JLPT December 2016 Results

JLPT December 2016 Results post image

getIf you registered for the JLPT in Japan online, you should now be able to check your results online at the official JEES site.  If you mailed your application in the old fashion way, the results will be mailed out starting February 3rd.  Online results for several other countries should be available now, too.  And for anybody who took the test, no matter how you registered, you’ll be able to check your results online now.

Okay, so you got your results, now what?  Well, first of all, please take the time to let us know how well you did in the comments.  It would be great to hear what you did that helped you the most and what you felt was a bit of a dead end.  If you had to focus on just one thing to pass the test, what would it be?  What paid off the most?  It would be great to hear from you.

But now that you know you passed or failed, I’m sure you have a few questions about how to proceed.  Over the years, I have receive the same kind of questions around this time, so I thought I would clear up a few things that you might be wondering about.

Be Perfect or Just Move On

One of the questions that gets banded about a lot is whether to focus on perfecting a level of the test before moving on to the next level.  In other words, if you just got 91 points on N4, which requires that you score at least 90 points total to pass, should you move on to N3?  Or, should you try to perfect your N4 score, possibly increasing it to something more comfortable like 120 or 140?  After all, you might have just passed out of sheer luck.

Well, as with anything involving your goals, and how you spend a good majority of your time, it depends on you and what you are looking to do.  There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.  You’ll really need to think about what you hope to accomplish with Japanese in the future.

If you are looking to use Japanese simply as a hobby like keeping up on the latest manga, watching jdramas, or just chatting with your Japanese buddies, you really don’t need to be so serious about the test.  You probably won’t run into too many problems moving up the ladder of the tests.  However, if you are approaching the N2 or N1, you may want to take some time to review lower level grammar as long as you have a genuine interest in perfecting it.

Recently, I’ve been creating materials for the N5 level, which has led me to do a tremendous amount of research into all the aspects of the 100 or so grammar points that are tested over for N5.  Even though I’ve passed N2, and have a pretty good understanding of the foundation of Japanese grammar, I still kept finding myself asking nit picky questions about the differences between some points.  This has really improved my comfort level with the language.

But I don’t recommend it for everyone.  Not everyone has a genuine interest in sorting out the fine points of Japanese grammar.  Some of you need or want to pass for other reasons.

A friend of mine recently told me that he had a job lined up for him, but he wasn’t able to say yes because it required an N1.  The job, doing localization for a software company, probably didn’t actually need someone with an N1.  More likely, they were just using some metric to thin the herd.  But, it still acts as a gatekeeper, and so it is safer to get a good, solid score with the test, as a company might come back and ask for it during the interview process.

In my personal experience, only having an N2 has not blocked me from what I’ve wanted to do.  This is especially true if you can demonstrate that you can do the work with a portfolio or references.  So how do you get experience if every job requires experience?  It’s an age-old question with a simple answer.  You network.  You network a lot.  You’d be surprised what is available if you just ask.

However, there are still some companies and organizations that are real sticklers.  If you aiming to get N1 in order to get a job in Japan, or to qualify for a Japanese permanent residency, it might be a good idea to make sure you have a healthy (120+) score before moving on to the next level.  Spending a little extra time at the lower levels, will pay off as you go higher.  You will have to look past basic grammar books though.  I highly recommend picking up the Japanese Dictionaries of Grammar if you are looking to go all the way.   They are thick and have everything you could ever want to know about Japanese grammar.

Looking Forward

So, are you looking to move on to the next level?  Not sure how much time it will take to get there?  Here is a rough guide based on anecdotal evidence.

If you are looking to move from N5 to N4 or from N4 to N3, it is probably possible to move up in 6 months, so you could probably sign up for and pass the July test.  Now, you will have to study hard and consistently over that time though.  If you have the time to put in 2 hours of JLPT study a day on average, you can pass in that time.  If you’d like to go at a more leisurely pace or you live in North America where the test is only conducted once a year, it might be best to take it a year from now.

If you are looking to move from N3 to N2,  it is possible to do it with a year of hard studying.  The main reason why this will take a little more time is that you will need to dramatically increase your reading speed.  Reading on a regular, probably daily basis, will be your best friend.  You have to become comfortable with reading (and listening) in order to pass.

If you are looking to move from N2 to N1, it will probably 2 years of hard study, but it really depends.  By this time, you are probably reading/watching a lot of Japanese content, or you might even be working in a Japanese company and be exposed to Japanese on a daily basis.  If this is the case, you could pass in a shorter time.  Just keep in mind that the amount of vocabulary and kanji for the N1 level is roughly double that of N2.  By a few estimates, the amount of study time need to reach N2 from zero is roughly the same amount of time it takes to go from N2 to N1.  It all depends on your background and your environment though.

How about you?

How did you do?  What is your study plan for the next year?  Let us know in the comments below.


{ 69 comments… add one }
  • Lukas Frank January 24, 2017, 5:56 pm

    I didn’t expect to pass and I should not feel disappointed because I haven’t been to Japan for more than 2 months. I’ve been taking the test in Germany and got ca. one third in every section. I will stay in Japan for 9 months from February on to do research for my PhD. But I also want to improve my Japanese.
    My score:
    Language knowledge: 21
    Reading: 16
    Listening: 24
    Total: 61/180
    Vocabulary/Grammar: both B

    Any suggestions , Mac? 🙂

    • Clayton MacKnight January 25, 2017, 2:27 am

      What level did you take?

      In general, I think you should make use of your time in Japan and get your ears used to hearing Japanese and using it on a regular basis. Living in Japan is a priceless opportunity to get some real exposure to the language.

      • Lukas Frank January 25, 2017, 8:38 am

        Oh sorry, my fault. XD I took N1 for the first time.

