/reading. Any tips would be great!

    • Clayton MacKnight January 29, 2014, 12:29 pm

      That’s a great score. Especially that listening score. What do for listening practice? Do you work in an environment with a lot of exposure or just do a lot of listening? I always get distracted when a phone goes off and that seems to be somewhat common despite the fact that they tell you several times to switch it off.

      Anyway, for reading/vocab/kanji practice I would say it is time to pick some native materials to read and push yourself to get your speed up. Skimming is an especially important skill to learn for the N2 level. The level of the reading takes a considerable step up though.

      Oh, I should mention that the Kanzen Master Reading book and So-Matome reading books are great at this level. So-Matome is easier and Kanzen Master gives you a good variety as well as some typical questions you’ll see.

  • J January 29, 2014, 8:08 am

    Got a 37/38/40 on n1 for a pass. First time taking exam and glad it will be the last. Was surprised that scored lowest on reading even though I read novels and newspapers in Japanese on a regular basis. Was pleasantly surprised on reading because have minimal listening exposure outside work and thought it was hard to follow. Glad I challenged myself but thought the test was too cute for its own good.

    • Clayton MacKnight January 29, 2014, 12:31 pm

      Great to hear you only need to make the one appearance. Reading for nuanced comprehension is a little bit different than reading for fun, so I’m sure that is where the difference came from. Still not too shabby for a first and probably last time for the test.

  • Kiwi Al January 29, 2014, 11:20 am

    Long time reader but first time posted. Just wanted to say congratulations to all who passed the test or improved their scores. I really enjoy reading the comments and seeing everyones results. I failed the ni-kyu 4 years ago and have just got back into studying for N2. After doing a few sample tests it seems easier than the old ni-kyu but I’m sure living in Japan an extra 4 years helps.

    I like the idea of reading the Japanese version of Game of Thrones, I’ve looked for it cheap in bookoff before but have never found it. I could imagine them splitting the book into about 3 books for Japan, they seem to like doing that here.

    • Clayton MacKnight January 29, 2014, 12:36 pm

      The N2 seems to actually be a lot more difficult than the old ni-kyuu, I felt it was at least. I think what happened is all the difficult stuff from the old ni-kyuu floated up to N2, the easy stuff floated down to N3. If you have spent plenty of time in country reading and talking in business situations it shouldn’t be too bad though.

      I think Game of Thrones is only a little popular here, so yeah I haven’t seen it at any Book Offs either. Kind of a bummer. I think the first book is broken out into two books. The whole splitting up the books thing makes it expensive to buy books. I love the series though.

      • Kiwi Al January 30, 2014, 11:07 am

        Wonder how they will translate direwolf and hand of the king? 大狼(おおおおかみ) (だいウォルフ) and 王様の手?

        • Clayton MacKnight January 30, 2014, 2:45 pm

          Yeah, I’m curious about that. I’ve been studying up on translation recently to get better at it since I’ve been doing it kind of part time these days, and it is really interesting all the things you need to consider when you go to translate something so that you keep the same connotation and feeling.

          • Joey July 8, 2014, 6:52 am

            Just a note here; season one and two of GoT are available in Japan with Japanese subs. Once the show is out, the books will follow suit I’m sure, and I think it really was translated as 王様の手。。。

  • Matt January 30, 2014, 2:00 am

    Passed N1!
    Worse than last year, but still passed again.
    Language Knowledge 30/60
    Reading 31/60
    Listening 42/60
    Overall 103/180

    • Clayton MacKnight January 30, 2014, 12:30 pm

      Huh, so the test must have been a bit more difficult? Or have your studies slipped a little? Were studying specifically for the test?

      • Matt January 31, 2014, 2:09 am

        Definitely felt more difficult, but I probably also didn’t study as well as I did last year.

  • Lim January 30, 2014, 3:02 am

    Passed my N4:
    Language Knowledge (Vocab/Grammar) . Reading : 77/120
    Listening: 40/60
    Total Score: 117/180

    Thinking of taking N3 this year 🙂

    • Clayton MacKnight January 30, 2014, 5:29 am

      That’s a pretty good score. I think you should definitely try N3. At the very least you’ll get a good feel for what it is like. The style of the test is not that much different.

    • Vlada January 31, 2014, 3:21 pm

      Great ! Same for me, got my N4, gonna work for N3.

  • Umeko January 30, 2014, 3:30 am

    Here is my Dec 2013 N1 result:
    Language knowledge: 38
    Reading: 27
    Listening: 32
    Total: 97 🙁
    This is my second N1 attempt, after failing in July 2013 with 76 points. I’m so disappointed, I think I did the test well enough to pass, I could answer more questions than in July (actually I did), but failing by 3 points really made me cry. I’m in Vietnam and we’re celebrating Lunar New Year, today is the last day of the year of the Snake, I don’t have the mood to enjoy our holiday anymore. I will try the third time in this July.

    • Lynn January 30, 2014, 4:16 am

      Đừng buồn, dù gì thì cũng qua rồi, năm mới vui lên để có tinh thần mà “phục thù” chứ 🙂 yeah that was so close, I understand how you feel but please cheer up and keep fighting. N1 is tough and we need to be patient. Happy new year anyway, best wishes to you and your studying Japanese ^ ^

    • Clayton MacKnight January 30, 2014, 5:36 am

      I wouldn’t worry too much about it. You improved your score by 20 points! in a pretty short period of time. At the N1 level, it sometimes comes down to a little luck. The passing score is pretty high as well.

      Go celebrate, you scored a lot higher than most people I think (including myself).

