After passing the JLPT N3 exam with almost all the questions correct, and being in the top 3% globally, I signed up for the JLPT N2 exam, three months later.
In summary, three months is not nearly enough time to go from N3 level to N2 – there’s especially a big jump in the number of Japanese words / Kanji you need to know. Even the listening is a lot harder than N3.
The worst thing is that you only get informed of your results by mail, a couple of weeks after the closing date of entry. You need to know to check the results online before the two weeks during which entries for the next exam are open. As a result, it will be 9 months until I can take the N2 exam again. At least by then I should be ready 🙁
I took the JLPT N3 exam last December. I found the following resources to be useful:
- JLPT Study – let’s you test your knowledge of Kanji or Vocabulary, sorted by level, N5 all the way to N1. I’ve ignored the Kanji, and am just going for the Vocabulary.
- Quizlet – let’s you create your own flash cards for Kanji / words you don’t know. I’ve created two sets: one for words I don’t know in the various JLPT N3 books, and one for other words I come across that I don’t know – could be any level.
- Google translate – let’s me enter Japanese text by typing or writing the Kanji. the translation is often not so accurate, but good enough.
- aNote (awesome note) – let’s me copy and paste or enter Japanese words, but in a large font size for readability. Any app where you can specify the font size should do. If I also highlight the text it gives me the option to ‘lookup’ the word in the iPhone built-in Japanese dictionaries which is quicker than using Google Translate.
- news.tbs.co.jp – excellent resource – short news clips, complete with corresponding transcriptions. You can either watch the video, or try and read the transcription, or do both!
- jisho.org – I use this for looking up Kanji. In the search field enter #kanji followed by the Kanji you want to look up.
I started with reading:
N3 読む 文章の文法。読解 published by UNICOM Inc. ISBN978-4-89689-471-4
This book was pretty good for reading practise. I then decided to try a practise test to see where I needed to focus on. Seems that the only official practise papers are published by 凡人社 – 公式問題集N3. My weak point was grammar.
After checking reviews I then bought TRY!文法から伸ばす日本語 published by ASK. ISBN978-4-87217-902-6.
This book is well organised. Even better it has English explanations for the grammar points. This book definitely helped me prepare for the grammar questions.
If you go to amazon.co.jp you can buy kindle books in Japanese. Books for kids will tend to have フリガナ which really helps to learn Kanji. The Kindle app also has built in dictionary and translation looks ups, so you can select a sentence or phrase and get the translation (warning – not always correct!).
I haven’t got the results yet (takes 2 months!), but have started working on JLPT N2…