Interview#1- How Stuart Passed JLPT N3

Did you get the result of last JLPT exam? You may started thinking to take next JLPT exam.

We interviewed a Japanese learner who passed JLPT N3 last year, and asked how he studied for that. We hope his learning tips would help your next JLPT challenge.

Interviewee Profile

Name : Stuart
Nationality : New Zealand
Current Location : Tokyo

Tell us your Japan experiences shortly
I work in Japan as a literature teacher at school. This time I’ve lived here for one year and will continue living here. 3 years ago, I also spent a year in Japan as an English teacher.

How was the result of JLPT?

I passed the N3 on my last attempt (December 2018) and so I’m happy with that. A year before, I took N4 and passed that, so I probably would have been disappointed if I’d failed after a year of studying.

Interestingly, after the exam, I thought I had done well on the reading and poorly on the listening – I felt like I understood everything in the reading section and felt like I didn’t properly understand enough in the listening section. However, when my results were the total opposite, with my listening score being the highest of the sections.

How long did you study for the exam and how did you study?

I studied for one year. For vocabulary I studied on my own using Memrise. I didn’t study kanji formally, but for every word that I learned on Memrise, I also had to learn the kanji for it as well, so I absorbed a lot of kanji this way.

For grammar, I took a 4 week intensive course at a language school and covered basically all of the N3 grammar points from the NEW KANZEN MASTER N3 grammar book.

For listening, I didn’t really study this formally, but used the regular conversation classes I took with Kanako-sensei as a way of improving my listening. I did go through all of the New Kanzen Master N3 Listening textbooks listening exercises in the lead up to the exam. There were some useful strategies in their, but I probably did this too late and didn’t do enough follow up practice.

What resources do you recommend to pass JLPT?

The NEW KANZEN MASTER series is excellent I think. Especially the grammar book. It is really thorough, and has just enough English to make it accessible.

I prefer Memrise to Anki when learning vocabulary – I think it’s ability to ask you to choose and enter both in kanji and hiragana is great for remembering the kanji and reading of words at the same time as learning the vocabulary. I like its review system as well and it gives enough encouragement to do some everyday by breaking down big lists of vocabulary into manageable chunks that can be dealt with day after day.

Working with a Japanese teacher was probably the most effective ‘resource’ though, at least in terms of efficacy of learning, enjoyment of the learning process, and ongoing motivation.

Could you give messages for other JLPT challengers?

I’m an irregular Japanese learner. I work full time and I can’t commit to full time study, so I do what I can when I can. I use the the JLPT as a measure of progress more than anything, and as a guide for what I should probably learn next.

I do think that there’s nothing better than learning together with a Japanese teacher – I’ve always made the most effective, efficient progress when I’ve been working together with a teacher. Especially as the levels get higher and the language becomes more complex, a teacher makes understanding the nuances so much easier.

Thanks, Stuart!

Reference Information
• Memrise