  • Lynn January 30, 2014, 4:11 am

    OMG I PASSED N1 FINALLY!!! Feeling disappointed and unavoidable failure after the test but nailed it finally!!! Here are the scores:

    Language knowledge (vocab + grammar): 42/60 (Vocab: B, Grammar: B)
    Reading: 35/60
    Listening: 34/60
    Total: 111/180

    Quite surprised at the result! Didn’t expect the language knowledge to be that high, esp. when I feel like I was screwed with the grammar. Same for the reading, I barely got half of the questions answered correctly, I was even scared that I won’t get 19. And listening, wow. I did best in this part, at least 2/3 questions correct but then, meh, it’s JLPT and its scale-score system again :))

    I’m very happy with this result. As long as I pass, the score is not very big deal to me since I’m just 18 and there’s still a long way to go, I can sit for it again if I want better result! Congratulations to who passed and please keep on practicing to who did not make it this time; it took me 3 times to nailed it at last. Especially you, Clayton, I really hope you will pass with flying colors next time (it really pisses me off to see someone working so hard and still fail). I will keep up with your new post and tips for my further Japanese <3
    My Lunar new year will be sooo perfect with this!

    • Clayton MacKnight January 30, 2014, 5:40 am

      That’s awesome. Just 18 and already passed the test. I think everyone goes through the same feeling as you. When I think I completely fail a test I do well. When I think I aced a test, I completely fail it. Our intuition is always off isn’t it?

      • Lynn January 30, 2014, 3:23 pm

        Exactly. That’s why I always convince myself that I will fail in every test with the hope of passing then XD

        • Anhxd92 March 5, 2014, 11:28 am

          I’m studying Japanese by myself and I’m going to attend the JLPT test on 12-2014. What can I do to contact with you, I really need some experience. I’m a Vietnamese, too

          • Lynn March 22, 2014, 5:16 pm

            Contact me through We’ll discuss more about this, hope I can help. And sorry for the late reply > <

  • Sally January 30, 2014, 4:51 am

    Passed N1 with 60/60 for language knowledge (which means I guessed にちや correctly…), 43/60 for reading, and 41/60 for the listening section. All different to what I expected, as on the day I had thought that the listening was quite easy, the language knowledge was okay and the reading was absolutely dreadful (I had been worried about even passing that section). All textbooks now safely on eBay awaiting their next owner!

    • Clayton MacKnight January 30, 2014, 12:33 pm

      Haha, awesome, you can finally get rid of the books. Perfect score on language knowledge! Did you put in a lot of drilling or just a lot of reading? I seem to make a lot of stupid mistakes in that section with second guesses.

      Anyway, great score. Any plans for what you are going to do now? Do you work with Japanese now or are you planning to get job with it?

      • Sally January 30, 2014, 9:12 pm

        I made more flash cards than I care to admit, but I didn’t do any reading beyond textbooks and routine newspaper articles, which is why I felt like reading hurt so much on the day. Newspapers are actually pretty easy when you think about what they dish out on the test, so I wish I had ventured beyond my comfort zone more as I prepared.
        I used to work as an interpreter for the military, which doesn’t prepare you as much as you might think because it’s a very confined vocabulary (and pretty irrelevant in the real world). I’m now finishing off a law degree and just spent last year in Japan doing some of my law subjects in Japanese! which helped immensely. Hope to be working in corporate law involving Japanese companies some day.
        Congratulations to everyone who passed their respective levels!

  • Emi January 30, 2014, 5:49 am

    Took N3 for the second time after failing with a 92/180 last year….this time I passed! 96/180! =P Yikes, only a +4 point increase! But, to be fair- last year I took the test in Japan after living/working/studying and being immersed in the language for two years. This year, I moved back home to America and took the test just so I could have an excuse to continue to review/study Japanese, and managed to pass! I’ve just been doing self-study and squeezing it in where I can. I know I’ve got a long way to go towards N2…

    Anyway, 81 is a pretty solid score! Just need +19 more points and you’re there! ファイト!

    • Clayton MacKnight January 30, 2014, 12:41 pm

      That’s not too shabby for returning from Japan. A lot of people come back and get distracted. Then, before they know it their level sunk below what it was. So, getting a slightly better score is quite an achievement to be honest. I forgot N3 needs 95 to pass, that’s annoying. (N2 just needs 90) They are so strange about the passing scores.

  • Jack January 30, 2014, 6:43 am

    After 3 attempts I finally passed N1!
    language knowledge: 37/60 Reading: 33/60 Listening: 50/60 total: 120/180
    T_T AT Last! 地獄から開放された気分です!

    • Clayton MacKnight January 30, 2014, 12:44 pm

      It looks 3rd time was a charm for you. It seems like you also hit critical mass for passing, you cleared it pretty easily. Were your previous scores a lot lower or very girigiri?

      • Jack January 31, 2014, 5:06 am

        My last 2 attempts were very girigiri but did not cut in… I guess the massive amount of mock exams I did a month prior the the real exam helped a lot!

    • Lynn January 30, 2014, 2:41 pm

      Same here! Congratulations! We’re done with Japanese… even only temporarily XD
      Great listening btw :p

  • Raichan January 30, 2014, 6:46 am

    OMG!!!!! The scores for the USA are in and I just found out that I…..PASSED N1!!! My total score was a 150/180 or an 83 percent. Here are the details:
    Language knowledge (vocab + grammar): 59/60 (Vocab: A, Grammar: A)
    Reading: 44/60
    Listening: 47/60

    I have never lived in Japan but, I have always studied my butt of when it comes to Japanese. It is my life passion and to be honest, I just love it so much! After I took the exam, I was not really sure if I had passed it, and if I did I thought it would be ぎりぎり so I did not see this coming at all. Judging from my scores, I guess I was way too critical on myself! This has been one of the happiest days of my life! My advice for people who want to improve their scores, or those who didn’t pass it is, no matter how impossible it seems or how frustrating it may feel, whatever you do, DO NOT GIVE UP! 🙂 Congratulations to everyone and thanks Clayton for this awesome website! ^^

    • Clayton MacKnight January 30, 2014, 2:48 pm

      That is totally awesome! The passing rate outside of Japan for the N1 is fairly low. You usually have to spend some time in-country to get a score like that. Great work, especially since it is an incredibly high score.

