The JLPT organizers have made practice tests available for free online ever since they changed the format in 2010. These practice tests are more like a bundle of sample questions though considering they only have 2 questions of each type. They were great in the early days after the revision when it was difficult to know what to expect for the test. I do think they are still useful to go through in order to get an idea of how the test will be conducted, though.
The only problem with these practice tests is that they don’t come with any answer explanations. They don’t even really give you a good background of what kind of questions you are going to see on the test. They are simply a few questions that you answer and then check. This might lead to some confusion as to why exactly you missed a particular question.
This week, I thought I would take some time to explain some of the answers in the first section of the exam, the vocabulary or 文字・語彙. This section covers how to read the ~100 kanji that are on the N5 exam as well as how to use the vocabulary that is covered at this level. This is probably the easiest section of the test to study for because it simply involves a lot of memorization of key words.
If you are looking for a different level of the test I have notes for each level N5, N4, N3, N2, and N1. There are also bigger workbooks available for each level – N5, N4, N3, N2-N1. If you’d like you can also take the N5 sample questions online. I’ve made a handy dandy PDF of this post available at the end, if you’d like to just print this out for when you study the test.
言語知識（文字・語彙）Language Knowledge (Kanji orthography, vocabulary)
For this first section, you just have to choose the correct hiragana for the underlined kanji. Let’s take a look at the answers:
1) 1 – あたらしい is the correct answer. 新 can be used as a prefix though for certain compounds. For example, 大阪 → 新大阪.
2) 4 – でんき is the correct answer. 電 is most commonly read as でん in compounds and it is very rarely used by itself. As a matter of fact, for all words on the known vocabulary lists for the JLPT, 電 is read as でん.
気 is almost always pronounced き. Be careful and be on the look out for ゛or ゜that might change the sound of the kana when you are studying these. It might also help to use a service like Memrise.com that makes you type out the answers instead of just selecting the right one.
For the second section, you need to choose the correct kanji or just for N5 the katakana. Here are the answers:
3) 4 – 外 is the correct answer. This is an example of the dreaded look-alike kanji. The first two characters don’t actually exist in Japanese. At the N5 level, you will probably see at least one of this type of question. To combat them be sure to be familiar with radicals and what they look like. This is where doing some reading or just looking at a lot of kanji will help your brain start to sort out valid kanji from the imitations.
4) 2 – ほてる is the correct answer. These kinds of questions will be some of the easiest on the test so take some time and drill the katakana until you have it mastered.
For this group of questions you have to choose the most appropriate word to fill in the blank. Let’s go over the answers:
5) 1 – のりました is the correct answer.
Answer 2, あがりました （あがる）means to rise or ascend, for example to go to the second floor we can say – ２かいに あがりました.
Answer 3, つきました（つく）can mean many things but at the N5 level it probably means “to arrive at” or “to reach” a place, which doesn’t fit here.
Answer 4, はいりました（はいる）means to enter, but this usually means to enter a room and not a vehicle. The best answer is のりました（のる）, which means “to ride.” Notice the に-particle that のる usually uses.
6) 3 – うるさい is the correct answer
Answer 1, くらい is dark. Answer 2, さむい is cold. Answer 4, あぶない is dangerous.
For this section, you need to select the sentence that has a similar meaning to the one underlined. Here is what you should get for the answers:
7) 3 – わたしは デパートに しごとを して います。 Is the correct answer.
つとめる means “to serve” or “to work (for)” someone, which has a very similar meaning to しごとをする (to work). Notice the use of the に particle here. This points to the person/thing the speaker is working for. For the other answers, the actions are taking place at a location (デパート) marked by で.
Answer 1, contains “かいものを して います” which literally means “doing buying thing”, in other words “do shopping”.
Answer 2, contains “さんぽを して います” which means “going for a walk”. Walking is usually not considered working.
Answer 4, contains “やすんで います” which means “resting”. Resting is definitely not working.
8) 2 – きのうの よる パーテイーへ いきました。is the correct answer.
This is essentially just testing your understanding of ゆうべ. This is very simple to do if you could just see it written in kanji – 昨夜 (yesterday night). きのう, sometimes written as 昨日 in kanji, is yesterday. And よる, sometimes written as 夜 in kanji, is night.
What about the other answers? Well, おととい means the day before yesterday, and ひる is noon. You might be thinking that しょうご is noon and it is, but ひる is slightly more conversational, whereas しょうご is more formal or businesslike.
Did I miss anything?
That’s it for the vocabulary section of the N5 sample questions. Let me know if you have further questions that I can answer for you. Leave a comment below and I’ll add your answer to the notes.
N5 Sample Questions Vocabulary Section Explained (PDF/133.3kb)