        • Clayton MacKnight January 25, 2017, 12:42 pm

          Well, a 61 on the N1 is respectable, but it will probably take another year of dedicated study to pass. If you have time to do a lot of reading while you are in Japan, you might be able to pull up your score enough to pass. It is a tough hill to climb, but you can do it!

  • José Lacroûte January 24, 2017, 8:23 pm

    Took the N1. Gnnn I made it ぎりぎり as I expected (104/180). Don’t know if I should be happy for having it or disappointed of my scores… I’m super disappointed of my reading scores, I was so sure I’d nailed it ! I didn’t have time to reread-it, I suspect myself to have skipped one line and fulling the answers of the wrong lines for the second half of the questions… (I saw I did that for vocab/gramm but I had time to correct it so ffeewww!)
    This is something ppl should be careful about on the D-day, ’cause stress makes you do some really dumb things yo

    • Clayton MacKnight January 25, 2017, 2:12 am

      That score is still pretty good for N1, and for someone without a kanji background (like a Chinese native speaker). Great work. You can always take it again to see if you can improve it.

  • Leo January 24, 2017, 10:36 pm

    Passed the N2 in Germany.
    40/60 Vocab/Grammar
    43/60 Reading
    56/60 Listening

    Guess I’m taking the N1 next winter. I don’t exactly expect to pass (pretty sure I’ll fail actually, but that’s not a good attitude, now is it?), but at the very least I’ll get some experience from it. We’ll see. So back to core10k it is for now =)
    As for retaking the test to get a better score, I can certainly see where you’re coming from. Personally, I wouldn’t do it though. I use the JLPT to keep me motivated by having something to work towards. You know, nothing beats the feeling of looking in your mail and getting that shiny, new certificate you always wanted. Getting a slightly higher score just doesn’t cut it for me, I need that sweet thrill =)

    • Clayton MacKnight January 25, 2017, 2:16 am

      That’s a great score! I think you have the right attitude. With a strong score like that, it looks like you can just do some regular reading and you should be in a good position to get a respectable score next winter on the N1.

      I’ve never been interested in getting a higher score personally, but there is some value in it. Just depends on your personal goals and what motivates you really. Thanks for sharing.

      By the way, what did you do to get that listening score? That is a pretty healthy score.

      • Leo January 25, 2017, 9:13 pm

        I can’t really say why I’m having such an easy time with listening. If I had to guess, it’s probably from watching Japanese television shows and listening to Japanese music a lot.

        Thanks for the great content by the way! Your blog really helped me bigly with preparing for the JLPT. =)

  • Ian January 24, 2017, 10:52 pm

    I passed… but a 90/180 on N4.
    Language Knowledge 60/120
    Listening Comprehension 30/60
    However, I got A on all Vocab, Reading, and Grammar.

    I am still thinking on my plans to take N3, but seeing the scores makes me feel uncomfortable on how hard N3 will be on my level (especially since I am just self-studying).
    I took JLPT for fun and to put my knowledge to test since learning a foreign language has been my hobby.
    Should I take N3, take N4 again, or review back my concepts of N4?

    Any suggestions, Mac? 🙂

    • Clayton MacKnight January 25, 2017, 2:21 am

      It really comes down to your personal goals. If you are interested in Japanese for the long run, like you want to work here or you have Japanese family, etc… It might be best to take the test again and refine your score.

      The main thing to keep in mind is what will motivate you. That’s really the key. What will keep you studying? If you look back at your N4 books and they make you want to throw up, it is time to move on. After all, if you run into some points that are a little confusing while you are studying for N3, you can always go back and review the N4/N5 grammar.

  • BT January 25, 2017, 5:43 am

    Passed N2 (Toronto, Canada)

    One year after getting a pretty good score at N3 (only a little behind in grammar), I got a pass on the following level. Not “barely” (in total), but not disappointing. However, I had flu in the last 1.5 week before, and fever came back during the break. Fortunately, I had pills in my bag I could take during the break, but it was still hard to concentrate until after the 30-second break of the listening section. Combined to being tired in general, having to do several hours in ground transportation to Toronto, and being fed up of studying 2 weeks before the test… Add to this the stupid idea to sleep in a youth hostel to save money. Intensive study (~2h/day) can be a little counter-productive. I feel I could have done a better score in reading two months before the test, and similar in listening…

    Language knowledge: 36/60
    Around 10 points less than expected. Having got 2 As, it is hard to nail the problem. I think the easy kanji questions “compensated” for the several vocabulary questions that I guessed the answer. Merging a few lists from different sources to form a comprehensive card deck could be a good idea. For the grammar, always, ALWAYS do the workbook on the JLPT website some time before the test, it was very similar.

    Reading: 21/60
    Again, at least 10 points less than expected. Trying not to be sick for N1 can be a good suggestion, but there’s room for improvement for the comprehension of the details in the texts. During the month before the test, I tried to read news articles on the Internet, however without questions it is good only to a limit. Also, the variance of my reading scores during practice was too high. I would also focus on the comprehension of the questions/answers, which are quite more harder than N3.

    Listening: 43/60
    Yeah, the beginning was hard. But the third part was quite straightforward, and the short answers part seemed easier than those of any practice tests I’ve done… I’ll move to Japan to practice that part for N1.

    Total: 100/180

    Taking the test again could be a good idea if one who barely made it feels their proficiency if a little lacking compared to what is expected from those who pass the test, does not have to wait a full year and it does not involve long and/or quite costly transportation/lodging costs if not in Japan, that could be a good idea. I wouldn’t care for N5, but N4 is quite useful for speaking and N3 is just a good preparation for N2. I would retake N2 if I stop studying and I’d like to “refresh” my certification some time in the future. Else, I’d focus on N1. I’d wait to be fully comfortable before taking the highest level, unless it is required for some purpose and a pass is enough for that.