      It’s true, I can’t give up, especially now. I know I can keep pushing my score up. It might take a little while longer, but now it has almost become a ritual for me.

  • niemand January 30, 2014, 7:00 am

    Surprisingly passed N2 with 122/180 (47+44+31). I still can’t believe it because I felt really beaten down right after the test. Listening was just as hard as expected since I’ve never been to Japan but I’m glad I could pass the minimum bar. Now I think taking a break and learning real Japanese (I can’t even read a manga properly :)) before trying N1 would probably be better, but I know myself too much and I doubt I’ll be able to resist signing up for the July test.

    • Clayton MacKnight January 30, 2014, 2:52 pm

      You might want to sign up for the test just to provide yourself with motivation and to see what it is like. And you never know, you might pass!

      But, seriously, I think it is a good idea to do some natural studying so that you build up your vocabulary and reading speed. Also, just chatting a bit in the language can sharpen your ear and build up your response time. N1 favors a more natural blend of studying. If you just beat the books you’ll probably have a hard time of it.

  • Neel January 30, 2014, 7:39 am

    Passed N3 with 156/180 (54/53/49). Really happy with that score considering that the only ‘studying’ I do is watching unsubbed anime and using Anki. Looking forward to N2 in summer, but it’ll be hard work learning all the grammar while preparing for my high school exams. Plus I accidentally reset all my Anki decks last week…

    • Clayton MacKnight January 30, 2014, 2:59 pm

      Nice score! Good to know that watching lots of TV can help you pass. I need to do more of that. I’ve started watching Hanazawa Naoki, a business drama, incredibly difficult but a lot of fun to puzzle everything out.

      Too bad about the Anki decks. Maybe now is a good time to think about switching over to Memrise? or refreshing your decks with Japanese to Japanese cards 🙂

      • Tailan January 31, 2014, 5:23 am

        Actually, since you scored so well on N3, I though you should try reading native material such as websites and newspapers. You have a level which you are already able to understand unknown words from context. So I thought you should give it a try.
        Good luck and congratulations. I’ve got only 122.

  • lazuli January 30, 2014, 9:55 am

    just checked the JLPT website and results are available for my country too…
    OMG I’ve scored it!!!! freaking happy right now ^_____^
    first time for me to try JLPT and got N1 on first try~~ oh man can’t believe it^o^
    final score: 129 / 180
    voc/grammar: 42/60 (voc: B/ grammar: A)
    reading: 40/60

    • Clayton MacKnight January 30, 2014, 3:02 pm

      Wow! great score. See? Nothing to worry about. Looks like you have a well-balanced score, no real weak points. Great work.

      Any secrets to your success you could share? Did you do a lot of reading? TV watching?

      • lazuli January 30, 2014, 8:41 pm

        thank you^^;;
        well it’s nice for self esteem, I can feel “well my Japanese isn’t that bad after all” ^^;;
        it’s not cool you didn’t get it but in a way you’re more successful since you already have made it in Japan ;D which my true goal^^
        next I think I like to try to get BJT or J-test, we’ll see (but seriously business Japanese is my next upcoming big deal XD)

        I think I’m a long run learner (near 10 years) + I have solid grammar knowledges (even I still have a lot to learn in advanced grammar^^;) and fact I listen a lot of Jpop helped me for listening comprehension and also pronunciation.

        I think it’s more difficult for advanced level learners to learn the traditional “textbook” way so I try to improve by reading books: novels or essay about Japanese language (I can memorize grammar or new voc that comes in the novel again and again and as for essays I like anecdotes about the language), listening to podcasts (thanks to your blog) and sometimes I watch Japanese dramas.
        But honestly as for podcasts and dramas it’s more to get in touch with Japanese language and culture than to learn^^;;

        I use Memrise now too thanks to you and I think it’s nice even if it’s a bit difficult for me to memorize vocabulary out of context.

        I’m glad I got it because it puts an official certification on my language level and it’s a good thing to get N1 for me, since I plan to look for a job in Japan very soon.

        Since your score is getting higher and higher you’ll end up to get it!! I know how much it’s difficult to find time to study with a job and a family so it seems difficult for you to make time for studies^^;;
        That’s why maybe books are great: I don’t feel like studying but new vocabulary get printed in my brain ;D I read only during commuting time^^

        • Clayton MacKnight January 31, 2014, 2:01 pm

          I only read during commuting time as well these days. It’s so refreshing to just be able to read things and not have to stop and look things up every 5 or 6 sentences.

          Thanks for the kind words, I hope to have good news soon!

  • Aruna January 30, 2014, 10:24 am

    Passed N4 with 138/180, second attempt though, had scored 88 in July 2012. Would like to try N3 in July.

    • Clayton MacKnight January 30, 2014, 3:03 pm

      That’s a massive improvement. N4 is a great place to be. N3 is doable by July with a little bit of elbow grease.

      • Aruna January 31, 2014, 3:53 pm

        Thanks for the reply, you are so encouraging. Please give me some tips on how to plan for N3 July exam. Is it too ambitious to go directly to N2 in December?

