Results and Lessons from the JLPT N4 Exam

RL Dec jlpt

On a whim I decided to take the JLPT N4 test last December. For those scratching their heads in confusion this is the official Japanese Language Test that is taken in Japan ans around the world. Japanese language programs encourage or require students to take these exams as they are the official certification for Japanese proficiency. The lowest level is N5 and the highest is N1. I tried my hand at the N4 exam.

Over the years my Japanese language instruction (and studying) has been sporadic. To intensive summer programs to self-study to taking one-on-one classes in Sapporo I was determined to understand Japanese but I certainly didn’t make it easy for myself. This test was no different. It has been years since I sat a formal exam. I choose N4 as a safety net. I could probably pass it and it gave me the chance to scout for my real goal of passing the N3 in July. Tuesday was my moment of truth –

The results are in    FAILED  !


Okay, so I didn’t actually get an F but I didn’t pass. I’m not surprised but I am disappointed. The next step is to learn from my failure and prepare myself for July.

What did I learn?

I didn’t do basic research about the test so I wasn’t studying all of the recommended material or using official study guides (FYI big mistake).

The test was broken into three timed parts – Vocab, Grammar/reading, and Listening.

I struggled in the vocab/kanji section.

In the listening section the questions were said once before the dialogue and once at the end. The dialogue was not repeated.

Obvious Tip: Don’t forget your eraser and extra pencil. I cut it too close with a mechanical pencil with two lengths of lead and no large eraser.

What am I proud of?

While I didn’t pass that doesn’t mean there are not things I am proud of:

I didn’t panic – usually I have test anxiety. Though after my high school pre-calc class that should have been my first warning

I was timely. I finished each section with enough time to double check a few answers. I’m usually the last person to finish (thanks to test anxiety).

What’s Next?

As I mention earlier my next step is to prepare for the N3 Exam in July. Failing this exam showed me that I needed to study harder and use more official and focused material. I have six months until the next exam so stay tuned for a post about my studying goals and tactics.

Until then…


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