Prep for JLPN1: 6 months on Bunpro?

A year ago I decided to get serious with my Japanese with the goal of taking the JLPN1 Jan 2022.

Since that day, I am now a few days away from Level 30 out of the 60 Levels of Wanikani, putting me at the precise halfway point towards JLPN1 in my two year window. (I had heard someone completed the program in just over a year so I figured two years would be reasonable, but completing a Level every ten days has been… fucking brutal, but I’m doing it).

With a firm base of Kanji and vocabulary, I decided it was time to learn Japanese grammar, with the goal of completing all necessary grammar in 6 months.

I signed up for Duolingo, but it is way too easy. This site seems to shadow WaniKani beautifully. I know 95% of the vocabulary and Kanji presented to me already here, but what pace should I be moving in order to complete all the grammar lessons in 6 months time?


I’m, a little confused… :thinking:
We’re talking about the JLPT, right? And you’re planning to take the N1 exam in December 2021? (Afaik you can only take it in July/December)

These two statements seem a little conflicting. Obviously, unless you’re studying Japanese full time, consistently doing a Level on WaniKani every 10 days is hard. But unless you’re studying full time, I don’t really see how you’d go from very little Japanese grammar to passing the N1 in a year. Even doing it full time I’d say it’s rough.

I feel like either I’m lacking some very critical information (You’re doing this full time and are actively trying to race to N1 in one year, possibly with some previous grammar knowledge) or you might be underestimating what it takes to pass the N1.

This is just my very biased opinion, but: Going from WaniKani 0 → 60 in a year seems quite a bit easier than going from 0 → N1 in Japanese Grammar and Listening in a year.
Nothing wrong with being ambitious, aiming high and failing might still take you further than aiming low and succeeding, but for me (i.e. not doing this full time), N2 from scratch in a year would be pretty ambitious.

Then again, that’s not what you asked for, is it? :smiley:
Sorry for the unsolicited advice :see_no_evil:


Wait you’re trying to get N1 next year?
And you’re only now getting into grammar? That sounds very ambitious
Since you also didn’t post the right date (as @xBl4ck pointed out), don’t you mean N5? N1 is hard as frick, and even people who have studied for years and live in Japan fully immersed sometimes don’t manage to pass it.

Duolingo is pretty slow before it gets anywhere near difficult, but the changes made like half a year ago or something have severely improved it. There are now 7 chapters instead of 4, and it now explains and uses commonly used grammar in its sentence structures. Even conditionals and things like よう and そう.


Yeah, I’m a little confused by this as well. :sweat_smile:

Sure, doing all the necessary grammar points in 6 months on Bunpro is probably doable (but tough) - you’d just have to divide the total amount of grammar points (+ the ones still missing from N1) by 180 days, and then do that amount of new items a day.

But actually passing the N1 test is a completely different thing. Just knowing kanji and grammar in isolation won’t get you there. I’ve never taken a JLPT test, but from what I’ve heard, the N1 requires you to read pretty fast, understand nuance, etc etc. And then there’s listening as well.
You need a ton of reading and listening practice for that.
(Since you haven’t said anything about knowing some grammer already, I’m assuming you’re not already reading/watching native material?)

Not to burst your bubble here (and sorry for the unsolicited advice as well!!), and maybe I’m misunderstanding something, but I don’t think N1 in a year is very realistic…


There are 330ish days until December JLPT exam and about 1.5 years until July 2022 JLPT Exam… Bunpro currently has about 800 grammar points. It took me 2 years to get through all grammar points, I was not rushing though…

For 6 months’ time, I would say If you can complete N5+N4 in about 2 months, you may have a chance…. N3 grammar was OK for the most part. HOWEVER! N2 + N1 grammar take a lot more time to grasp and to understand…

The JLPT exam is a bit different than normal Japanese too. I would say at least 3 months before the exam to focus mainly on reviewing and using your knowledge. Get as many JLPT N2 + N1 exam books and start doing the exercises to get used to the format and use of language.