        • Clayton MacKnight February 2, 2014, 2:12 pm

          Depends on how much time you have each day to study and if you get a lot of natural exposure to it.

  • Stewie January 30, 2014, 10:41 am

    Passed N2!

    Language Knowledge- 35 (Vocab A, Grammar B)
    Reading- 32
    Listening- 26
    Total- 93

    I took the test because I wanted an idea of what I could/couldn’t do if thrown in at the deep end, so I’m actually quite happy with that.

    Language Knowledge- I don’t study vocab/kanji, I just rely on what I build up through doing more interesting stuff. Grammar I did use the Kanzen book but just threw a sentence for each into Anki and was done with it. Language Knowledge study is like having teeth pulled…

    Reading- There’s an amazing book called ‘Rapid Reading Japanese’ which isn’t JLPT centred but is at N1/2 level. It really sped up my reading skills and the material is all extracts of natural stuff (JLPT reading is so contrived). Also I do read manga/books/newspapers.

    Listening- I knew this would probably be my worst. I do a lot of listening (anime, drama, variety shows, YouTube blogs, radio) but the JLPT listening again is quite contrived and I’d probably have benefited from a listening textbook or something.

    Anyway, I am genuinely happy with this 🙂 I might have a sniff of N1 this year but I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

    • Clayton MacKnight January 30, 2014, 3:07 pm

      I’ve heard a lot of great things about the ‘Rapid Reading Japanese’ book. I might have to pick it up just get a little more reading practice in and pick up a few tricks. And yes, the N1 reading is usually extracts from native materials but they seem to go through great pains to edit out the parts that make the essay clear.

      And the listening can be a down right joke sometimes. Nobody talks like that, but I guess that is kind of the point. If you can understand the listening section, you can understand real life.

      Overall, great score for not studying that specifically for the exam.

  • roikku January 30, 2014, 11:39 am

    I’ve passed N5

    Vocab / Grammar / Reading: 84/120
    Listening: 36/60
    Vocab: A, Grammar: A, Reading: B
    Total: 120/180

    My friend studying with me and my Japanese friends said that I was ready to take high level such as N4 or N3 but as I’ve never took this kind of test before I wanted to start at the easiest level to check how it was
    Now I’m studying more harder than ever to take N3 or N2 at the end of the year

    • Clayton MacKnight January 30, 2014, 3:10 pm

      I guess it is better to take the lower one and get a feel for it before moving up. Also, you can see if you have any holes in your knowledge that you might want to try to patch up.

      It looks like you had a good even score though. Good luck on the N3 or N2. (I personally recommend N3 first because there is still a sizable leap between N3/N2)

      • Tailan January 31, 2014, 5:17 am

        I humbly agree with Clayton. If you want a feasible challenge, try N3.
        I took N3 and passed, but I could say it was a challenge even after some years of study. Sometimes I get upset with Nouken because the kanji part is VERY tricky and sometimes you don’t score even knowing the answer – mostly because they aim to confuse you and you’re nervous because of the time. You scored 84 so I think there’s a lot to be done. I couldn’t finish the N3 reading section even having chosen to completely abandon the grammar section. And I got 43/60. You have to read fast if you want to succeed, maybe almost as fast as you read in your native language.

  • Virginia January 30, 2014, 2:30 pm

    I checked the results and I passed N3. This is the second time I took N3, The first time I got 109/180 and this time I got 136/180. I didn’t know if I would pass or not since 2013 wasn’t a good year to study for me, I had a lot of work and responsibilities and no time to study
    The worst section for me was grammar/vocabulary. There were a lot of kanji I didn’t know. This year I’ll focus more on kanji and vocabulary. I also need to start listening to japanese radio or podcasts

    I was waiting for my results in order to set up my study plan.

    Congratulations everyone on your effort, both pass and fail are important so we can know where we are at and how to continue improving. Overall I think the JLPT is a great experience 🙂

    Lets do our best this year too!

    • Clayton MacKnight January 30, 2014, 3:12 pm

      Virginia, always good to hear from you. It looks like you made a big improvement in your score. Do you do a lot of reading? That is a great way to pick up vocabulary and kanji without drudging through drills.

      Are you going for N2?

      • Virginia January 30, 2014, 10:06 pm

        Last year I started with the text book Tobira Gateway to Advanced Japanese in order to improve my reading. It’s an interesting book for upper intermediate, it has many readings about japanese culture (sports, technology, manga, religion, school, etc).
        I also bought a tablet, there are many ebooks I want to read but I haven’t decided on which could be suitable for an intermediate student like me.
        I also need to continue with memrise! and maybe begin with somatome N2 books.

        I think my sensei won’t let me take N3 again, she will want me to challenge myself and take N2.
        This year will be fun 🙂

  • Ioana January 30, 2014, 3:11 pm

    OMG I PASSED THE N1! First attempt! After months without studying, and roughly 2 years of intense study (and another 2 of on and off, which got me to barely n5 level).

    I am ECSTATIC.

    • Clayton MacKnight January 30, 2014, 3:14 pm

      Totally awesome! Did you have a good score as well? Intensive study can really feed off itself.


      • Ioana January 31, 2014, 2:17 pm

        Haha, no. Barely passed it with 108 points ^^. But it’s something!

  • Paulo January 30, 2014, 3:31 pm

    I thought about doing the N4, but since I have no real necessity of it I decided to go for the N5. I had never done this kind of test so I thought this was a good decision.

    I passed the exam with:

    – Vocabulary / Grammar / Reading: 107/120
    – Listening: 45/60
    – “A” for all sections.