    And I also think networking could get me to work in Japan. Either with my current company, or people I know… or doing some remote freelance work for people in Canada I could get by networking before leaving and taking Japanese classes while evaluating my options…

    • Clayton MacKnight January 25, 2017, 12:37 pm

      That is a pretty healthy score for the N2! It looks like you will have to do a lot of reading practice to prep for N1. That has to be the biggest hurdle for the N2 and N1 levels – reading. You just have to get into a good habit of reading the (online) newspaper and building up your comprehension. It’s too bad you had to travel all that way to take the test, and then to get a fever! What a pain.

  • Tom January 25, 2017, 7:45 am

    I just passed my N4 and I have an interview with a few university professors next week that will decide whether they accept me in their lab or not. Do you think N4 is worth mentioning at all? It might only show “interest in Japanese” rather than any level of proficiency, I guess.

    That aside, I am really happy I passed! I invested most of my free time outside of the job since October, and used Genki II as well as your mock exams to prepare. A few levels of Wanikani were enough to ace the kanji section. I did really bad in the reading section, I need to start giving that more time compared to kanjis and grammar exercises from now on. Thank you very much for everything you posted, Clayton! 😉

    • Clayton MacKnight January 25, 2017, 12:40 pm

      Well, I think N4 definitely shows an interest in Japanese. It is probably equivalent to around 2+ years of college study in Japanese. If it pertains to the position it is worth mentioning. At this point, you can probably work your way through daily conversation with that, so it could help, but it is not enough to work in an all-Japanese work environment.

  • niemand January 25, 2017, 8:41 am

    I failed N1 for the third time in Germany but I’m pretty satisfied with my 88 points (35/ 28/25 – Vocabulary B, Grammar A).

    I had noticed I had improved on the first part, I did quite a lot of Anki and also used the Kanzen Master vocabulary book by going through all the lessons „on a loop“ : when I’m finished I just start again and I alternate lessons from the first and second parts of the book. But still I need to improve on vocabulary, I guess I will continue this way but add some more natural reading (newspapers for example).

    I was a bit surprised to get an A in grammar but I definitely feel the systematic use of the So-Matome book was helpful, along with a specific Anki deck (called “Current Study – Grammar domination” or something). I know a lot of people are skeptical towards this book, and I was too, but it seems to have worked to some extent. That’s how I did after having gone through the book a couple of times along the years:

    I just took the last chapter (8) and decided to do 2 lessons a day (4 pages). At this stage I just need to look at the grammar points highlighted to see whether I know the meaning of the pattern, if yes I do not spend too much time studying the example sentences. Then I rush to the exercises and review carefully if I did any mistake. So in 3 days I’m done with the chapter. On the 4th I do the final test. Then I do the same from chapter 7, and do chapter 8 again, and so on. And I really do it on a daily basis. So at the end it looks like:

    8; 7-8; 6-7-8; 5-6-7-8; 4-5-6-7-8; 3-4-5-6-7-8; 2-3-4-5-6-7-8; 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8
    And then the from the beginning:
    1-2; 1-2-3-; 1-2-3-4; etc.

    It’s quite a brutal and dumb method but it really doesn’t take too much time (hardly 10 minutes a day) and I’m sure it contributed to my better score in grammar. Of course the Dictionaries of Japanese Grammar are great too, the Kanzen Master grammar book as well (I’m not sure about the last part which is supposed to drill you for the last exercise though…) but I simply didn’t have enough time to include them more often in my routine. It’s a pity.

    As for reading, 28 points are cool because I had not been able to do better than 19 so far. Still I didn’t have the time to answer all the questions and like many others I need to improve my reading speed. And I think the Kanzer Master book can’t help me further in that regard, here again I will try to read more and more articles from the Asahi Shimbun for instance. Reading is closely linked to vocabulary anyway.

    I didn’t prepare at all for listening to focus on the other parts and honestly I wouldn’t have minded getting a 0. But that’s the point I’m going to work hard on for next time. Not living in Japan and having never been there is quite a handicap but I might be able to grab a couple of more points by insisting on all my audio material…

    • Clayton MacKnight January 25, 2017, 12:48 pm

      I think you have a pretty healthy score for someone who hasn’t been here. Not a lot of people hit that mark outside of Japan (or inside Japan). It looks like you just need to get into a regular habit of reading news articles so you can build up that vocabulary and overall comprehension. N1 scores can fluctuate all over the place depending on what kind of content they have in the reading and listening sections.

      It’s interesting that the So-Matome book helped. I found that the grammar in a lot of N1 grammar books had little effect. I’m not sure where they get the grammar for those questions but it is very complex.

      Anyway, good luck for next time, looks like you are close!

  • Dominik January 25, 2017, 9:17 am

    I took the N5 test and passed with a perfect score in listening and only a few silly mistakes in the grammar and vocab section. Sadly I have to wait till December to take the N4 level.

    For preparation I took a A1 (European standart) level class at my university and did exercises with 2 jlpt preparation books.
    I was pretty surprised that I did so well for the listening, because it was hard for me and I definitely could’ve done more for it.

    • Clayton MacKnight January 25, 2017, 2:40 pm

      Do you think the A1 is about the same level as N5?

      • Dominik January 25, 2017, 4:30 pm

        N5 is probably between A1 and A2, because I had to study a few additional grammar items and we didn’t learn any kanji.

        • Clayton MacKnight January 26, 2017, 2:19 pm

          Wow really, no kanji for A1? I would think they would have at least introduced it. Good to know!

