Phil321's Study Log

Right now my focus is on studying for the N3 this December. I think I’m going to register for it (but I won’t know for sure until this Friday, the deadline!).

I’ve decided that rather than get all stressed out about it, I’m going to adopt a laid-back, who-cares-if-I-fail attitude towards it. I will then, during these last two months before the test, leverage off all the studying I’ve done this year and follow the strategy below.

So far, I have finished working through the Shinkanzen Master N3 Grammar and Listening books. I made lots of notes directly in the grammar book which is a big help when it comes time to review. I have finished reading most of the reading selections in the Shinkanzen Master N3 Reading book. I am almost finished working through the Shinkanzen Master N3 Vocabulary book.

So for the remaining two months I plan to do the following:

-since I enjoy reading and seem to be good at it, I will stop reading new selections in the reading book;
-I will do every practice exam I can get my hands on;
-I will finish the vocabulary book;
-I will keep drilling myself on points of grammar from the grammar book and words from the vocabulary book right up until the exam
-Extra time will be spent on listening practice.

So that is the plan (assuming that I register on Friday!).


Today I registered for the JLPT! Now it is official. I finally decided to because once I decided I don’t care if I fail I realized it would be fun, and also I had already foolishly told everyone in the office that I was going to write a Japanese exam in December.


I never took N3 but based on my experience with N2 this looks like a good strategy. I agree there’s no point getting stressed out about this exam. It’s just a test. For most of us, it’s not really a goal in and of itself, it’s just a way to structure our study so we can advance in the language.

For listening, this website indicates that the only new thing on N3 (compared to N4) is the “summary comprehension” questions. The website also says that type of question is “scary” because there’s nothing written in the test booklet, and to take notes. But I disagree with their assessment. After the monologue the questions end up being really basic. For a made-up example, it’ll be a farmer talking, saying his goal is to grow the tastiest apples so he uses organic pesticides and only picks the apples at daybreak when they are covered with dew. Then the question will be, what is the farmer talking about?
A. The environment
B. The seasons
C. Growing tasty apples
D. Dew
So, not bad. When I get tripped up on these questions it’s because I got sidetracked when the speaker went down a tangent.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck.

Thanks for your comments, Satogaeru. I agree that for me the test is a way of organizing my studying.

I did notice the “summary comprehensive” questions in working through the N3 listening book. For me the listening part is the worst part of the exam. But you need only 19 out of 60 to pass, so I think it’s doable.

This morning I did six listening exercises from the N3 Nihongo So-Matome book. I got four out of six correct so I was happy. (Remember, you only need 19/60, or about one-third, correct to pass the listening part of the N3 JLPT). What is useful is, when checking the answer, to re-listen again while following the script in the book.

I finished working through all the exercises in the N3 Shinkanzen Master listening practice book last week so next I am going to do the “mock examination” at the back of the book.

Here is a link to the So-Matome N3 listening book:

Yesterday and today I did the kanji & vocabulary sections of two different N3 practice exams. My scores were as follows:

N3 sample exam from the JLPT official website: 28/33 or 85%
N3 sample exam from one of the J Research mock exams (see link below): 26/35 or 72%

I find this encouraging. I noticed that some of the words I didn’t recognize were not in the Shinkanzen Master N3 vocabulary book (which I have worked through).

Tomorrow I am going to do the grammar parts of the two practice exams and see how it goes.

Here is a link to the J Research book, which contains three complete mock exams as well as answers with explanatory notes:

Well, I did the grammar parts of the two exams (JLPT sample exam and the J Research book) and the results were as follows:

JLPT: 16/23 or 70%
J Research: 17/23 or 74%

I wish my scores had been better since I would like to have some “cushion” for the actual exams. But theoretically these scores are good enough to pass.

1 Like

Well tomorrow I guess I’m writing the JLPT N3.

There’s supposed to be a snowstorm with freezing rain tomorrow morning but I can get there by public transit.

I was never crazy about the choice of December for the test because in many parts of the world the weather is very dicey in December.

Good luck on the test, Phil. I hope you are able to stay warm and dry. It would suck to lose marks to a distraction like that.

1 Like

Thanks for your kind remarks!*

*I wanted to just say “thanks” but the system won’t allow postings of less than 10 characters. Go figure.

頑張ってphil123! I hope you have no weather or transit troubles and also that you do well on the exam!

1 Like

Same to you, satogaeru!

Well, I got to the testing center on time and wrote the N3. (It’s a good thing I took public transit, because the weather is absolutely terrible).

How did I do? Definitely failed. The vocabulary and grammar went really well but not the reading or listening.

As I did the vocabulary and grammar sections I realized that the N3 Shinkanzen Master books which I studied from were REALLY helpful. I highly recommend them!

As was the case when I wrote N4 (which I passed) the reading and listening parts of the actual exam were noticeably more difficult than the practice exams.

And once again, the sound quality of the listening part was terrible: like a twenty year-old cassette tape played in a cheap tape recorder with the volume turned up too far. WHEN will they ever get decent quality sound?

1 Like