How Long does it take to Pass the JLPT? — 20 Comments

  1. You probably could pass N1 in a year (I know a lot of Korean Japanese learners who have done it in a year or less, but they have the advantage of similar grammar/vocabulary over people coming from a European language)… But you would probably have to solely concentrate on studying for it, and at the end of the day I personally think you’ll come out with better Japanese at the end of the day if you focus on immersion. (Like I have a few Japanese friends who got full marks in TOIEC, but who really struggle to have a normal conversation with me in English).

    I passed the old JLPT level 1 (so a bit easier than the current N1) after 4 and a bit years of studying, but I only really studied specifically for it for a month or so before the exam. Because of the 2 years I spent mostly trying to immerse myself in Japanese I found the reading and listening sections quite easy but only just scraped through some of the other sections that required more specific studying.

    From my personal experience I think if you spent more time than I did studying specifically for the JLPT you could definitely do it faster than that, but if I could go back I wouldn’t bother making it more of a priority for myself. Having passed it didn’t actually help me get any of the jobs I have had in Japan… although lots of Japanese people believe that the Japanese on it is so hard that Japanese people can’t get full marks (which it is not) so I have had people think I’m really amazing for passing, hehe.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Jen. I like the idea of just making it a balanced goal with others, as opposed to making it a purpose.

      • Yeah :) I feel like most people who look at this site have JLPT as a side goal rather than the main focus anyway. I find it funny that I used to think that my Japanese would be amazing if I could just pass 1級, but 8 years or so on from that I’m still learning new things everyday!

      • The thing about jplt is that it is easier for people like me , whose native language is not english . People who have english as their first language find it a little harder (just my personal opinion). I already knew two languages before i learned english . Japanese is my fourth . It really became a lot easier for me to translate japanese to my native language n learn because i just couldnt directly translate it to english . I guess languages like french n spanish is easier to english speakers:) ( i personally gave up french when i was in 6th standard . Too many verbs ;) . I only did one year of french will get back to it making it my 5th language ;) if ive time . Coming back to the point i dont think jplt has a base time limit . All u need to do is just start . I cleared n5 in 1 n 1/2 year . It took me 2 months to clear n4 . I just couldnt find the timefor n5. One thing i learned is a person knows when he or she is ready . And if you do not have a time limit then i would say retake the test if you pass with a score of 94/180 because a language takes time and should be learnt well :) . I got 122/180 in n5 but 180/180 in n4. Time is not really a factor . Interest is . Im giving n5 again just because im not satisfied with my score . Crazy right. ;) please forgive any grammatical errors here , english is not my mother tongue .

  2. I’m scaredddd. Have the jlpt1 booked for next month and have barely studied. Need to start doing some practice exams asap….

    I have some downloaded somebut they are from like 2007 backwards.

    I’ve also done grammar decks for jlpt 1 and most of jlpt2. Been watching some nihongo mori videos on YouTube for jlpt3 stuff.

    Been doing sentences since February 2 years ago (2014) and I’m not too confident. But I’ve already thrown down a hundred dollarydoos so I’ll give it my best with the little preparation I’ll have. I’d like to complete three practice exams before the 4th. I think I’ll be lucky to get through one at this rate.

    I will update on almost certain failure.

    • Just give it everything you’ve got. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll either kick its ass the next time you take it, or get enough out of this experience to feel satisfied.

  3. I’ve heard from most readers that you to get from N5->N2 is equal to the time it takes to get from N2->N1. You will definitely be hard pressed to do it in a year. Possible with full immersion and regular test prep classes, but not a lot of people have the time and/or money for that.

    Basically, there are two major hurtles for the JLPT N3->N2 (double the reading speed), and N2->N1 (advanced comprehension, focus, and vocabulary, most of which can only really be learned through massive exposure)

    I definitely agree with Jen. I try to preach an equal study plan to get through the JLPTs. They aren’t worth exclusively focusing on. All of the jobs I’ve gotten have never requested it, but have needed Japanese. Not to say it is worthless, just something to help you keep studying and check your level not the end all be all.

  4. I’ve signed up for the jlpt n1 this year. I’ve passed the two practice tests I’ve done so far, but passed with maybe 70ish so I’m studying pretty hard to make sure I can actually pass the real thing. I’ve been studying for almost 2 years exactly, and I’ve done about 5,500 anki cards.

    I’m doing kind of a fast paced intensive study prep by going through the nigongo somatome series and adding all of the grammar points, kanji, and vocabulary that I don’t know into anki. I’m trying to add everything ASAP to give myself at least a few weeks to review the information with the magic of anki.

    I’ve done a lot of immersion over the past 2 years, trying to make things as high level as possible. I also read a lot of Japanese books. But my grammar knowledge is lacking. N1 grammar is ridiculous!

    I feel pretty hopeful but also a bit uneasy. I’m sure the real test is harder than the practice tests. I’m trying to accept the possibility of failing so if it happens I won’t be too upset haha.

    I like having the jlpt as a goal but I definitely don’t think it’s for everyone. It’s definitely skewed towards much higher level reading than some people care to do. I’m not sure if having the certification would help in any way but it can’t hurt so why not try?

    • Yeah, I think a lot of people struggle with the grammar, because it is not common in what the native material they are probably looking at it, and in some cases, just less common in general.

      The practice tests are supposed to be a good indiciator, so keep up the good work this last month. Best of luck!

  5. N1: 5.5yrs and 3 tries

    I guess that is another data point to back up Adam’s estimate.

    For me the most helpful study method was reading native materials. It was very helpful to look through JLPT study books on the obscure grammar points, but that doesn’t take much relative time. The key challenge for me was getting a better feel for the language and being able to comprehend the reading sections faster.That came through lots of reading. This was for the old test, and I’m not sure how it changed.

    I was only taking the test because I had put a lot of time into studying Japanese and wanted some way to prove it (to myself). I learned that after passing N1 there is still a long way to go, so don’t worry about ever running out of new Japanese to learn!

    I wouldn’t consider N1 an end goal, but it’s a nice milestone along the way if you happen to like tests.

    • Thanks for adding in your experience.

      I fully agree that N1 is a great goal, but it is not anywhere near the end-goal. Some people get caught up after passing into a “now what” slump. The answer is now the rest of the Japanese language world you don’t know.

  6. 4 years of “light” study to pass N2 seems like a pretty good estimate for me! Considering that’s about how long I’ve been studying (at a rather relaxed pace) and I’ve managed to pass N2 this year.

    And considering I haven’t even looked at practice material and I 100%’d the N2, I might have a shot at passing N1 next year!

  7. I passed (just!) the old N2 way back in 2002 after about six months of homestay experience in Japan, and then after coming back to Japanese study mid-2013 after about a decade’s ceasefire, managed to pass N1 last December pretty comfortably (particularly the reading section). The things that helped me were Anki sentences and immersion (obviously), but also reviewing the particular grammar patterns (again with Anki w/o getting too stressed about them), and practising reading test-specific material (seems to be a genre all to itself). But yep, the jump from N2 to N1 is massive – it just takes time to acquire all of that vocabulary.

    • Had you studied before that homestay experience, or you started from zero, and after 6 months you were able to pass? If it’s the latter, that is extremely impressive!

      And that’s really interesting that the next time you decided to take the following test was a decade later. What made you finally pull the trigger?

      • I had studied a little bit at high school, so definitely had a headstart!

        N1 just felt like an unclimbed mountain, one that once I had spent so much time doing flashcards and watching so many episodes of Hunter x Hunter and many dramas, seemed feasible to conquer. The main reason was the other student in my Japanese lessons I had been taking wanted to do it so it seemed like a good opportunity.

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