  • Alain January 25, 2017, 9:45 am

    I took the N5 in France last december and passed … with only 86/180 🙁

    Well I was sure that I would have failed because of the listening section, so I’m pretty happy I passed, but I was sure that I scored better on the other parts of the test ^^:

    language knowledge: 67/120
    listening: 19/60 (ouch).

    What I don’t really understand is why is my language knowledge score so low when, at the same time, I have a “triple A” on vocabulary, grammar and reading :/

    But well, a pass is a pass, now moving forward to N4 next december! I’ll probably focus now on kanji and vocabulary so I can focus on improving my reading and listening skills during the second half of the year.

    • Clayton MacKnight January 25, 2017, 2:42 pm

      Yeah, you just made it with the listening! Seems like that is a good place to start your studies.

      I can’t really think of why you would score so low on language knowledge yet get triple As. That’s a bit odd.

      • prabhas January 24, 2018, 12:18 pm

        That happened to me too (the triple A thing).i got a 68/120 in language knowledge.Anyway I passed with a 111/180 listening was really hard though.BUT I got a 43/60 yaay

  • Kels January 25, 2017, 9:01 pm

    It was my first time taking N1 and I managed to pass with a 109/180! I honestly thought I did a little better than that but I’m glad I was even able to pass at all. I just graduated with a Japanese degree but didn’t study at all for the test which I totally feel needs the appropriate amount of preparation. My ultimate goal is to live and work in Japan so I’m not too sure how confident I am with a 109, but I’m almost absolutely sure I won’t be taking the JLPT ever again.

    • Clayton MacKnight January 26, 2017, 2:21 pm

      That’s an amazing score! So you majored in Japanese? That sounds like an amazing college program if you could walk away in 4 years with an N1.

      • Kels January 26, 2017, 10:08 pm

        Thank you! Yeah, I’m pretty grateful that my school had a good Japanese program! While no courses were specifically aimed towards the JLPT, certain classes like one that involved speed reading really helped when it came to the test.

        • Clayton MacKnight January 28, 2017, 10:52 am

          Speed reading, eh? Did they give you a lot of material you had to race through? That sounds extremely useful.

          • Kels January 29, 2017, 3:58 am

            It was actually very useful! We had some easier texts to read through but we also read a ton of newspaper articles and passages and had to answer questions about them so I think that’s a great way to prep for N2/N1. Even though the speed reading texts were relatively easy it was helpful in learning how to pace myself and only take in the important information.

  • Petr Hudecek January 25, 2017, 9:07 pm

    I passed N5 with 100/180. Those are the worst scores I’ve ever had on any kind of exam, I think, but still, a pass. I aim to pass N4 in December 2017.

    A little like Alain, I have 69/120 and 31/60 with A/B/A. I don’t really understand it, I thought I did pretty well on vocabulary and reading.

    Anyway, thank you very much for this blog. Your blog posts around the JLPT, both before and after, kept me inspired and happy, in addition to providing information. Reading your posts is calming :).

    • Clayton MacKnight January 26, 2017, 2:23 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement! I’ll keep up the hard work as long as I can. It has been a lot of fun running this blog.

      Don’t worry about a score like that. Most people pass with around 60%. Then they move on to the next level!

  • sumsum January 25, 2017, 11:38 pm

    I passed N3 with these scores:
    Language Knowledge 36/60 (Vocab B / Grammar B)
    Reading 45/60
    Listening 51/60
    –Total Score 132/180

    So happy! Going out of the test I thought I’d fail the first part so I’m really glad, I made it. I’m not entirely sure how to continue from here. I’ll probably review N3 grammar and continue reading and listening to whatever peaks my interest. Honestly I went through my N3 grammar book in the week before the test and still learned some new stuff out of it on my way to the test center… Not much of that came up anyway (lucky me?) but it definitely makes sense to review the material some more *haha*

    • Clayton MacKnight January 26, 2017, 2:26 pm

      From those scores, it looks like you learned Japanese in a more natural way. You have good overall comprehension, and just need to pull up the grammar and vocabulary. Those are the two easy things to prepare for though.

      N2 requires good, quick reading skills. You have pretty good comprehension, just need to speed up. Good luck with your studies!

  • Winson January 26, 2017, 1:32 am

    I passed N2 with 2nd try with the following score after learning Japanese for 2 years

    Vocab and grammar : 45
    Reading : 27
    Listening : 41
    Total 113/180

    I was quite surprised with the score as I felt that listening was really hard and I had no confident of passing it and I got 41 out of 60. Reading score was expected as I find it not really easy as the choices A,B,C,D were almost similar.

    Would you suggest me to take N1 this July or should I brush up my listening and speaking skill first? I am not living anywhere near Japan so it is hard to practice it. I would say that my speaking and listening skill is like that of N4 but reading skill could be around N3 or N2 level. As for Japanese drama or variety show, I cannot understand most of it without subtitles unless the sentence is short as they speak very fast. Thats my real problem

    • Clayton MacKnight January 26, 2017, 2:29 pm

      It sounds and looks like you are at a good N2 level, especially with just 2 years of studying! To prepare for the N1, many people suggest reading news and listening to news broadcasts. I think if got into the habit of doing regular reading in Japanese, you could have a shot of passing N1 in a year. But, it might be worth it to take the test in July to see your score, so you can focus on your weak points before taking the test.

