Just signed up for the N4 in July, how can i maximize the next few months?

Hi, all just finished applying and paying for the JLPT N4 in July. Right now, im definately not ready however i do feel i could pass N5 pretty easily so wanted to challenge myself for the next few months to get up to scratch for the test.

Ive never done a JLPT before but completed a few practice tests online so i know how the questions are presented and what to expect in that regard. N4 practice tests are still a little too tricky for me atm.

My question is to anyone whose been here before, how can i best use the next few months, what should i focus on and any other advise you might have to be successful on July 3rd :smiley:

Many thanks in advance!!


Well, if you’re already aware of test question formats, there are really only two things to worry about.

The Knowledge and,
The Time limits.

As someone who passed each individual N4 section, but still missed the total score cut off by 3 points, I was surprised the most by the time limits. I had to guess on 5 questions in the Reading portion because I was down to 30 seconds. I was also very concerned about my Listening ability, both in the months running up to the test and right after I had finished the whole test. It turns out however that was my best score (probably since I focused it so hard).

I would encourage some practice under time limit conditions. As well as good knowledge of the material likely to be on the test.

I also found the “arrange the 4 words in order to make a sentence” part of the grammar particularly challenging.

Best of luck!


I took the test all the way in 2015, so I wouldn’t know how much of my advice would help. Definitely keep taking those practice tests! I also recommend going through Genki 1 and 2 vocabulary and grammar points. I passed the N4 test with just those two books, but I also studied a little outside of them.

Other than that, beginners podcasts can help with listening (or the Genki conversations). For reading speed I’m not too sure, but make sure to read the example sentences and example excerpts this site has as practice.


You aren’t the first person I’ve seen mention how tight the time constraints are on the JLPT tests. That seems to be true not only of N4, but all of the levels. To echo what you have said–and to add a general test-taking strategy–I would recommend that when you come across a question where you’re not sure of the answer, you give it a think, and then if you’re still not sure, move onto the next question and plan to come back. Although, I’m not sure if the format allows that, since I’ve never taken the test. Is it computerized to the point you can’t freely move through the questions?


I skipped N4 but in general, I think the two most important daily study habits for passing the JLPT are memorizing tons of vocabulary and reading regularly.

Aside from those general habits, do the reading comprehension practice books and the practice tests and learn everything you get wrong. I think those are the two most important types of prep materials.

I think the JLPT is mostly a vocab and reading test. The main reason most people fail seems to be because they dont know enough words and they don’t spend enough time reading Japanese.


Out of pure curiosity, what was your assessment of how JLPT (at N4 or really any level, you’re call) used grammar in it’s sections? Was it the same few things getting repeated over a bunch of times or were there a bunch of different grammar points sprinkled everywhere?


Not sure about other countries, but in the US, its pen and paper with an answer sheet (all multiple choice).

You only get one section at a time, but you are free to do that section in any order you choose, with the exception of listening. When they start the listening audio, it plays nonstop beginning to end, so you must go in that order.


For each section of grammar, it appeared to start with a question from the previous level (easy questions), then moved to harder questions from both the level you were testing on, and a few from the next level up in no particular order.

I think they use easier and harder questions to help define the difficulty of the test overall from a statistics stand point, which they then use in grading.


There is a bit of everything on most exams. Eg when I took the N3 test, there was some N4 stuff (for easier marks hehe), some N3 things and and a bit of N2 things. Its normally like that.

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First just want to say. Kudos for being ambitious! Whatever the result is, hopefully over the next few months you will have the chance to improve significantly your Japanese knowledge.

And sorry for this wall of text:

From today until the exam, try to read something every day. Eg Bunpro’s reading section / NHK web easy articles (some have audio too for practice and shadowing) and / or easy stuff from Satori Reader. If possible copy on paper something eg first 4/5 sentences. (Personally writing on paper helps me remember and understand more). Reading is like a muscle, the more you can read and for longer, the better.

Bookwalker,jp or Booklive could also be used towards the end as (nearly) everything has free samples = lots of reading practice.

Getting something like Kanzen Master N4 grammar book and reading book would be beneficial. Lots of practice. There are also drill books that test all sections (not just part of the JLPT exam). There is quite a lot of question videos on YouTube too depending on your budget…

If you can go through the grammar points on Bunpro: 100 % N5, 100% N4 and start the first 20% of N3…. (There will always be unknown things on the exams and there are always changes with the JLPT…they sneak in grammar from other levels haha). If you can do all N5 grammar points and 70% of N4, it should be enough. Bunpro has a lot more grammar points than other resources.