    I did pretty good and was expecting this results… obviously I need to get my listening skills up, since the listening section in the N5 exam should be pretty easy. Overall, I’m glad with the results and I’m going for the N4 next 🙂

    • Clayton MacKnight January 31, 2014, 2:06 am

      That’s a pretty good start for JLPT. I guess it’s good to get your feet wet and then start moving up to the top. Great score.

      • Paulo January 31, 2014, 2:15 pm

        Thanks Mac. Yeah, that’s what I thought 🙂

  • Kay January 30, 2014, 5:35 pm

    Yay! Results in other countries came out:
    first try on N1, got 174/180 🙂 60 57 57
    did better than my N2 (170)!

    • Kay January 30, 2014, 6:18 pm

      I’m thinking of maybe doing Kanken now that I am done with JLPT! My next goal is to win the national Japanese speech contest this year for high school learners (in America), to go to the international competition in Japan!

    • Clayton MacKnight January 31, 2014, 2:12 am

      Very close to perfect! Great score. Do you do anything in particular to study?

      • Kay January 31, 2014, 5:01 am

        I used Shin kanzen master for reading and grammar, and that was it! I did buy the vocabulary and kanji books, but I never did get around to them. I primarily watch Japanese variety shows (sooo funny) and anime. I also translate for projectsub48, so I pick up a lot of vocabulary and phrases.

        The 6 weeks of immersion I spent in Japan helped also. (high school summer abroad – did a homestay and went to a high school in Kobe)

  • Lukas January 30, 2014, 5:40 pm

    I wrote you a mail and I post it again, because it seems so ridiculous. 🙂

    N2, 90 points, passed

    Language Knowledge: 33 of 60

    Reading: 19 of 60 (pure luck)

    Listening: 38 of 60

    Vocabulary/Grammar: both B rank

    But I passed on first try.^^

    • Clayton MacKnight January 31, 2014, 2:13 am

      Yeah, I got your email. I can hardly believe it. You just got it. I actually got 91 on my 2nd attempt when I passed the N2. A pass is a pass. Congrats!

  • Crayon January 30, 2014, 7:55 pm

    Second try of N1 for me and I got pretty close, 93 points. Can’t say I’m not disappointed, but it’s okay, I was expecting something like this..

    I was partly really curious about my score to know what I should focus on next in my studies, but my scores are rather balanced:
    Language: 32 (B/B)
    Reading: 28
    Listening: 33

    Last time I had only 18 in reading, so I focused on getting my reading speed up – which was more of a problem than the understanding itself.

    So I will probably study more naturally from now on till shortly before the next test, which should be more enjoyable as well.
    Probably read some “Read Real Japanese” and similar books, I am a big believer in parallel text 🙂

    • Clayton MacKnight January 31, 2014, 2:16 am

      I have heard a lot of great things about parallel text being quite useful. Have you dived into reading regular native books? It looks like with your scores, you might want to think about going as native as possible. I’ve tried to do away with as much English in my studies as I can these days. I feel like it is starting help more and more.

  • Chelsea January 31, 2014, 2:28 am

    Passed N3 🙂

    Language Knowledge: 42/60
    Reading: 38/60
    Listening: 53/60

    Total: 133/180
    Vocabulary, Grammar: A

    • Clayton MacKnight January 31, 2014, 2:04 pm

      Nice score! Especially the A in vocabulary and grammar. N2 should be easy enough if you can get your reading speed/comprehension up.

  • Koen January 31, 2014, 3:51 am

    Voc/Grammar – 52/60
    Reading – 20/60
    Listening – 41/60

    N1 passed..but not that great score. To think I have finished the first part of the exam 15 minutes early with this score in reading! Kinda disappointing. I thought I understood the passages really but the questions were so tricky. I believe one’s analytical skill plays a big factor here, not just language knowledge and comprehension, especially if the passage content is boring.
    Thorough vocab training helped me in comprehending fast but training to analyze in Japanese (nuances etc) would be very helpful I guess.
    Still happy compared to 95/180 last year and living outside JPN. Great blog Clayton! Good luck to us

    • Clayton MacKnight January 31, 2014, 2:06 pm

      I can agree with the questions in the reading section. You really have to get used to how they ask the questions and what traps to look out for. They love to trick you with similar worded answers.

      Good job with the sizable increase in your score. Living outside of Japan can make it difficult to pass the N1.

      • koen February 1, 2014, 9:27 am

        Exactly the point!
        Im thinking of taking the test again, but quite worried if I fail the reading next time haha.
        I have a question to you, In case you pass n1 say with a score of 100 or 101, a girigiri pass, will you take the test again in hope for higher score? or you will stop there.

        thanks for the reply

        • Clayton MacKnight February 2, 2014, 2:32 pm

          Well, if it were just me, I would probably stop and try something else. But, now that Boot Camp has become such a huge site, it’s kind of hard to walk away from the excitement of test day now. So, I might keep taking it just to keep myself in check and try different strategies.

  • bunalz January 31, 2014, 4:59 am

    Oh, I didn’t remember about the online result being out this month… I kept thinking of having to wait ’till March. 😛

    I took the N3 as my first JLPT (and will also be the final):

    -Language 35/60
    -Reading 39/60
    -Listening 46/60
    Total: 120

    Hee, I’m totally relieved, not because I passed, but mainly because I only spent my six months doing N5 and N4 Anki project (instead of reading the So-Matome books that my lecturer lent me). It’s only two days before the exam that I started force-memorising the N3 Kanji. The night before the exam, I didn’t sleep (due to adrenaline rush) and, in fact, took a break and played Ultraman Zearth for the PS1 (which is a Japanese game). The funny thing is, I was able to guess the Kanji 逃げる thanks to the game (the choices were too tricky). And I only managed to finish up to Chapter 5 of the So-Matome Kanji…

    That being said, the Kanji and the vocabularies in the last section of Moji-Goi were no doubt outside of N3 (’cause I had memorised the questions, frustratingly, and checked back at home). I actually have about six blanks 5 minutes before the end and had to guess solely on hunch. I thought I’ll be a goner in the Moji-Goi, unexpectedly.