  • Estevan Martinez January 26, 2017, 8:03 am

    I failed the N2, really bad lol, but it was my first time taking the test. In college, I only had the chance to take up to and Intermediate II level, which ended up being the first 4 chapetersd from the Nakama 2 textbook, but it has been about 4 years since I have taken a class. i’m not at all surprised I failed, in fact, it gave me a better idea of what i need to do. So for now, the plan is to take N3 in a few months to get a good study program going, and to give me that mental boost of a passing score, then try N2 again in December. I live in Okinawa, and believe it or not, there are so many americans living here, i almost have to go out of my way to use Japanese! A lot of Japanese people here speak English! And my neighborhood is entirely Japanese, but very few of them actually try to speak to me, other than my landlord. But since taking the test, i now have cable, so on weekends I watch TV all night to get listening practice in. And i started playing old PS1 games in Japanese too, as well as reading manga and a few books I bought.

    But my biggest problem is reading speed and getting good with the more advanced grammar. Whats a good tactic to really get the grammar down?

    • Clayton MacKnight January 26, 2017, 2:37 pm

      PS1 games are great for reading i think because if I remember correctly, they still kind of limit the amount of kanji that is used. I use to play some of the old RPGs in Japanese.

      Um, getting the grammar down for the N2 level can be a bit rough. I good tactic is to take a practice test and then go back and see what questions you got wrong and what grammar point they covered. Then, try to write a few sentences with that grammar. Get it checked by a native or lang-8 or something like that and practice those with flashcards, Anki, or just a grammar notebook.

      You can also go on a site like tatoeba.org and search for a particular grammar point and read a few example sentences. Be sure to use quotes around the whole thing, because tatoeba.org treats every character as a word otherwise. A lot of times just reading a really good example sentence makes it all click.

  • Andi Popp January 27, 2017, 8:30 am

    After one and a half year of studying (typically 20 minutes a day of repetition and an hour a week of studying new stuff), I had my first attempt at the N5 in Germany. I passed with 84 + 33 = 117.
    I’m actually ok with that result. I was rather confident in my vocabulary and grammar skills and felt a bit set back, as I did not feel I did good on the grammar section during the test. So coming out with 84 gives my confidence a bit of a boost. With the listening I knew it would be tough and doing the test I felt even worse, so I’m very happy with the 33.

    I decided to take a break in January to let the whole experience settle a bit and see what knowledge actually stuck and what I need to repeat. But with this results I think I will try to move on to N4 for December this year (if my study group is willing to move on with me).

    • Clayton MacKnight January 29, 2017, 11:58 am

      Yeah, I think you can definitely give the N4 a shot in December. You have a very nice score for a year and half of regular studying. N4 is not that big of jump. Good luck and keep us updated!

  • Margrit January 27, 2017, 6:44 pm

    I failed the N3 test in Stuttgart, Germany. I started learning Japanese in 2007, I think, but my knowledge was pretty basic (I only had two hours of class a week and years of no study at all). I started to study for the JLPT in summer. I knew that N3 might be a bit too tough, but I wanted to try it anyway. I got a result of 92 points and passed each individual section. I’m not disappointed. It is a shame that the money is gone, but I’m quite proud of the result 🙂 It was a lot better than I’ve expected. I’m planning to take the test again this December.

    • Clayton MacKnight January 29, 2017, 12:08 pm

      That sounds like a great score. It seems like you just missed it. I’m sure you’ll pass in December. It’s worth the money just to see where you stand.

  • Spencer January 28, 2017, 7:24 am

    Hello again from Thailand,
    I just passed N1 on my first try this time with a score of
    Vocab: 48/60(sheer luck, as I did the right guess in Vocabulary part for about 80℅)
    Reading: 51/60 (It is always my strong part since I got full mark in both N3 and N2)
    Listening: 36/60 (Someone please guide me how to improve this)
    So total of 135/180
    Still, there are lots to learn in this beautiful language.
    It took me a year and a half to come to this point from zero knowledge in Japanese, so I would say, I’m really happy.
    I hope some day I can study abroad in Japan to improve my Japanese to the finest!
    Thank you for your blog, it’s always been an oasis for me whenever I was discouraged. Hope everyone pass this challenging test too!

    • Clayton MacKnight January 29, 2017, 12:12 pm

      That’s a very healthy N1 score. How did you study for the test? Did you put in a lot of hours every day? Or do you do a lot of reading or listening?

  • Iwao January 28, 2017, 8:51 pm

    I took the jlpt first time in my life last December in Helsinki Finland and passed N2 with the following scores:

    Language Knowledge: 47/60
    Reading: 28/60
    Listening: 60/60
    Total: 135/180
    Vocabulary: A
    Grammar: A

    I began studying japanese over ten years ago and was quite zealous with it in the beginning, but life got in the way and for years I have mainly just been adding stuff to an anki deck, reviewing, and basically just using the language with friends and (more recently) family.

    I picked N2 level because I thought that I might be able to pass it, but was not really prepared for what was to come and felt quite apprehensive when presented with pages upon pages of questions and long passages of text in the end.

    Reading kanji is clearly my weak point but I am quite proficient at deciphering the meaning of unknown words though I might not have a clue of how they are supposed to be read. Guesworking through the vocabulary sections took a lot of time and, though I found the grammar section easy, I proceeded with it too leisurely realizing my mistake only when turning the first reading section page. The text was easy enough but it was abundant and it was quickly clear that I wouldn’t have enough time left to go through all of it, so I decided on an order based on a number of questions to amount of text ratio and was able to answer about half of the questions before running out of time. I was sure that if my low performance in the yomikata section didn’t guarantee failure, the bungling of reading section surely would, but I was pretty surprized and pleased with the result.

    I speak Japanese with my wife every day and we watch lots of japanese television shows that she finds online so I found the listening section extremely easy. Actually I rarely hear such clear and beautiful standard japanese. At home everything is in dialect! A few of the questions were a little bit tricky though and they felt more like deduction tests than language questions.

    Overall I got a good idea of the test and what to focus on in my japanese studies and I think I’m going to take a shot at the N1 next December. I have slowly been going through the Kanji in Context books and I bought the Jituryoku up bun no ruuru N1 book to help with the N1 grammar.

