What’s your JLPT strategy?

“I’m not going to pass, so I’m not going to stress about studying super hard this time around,” I said, shoveling textbooks into my shopping basket.

“It’s a futile effort, anyway, so I’ll just treat this as an experience, not a serious try,” I added, plugging vocabulary words into my SRS app.

“Who even PASSES the JLPT anyhow?” I concluded, struggling out of bed to complete my daily drills.

If you’ve experienced one or all of the above, then congrats, you and I are in the same boat.

Yes, I decided to take the N1, and made a post about knowing how I won’t be able to pass it this December. Intellectually, I’m aware of this. My vocabulary and kanji simply are not up to par. Listening and grammar are things I can get through, but without vocab, you’re a goner, especially in the JLPT.

And yet

I can’t help it; some part of me thinks there’s a slim chance that maybe, just maybe, I’ll get through by the skin of my teeth. After all, while the test is out of a total of 180 points, you “only” need a passing score of 19 or above in each section, and you “only” need a total score of 100 total points in order to pass the whole test. 55%. Easy-peasy.


So! I thought that I would share my slowly developing strategy. I’ve been combing the internet for advice from other people who have taken and passed the N1, and maybe I’ll have something to say that can help you, too.

Here we go.

  1. Do something every single day. Even if it’s in 5-10 minute bursts, which sounds like nothing against a test like this, do it. If you cram a bunch of things in your head quickly, you’ll lose it just as fast. However, if you slowly accumulate vocab, grammar, etc. over time, you’ll have a better chance of it sticking around in your head for when you need it. For me, personally, I find rolling out of bed and doing some drills before I’m even fully awake has been working well.
  2. Study from a variety of sources. Use websites, apps, youtube channels, textbooks, news articles, and friends. There are textbooks out there that claim to be the “bible” of the JLPT and who knows, perhaps they are. But I tend to get bored/unmotivated if I stick to only one form of study. So, I listen to grammar explanations on Youtube (Nihongo no Mori is a great resource), and use the Sou Matome, ShinKanzen Master, and a smattering of other books.
  3. Take practice tests leading up to the real test. Not just once. Do it every week for a few weeks. You’ll build up endurance for the test (110 minutes of grammar/reading/vocab in one go, oof), and you’ll get a better idea of how to pace yourself. If you don’t want to spend oodles of money, you can go here on the official JLPT website to find a sample test at the level of your choosing. They also have “sample questions” elsewhere on the site that can give you a general idea of how ready you are for your level of choice.
  4. Do something fun in the language, too. When your brain stops being able to answer the simplest questions in Japanese, turn to anime, comic books, television shows, or anything else that you actually enjoy doing in the language. Remind yourself why you’re working so hard toward this particular goal, refresh yourself, and when you’re ready, dive back into it.

Have you taken the JLPT, or another difficult language test? What were your strategies for surviving it? How did you fare?

Stay tuned as Stefanie goes into full WHAT mode as NaNoWriMo and prime JLPT study season rolls around!

One thought on “What’s your JLPT strategy?

  1. Pingback: Radio Silence: NaNo, JLPT, and the 100th post – Stefanie, What?!

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