    As for Bunpou, heck, I barely understand (probably about 60% at best) the paragraphs (especially the shinkansen)—and knowing that, I just skipped right to the questions and gambled on my detective instinct (lol).

    The listening section was the easiest (perhaps because I tried watching Fairy Tail and Hajime Kindaichi without the subtitles). I thought I only got 2-3 wrong. Maybe the mark distribution for those questions were that high. Maybe not.

    Now that the result’s out, I’ll just stick to my plan and start properly studying the N3 “again” before moving on to N2 materials. Hmm, maybe I should just finish off my Anki Project first.

    • Clayton MacKnight January 31, 2014, 2:11 pm

      Sounds like you did quite well for not really studying specifically for the exam. I would say you should just keep moving up and go for N2 next. It seems like you have picked up quite a few things for naturally studying the language, which comes in handy for the exam.

      All your scores were well above 30, which usually means you don’t have any glaring weaknesses. Good luck on the next level!

  • Tailan January 31, 2014, 5:05 am

    It’s AMAZING! I’m from Brazil and I already have the online results. I thought I would need to wait for a month. 122 out of 180 on N3. I’m so glaaaad!

    • Clayton MacKnight January 31, 2014, 2:12 pm

      Yeah, I’m so glad they started posting results online. I think in the old days we had to wait until mid-March or April to get results back. By that time, you are probably distracted and doing something else with your studies.

      Great score! I hope to see you pass N2!

  • Suji January 31, 2014, 5:28 am

    Hi Mac,

    I have been following your blog for quite sometime. I am from India and got my results online yesterday. I have passed N1 with a score of 123/180. This is the first time I wrote the N1 exam and was really happy and surprised I passed at the first go ! Thank you !

    • Clayton MacKnight January 31, 2014, 2:13 pm

      No problems, did you take a practice test before the exam? or did you just go in and see how you would do?

      N1 is pretty difficult, do you have experience working in Japanese?

  • Afrin January 31, 2014, 7:26 am

    Hey Mac,

    I hope n pray to god u get through N1 in your next attempt.

    I finally cleared N1 in my forth attempt..
    my score is 35/30/35.. total being 100 ぎりぎりで

    I was anyways not expecting a great score infact wasnt even expecting to clear.
    I just got lucky..But compared to last few times I had studied a lot more.
    I solved lots of last year (old pattern) exam papers.

    I am super happy that I got it finally..score does’nt really matter..

    • Clayton MacKnight January 31, 2014, 2:19 pm

      A pass is a pass. So glad to hear you made it. It seems like you had a well-balanced score as well.

      I’m looking forward to being able to have that same feeling of relief. I thought I would be pretty close by now, but I’ve been so darn busy. Anyway, here’s to next time.

  • Abdo January 31, 2014, 7:47 am

    Finally had my hands on the results! (Other countries who had to wait 🙂 )

    I passed the N3 with a 50/40/41 for each section. Yay! I thought it was great because I was only able to study two weeks before the exam and I did no listening (apart from watching anime). I’m also happy that my reading improved a lot and overall I don’t have a very low score in any section.

    I hope I’ll start the N2 study soon, it’ll be exhausting since the difference between the two levels is big.


    • Clayton MacKnight January 31, 2014, 2:21 pm

      The difference is fairly big, but with your scores it probably won’t be as big of hurdle as you think. My recommendation is to start reading some native books and get into the habit of working through a couple before the test. That will help your reading speed and comprehension which is the main difference between N3/N2 I think.

  • Lin January 31, 2014, 9:45 am

    I failed N1 by 9 points.


    I thought I had done well enough to pass but while my reading and listening improved, it appears the vocab and grammar area didn’t.
    I was gobsmacked when I saw the score.

    I am planning to take the exam again in July. My second attempt 🙁

    • Clayton MacKnight January 31, 2014, 2:23 pm

      2nd attempt is not too bad. (I just did my 4th)

      The N1 is very fickle. You probably just got the wrong topics this time around. I’m sure if you keep your studies up, the July test won’t be a problem.

      Good luck!

  • Kiwi Al January 31, 2014, 11:24 am

    What apps or software is everyone using? I only use Anki on my computer but I see mention of Memrise and StickyStudy in the comments. Any other recommendations?

  • Shirley February 1, 2014, 4:07 am

    Hello, I posted on your site after taking the test in Dec. Didn’t expect to pass but I did… on the dot 100/ 180 (Language Knowledge 41/60, Reading 21/60, Listening 38/60). I didn’t have time to complete the reading part and wasn’t confident on grammar & listening as I did self-study and there were still so many points that I was unsure of at the time of taking the test, and it was my 1st attempt.

