JLPT Summer 2017 Results

JLPT Summer 2017 Results post image

For the first 7 months of this year, I was spending most of waking hours working on a study book for the N5. It have been learning a lot, not only about Japanese but also all the ins and outs of publishing a book with a major publisher. I realized about halfway through that I had never actually taken the N5.

Being that I was in the process of writing the only book you’ll need to pass the N5, I thought it might be a good idea to take the test. Although it was pretty easy for me, it was a learning experience to go through the process and take a good look at the test without being distracted by the difficulty of the vocabulary or grammar.

If you’ve passed the N5 or higher, I definitely don’t recommend repeating it unless you are looking to get a perfect score. However, for JLPT geeks like me that are interested in helping others pass the test it was great to see what everyone goes through.


To be honest, I was a little worried about the Listening section of the test. Not because it was particularly difficult, but because I just had a hard time focusing to the conversation. This has always been a weakness of mine in any language. I have a hard time focusing on something longer than a few minutes if it doesn’t involve a movie/TV show or some other visual presentation.

It seems like the N5 is very limited in scope, but the test makers can do a lot even with the limited vocabulary that they have at their disposal. I was amazed at the reading questions that they devised as well as the listening questions. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that these are the most difficult questions to write.

How about your Results?

Have you been able to see your results yet? If you signed up online in Japan, you should be able to now check your results on the https://info.jees-jlpt.jp/?lang=english. If you signed up with a mail in application, you will get your certificates sometime next week. Everyone should be able to check their scores online on the JLPT website now if you entered an 8 digit password on your application form.

Where are you going from here?

Now that you have your results, what is your plan for your studies? If you passed this level, are you going go after the next level or are you going to try the level you took again to get a better score? Or if you didn’t pass, what were your weak points?

If you passed the test, there are two options as I see it – either dig in and start going for the next level or take a break and do your best to consolidate what you learned. You could also retake the test to get a better score, which makes sense in a few scenarios, for example if you passed N1, and want to get a stronger score. However, generally speaking, and in my opinion, you don’t really need to retake the test. A pass is a pass.

Digging in and going for the next level might be the right choice for you if you are on a certain set schedule like if you are moving to Japan soon, or are going to start school here, etc… But, personally, if you have the time to do it, I would recommend taking a break from ‘book’ studying and get out and try to use the language in a real situation. This might involve getting a chat partner or doing more reading of native materials. The main idea though is to use the language how it is meant to be used and not just answering questions about it over and over.

I have seen students and I myself have fallen into the trap of simply doing drill questions for the JLPT until our eyes bleed and mistaking that for learning the language. The test is a good measure of your skills, but if you can help it try to not make it your end all be all.

Early on in my studies, I remember burying myself in JLPT practice questions and studying them for long hours on the weekend. And then, I would go out and meet my Japanese friends and actually have a hard time communicating with them because I was so used to just answering questions.

Don’t get me wrong, I truly believe the JLPT is one of the best ways to improve your accuracy with Japanese and improve your reading and listening skills which are vital if you are going to be living, working, or even traveling in Japan. But, real use is important, too. And for the higher levels (N3+) you will have to have real experience with Japanese in order to pass.

So where are you going from here? What are you going to focus on? Commit to one thing today and let us know in the comments.

{ 39 comments… add one }
  • Anonymous Skull August 23, 2017, 9:09 am

    Woo! Happy to report I passed the N1! Here are my results:

    Language Knowledge: 51/60
    Reading: 43/60
    Listening: 42/60
    Total score: 136/180

    Not outstanding scores but respectable ones given my current skill level. One day I’ll be good enough to get 180 on the whole thing. My recommendation: For grammar, even though I normally don’t like textbooks I would recommend the grammar books of Shin Kanzen Master – N1 and maybe N2 edition as well. It prepared me well for the grammar section which is reflected in my highest score being Language Knowledge. Beyond that, just listen and read to whatever you like, and a lot of it! I read a lot of visual novels and watched a lot of let’s plays on Youtube and that made up the bulk of all my study time. Haven’t opened a newspaper yet. Might have to if I want to grab that 180 but for now I’m fine with my anime-based media.

