The Role of Kanji in JLPT: Tips for Mastery


The Role of Kanji in JLPT: Tips for Mastery

Kanji is one of the most important of the three scripts in the Japanese Language. Kanjis are the Chinese characters that play an essential role in the Japanese Language and Japanese Language Proficiency Tests.

Kanji was first introduced in Japan in the 5th century by the Korean peninsula. Each Kanji has its meaning and corresponds to a word. By combining the several kanjis, one single word can be created. 

The mastery of Kanjis is important not only for passing the test but also for specifically achieving in reading and writing Japanese. The JLPT tests kanji knowledge at various levels, requiring a strategic approach to study and mastery.

Why is Kanji important to study? 

For anyone who is willing to learn the Japanese Language, Kanji is essential to study. Kanji offers a deeper meaning and understanding of the Language and culture. Here are three basic reasons explained why it is essential to study Kanji in the Japanese Language. 

1. Comprehension

Kanji characters are portions of vocabulary and reading in Japanese that represent words and carry specific meanings. Unlike kana, Kanji is not just a syllabic script. Kanjis are important for understanding the complete meaning of texts and sentences. 

2. Efficiency:

Kanji often conveys more information in fewer characters compared to kana. This efficiency is particularly beneficial in the timed environment of the JLPT.

3. Contextual Understanding: 

Many Japanese words have multiple meanings depending on their kanji representation. Recognizing Kanji helps in understanding the context and nuances of the Language.

Kanji Proficiency Levels in JLPT: N5 to N1 Overview

Before we move further in understanding the tips and tricks to master in Kanji. Let's understand how many kanjis are there in each level. 

  • N5 level: There are around 100 Kanji characters in N5 level. 
  • N4 level: There are around 300 kanji characters in N4 level. 
  • N3 level: The N3 level covers around 650 kanji characters. 
  • N2 level: However, N2 level covers 1000 kanji characters.
  • N1 level: N1 level covers around 2000 kanji characters.  

Tips for Mastering Kanji for the JLPT

1. Basic Japanese Words and Writing Practice: 

If you are at the beginner level of learning the Japanese Language, starting from the basic Japanese words is essential. It's important to understand and learn hiragana and katakana before diving into kanjis. Understanding hiragana and katakana is fundamental for reading and writing the Japanese Language as it represents the phonetic sounds of the Language. Learning essential words, phrases, and grammar structures will help you develop a solid understanding of the Language's structure and enable you to form simple sentences. Once you have a grasp of hiragana, katakana, and basic vocabulary, you can gradually introduce Kanji to your studies. 

2. Set Realistic Goals:

Let's set some of the daily accessible goals to achieve by making a habit of studying Kanji on a daily basis. Just think about how quickly you can master 2,200 kanjis to read the newspaper fluently. Do you think it's possible to do without studying it daily? If you are willing to achieve this goal within a year, then learning six to seven kanjis daily can make it happen. 

Is it possible to spend each and every day learning new Kanji

If you are committed to your goals, then everything is possible. Once you are committed, learning 6-7 kanjis daily becomes easy and habitual. 

3. Learn Kanji Radicals: 

Kanji signs are made up of characters called bushu, which are also known as kanji radicals. Radicals are kanji symbols or parts of a kanji character that stand alone. They can show what something means, give you a suggestion about how to say it. 

Learning radicals helps you understand how kanji characters are put together, what they mean, and how they are linked. You can build on it as you learn more Kanji, and it makes the process easier to understand and more fun. 

Here are some common Japanese radicals along with their meanings and example kanji characters:


RadicalMeaningExample KanjiMeaning of Example Kanji
人 (ひと)Person休 (やす)Rest
日 (ひ)Sun明 (あか)Bright
月 (つき)Moon朝 (あさ)Morning
木 (き)Tree林 (はやし)Woods
火 (ひ)Fire灰 (はい)Ashes
水 (みず)Water池 (いけ)Pond
山 (やま)Mountain岩 (いわ)Rock


4. Practice Writing kanjis: 

In order to reinforce our understanding of Kanjis, it's essential to always practice kanji characters on a daily basis. It's advisable to use the practice sheets that shows the correct strokes order. If you are not willing to practice the kanjis on paper, there are various useful kanji learning applications available, like Kaizen, which allows you to practice kanji strokes on your phone. 

5. Learn Stroke Orders: 

Many things can be done better by learning the stroke order of Kanji. For beginners, it makes sure that your writing is correct and easy to read by making sure that the strokes are placed in the right order and direction. Second, knowing the order of strokes helps you recognize and tell characters apart since even small changes can justify similar Kanji apart. It also enables you to remember symbols because learning stroke order improves both your visual and physical memories. In calligraphy, the order of the strokes is also important for making the writing look better and more balanced. Overall, knowing the order of strokes makes writing kanji more accurate, helps you recognize characters, helps you remember them, and makes it look better.

6. Make use of flashcards: 

You should learn to read Kanji just as much as you learn to write them. Apps for your phone, like Anki or Flashcards Deluxe, make it easy to practice reading kanji. A unique method called "spaced repetition" is used in these apps to help you remember Kanji better. 

To use it, make your flashcards with Kanji on one side and their meanings or how to say them on the other. You can also make worksheets with phrases that use Kanji or try writing things in your Language in Kanji. Spaced repeat is great because it changes based on what you do. It will happen less often if you get a kanji right. But if you need help with a certain symbol, it will show up more often until you get it right. 

These apps make it fun and easy to learn Kanji that fits your needs. Try it out and see how 
much better you can read! 


Mastering kanji is essential for anyone willing to understand and use Japanese effectively. By starting with basic Japanese words and gradually incorporating Kanji into your studies, setting realistic goals, learning Kanji radicals, practicing writing with correct stroke orders, and using flashcards for reinforcement, you can steadily improve your Kanji proficiency. These strategies not only prepare you for the JLPT but also enhance your overall reading and writing abilities in Japanese. Consistency and dedication to daily practice are key to success. 

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