    Totally agree with you that N1 is a blend of textbooks and “real Japanese”, which was what I did. I dutifully completed the Kanzen Master (Reading/ Listening), So-matome (Grammar /Vocabulary), Unicom (Grammar drilling – my weakest point/ 2 mock tests), nihongo 500mon (for overall drilling). My favorite is Unicom for its’ clear and detailed explanations in the answer booklet, which is very useful for self-study. Due to textbooks cramming, there was little time left for the “natural” input but I made it a point to watch Japanese TV, particularly the news, every night for 1-2 hours. I also made time to attend Japanese conversational sessions by native volunteers to ask questions. I did try reading Japanese novels but it was very tedious and time consuming as every few sentences require checking up some words in the dictionary. I found that watching Japanese TV with a dictionary at hand is more effective though, thanks to the huge captions and subtitles.

    Guess that I am really very lucky and though the scores are unsatisfactory but passing means having all the free time to tap on all the “natural” study resources available in Japan, and so I am overjoyed!

    Thanks for your kind words and keep persevering! 頑張ってね!

    By the way, it will be great to hear your opinion about “Native” Japanese level. Having lived in Japan for years, what do you think it mean? Can a foreigner really attain “Native” level?

    • Clayton MacKnight February 2, 2014, 2:29 pm

      It really all depends on your definition of what a ‘native-like’ or ‘fluent’ speaker is. I tend to agree with a lot of language professionals in that it is very difficult and some believe impossible to become completely fluent in two languages. Also, although it might be possible, most people don’t spend the time to do it, because well, it’s usually not worth it.

      The reason you can’t really become 100% fluent in another language is because you will encounter certain situations in one language commonly and not in the other. For example, I would say I’m pretty darn good at ordering food at restaurant in Japan. I can respond quickly and I know what kinds of questions the waiter is going to ask. But, when I went to the States I had to ask more than a few times for a waitress to repeat themselves, and at times a stutter a bit because I just wasn’t used to order in a restaurant in English (and yes, I’m a native speaker). It sounds absolutely bizarre that that happens but it does. So, in order to be fluent in two languages you have to kind of experience a variety of situations in both languages on a regular basis. This is kind of weird example, but hopefully you see the point. So again, depends on what you think native is.

      There really isn’t a need to be completely native in another language other than to show off really, which is cool, but most people won’t sacrifice the hours needed to reach that. The point of language is to communicate ideas, and most can do that quite well at the N1 level, so you could say that that is ‘native-like’.

      So, to answer your question, no I don’t think foreigners can ever reach ‘native’ level, mostly because there isn’t that much of a pay off at that level. ‘native-like’ is easily possible though, and quite worth it.

  • Vibha February 2, 2014, 12:32 pm

    I cleared N1 with 113/180
    Language – 40/60
    Readling – 33/60
    Listening – 40/60

    Happy for myself as I was working morning 6 am to evening 5 pm and I could spend only 4 hrs daily for 4-5 months to prepare for exams.
    I would like to Thank you, Clayton, As I used to visit your Blog for info and got names of Books to refer from your Blog only.
    It was difficult for me to take up N1 after a Gap of 9 years after I cleared N2 in 2005 and a failed N1 attempt in 2006, I was out of touch from Japanese altogether, but now I am so Happy to succeed in N1 Finally.

    • Clayton MacKnight February 2, 2014, 2:33 pm

      Wow, you still managed to squeeze in 4 hours of study with that work schedule. Excellent score. I would be exhausted with that schedule. Of course, with my commute, I basically work 12 hours a day as well. phew…

  • Viji Sridhar February 2, 2014, 8:34 pm

    Hi Mac,

    How are you doing?

    Your website has been very helpful. I am happy to let you know that I have passed my long awaited N2 level with not so great scores..

    My marks: 100/180

    Moji Goi: 35
    Reading : 28
    Listening : 37

    Though now I have taken up N1 classes 🙂 Not sure if I can clear N1 in one shot.. Shall try to do my best.Keep posting your new ideas and strategies to tackle the exam especially DOKKAI.

    Thanks again!
    Viji Sridhar

    • Clayton MacKnight February 4, 2014, 12:31 pm

      Good luck. Taking the N1 will at least give you a good idea of what it is like then you focus on what you need to do. The N1 is the ultimate test, you can do it though.

  • Peggy February 5, 2014, 1:23 am

    I know it’s only N5 (we all have to start somewhere right?!) but I’m super excited to have passed. I got 141/180. Language knowledge was 102/120 and listening was 39/60. I was really concerned about the listening because there was a moron sitting behind me coughing and sneezing non stop! Ha ha!! I was losing it 🙂 Thank you Clayton for all the valuable information on your website. Bring on N4 in December!

    • Clayton MacKnight February 13, 2014, 2:00 am

      You definitely kicked it off with a good score. I can totally understand the listening section. It can be really difficult to stay focused when people start coughing and sneezing. One time I took the test, someone’s phone went off. You almost need to practice zen meditation sometimes.

  • Bart February 6, 2014, 3:06 am

    Failed my first try at N1, but actually did better than I thought I did.

    Language Knowledge: 35
    Reading: 16 (WTH???)
    Listening: 29
    Vocabulary: B
    Grammar: B
    Total: 80

    Again reading is my lowest section. I read Japanese novels and magazines all the time, so the really low score again surprises me. I emphasized grammar in my studies last year. This year I’ll focus more on the reading. Last year I didn’t really do any timed reading exercises, which probably hurt me when I got to the real deal. This year in my I’m making an effort to read my novels and magazines two times to make sure I really understand what I’ve read. I’ll also try to get the new edition of the Japan Times speed reading book, as it emphasizes the kind of skills you need to tackle the super long and boring JLPT reading selections in a time effective manner with a high level of comprehension. Every time I see とことん when I’m reading something, I die a little on the inside.

    On the plus side, my listening comprehension is improving quite a bit. It looks like listening to a lot of Japanese tv is actually helping me there.

