Another session of JLPTs are over in some countries which means the next ones are only 6 months away in December!

Whether you’ve just taken an exam or are taking one for the first time it’s good to start preparing for the next batch of tests now.

What you study specifically for each exam will be different, but here are some tips for preparing for the JLPT.


How to Prepare for the JLPT

Have The Basics Covered

It’s time to go back over the basics. It doesn’t matter what level you’re studying going over the basics can always give you a boost. (Especially if you only just passed or failed the last exam by a few points.)

This means going over kanji, vocabulary and grammar from the beginning up to your level.

You might think you’ve learnt it all before but it can’t hurt to spend a few days or weeks going over the basics. You might find that:

  • there were things you didn’t know
  • things you’ve forgotten
  • things in the basics that makes more advanced things make more sense

For example, I’m studying for the JLPT N1 level and am going over the kanji readings and writing from the very beginning (N5) and have found the above to be the case. It’s really helped me with learning the more advanced kanji.

For Kanji I suggest the apps Kanji Study (for android) [click here for a review] or KanjiBox (for iOS). Both are fantastic apps that focus on kanji for all JLPT levels.

How to Prepare for the JLPTFor Vocabulary I suggest Japanese JLPT Words (for android) or KanjiBox (for iOS), which go over vocabulary for all JLPT levels.

You can also buy books like Kanji in Context or the 日本語単語スピードマスター (Nihongo Tango Speed Master) series which has vocabulary and kanji for all levels. The Speed Master books are great because they come with CDs and a feature where you can hide the vocabulary meaning using a red sheet, meaning you can drill them without wasting time making flashcards.

For Grammar I would suggest the book series Try!文法から伸ばす日本語 which are the best resource I’ve found for grammar for the JLPT as it teaches you the grammar and gives you exercises to practice with.

If you would rather get an app KanjiBox (for iOS) (again) is great for practicing grammar but not so much for learning. On the other hand Tae Kim’s Learning Japanese (for android) and (for iOS) is great for teaching grammar but not so much for practicing grammar.

 Slowly Build Up Knowledge for Current JLPT Level

Once you’ve got the basics covered it’s time to start learning the new things. But there are some key points you should remember:

  • Don’t rush
  • Don’t forget to review (new and old things)
  • Don’t overwork to the point where nothing’s going in

How to Prepare for the JLPTIt’s important to go at a pace that works for you, to review what you’ve previously learned, and to not work so hard that you’re not learning anything.

The brain is a funny thing. I find it’s like a plant, it’s more effective to water the plant a little each day and let it absorb the water gradually. If you try to pour everything in at once you risk killing it.
I had this problem last year when I studied intensely for 2 months straight for the JLPT N1. I not only didn’t pass but I managed to burn myself out so badly that I didn’t study Japanese for 7 months afterwards!

This time I’m taking my time, learning a little each day and even have online lessons that focus more on general comprehension of complicated texts rather than JLPT N1 focuses.

  • Use the resources that work best for you
  • Don’t just study, use Japanese
  • Have fun 😉

Do Some Practice JLPT Papers

How to Prepare for the JLPT drillThis is a great way to prepare yourself for the JLPT, especially if you’re unsure what level you should take, have never taken the exam before, or/and want to confirm you’ll pass.

The only official practice papers that are out there are the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test Official Practice Workbook. You can buy these but they’re also free to download.

Some people have also managed to scan past papers and upload them un-officially, so it’s worth searching for those as well.

Other great books which have practice questions include:

  • 日本語能力試験 予想問題集 (each book focuses on all sections of a test i.e N3 vocabulary, grammar, reading, listening)
  • 徹底ドリル (each book focuses on all sections of a test i.e N3 vocabulary, grammar, reading, listening)
  • ドリル&ドリル 日本語能力試験 (each book focuses on individual sections i.e N3 Vocabulary)


Other Useful JLPT Articles

JLPT N5 – Study Methods and Resources

JLPT N4 – Study Methods and Resources

JLPT N3 – Study Methods and Resources

Tips for Studying for the JLPT N1

Tips for When You Take the JLPT N1

TRY! JLPT Grammar Book

JTalkOnline Memrise Flashcard Courses