    I agree with the notion that at the N2 level you’re able to do pretty much anything you need to do in Japanese. I used to struggle reading Japanese but while I still feel that I’m lacking in vocabulary and kanji knowledge, I’m pretty much able to pick up any normal book or news paper and understand it. I still feel that reaching N1 level and being able to read all daily use kanji will make it easier and more enjoyable. Any way at this point reaching that level is an eventuality if I just keep using the language.

    • Clayton MacKnight January 29, 2017, 12:30 pm

      Nice score! Yeah, the Japanese on the test is crystal clear compared to what you here in daily conversation from natives. Looks like you just need to boost your reading score, which really just means doing a lot of newspaper reading. Probably don’t have a lot of regular access to native reading material in Finland, but there are plenty of online newspapers that you could get a subscription to.

      Good luck with N1 in the future!

  • Sivaprakash January 30, 2017, 4:07 am

    I cleared my N3 in December 2016. Below is the score

    Language Knowledge: 43/60
    Reading: 54/60
    Listening: 60/60
    Total: 157/180
    Vocabulary: A
    Grammar: A

    Started preparing for N2 and I am pretty sure that I should spend twice the effort of N3.
    Hoping for the best in July 2017.

    • Clayton MacKnight February 6, 2017, 3:14 pm

      For N2, don’t worry too much. The big difference is increasing your reading speed, which you seem to be quite good at. I think if you practice some vocabulary and kanji, you should be all right.

  • John January 30, 2017, 5:56 am

    I passed the N1 finally after six or seven tries. I don’t even remember how many exactly. It’s safe to say I’m not the most natural learner of foreign languages but I’m proud of the fact I never gave up. My score was kind of low (111/180). However, I’m very relieved it’s over with. I always felt like there was a part of me that couldn’t move on until I had passed. Is there a benefit to re-taking it to get a higher score, other than personal improvement in the language? Or would most others consider a pass a pass?

    It’s nice to be able to come to a blog where I can talk about this test with others in the same boat. Congratulations to all those who passed. And if you didn’t, just keep trying like I did. You will pass eventually, even if it takes a while. Never give up.

    • Clayton MacKnight February 6, 2017, 3:18 pm

      I consider a pass a pass, but I guess if you are up for a job and the other candidates have higher scores, it could make a difference. In my experience though, people are just looking for N1 and don’t really need to go into the details.

  • Iwao January 30, 2017, 4:21 pm

    Thank you!
    Yeah, not too much japanese reading material available here and I am a lazy and slow reader.
    I have a couple of interesting, half read, business books that I picked up at the airport last year. I’ll have to finish those and make getting more interesting books a priority when visitig Japan in April.
    Subscription to online news is a sound advice! I went ahead and subscribed to Mainichi Shinbun RSS feed. That should be a good step to the right direction.

  • Eleutherna February 1, 2017, 2:10 pm

    Hi, I passed the JLPT N3.
    -Language knowledge 34/60
    -Reading: 41/60
    -Listening: 30/60
    Total : 105/180
    This was my first Japanese exam ever, so I’m quite happy even though my scores are just average. I’ve been self-studying for about a year, so passing this exam reassured me that I was going in the right direction. I find it harder to assess myself as I you don’t have a teacher, or other students to compare myself with, especially as I’ve never set foot in Japan.

    I’ve been mainly using Japaneselevelup, Heisig and Kanzen N3 for Grammar.

    Aiming for JLPT N2 next year !

  • AJ February 3, 2017, 10:01 pm

    I failed N1 with a 88. I actually took N5, N4, N3, and N2 and passed them all with pretty good scores. I guess my main comment is that the scaling on N1 is really tough. There are people who are really good at reading and listening taking it, so you have do to excellent in order to pass, where the other levels you just have to do good enough.

    As many other people have said, it’s really mainly a reading test when you hit N1. I would expect most people who are excellent at reading then check some of the test books to see what is considered N1 would pass, when most people who use the test books a lot but are mediocre at reading would fail.

    I did really well on the listening section but only got a 34. So it seems like this time you really needed like 85-95% to break into the 40s and 50s on the listening section. I guess a lot of people who take N1 have been in Japan for a while or at least have had exposure to a ton of Japanese content so you are competing with them if you expect to get a score in the 40-60 range.

    I was just honestly naive with the level of other people who take the N1 and assumed similar performance on the N2 would be an easy pass. So I guess it was an eye-opener and I improved a ton in the reading department from studying for the test. I finished the reading section with the exception of the two long questions with 40 minutes to spare, so I was able to spend 15-20 minutes on each one. It’s something I never thought I would be able to do.

    • Clayton MacKnight February 9, 2017, 12:59 am

      The 1級 (N1’s predecessor) was pretty much like you expect, just study and prepare and you could pass fairly easily. I’ve taken a few 1級 practice tests and have passed them fairly easily. But, I never passed N1. I think when they redesigned the test, they really did their best to formulate a test that proved you were native-like and didn’t just study for the test, which of course is great because it makes passing it mean a lot more. But of course it makes it a lot harder to study for and pass.

  • TF February 13, 2017, 5:09 am

    I failed N2.
    Language knowledge 19/60
    Reading 13/60
    Listening 30/60
    Total 63/180

    I have studied college-level Japanese for three years. I prepared for jlpt for hour months using
    a couple of intermediate textbooks, did two mock tests using ‘Gokaku dekiru Nihongo noryoku shiken N2 and the official JLPT book. I used general textbooks because I did not know such preparatory textbooks like ‘Somatome’ and ‘Kanzen master.’ I studied three hours every day for four months, so I was shocked at the scores much lower than I expected.I need to improve reading to get 19 and raise the total score to at least 90 out of 180. It has been stressful to prepare for jplt. I am even thinking of forgetting jlpt one or two years and enjoying learning Japanese until my proficiency exceeds N2 level. Any suggestions?

