I recently finished a standard two-semester introductory Japanese class that went through Nakama I. The class went well and I'm pretty confident about my understanding of what was covered in it, but I'm not sure what that maps to in terms of the JLPT levels. Since Nakama is one of the canonical textbooks for first-year Japanese, I was wondering if anyone knew whether N4 or N5 would be more appropriate for someone who's just finished a course using it.

For reference, I took some full-length practice tests and breezed through the N5 one with close to a perfect score, but there was at the very least quite a bit of kanji and vocabulary on the N4 one I was completely unfamiliar with. I'm not sure, though, whether that gap is something I can cover by studying in the couple of months before the exam, or whether there's enough content there for a full-year class. If it's relevant, I'm not looking for any sort of professional certification or qualification from the exam; I'm just taking it because I've enjoyed learning Japanese and would like to see how I'm doing in it.

Here's a brief overview of what the textbook covers:

Vocabulary: General "Foreign Language 101" vocabulary (words associated with colleges and schools, parts of a house, civic buildings, common objects, common action verbs, colors, etc.); time and seasons; numbers; a couple of counters; clothing; kinship terms; seasons; health.

Kanji: About 100 studied systematically, plus another 50-100 that can at least be recognized.

Grammar: Plain and polite present and past forms of verbs and adjectives; the て-form; some basic particles (about the first 80 from this list); requests and invitations; the -て いる construction; the -そう form of adjectives; the -たい construction on verbs.

  • It would help those of us who are unfamiliar with the book's contents to answer if you described which grammar points the book taught. I think you need to have gone through 2-3 textbooks to reach level N4 though.
    – oals
    Sep 2, 2015 at 6:16
  • @oals: Sure, I'm adding that to the original post. I think Nakama is pretty standard (though certainly not universal) for Japanese courses in the United States, and so I thought someone might have some experiencing taking or teaching a class using it.
    – anomaly
    Sep 2, 2015 at 6:33
  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's partially an opinion based question, and partially a resource question. It is not about a specific aspect of the language.
    – istrasci
    Sep 2, 2015 at 14:29

1 Answer 1


At that level of study, N5 is probably most common. But this is really up to whether you want to take something you're likely to pass or challenge a level you may not pass at.

JLPT site has more examples if you haven't seen it yet.

Opinion: If N4 is really as the site describes,

Approximately the same level as the old level 3 test.

Then N4 will likely be hard for the level you stated.

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