    I’ll have to admit I didn’t study to the best of my ability last year, doing most of my studying in the final few months. This year I’ll definitely try to stretch the studying over the entire year, starting now. We don’t get to take the test again until December, so I have a lot of time.

    Congrats to all those who passed and good luck to those who are trying again in July and December!

    • Clayton MacKnight February 13, 2014, 2:04 am

      That’s a pretty strong score for your first attempt. What might be causing you to have a lower than expected reading score is misreading the questions and answers for the comprehension. For some of the passages, reading the question and answers is almost as time-consuming as reading the whole passage you are suppose to be comprehending.

      Have you taken a few practice tests? Have you noticed that you misread the questions or were just a little slow?

  • Fabian February 8, 2014, 1:44 am

    Hi! I passed N2!

    Vocabulary (B) /Grammar (A): 48/60
    Reading: 36/60
    Listening: 41/60


    I think I got an excelent result. I have been studying Japanese for almost two years. I’ll take N1 this year if everything comes out well. =)

    • Clayton MacKnight February 13, 2014, 2:12 am

      To get N2 in 2 years is great progress. Do you work with Japanese every day or do you just stick to good study regime?

  • Mădălina February 14, 2014, 12:34 pm

    Hello! I am Mădălina from Romania and I’ve been following your blog for a while. Your tips have helped me a lot in my exam. I have passed the N5 test. I don’t want to disturb you in any way, but I’ve been thinking to write you anyway. It’s up to you if you answer or not, I won’t stop following your blog if you don’t answer, but if you do answer, I thank you very much!
    I’ve been studying Japanese for 4 years so far and i simply love it. Although Japanese is not my major in university, I try almost every day to learn something new. For a while I’ve been thinking to go to Japan and study the language for a year there. But I need some advice, because it’s a big step for me. It is also very far away from my home, the culture is so different and of course, I am a bit afraid. I wanted to know from your experience what do you think about taking some intensive courses there. Will this help me quite enough to learn the language and be able to teach in my country at least for beginners? I would love to do this. What level do you think I’ll reach? I have read about people going there and being able to reach N3, N2. I found this website What do you think about it? I found it quite interesting because they do the paperwork and they have lots of pictures. I am a bit confused because it is also about the money ( I’ve heard that Japan is an expensive country) and I don’t want to make a bad investment.
    Greetings from Romania and keep up the good work!

    • Clayton MacKnight February 15, 2014, 12:14 am

      I think it would be a great opportunity to study intensively in Japan. For those that can afford the time and money, it is probably the best option as long as you totally immerse yourself, which means nothing but Japanese. It’s hard to swallow at first, but after the first week, you shouldn’t have any issues.

      As for level you can reach, that depends on how long you’ll be here. I think reaching N2 in a year after you’ve passed N4 is possible if you make the most of your time. Just be sure to immerse yourself, watch TV, read books, chat with natives as much as possible.

      Japan is an expensive country but only if you let it be. Going out can end up costing you a lot (up to Y10,000 for a full night out), but as a student I would think you could find some cheap fun with your classmates, house parties and such.

      I don’t know what prices are like in Romania, though. Europe always seemed like a really expensive place to me so it might be the same. 🙂

  • Lim March 7, 2014, 4:44 pm

    Thankfully, I passed N5. Results:
    Language Knowledge (Vocabulary / Grammar) Reading: 118/200.
    Listening: 40/60
    Total: 158/180

    I think I did one mistake each in vocabulary and grammar. And the listening score is slightly better than I initially expected. Though my other classmate scored full marks for listening in July 2013 for N5, because he watched tons of anime and Japanese drama, something I cannot squeeze out some time to do due to my pre-university studies.

    I think I would take N4 in December if I have enough time to study, because I have to take my AS exam in May this year. :/

    Thank you for establishing this website and I find your sharing of experiences quite interesting, as they act as some sort of advices for me. Good luck in your future endeavors. 🙂

    • Clayton MacKnight March 8, 2014, 2:13 pm

      Thanks Lim,

      Looks like you had a pretty solid score for N5. N4 shouldn’t be that big of problem if you can keep the pace up and study the extra grammar. Good luck!

  • Kenty March 25, 2014, 8:41 pm

    Language knowledge: 42/60
    Total: 137/180 for N2!
    First time taking JLPT because I wanted to know what was my standard from self-learning since mid 2009. I’m not considering to take N1 for now though, I really don’t like studying >.< so I would definitely not do well for my vocabulary. I might consider it if I have the opportunity to study/work in Japan though! Going to be eighteen this year so I have plenty of time to take JLPT in the future when I need it 😀

    • Clayton MacKnight March 26, 2014, 11:44 pm

      The N1 is a bit of difficult hill to climb to be sure. If I were you, I would do a lot more natural studying and use the language a lot, then maybe in the future refocus and pass the test. Great score on N2 btw.

  • Isaura March 29, 2014, 8:02 am

    Watashi wa, ichigatsu no gejun, hidoi kekka ga detekuru osore ga arukara kowakute, kekka o mimasen deshita. Sangatsu no joujun, kekka ga todokimashita:
    moji/goi: 45/60
    dokkai: 41/60
    choukai: 37/60
    Demo, bunpoutesuto no kekka wa “B” shika nakattakara, hazukashii desu:)

  • Curious May 15, 2014, 1:50 pm

    After preparation, I successfully passed N1 on my first try:
    36 / 60
    33 / 60
    42 / 60
    111 / 180

    Hard, but not the impossible task that it was built up to be.

  • vishal January 26, 2015, 7:51 am

    hi, how and where do i check my JLPT result? please help out!!!!

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