JLPT Yon Kyuu Inquiry

Hey guys,

I know it’s early, but I’m planning to take the JLPT Yon Kyuu (level 4) in December. For those of you who’ve previously completed it, preferably successfully, I’d like my regimen and material assessed.

I’m currently being tutored two nights a week by a native speaker at Inlingua in Princeton NJ. I study alone one hour every night. I also try to watch an hour of Japanese programming to increase my listening, pronunciation, and comprehension skills.

My study text and workbook are Genki 1. I also have the Rabbit Press Kana flashcards and Kanji Volume 1 flashcards.

I have Hiragana and Katakana down, but my word comprehension is still quite low, so although I can read any word written in Hiragana, and pronounce it correctly, I only comprehend approximately 10 percent of the sentences I read, with the exception of set phrases. This, however, is improving daily. I can usually figure out the meaning of most words written in Katakana, even if I’ve never read the word before. I know very few Kanji, maybe 20.

Testing Expectations

I’ve read horror stories about folks who’ve walked into the testing center confident of passing by a wide margin only to end up failing by two or four points. Add to this that only approximately 52 percent of those who take the test pass, and I think you have a good idea of why I’m jumping the gun a bit. My goal is to do whatever’s necessary to ace the JLPT, not merely pass it.


Are there any alternate texts I should consider?

Are there any resources for online video programs, or Japanese TV programming ported to the web I should check out?

Are there other study methods I should employ?

Can you recommend a good test-prep guide for level 4?


I never took level 4, but did take and pass levels 2 and 1 so have some thoughts for you.

Is there a reason you’re only going for level 4? If you continue on as you are now I think that level 3 would be a much more suitable challenge. Level 4 would be an absolute walk in the park.

Genki is one of the most popular textbooks for beginning Japanese, so I don’t think it would hurt you in any way to continue on with it. I will highly recommend this book as an additional resource, though. They just released the advanced volume, which should make things easier for people studying for the upper levels of the test since until now most study materials were only in Japanese.

I wouldn’t be concerned about ‘studying for the test’ as it were until the summer at the earliest. I don’t think there’s much out there for level 4; it usually gets crammed together with level 3. For what it’s worth I used the level 1 and 2 books from this series and here’s last year’s level 3 and 4 tests. Doing a search for 日本語能力試験 on the Kinokuniya website will give you a much better of selection of books than Amazon (at lower prices, as well).

Moved from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion.

General Questions Moderator

I appreciate your responses, cckerberos.

There are a few reasons I’m going for 4級 instead of 3級. First, sitting here, I know I would not pass 4級 if I took it today, so I can’t even conceive of taking 3級 at this point. Second, I don’t want to get overconfident. The idea of failing and having to wait another year to retest gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Per your recommendation I ordered 日本語基本文法辞典. I’ve read a lot of positive opinion on this book, so thank you. Is it okay that the last publication year for the paperback version is 1991? I’m a little concerned about cultural relevence. I don’t have to tell you how quickly changes in contemporary culture affect the Japanese language.

It shouldn’t be a problem. I don’t have the basic dictionary with me at the moment, but flipping through the intermediate one (printed in 1995) shows that the example sentences are pretty much immune to cultural change. It’s not something I’d be overly worried about at your current level.

BTW, if you haven’t already seen it this may be of use to you.

Along with cckerberos’ link, here’s one to kanji broken down by level.

I just took it in Dec (you know they’re doing it twice a year now, starting this summer, right?) and should have my results in hopefully this week or next. I would recommend buying the books of the past 4-kyu tests (don’t remember the name, but the one I got had the past 3 years worth of the 4-kyu in one book), and also practicing the listening section.

My reading comprehension was decent enough for the 4-kyu (crossed fingers), but if I hadn’t sat down and listened to that damn CD a couple (dozen) times, I would have done much worse on listening. What they’re talking about is fairly simple, but you have to have practice not knowing a word and then trying to piece the answer together from the rest of the sentence. Much harder (for me anyway) to do with spoken than written Japanese.

One of the keys for the listening sections is to realize that the test makers love tricky questions. If a question seems really easy and straight forward, it’s quite possible you missed something.


I’d read that was only in Japan, not in the US. As far as I know it’s still just once a year here.

Yep, I plan to do that, based on others’ recommendations as well, so you’re bolstering that consensus.


That’s comforting. :eek:

Yep. I never took 4-kyuu, but on the 3 and 2 tests the listening questions were all set up to catch people listening for one particular cue-word; the dialog references every answer, with the correct one being clear only if you understood how they were being referenced.

For example, the test book shows 4 images:
Man going outside, woman at the door holding a
a) umbrella
b) briefcase
c) letter
d) sandwich

Man: Goodbye, see you tonight.
Woman: Goodbye. Wait, it’s going to rain tonight! Take an umbrella!
Man: That’s ok, I have one at the office, and the weather’s fine now.
Woman: Did you remember to send that letter?
Man: Yes, I went to the post office yesterday. Oh! I forgot my briefcase!
Woman: Here it is.
Man: Thanks. I’m glad I remembered it. My sandwich is inside.

Reading it and getting the correct answer seems simple, but listening and translating in your head, and then getting the correct answer I’m sure is another ball-o-wax.

I’m pleasantly surprised that the testing fee is quite reasonable. For some reason I expected at least $200. …although I’m not in love with having to wait three months for my score.