Juggling Between Work & JLPT N2 Exam; How to Tackle Them

No matter how busy you are, you have to find time for studying if you want to pass. You just have to.

This article is based on my personal experience. By the time I wrote this, I have been living in Japan for 2,5 years. However, I passed JLPT N2 during my first year of living in Japan.

Let me start with a brief introduction. I hope I can keep it short. I came to Japan in April 2014. At that time, I barely spoke any Japanese. Before I came, I learned a little bit of Japanese in a language institution kind of setting. I was working at that time, so I only studied for about three hours per week for six consecutive months.

Due to being busy at work, I didn’t really progress well. My Japanese skill improved drastically after I came and started to live in Japan. I went to a Japanese language school in Shibuya and acquired most of my language skill there. At first, I took a one-year program and later decided to extend it for another 3 months. I eventually canceled the latter as I got a job offer from a Japanese company.

So, I ended my life as a Japanese language school student and started to live like a typical “salaryman”. You know, when you work in Japan, you don’t have the luxury to procrastinate after work. Even though your time is limited, it’s not impossible to actually allocate it for your JLPT N2 study process. Let me break it down to you, several tips that I have, to tackle JLPT N2 exam for those of you who are currently working in Japan.

How to Tackle JLPT N2 As a Working Adult

1. Focus and Allocate Time to Study

No matter how busy you are, if you have registered for JLPT N2 exam, there is no turning back. Remember that you have spent 5,500 yen only for the registration fee. Not to mention the time and effort you put to learn Japanese, they will all be wasted if you don’t have enough determination.

The first thing you need to do is to stay focus. Try to fix your schedule. You can start from disciplining yourself by taking the time to study at least an hour a day. If you think it’s not enough, you can always sacrifice your weekend for reviewing what you have learned so far.

I personally took an hour a day after work, to learn some new grammar points. When it’s possible, I also did some practice test from the book. It helped me in giving a clear picture of how to use the grammar points that I have learned.

2. Get some JLPT N2 Preparation Books

Recommended books for JLPT N2
Recommended books for JLPT N2

The new Kanzen Master series have always been my favorite. Although it’s a bit hard to use (considering it doesn’t contain any English text for the N2 level above), it triggered you to always check your dictionary, and therefore will enrich your vocabulary. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.

The New Kanzen Master Grammar Book
The New Kanzen Master Grammar Book

I personally like the grammar (文法) and the vocabulary (語彙) book. I didn’t buy the reading (読解) and listening (聴解) book as I believe that having a good grasp of grammar and vocabulary will give you enough ability to do the reading and listening section of the test.

3. Practice Makes Perfect

Having a good memory of the grammar pattern won’t do you any good if you don’t know how to use them. As a supplement from the new Kanzen Master book, I also studied by doing the real JLPT N2 questions from the previous year.

There’s a real good book that I want to recommend here. It’s this one:

Workbook for JLPT N2
Workbook for JLPT N2

Some of the questions from the listening section are even identical to what came out on the test previously. So, always check the past JLPT N2 questions for references. When the D-day is getting closer, I stopped reading the theory and drilling myself more with practice book.

JLPT Vocabulary workbook
JLPT Vocabulary workbook

4. Install Memrise on Your Phone


I was among those people who are skeptical about using apps to study until I tried Memrise. I kid you not, it is really helpful to build up your vocabularies if you are the type of a person who can’t sit still to read a book. Be it on the train commuting to your work, or in front of a restaurant lining up to get a table, just clutch your phone from your pocket and you’re ready to review your vocabulary list!

What I like the most about this app is that you can pick a course that suits you the best from the available selections, so you don’t have to bother about creating your own flash cards.

Those are the four steps to successful JLPT N2 test takers based on my personal experience. And what about Kanji? How did I study it? As for my Kanji studies, I depended mostly on my school. I guessed I was lucky that my school was quite thorough when it came to Kanji class.

Here’s another book recommendation to study Kanji:

Well, enough said. Time to brush up your Japanese skill and dust off your books. Passing JLPT N2 in one year is not an impossible task!


2 thoughts on “Juggling Between Work & JLPT N2 Exam; How to Tackle Them

  1. You are really good! I’ve studied in school for over 6 years yet when I look at some practice N2 questions I can barely answer them. Haven’t signed up for this year’s test and don’t know if I will but congrats on passing!!!

    1. Hi Naomi! Thanks a lot! Well, It’s really tough during the first three months though. I struggled a lot with the language barrier, but I used it as motivation to study even harder. Good luck with your JLPT, you can nail it!

      P.S. I’m checking out your blog too, and I love it! Keep posting!

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