    • Clayton MacKnight August 23, 2017, 12:47 pm

      Those are very healthy scores. And great advice. I’ve never thought of looking for let’s plays on YouTube. I watch them occasionally in English. I should give Japanese ones a try.

  • Este August 23, 2017, 1:09 pm

    I passed the N3 but I’m not too happy w my score, overall I got 106/180, but I feel like I should have been able to do better. I took N2 last December and failed horrendously lol, so I took N3 just kind of as a confidence booster. I’ve been working w a teacher since February once a week studying N2 level material, and I just upped it to twice a week this month. This weekend I’ll take an N2 practice test (but not timed) to see how much I know off hand and see what my weaknesses are at the moment. I plan on taking 3 more practice tests after that, but timed tests. Other than that, all the studying I do is really paying off because my regular conversation skills are improving, from what my friends say. Also, i am able to speak more confidently at work now too!

    • Clayton MacKnight August 24, 2017, 12:14 am

      Awesome! You are making great progress. Don’t get too down by the score. A lot of things can affect the score you get. The topics on the test might not have matched up to what you are used to, or the test was a little easier than usual so the curve was stricter. Or it could just be bad luck. Once you get to the higher levels there is a lot of variation between the scores you get.

      The most important point is that you are improving and your studies are useful to you. Keep up the great work!

  • JH August 23, 2017, 1:18 pm

    Hey I got back my N4 results today and was totally surprised. I got 120/120 for language knowledge and reading, and 34/60 for listening. That language knowledge score.. totally unexpected.. Thank you for your guidance and support on this blog!

    • Clayton MacKnight August 24, 2017, 12:17 am

      Wow! Wow! That is great! It is an amazing feeling to get a full score. The listening can be tricky. Do you feel like you were able to concentrate through the whole listening section or were you getting distracted?

      • JH August 26, 2017, 11:19 am

        Listening was not my strength to begin with. I lost focus at some points during the exam too. There was one thing I did not know before the exam (because I was a first-timer) – when the audio stops, the exam ends. You are not given time to check your answers after the audio stops. I thought they would give us time to check our answers after the exam. I was wrong all the time lol. I asked the proctor if we are given time to check our answers after the audio stops and he said no. I was kinda shocked at that moment. But now that I know this, I will work on my listening by improving on my concentration power. Hope I can get a good score for N3 this December.

  • acasaca August 24, 2017, 12:37 am

    Passed N4! After failing N5 twice and N4 last December. Great to finally get something out of it.
    Have been studying N3 so I’ll probably shoot for that in December.

    • Clayton MacKnight August 26, 2017, 10:33 am

      That’s great news! N4 is good healthy level. Now, you can start to really use the language in conversation and understand a lot more material. Good luck on the N3!

  • acricket August 24, 2017, 8:37 am

    I passed the N5 in Belgium with 176/180 – 120/120 in the language knowledge section and 56/60 in the listening section. It would be nice to know what I got wrong. I actually thought the listening score would be lower, since several times I managed to eliminate two of the four options and had a 50/50 chance of getting the answer right – or wrong 🙂 Anyway, I’m now ready for the next challenge. I may have a go at the N4 exam already in December.

    • Clayton MacKnight August 26, 2017, 10:35 am

      Wow! An almost perfect score! Still, it is annoying to have that one answer missing. The listening section can be especially difficult to remember how you answered.

  • Zoey August 24, 2017, 11:21 am

    This was the first time taking the JLPT at any level, I’ve been consistently between N3 and N2 level the last few years even though I hadn’t truly studied Japanese since 2011. I dove back into it last Autumn and went for the N3 exam this time to get a good feel of the exam and see what happens.

