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There are tons of study materials in book stores, in the Web and available as Apps, that claim to cater for the JLPT N4 test, but is there any reliable source for what is really required for N4 (or N3-N1 for that matter) ? Study for N5 was easy, as it starts from zero, but all next levels seems to be floating somehow and many require quite different vocabulary and Kanji than others for the same levels. According to your experiences, what are the closest sources to actual N4 requirements for meaningfull and efficient study purposes ?

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For me, it worked to complete みんなの日本語初級 II (Commonly referred to as "Minna no nihongo 2") in terms of grammar and vocabulary. I just learned all of the vocabulary words and the grammar points for each chapter, completed the exercises and I did well in the N4 exam.

As for the Kanji, I can't answer your question because my approach is to learn the kanji for any new word I learn, which is overkilling as regards N4 kanji requirements.

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I was searching for lists of words too at some point, and I fell on the JLPT FAQ:

Why is "Test Content Specifications" no longer available after the 2010 revision of the JLPT?

We believe that the ultimate goal of studying Japanese is to use the language to communicate rather than simply memorizing vocabulary, kanji and grammar items. Based on this idea, the JLPT measures "language knowledge such as characters, vocabulary and grammar" as well as "competence to perform communicative tasks by using the language knowledge." Therefore, we decided that publishing "Test Content Specifications" containing a list of vocabulary, kanji and grammar items was not necessarily appropriate. As information to replace "Summary of Linguistic Competence Required for Each Level" and "Composition of test items" are available. Please also refer to "Sample Questions."

So even the specification doesn't give an exact list of the content. They want you to focus your study on actually learning Japanese. Your best bet is to follow any courses designed for JLPT, they mostly all follow a similar format. Learn all the words you encounter, keep learning new words daily. If you're really worried, you could probably search for the pre-2010 specification, but that would defeat the purpose of why they changed it.

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