I am using various programs to study Japanese: audio CD's, Ja Sensei and TenguGo Japanese. Kanji are grouped by JLPT levels. Often kanji bleed across various levels. For example

車: くるま

An example word for JLPT 5:


The example also includes two characters from JLPT 4. Ive seen examples of Kanji from JLPT 2 and I think even 1 in there too!

What should I expect to see in JLPT 5? Do I need to know all meanings for a kanji and even all combinations including kanji from levels far and above my skill level? What about grammar?

  • 1
    Although there are other topics about/flagged JLPT, this seems off-topic since it's about the test's format, not about something specifically related to the language.
    – istrasci
    Dec 4 '13 at 17:24
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about the structure of a test, not the Japanese language.
    – rintaun
    Dec 5 '13 at 10:12

Since the establishment of the new JLPT levels, there are no official test specifications - that means no official list of "N5 kanji" exists. Many sites use the old test specifications to estimate what is required for the new tests (except for N3, which was an entirely new level).

The entirety of the test is in Japanese, including instructions for the questions. At N5 you will be required to recognise the readings of kanji words in the appropriate context (i.e. you see a sentence with 自転車 in it, and can choose the right reading for it). There is little kanji used in the grammar and reading questions, and what there is is supplied with furigana.

It may be that there are vocabulary words on your list shown in kanji, when that kanji would not be used in the actual test.

Sample questions can be seen at the official site.

  • It's interesting to note that "there are no official test specifications". The 2 applications are 95% consistent in their definitions of JLPT levels as far as which Kanji fit into the list. They are also organized by grade level. E.G. 車 is taught in grade 1 at Japanese schools. I would expect kanji taught across the Japanese education system to be consistent. And it makes sense that "grade 1" kanji would be JLPT 5 level as reflected in the apps I'm using. Dec 3 '13 at 19:33
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    There used to be four levels for which there were test specifications. The specifications for old level 4 are close to the level for N5, so many people use them as a guide.
    – nkjt
    Dec 3 '13 at 21:01

As a JLPT L3 (now N4) myself, there used to be a specific number of Kanjis to focus on.

But now, it seems that there is no official list anymore.

However, focusing on the JLPT L4 kanji list of the old, would probably be the best set you should study.

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