I would highly recommend to start reading as much as you can as soon as possible! Eg in this order NHK News Web Easy > shoujo / shonen Manga > Books by Tsubasa Bunko (角川つばさ文庫) > light novels and finally normal books. (There is CDJapan / Bookwalker JP and other digital stores)

On YouTube, somebody did something like this and passed N1: user name “Stevijs 3” video title “So I took the JLPT N1 after 1,5 Years of Japanese with MIA. And…”

If you have lots of free time or are studying Japanese all day or going to Japanese language school, it could be possible… It will be really ambitious!

I am too sorry for the unsolicited advice…


I think it is doable to do it but is it really worth it?
I would say taking double the time and succeeding is better than doing it fast and burning out/ not getting anything out of it.


You can add all grammar lessons today and technically ‘complete’ BP. Far as I know, no one has actually burned all points yet.

I’d probably add the most troubled grammar first in later N levels and work backwards or just select ‘know this’ to not waste time. WK is not a time efficient platform either so you may be better off choosing what you need to work on rather than just ‘everything’ if you combining with outside study.

I’d say this is literally impossible but I’d love to be proven wrong.


Regardless if this possible or not you should make sure that this really what you want to focus your time on.

Studying Japanese and studying for JLPN is not exactly the same thing. You can find people that are fluent in Japanese, use it every day without any problem, and still not being able to pass N1 or sometimes n2. And there is quite a lot of people that struggle with Japanese while having N2 (not sure if the same thing apply to N1).

Main question is: Is Japanese academic exercise for you and you want to brag about having n2 or n1, or do you want to use Japanese as a tool for communication and recreation.

If the first then you have to study very carefully each grammar point, memorise kanji and words list, and then train on reading and listening materials for n2 and n1. But above all you have to master the art of taking jlpn tests.

If the second then you learn just some basic grammar, vocab and kanji, and start reading in Japanese. You don’t have to try to understand grammar on very deep lvl, it will sink in on its own. You just add to you anki and bunpro what you will meet in the wildness (each kanji, word, and grammar point you deem worth remembering), and if you still want to support yourself with some premade lists etc then they should be your secondary activity not main focus.

I am far from being fluent in Japanese but that’s is something i hear a lot from people that manage to learn it. And i tried in the past a few times. It got easier when I changed approach.


I have the impression they’re barely past これはペンです though

I’ve never taken the JLPT so this is just based on speculation of online “guides”, etc. shows a potential list of 676 grammar points, roughly 120 less than if you did every single lesson on bunpro. Which makes sense since some items on here are not “grammar lessons”, but obviously still useful

Take number of days in half a year, divide by 676 and you’re looking at about 5 lessons a day. This is absolutely stupid and you will not succeed in doing it. I’m not trying to be a debbie-downer but learning vocab is the easy part, grammar is a completely different ballgame. Increase your time-frame from half a year to a full year and you’re looking at a MUCH more manageable (and probably popular) route of doing 2 or so points a day.


If I had to guess, you’re looking at ~8 hours a day of studying with no break days to get there in a year. You can’t really learn grammar at a surface level as higher level grammar points build off of having a firm foundation of lower level grammar points and you still need to learn a lot more vocabulary because the ~6000 Wanikani teaches you is not enough. Even just going through and doing the JLPT N5 and N4 vocabulary items Wanikani doesn’t teach, which is like 250 items, on another SRS platform has given me a noticeable boost even when I was at ~3000 vocabulary items on Wanikani.

Otherwise, to roughly get to N1 from scratch in a year is something like ~12 hours a day. An extreme stretch for any normal person.
Max theoretical speed is probably 9 months, but you’re talking about a perfect schedule and whatever the hell kinda person can study for 16 hours a day and go to sleep instantly to get a full 8 hours of sleep with literally no other responsibilities.


Another practicality to mention, neither Wanikani nor BunPro will completely prepare you for the N1. Wanikani is lacking about 250 kanji from that topmost level and I don’t know how their vocabulary compares, while BunPro is still creating their N1 curriculum. Furthermore, neither site will prepare you for listening comprehension or reading of passages. You will need additional resources to fill these needs, and allocate yourself lots time to make it through those resources. Best of luck to you!


Data from the Foreign Service Institute (US government’s training center) who have researched many languages and their difficulty for English speakers ranked Japanese “Level 4” which is 88 weeks (2200 hours) of study.

