JLPT content - who to believe

Studying for N4 atm :face_vomiting:

What do people do when one source tells them ‘this is an N4 kanji’ and another says ‘this is N3 Kanji’ ?
Think I saw a comment by Asher once that the Shinkanzen books are pretty on the money…

There’s a bunch of kanji (around 20) in their N4 kanji book that at least two other resources say are N3. It’s about 20% of them so it’s not negligible.

I get that there is no official list (not helpful), but just wondering what other people do/have done.


Learn them all…

Personally I do not care if a kanji is N1 and I’m studying N4 right now. If bunpro or some other source I see has it in a sentence I want to know what it means.


You either are going to have to learn them all, or gamble on them.

If you are in the long run, you will need to learn them eventually, so might as well use it as an excuse to go through.

Otherwise, if you want to “prioritize” Kanji, might as well use frequency criteria to see if they are worth adding them on your list to study.


yes what he said… LEARN IT ALL. もっと!もっと! :smiling_imp: :smiling_imp: :smiling_imp:


Yeah, it’s annoying as I’ve been using this app on my tablet, and I’ve completed N4 on there. I compared to the shinkanzen master book and found these extra kanji. The app has all of them by at N3 and unfortunately it has no way to put them in your queue - I’d have to go through a whole bunch of N3 kanji to get to them.

I’ve found a kanji deck on kitsun, and promoted all these kanji to the front.

Just a minor inconvenience in the way I study kanji tbh.

over time… yes… in the next 3 months… want to prioritize the N4 ones…


Is it possible that both are true also, that it’s a N4 and a N3 kanji, and you are being tested on different nuances/usage depending on the level.

It happens also with School Grade order, where a Kanji could be on Grade 7 and Grade 6 and such.


This is all assuming you’re studying explicitly for the purpose of passing the N4 test:

The reason they are different is because the test’s content also changes based on the year (probably to avoid people cheating or memorizing study guides). What I did for the N3 was study all the N3 ones I could on each site, and then dipped my toes in the first batch of N2 kanji as well. That way if they pulled an N2 one for the N3 test I’d be prepared. In general though, pick a site you like and follow their list, then once that’s done keep studying on.

But yeah, like everyone else is saying: study them all! It sucks and it takes forever, but it’s so worth it when you find out you’re able to read things in Japanese without stopping to look something up.


Rather than focusing on every kanji that appears in N1, N2, N3, N4 and N5, my advice is:
Use different N4 resources and get familiar with the most frequently appearing ones as top priority.
But do get familiar with all of the kanji that appear across all of these N4 resources as far as possible – and then you’ll be well covered for the test!

As one of these resources, may I recommend Ringotan, a kanji-drawing app?
It may seem a little over-the-top to learn how to draw the kanji, but it will really help you differentiate between similar kanji and be useful for actually being able to write Japanese too :wink:


I will also say that, at least for my experience at the N4 and N3 level, there are grammar points that I can almost guarantee will be on the test. I took multiple practice tests before N4 and potential verbs (できる、読める、泳げる) were in all of them including the official test. N3 practice and official tests had a lot of あげる、くれる、もらう questions as well.

I feel like each level, at least to N3, have a few DEFINITE things you will see.

1 Like

I’ve always found this site has a pretty good assortment of lists that are for the most part pretty spot on!


The style is a bit 時代遅れ, but if that doesn’t bother you it’s great :+1:


The JLPT is really vague about what is on each test. So there are many kanji, vocab, and grammar points that are both on the N3 and N4. These might show up more often on the N3 exam but they also show up rarely on the N4.

My advice really depends on your goal. It’s probably better to learn them all because you’ll probably want to do N3 in the future anyway. When Japanese people use kanji they don’t care about the JLPT level so you might need that kanji someday.

However, if you are really struggling with kanji already maybe wait to study these kanji until you know some of the more common ones first. You only need to get 50% right anyway so if one of these kanji does show up on the N4 test it’s not the end of the world.

In regards to Shinkanzen books, they go way overboard. Don’t get me wrong they’re great but their questions are often much harder than the JLPT so you are more prepared. I never looked at their N4 book but I imagine there’s a lot of N3 stuff in it.


I think everyone already put very valid points.

But another thing I want to add:
If you are studying especially for the JLPT, the thing is that you only need to pass it. And the passing criteria are (in my opinion) not too high. If you didn’t yet, maybe check some resources on how it is graded etc.
Anyway the point is there is a pool of kanji that can appear on the test and even from that pool not all kanji will appear. And from the kanji that do appear you only need to know like 50%.

So I’d say just learn as many kanji as you can manage before the test using whatever list you like. I think it will also depend on luck whether the kanji you learned will appear or not. I wouldn’t worry too much about it.
Generally it’s probably good to focus more on reading practice (not sure about N4 but usually time on the reading part is very scarce) and just practice any kanji along the way.


Thanks for all the advice. I definitely will continue with the N3 kanji but I don’t want to overload myself too much as there’s a ton of grammar, vocab, reading speed and listening practice to add into the mix for N4 prep (assuming I get a seat when it opens for my testing centre). I study a lot and retain a fraction of it, so need to drill the n4 stuff. Thought I’d breeze through N5 but my score was below my perceived level.

1 Like

Some more advice:
There are loads of practice tests out there, especially books of practice tests you can buy - try them!
You’ll soon get a feel for the level required and then be able to tell which things are commonly asked and which things are rarely asked etc.


Is it possible they are both? Maybe the kanji appears on both tests?

1 Like

Just wanna shout out Shinkanzen Master for carrying me through the N2 / N1 reading sections.
There was like no difficulty in difficulty between them and the actual readings inside the exam.