    Language Knowledge: 31/60
    Grammer/Reading: 38/60
    Listening: 49/60
    Total: 118/180

    I did some research and realized that your score on the exam isn’t just how well you did, but also based on others’ scores as well thus it is curved to reflect that. Some of the reading and listening questions did have more than one answer, it’s just if you picked the best answer would have given you more points. Based off that, I seem to be about the average score range?

    I’m disappointment, because my actual language knowledge is closer to N2, but my exam taking skills are sub par at best. Always been that way for me even in school, and I know that’s what held me back for sure. I was really hoping for a higher score/overall reflection. Yet at the same time, for this being my first time ever with the JLPT, I’m so happy to have passed. I was prepared to retake it in December if I didn’t. ^-^;;

    I’m going to take my mixed feelings to push for doing even better and passing N2. My wife is studying for N2 already so we’ve decided to push for taking it together next summer. Thank you for the resources here and wish everyone luck in their studies!

    • Clayton MacKnight August 26, 2017, 10:37 am

      I would say there is nothing wrong with this score. Especially since your reading and listening scores are quite high. Those are usually the hardest to increase. The language knowledge is something you practice and drill on. This is your first time with the test too, so you will most likely increase that score now that you know the ‘flow’ of the test. Good luck with N2!

  • N4Done August 25, 2017, 12:47 am

    After 5 months of language course and 2 months of self-study, I got N4 with all sections being A with a 60/60 listening score. Going for N3 this December; struggling with readings and kanjis even though listening is just going well :/

    • Clayton MacKnight August 26, 2017, 10:39 am

      Could you give us some background? That sounds like a great score with such a short study time. What did you do to practice listening before the test? Do you live in Japan?

  • AN August 25, 2017, 3:30 am

    Just passed N2 which was a total shock, I lost focus in the listening section and ended up guessing most of it! 105/108 with 41/60 in vocab/grammar, 35/60 in reading, and 29/60 in listening. Not bad given I had to learn about 3000 new words in the month before the exam!

    • Clayton MacKnight August 26, 2017, 10:41 am

      Haha, we’ve all been there. N2 and N1 require churning through massive amounts of vocabulary. I think you had the right idea though, drill all the vocab as much as possible right before the exam. I also have issues with focus during the Listening section, if you are not used to listening intently for so long its tough. Just need to build up your stamina. Are you going for N1?

  • Rick August 25, 2017, 5:58 am

    Managed to get pretty unexpected scores for n2, especially the reading section.

    Language Knowledge: 44/60
    Reading: 60/60
    Listening: 54/60
    Total score: 158/180

    Might try for n1 next year but am unsure of the difficulty jump from n2 to n1.

    • Clayton MacKnight August 26, 2017, 10:42 am

      Yeah! A perfect score in reading! I would say this is a very healthy score. N1 should not be that much of a leap with something like this. How do you prepare for listening/reading?

      • Rick August 26, 2017, 3:00 pm

        For reading, I used the shinkanzen series and it really helped in my preparation as the passages in the shinkanzen series are easily on par, if not harder than the passages in the actual test. During the actual test, I did the 情報検索 first as this section involves looking out for small details which would easily be overlooked at the last few moments of the test. It also helps to allocate time to each question and just move on if the time is exceeded.

        As for listening, I didn’t really prepare for it but I would say NHK kokokoza is a great listening resource.

  • Hannes August 27, 2017, 5:13 pm

    passed with 95 of 180 … >o<
    still happy and learning for N4 now 🙂

    • Clayton MacKnight August 28, 2017, 2:11 pm

      You just made it! Excellent work! Are you planning on taking the N4 in December?

  • Ekachanngg August 27, 2017, 11:11 pm

    Hi! barely passed N1 (on my fifth try) with a 103. I’ve never lived in Japan before.
    I recommend JLPT books published by Chinese publisher. They are really good!
    Next year maybe I will take Kanji Kentei (Kanken).