There are 107 days or so until the exam….

Day 0 to 30ish:
Probably it would be a good idea to try to spend the next 30 days or so to build up your kanji, vocabulary and grammar knowledge.
Next, (if possible) try to have a mock N4 exam. 10 minute breaks between sections. Just to see where you are at and what it would be like to take the test :slight_smile:

Day 30ish to Day 60ish:
The next 30 days, I would slowly start to do practice questions (leave listening questions for later when your vocabulary has become better). I would still mainly concentrate on building your kanji, grammar and vocab at this point. (Eg start from N5 practice questions and move slowly to N4)
(By doing lots of practice questions, hopefully the common vocab / kanji will be easier to learn and you will get used the JLPT specific way of using Japanese)

Day 60 to the end:
From here until the exam (a month and a bit left), start to do listening practice questions too and if you wish more listening in Japanese eg Japanese news (on youtube ANNnewsCH ) , podcats ( eg Sokoani). Try N3 listening questions too. Normally that section is a bit harder than on practice tests

During this last month, If you can try to do as many mock exams as possible. Hopefully you will build some kind of mental fortitude. I remember some people lightly dozing off during the listening section… hehe, I took the exam in Japan in July right when it was the hottest day so far in my city haha.

Reviewing should become more important towards the end.
In the last week, try to relax more. On exam day, just enjoy the experience. For me at least it was a lot of fun (even if lightly stressful hehe).

Anyway good luck, hope this wall of text can help.


Hi thanks a lot for your reply !

I also never tried a JLPT test before and I’m going to try N3 in july, so your answer helps a lot !

I know you already wrote a lot (thanks again xD), but can you tell me more about the importance of relaxing the last week ? :slight_smile:

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Good luck!

Regarding relaxing, there is no point to stress yourself out. It is an exam… and that can be stressful enough…In the last week (maybe 10+ days), probably it would be possible to learn something new… but at this point it can be too late (in my view…).

The exam does not just test your knowledge. It tests your ability to answer questions quickly in a very limited time using the knowledge that you already have. There is very little time to “think”, if that makes sense.

Just by relaxing more (not just at the end), sleeping well and doing some walking / exercising, hopefully the brain (and the person) will be in a better shape. This should help in remembering things faster and outputting.

One of the annoying things is that some questions and answers are tricky on purpose, so if you are in a better state hopefully there will be less silly mistakes! haha


kinda of topic but:
For N3, I really liked going through Nihongo no mori’s N3 grammar playlist on Youtube N3文法 grammar
If possible, try to do some N2 grammar points…
Also these are great for reading practice: 角川つばさ文庫 (Tsubasa bunko). There is Summer Wars and other famous movies. Eg: ずっと前から好きでした。~告白実行委員会~ - . Try the sample (by clicking on the image). Buy just ONE at a time, if you decide as they can get boring…

I am not some guru… haha, I did take the July N2 exam in 2018 in Japan. I kinda took a break for 1 year and a bit from studying and I needed to do something ridiculous . I actually passed some sections but failed overall.
The next year, I unexpectedly last minute ended up with an opportunity to take the JLPT in July again in Japan, soo for the fun of it I signed up for N3. (I though my life will go one way but it went another haha) … Without preparing, I just moved to Japan and went to a Japanese language school for 6 weeks before the exam, I took the N3. Yup I failed by 10 points.

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Study vocabulary. It is where 90% of the challenge of all JLPT levels is.

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I very much agree with the comments that the time limits are surprising. My advice is that you should have the knowledge learning for N4 done by end of April. Then for May and June only keep up with reviews in whatever SRS systems you’re using instead of learning additional material.
Spend the extra time reading and listening a LOT.

Not everyone’s the same, but that’s my input at least. I passed the N5 last year, and I gave myself about 6 weeks of no new learning before the test, instead only trying to increase reading speed and listening accuracy. In the second section of the test, I realized 8-10 weeks would have been much better. I was rather rushed. About half of people in the room clearly did not finish.

(Numbers based on about 30-60 minutes of study time a day)

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The best thing you can do is to read and listen more. When you do that, you can learn enough to ace the reading and listening sections.

Did ya pass?

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I would say not to waste time memorizing isolated kanji. Just read as much as possible, do 6 or more grammar points every day, and get listening practice every day. Doing 30 or more words a day on Anki willl be great for your learning if you are at a point where you can mine from what you read or you want to do core2k, N4 Tango, etc.

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親戚 (しんせき) = “relatives”,

and all the keigo stuff will be less than 1% of the test, probably one question in the listening part.