How should I prepare for JLPT N5?

The application for JLPT in Leiden on July 5, 2020 is now open.
JLPT in Leiden University:
I’ve had some questions from my students about how to prepare for JLPT N5, so I’d like to focus on this entry level today.

If this is the first time for you to take this kind of language exam, don’t worry, JLPT tests only your passive knowledge of reading and listening. No speaking and writing. Entire questions are multiple choice. If you mark, you already have 25% chance of getting it right 🙂 Anyway, please check this site for how many points you need to score to pass the exam.

I always recommend my students to learn reading, listening, and speaking (writing if necessary) to achieve what you want to do with the language and to build solid foundation to go further to the advanced level, and NOT just study for the exam. Like many people say, the life is not multiple choice. Most of you learn new language to communicate, not just to pass the exam.
So first, use the comprehensive learning materials such as Marugoto, Genki or Minna no Nihongo, and don’t directly jump into JLPT exam prep books.

BUT you only have 4 months left! There are so many JLPT N5 preparation books, and you wonder which one would be the best and most time-saving book to pass the test. Show me the shortcuts!  Yes, I hear your scream.
Here are some books which might help you:

★NIHONGO SO MATOME N5 日本語総まとめN5   ISBN978-4-86639-076-5

Kanji, vocab., grammar, reading and listening in one book, and supposed to be able to finish in 6 weeks. If you purely go for efficiency, this one might be your first choice.  The problem is that there are very little contextual connections between sentences in the exercise, so I doubt if these knowledge can be adopted to real communication later on. Those of you who have already learned Japanese on begin A2 level, this is probably a good book as a reference.

★TRY! JLPT N5   TRY!日本語能力試験N5 文法から伸ばす日本語 ISBN978-4-87217-900-2

This book focuses on grammar items which you need to know for N5, and from there, they expand to model conversations and short reading materials.  There are two model conversations on the same story line, so you’ll see connections between stories and model sentences.  There are also listening exercises similar to the real exam. For Kanji, you need extra practice besides this book.

★JLPT N5 Reading comprehension series 日本語N5 文法・読解まるごとマスター ISBN978-4-86392-351-5

This book covers all the grammar items you need to know, and also contains good tips to comprehend longer sentences. Grammar explanation in English is pretty good, but the letters are very tiny.  Sufficient reading and information retrieval exercises. You need to study Kanji, vocab., and listening besides this book.

★Drill & Drill JLPT N5  ドリル&ドリル 日本語能力試験N5 ISBN9784-89689-506-3

This book contains vocabulary, grammar, reading and listening exercises which are the same pattern as real JLPT exam. In a separate answer/explanation book, you can read translation and grammar and comprehension points that you should be cautious in order to choose the correct answer. It’s handy to get used to the exam style.

★JLPT N5 Complete Mock Exams ゼッタイ合格!日本語能力試験完全模試N5   ISBN978-4-86392-141-2

This book contains 3 x JLPT mock exams. It has a separate answer book and a check list of important words, phrases and sentence structure. This is for students who already learned Japanese using other comprehensive textbooks, and wants to get used to the style and format of real JLPT exam.

★NIHONGO CHALLENGE KANJI JLPT N4-5 にほんごチャレンジかんじN4-5 ISBN978-4-87217-757-2

Oh, how I love the colour of this book! This book contains 110 Kanji’s for N5 and 200 Kanji’s for N4. For every kanji, stroke order, on-yomi, kun-yomi, picture hints, and words are shown, with 6 empty squares to practice writing. There are also extra Kanji writing and reading exercises.

★Connecting with Kanji: A Workbook for Beginners  どんどんつながる漢字練習帳 初級 ISBN978-4-7574-2618-4

This book is not per se for JLPT preparation, but quite nice book to learn Kanji. From a basic character, you expand your Kanji power by learning related Kanji’s with same roots /radicals. There are also pictures and stories to help you memorise Kanji’s. Every chapter has quizzes in the end, which are quite interesting. There is also an intermediate level of the same series.

Every book has its advantage and disadvantage, so choose the ones which would reinforce your weakpoitns. Please be aware that these books are just to get you prepared for JLPT specifically, and not to nurture your Japanese communication skills in general.
So grasp every chance to absorb and use Japanese inside and outside classroom!

From Fumiko Sensei