Just to give you some context. Obviously this is more about fluency than test taking. (And N1 is no where near fluent.) Which, if you don’t also add test taking practice into it, you’ll likely fail. There are loads of trick questions, strategies for guessing, narrowing things down quickly, etc.

If you genuinely want to learn the language, I’d probably say this is…not a good decision. Like cramming before a test, you will likely forget most everything, with little to no ability to actually use the language. (There are many people who have passed N1 but are unable to communicate with native speakers.) I would instead recommend shooting for N4, which not only gives you more time to properly absorb and learn the language for the long term, but also gives you the opportunity to see what taking the test is actually like with less pressure. It’s a very different experience practicing in your own home or classroom versus the testing centers.

But hey, it’s your life, yolo xD Best of luck regardless.

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Why the rush? Unless you are naturally gifted in languages, it sounds pretty tough.

Others have already mentioned how grammar is usually harder than just learning the meanings of kanji from WK. For example, I am doing N2 grammar now and I am struggling to embrace it because of the subtle nuances.

I would also just like to comment on your claim that you are precisely at the halfway mark for N1 because you are on Level 30 in WK. That is not true - you can refer to wkstats for details. You also think you know 95% of the kanji in BP because you are still just starting out in BP at the beginner stage…

Marathon, not a sprint.


I’d be careful about thinking of duolingo as too easy. A while back I tested out of every section to see if I new enough to finish the course, and while I was able to finish it, I’m not sure I could produce all of the content quite so easily in conversation etc. There’s some value to those courses in the form of repeated usage of language, that is separate from simply being able to recognise a word well enough to fill in the gap. The easiest way to tell is to try the versions of things like duolingo that force you to type the answer rather than arrange the pieces.


Just thinking about what it takes…
If you take the JLPT in Dec 2021 (1st week of Dec), that’s 11 months away, but you’ll want a month before the test just for reviewing, so call it 10 months, or about 40 weeks.


  • The FSI estimates you need 2200 hours to “achieve profiency” (which is not the same as JLPT N1). Let’s say you already did 600 hours on kanji, for the rest of this year you’ll need 1600/40 = 40 hours per week studying Japanese (reading, listening, writing, speaking) to achieve proficiency.
  • On Bunpro, there’s currently around 800 items (794 to be exact). To complete that in 40 weeks, you’ll need to add 800/40 = 20 items per week, or about 3 per day.
    • Btw, this assumes that item #1 is as easy to remember as item #794.

Today is Jan 5th. To make sure you’re on track, check back in on Feb 2nd (4 weeks from now). See how you’re feeling after adding 20 Bunpro items per week (80 items in 4 weeks). This is ambitious, to say the least.

I think you’ll start finding more creative ways to describe studying Japanese, other than just:



Might be worth pointing out that, as far as I know, this is class hours. 2200 hours of active study time, i.e. doing your reviews, reading your textbook, speaking practice on italki, …
So the 40h/week do not include the thousands of hours of passive listening you’ll most likely need to do to cement everything you’ve learned.

The JLPT Guide estimates 3000 to 4800 hours of study for N1, but no idea if this is active only and how reliable the data is.


If it aint broke, don’t fix it.
Perfectly reasonable explanation :joy::joy:


Those number has 3 problems at least:

  1. They have been set in stone for years, when with modern tools and knowledge you can cut corners a lot. Using Anki alone can probably cut about 25% of that time. Yomichan can make your initial reading like 5 times faster, and reduces adding new vocab to the anki to just one click. And so on.

  2. They are usually meant to estimate how long it takes for students in formal systems. Studying in classroom is not really efficient. Example: it took me 2 days to learn hiragana. About 5-10h in total with just anki, pen and paper. My wife was doing course with 3 lessons per week. When she gave up on 3 third week they still didn’t finish all of it… And after that they would probably spend another 4 weeks with katakana, when I did’t spend even 5 minutes (I figured I will be able to memorise while reading loan words and kanji readings and i was right about it - I would be not able to write it down from memory but i don’t intent to anyway).

  3. It does not take into account how gifted you are and how many language you already know.

If you study in classroom with bad teacher, use wrong tools and strategies, you are not gifted and Japanese is you first foreign language it maybe impossible for you to do it at all.

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