    • Clayton MacKnight February 15, 2017, 2:16 pm

      If the JLPT is really grinding on your motivation. It might be a good idea to take a break and get into something Japanese you enjoy. Preferably, it should involve some reading so that you can increase your reading speed, confidence, and comprehension. Your listening looks pretty solid, just need to bring up your vocabulary. Kanzen Master and So-Matome are also incredibly great books that will give you the basics.

      • TF February 16, 2017, 1:17 am

        Thank you Clayton for your advice. Away from textbooks, I began watching Japanese drama on yutube for comprehension as well as reading kitchen’,’ a novel written by Banana Yoshimoto for comprehension and vocabulary. I will see if this new approach can boost my motivation. Of course, I will keep Kanzen Master and Somatome series in mind once I motivate to retake N2 next December. I will write to you in a few months.

  • John February 13, 2017, 2:45 pm

    My first attempt at N5 was a lesson in humility, or should I say humiliation?

    Vocabulary, Grammar, Reading: 49/120 (41%)
    Listening: 28/60 (47%)
    Total: 77/180 (43%)

    I feel fairly confident that these are far from the worst scores ever produced in the JLPT N5 bracket. However, I cannot help but consider the advantages I had coming into this test:

    1. Lived in Japan for 16 months (May 2015 – September 2016).
    2. Participated in approximately 200 hours of formal instruction (i.e. paid tutors) via iTalki.com
    3. Participated in approximately 50 hours of informal instruction (i.e. language exchanges) via iTalki.com
    4. Received additional one-on-one instruction from my native Japanese friends and coworkers on a daily basis.
    5. Integrated JLPT Test Prep material on Anki, Memrise, Udemy and JapanesePod101 and with books, workbooks and audio lessons recommended by my American and Canadian friends who passed N5/N4 and were currently studying for N2/N1.
    7. Took three practice exams in a classroom environment.
    8. Saved enough money to comfortably enjoy unemployed life so I could focus on preparing for the exam from Oct. 1 to Dec. 3. This decision allowed me to study 4-6 hours a day.

    I accumulated approximately 800-1,000 hours of active study (i.e. speaking, reading, writing and memorizing). This number omits passive encounters with the language such as listening to music, watching anime, and eaves dropping on conversations. For those who favor the school of mass input, I can proudly say that mind succumbed to 8-14 hours of pure Japanese everyday from May 9, 2015 to September 29, 2016.

    As my cries of fury slowly deflates to whimpers of frustration, the question remains:

    Where to you from here?

    The following options likely covers the full spectrum. However, like the classic cartoon and video game, “Dragon’s Lair,” only one of these sees Princess Daphne leap into the arms of Dirk the Daring.

    1. Retrace my steps and re-engage with the JLPT N5 in December 2017.
    2. Explore uncharted territory and face the perils of JLPT N4 in December 2017.
    3. Set sail for calmer waters where one can slowly yet safely navigate the Great Nihongo Passage without battling strict deadlines and sinister scoring schemes.
    4. Abandon all hope and make an ignominious retreat to the Realm of Romance Languages. Unfortunately, this move opens old wounds wrought with sad memories of failing German I four times and Spanish I three times.

    So, if you were hopeless monoglot with no illusions of returning to the Land of the Rising Sun in the foreseeable future, what would you do?

    • Clayton MacKnight February 15, 2017, 2:25 pm

      I would say your first priority is find out the best way you learn. With all that you did, you should have passed N5 under normal circumstances, so either one of two things happened

      1) You were studying in a way that was ineffective. (It was boring, it was very aural (audio based, like just speaking) and you are more of a visual person (that’s me, I need to see everything). You might have some ‘mental interference’ that is preventing the material to get absorbed. If that is the case, you might benefit from doing ondoku (reading out loud) practice. Something that helped me was reading a conversation out and time myself, then read it again, and try to beat my time. Yes, this is a way of ‘brute forcing’ it, but the idea is shatter the part of your brain that is frantically holding on to your English way of thinking. Anyway, a little bit of this, helped me get into speaking.

      2) The other option is that you don’t ‘test’ well. Meaning you either get too nervous, or just have a hard time making quick educated guesses. A lot of people struggle with this actually, and the easy way to solve it is to just walk through your answering process thought by thought. Why did you decide on that particular answer? What made you choose A over B? That kind of thing.

      Either way, don’t give up on Japanese, you just need a different direction.

  • Declan Malone February 14, 2017, 3:54 am

    I took the N2 for the first time and I just found out that the results were available.

    I failed by two points in reading comprehension (17/60) and got 21/60 in the language knowledge and listening parts. If I had got the extra 2 points in reading, it would have made that section a pass.

    This was my first time taking any JLPT test. I hadn’t even taken a timed mock test. On the day, I was finding the actual questions quite easy, but I realised that I wasn’t fast enough at answering them. Mostly, it’s probably down to lack of practice with the test environment/format. Anyway, I reckon that I only managed to answer around half the questions on the written part of the test, with the rest being just random guesses. Assuming I got 25% of those right, my actual score on the questions I did answer would have been closer to 40%, although I’ll have to wait until I see the detailed results to be sure of that (maybe most of my score came from random guesses—who knows).

    I actually thought that I would have done better than 21/60 in the listening comprehension (still a pass, but only just), so I’m guessing that the questions I answered wrong simply had more points going for them. Again, due to unfamiliarity with the test format, I got a bit out of sync between the audio and the written instructions a couple of times. I completely fluffed the last question because I was just listening and trying to remember everything without realising that the instructions (and the question) were written down.