  • Karsten Koller August 28, 2017, 12:55 am

    Failed N2 for the second time…
    Here are my scores:
    Vocabulary/Grammar: 22/60
    Reading: 22/60
    Listening 41/60

    I knew I failed, because I don’t know why but the vocabulary/grammar felt much harder than last time. Actully last time I got in the section more than 30, so would have passed if I would have gotten the same score. Kind of demoralizing to think that I even studied more vocabulary and grammar compared to last time and still got a much lower score in that section. Was at least positively surpirsed about the reading, because it went up compared to last time and I had to skip 3 big texts because I ran out of time, because I spent much more on vocabulary and grammar. Actully I would be happy to pass even with this reading score, because reading is really my weakness in any language, I quickly loose concentration when reading something I am not particular interested in. In addition I tend to also think about my opinion about some matters and answer based on this, although the opinion of the author may be very different. Listening is my strong point to my surprise, although I also lost concentration at the end and had to guess.

    Anyway, before next time I brush up even more vocabulary, grammar and reading and for sure slay the beast in December.

    • Clayton MacKnight August 28, 2017, 2:20 pm

      You can score very differently depending on what is on the test at the N1 and N2 levels. Sometimes all the vocabulary is stuff that you have mastered and sometimes it just isn’t. Scores can very widely. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. What do you do for listening practice?

      • Karsten Koller August 29, 2017, 12:57 am

        I don’t do anything in particular for listening practice, I live in Japan and work in a japanese company, although I speak English there, I constantly hear some Japanese. Also my wife is Japanese and speak to my 1 year old daugther in Japanese. I would probably also prefer to speak Japanese at home, but currently my wife doesn’t think thats such a good idea until my daughter is older, as she is scared my daughter will learn some strange Japanese. 🙂

        Biggest problem is also that I nearly don’t have any time for learning, I work full time and when I am home, I have to take care of my daugther, since my wife works on the weekend. Currently I try to learn every evening at least a little bit, but I don’t have to say, that this is not so easy after a complete work day and being tired of waking up early in the morning every day. Hope it gets better when my daughter is getting older and I can study with her some Kanji. 🙂

        • Clayton MacKnight August 29, 2017, 1:15 am

          I used to speak a lot of Japanese with my wife until we had our first child, my daughter, who is now 5. Since she was born though we have had an English only policy at our house so that she can learn as much English as possible. My wife is an English teacher/interpreter, so she usually doesn’t have many issues. It’s good for my daughter but ever since then people have been commenting that I’m not as conversational as I once was.

          And I hate to say this, but you probably won’t have that much time going forward until your daughter is a lot older. I keep thinking I’ll have more time, but I really don’t. It’s more manageable though! And Fathers who have daughters are obviously the most intelligent and hard-working of the bunch, am I right?

  • Karsten Koller August 29, 2017, 1:53 am

    Hope you are right, nice to hear that you have similar experiences. I am German, so we try currently to raise our child in 3 languages, when my wife speaks with her Japanese (although she also learns a ton of Japanese at the daycare center), I speak only German to her and English when we speak to each other, since my wife does not speak any German.

    I wouldn’t say that we are the most intelligent, although I hope so, but for sure hard-working. Actually at my company the other co-workers always wonder why I try to go home on time and not try to do more overwork (fortunately I am in a position to do that), but they are all single, so I think only parents understand that it is certainly not like I have much free time. Well at least I have no regrets that the chapter in my life is over where I have so much free time, as I couldn’t be happier than having a daughter waiting for me at home.

  • jayapalage janith sanjaya jayapala September 5, 2017, 7:47 am

    My result is grammar reading and vocabulary marks 46 listening 24 but i not passed

  • Venerini Ranum September 7, 2017, 1:36 pm

    Finally after waiting for a long time i got my results today.
    I passed the N4 test. But im quite sad about the scores its 108/180. I started to learn japanese from february and now im pushing my self for N3 test this december

    • Clayton MacKnight September 8, 2017, 6:50 am

      I would say that is a pretty good score if you just started in February.