    If I take this again, I’ll definitely retry the N2. I’ll be focusing on:

    * getting more familiar with the test format
    * doing a lot more reading to improve my speed
    * hopefully using Japanese in social contexts (I’m in Ireland, far from any Japanese people, though)

  • Declan Malone February 14, 2017, 4:12 am

    Oh, one more thing.

    In general, I think that if you’re after doing N5-N3 and didn’t miss by much, you’re much better off going to the next higher level. There’s 6 months between each test, assuming that there’s both a July and December test where you are. You can learn an awful lot in 6 months and I think that it would be a waste solely going over N5-N3 material if you’re “almost there”.

    For myself, I probably should have gone for N3. I studied Japanese 20 years ago, with no usage or study after that. I would have been somewhere a little bit below the new N3 level at that stage, but lack of use/study meant that I had forgotten loads. It took me around 7-8 months to re-learn the kanji I knew (maybe around 500) plus the remaining 1,500 (using Remembering The Kanji), along with grammar, listening and reading podcasts and N2 vocab drills to basically get myself to nearly N2 level (off by 2 points). If I had aimed for N3, I’m sure that I would have aced it, but I think that it’s good to stretch yourself.

    That said, I think that there’s the idea of legitimately stretching yourself and being a complete masochist. For me, at any rate, it doesn’t make sense to go from almost passing N2 to jumping to N1. Sure, I’ll learn kanji, vocab and grammar that isn’t N2 (or even N1), but I’ll do that because it’s enjoyable, not because it comes up in a test! I think that N1, in particular, is just too academic and I’d rather keep learning for the enjoyment it gives me.

    So whatever level you’re at (or nearly at), don’t let the test numbers confine yourself too much. Don’t let your current level be a hard boundary for you. Remind yourself it’s just a stage you pass through on your way to fulfilling your own personal language goals, which surely should not start or end at passing a particular exam level…

    • Clayton MacKnight February 15, 2017, 2:29 pm

      Great words of wisdom. N2 is a tough beast, and a sizable jump up from N3. You really need to be a great speed reader and whip through the test. I would recommend getting into a habit of reading for pleasure. Find something that is interesting to you and read about it in a blog, magazine, or book. After awhile, it really just starts to flow.

  • C February 16, 2017, 2:19 am

    Took N5 in Japan, passed with 94/120 in Vocabulary/Grammar, 40/60 in Listening, 134/180 overall. It was roughly what I expected.

    I am aiming for N4 in December. My feeling is that while I might be able to scrape a pass in July I’d rather be cautious and take my time.

    The hardest thing about the exam for me was the test conditions, the exam admin seemed very severe and strict and so I was more focused on not breaking the many rules than the test!

    My Japanese skill is getting more and more uneven…My speaking is pretty good, but my reading is very poor, worst of all is my writing. I still have to write down vocabulary in Romaji, and can barely write my name in katakana. Never mind Kanji!

    I guess this imbalance is due to my early textbooks being only Romaji.

    • Clayton MacKnight February 19, 2017, 3:38 am

      Yeah, if you take the test in Japan, you tend to see a good number of cheaters. I think there is a lot of pressure on students here to pass the test to qualify for work, and well, there are a good number of young people, their first time overseas, etc… I’ve seen a lot of cheating whenever I’ve taken the test at least, so they tend to be quite strict.

      Romaji is a bit of a double-edge sword, textbook publishers need to publish books with because they won’t sell as well if they don’t, but it obviously hinders learning.

  • Jian Hui February 27, 2017, 5:24 pm

    Hey there. I have not taken JLPT before, but I am planning to take it this July. I am considering between N4 and N5. For me, I can easily pass N5 (I tried a practice paper on the JLPT website and could do the paper easily). As for N4, it would be a challenge for me. I tried a N4 practice paper and got decent scores for vocabulary, grammar and reading. I could do the listening, but I only managed to get 60%. I am not sure how the test environment looks like, and I have been seeking advice from many people. I think I should be able to pass N4 after a few months of studying. I am generally good in vocabulary, grammar and kanji (I am a Chinese so I can recognise kanji). Please kindly advice. Thanks.

    • Clayton MacKnight March 5, 2017, 2:25 pm

      I think you can pass N4 if you put some work into it. 60% is not such a bad score. With a little practice you can bring that up and get a pass.

  • Rin March 1, 2017, 3:15 pm

    I took the N4 Level, I can’t remember my exact scores for N5 but I got all As for that.
    I was quite worried I would fail because my brain kinda shut down during the listening section 😡

    Vocabulary/Grammer: 88/120
    Listening: 41/60
    Total Score: 129/180

    I wouldn’t say I did super well, I could have done better, I feel that some of my foundation isn’t as solid. I’m embarking on N3 this July and have been preparing since January. Not really sure about it since N3 feels SO SO much tougher than N4 already. :/

    • Clayton MacKnight March 5, 2017, 2:27 pm

      That’s not too bad of a score. That listening was pretty high actually. N3 is not that much of a jump. The reading is just a bit longer and more complicated. The biggest jump is to N2.

  • prabhas January 24, 2018, 12:14 pm

    I live in India,bangalore and just passed N5 on my first try with a score of 111/180.I dont know whether this is a good score or notHowever in my defense the listening part was really tough this time (ask anyone who took the exam in december) and yet I nailed it :43/60.however I didnt expect my vocabulary score to be so low.I got a 68/120.
    Still some things that worked for me were listening to anime songs and movies by ghibli studios For people about to take the exam I would say get used to the language through any means possible, audio,visual and combine it with something you really love doing☺

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