  • Kitsu September 11, 2017, 4:15 am

    I failed N3 for the third time. I am always just on the edge of passing and its super frustrating. I am going into the ring again in December so I am eager for any tips.

    Round 1 (July 2015)
    Language Knowledge (Vocabulary/Grammar) 16 / 60
    Reading 29 / 60
    Listening 38 / 60
    Vocabulary C
    Grammar C
    Total Score 83 / 180

    Round 2 (Dec 2016)
    Language Knowledge (Vocabulary/Grammar) 22 / 60
    Reading 21 / 60
    Listening 39 / 60
    Vocabulary B
    Grammar B
    Total Score 82 / 180

    Round 3 (July 2017)
    Language Knowledge (Vocabulary/Grammar) 25 / 60
    Reading 22 / 60
    Listening 42 / 60
    Vocabulary B
    Grammar B
    Total Score 89 / 180

    • Clayton MacKnight September 13, 2017, 2:19 am

      The good news is it looks like you just need a vocab and grammar boost. Those are the two easiest to study for. Do you have a regular routine of studying vocabulary with something like Anki or Memrise? That would be my first suggestion.

      Then, take out an old N3 grammar book and see what you missed. (or buy a new one). For the points that you missed, try to understand why you got the question wrong. What did you misunderstand? You might want to take some time to dig deep and read up about all the fine points. Typically JLPT grammar books are quite thin on explanation. They just give you a sentence and a rewording. so, You can dig into one of the Japan Times dictionaries either the Basic or Intermediate to get more details. Although they are a bit pricey, I’ve found those books to be invaluable in my Japanese studies.

  • MB September 14, 2017, 11:59 pm

    I took the N4 and as I guessed, even passing it or not, the result was going to be really close to the passing mark (90 in this case). I wasn’t wrong, 87/180, so cruel! 🙁

    Language Knowledge (Vocabulary/Grammar), Reading 52/ 120
    Listening 35 / 60
    Vocabulary B
    Grammar B
    Reading B
    Total Score 87 / 180

    Somehow, I didn’t managed my time correctly and I had to answer the Reading questions randomly. Next time I should practice more mock tests before the exam!

    By the other hand, I would like to explain you my situation, as I think I should change my study method. I live and work (full time) in Japan. However I found extremely difficult to find Japanese classes near my area or where I work (to be honest, impossible). Because of that, I started the Kumon correspondence Japanese language program, which has been great so far but now I get kind of tired of it. I think is too focused on Kanji, and I have better methods for studying it. Also, with Kumon, instead of study, learn and memorise I ended up just rushing for completing sheets. I also have a speaking 1-to-1 lesson everyweek. However, in general, I think I’m not facing the study in the right way at all. What do you recommend for an efficient self study considering my situation?

  • TNR December 3, 2017, 2:35 pm

    I’m glad I passed N4 this July. Not so much difference/high step-up from N5 (which I took last December) eh, although the result is so-s0 (111 from 180 is stil far from good, but a pass is still a pass)
    I studied by myself and drill about 2 months (in weekend), thank God it pays off.
    I plan to take N3 this December also but I can’t really focused on studying. It seems I need extra time before truly have a grasp on it. If I passed N3 it’d truly a miracle, but I still want to learn “the right way”.

    • Clayton MacKnight December 4, 2017, 3:42 pm

      How do you think you did on the N3?

      • TNR December 4, 2017, 11:12 pm

        I failed hard on reading phase of course xD there’s a lot of kanji I haven’t studied yet. It seems I need more exercise before finally accustomed to the pace.
        The listening section is become harder too because they increase the speed near native-speed. But at least I did okay on this section.

        Oh well, taking N3 after just passed N4 and having just 1 week t0 study is impossible anyway. I’d be surprised if I still pass, but whatever the result, I plan to take it next year, with serious study 🙂

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