The easiest Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), N5, measures an elementary level of language proficiency. This exam tests the simple reading and listening abilities of some basic Japanese.


It tests literary knowledge of approximately 100 kanji, as well as hiragana and katakana (two sets of the same phonetics written in different characters). Students should master their reading skills in hiragana and katakana to successfully pass the N5. It tests literary proficiency in both, despite the fact that hiragana is used more frequently in Japanese than katakana. The N5 tests literacy of about 100 kanji used in the most basic level of typical expressions and sentences. Most of these kanji will be shown on the test with furigana, which shows the phonetics of the kanji above it in hiragana (EX: 山(やま)). Knowing the phonetic sound of the kanji is not as important as knowing what it means.

Students studying Japanese in a classroom
Although the N5 is the easiest JLPT, it still requires about an 800-word vocabulary. The reading section will ask questions that test comprehension, not just literary ability, so studying basic Japanese terminology and vocabulary is important to pass. Luckily, test takers will not need to write kanji, hiragana, or katakana on the N5, or any JLPT for that matter.


The listening section of the N5 tests one’s ability to comprehend short conversations about day-to-day topics in familiar situations. The audio is spoken at a slow pace so that necessary information is identifiable to test takers. Since this is the easiest test, the topics will be limited to simple scenarios that utilize typical expressions that are taught at the beginner level.

Studying Japanese phrasing and words

Study Methods

Students who have studied introductory Japanese likely have textbooks from their course of study. Most of these textbooks have audio CDs attached. Using these as study tools is highly recommended – the conversations in these CDs are a basic guideline for what the listening section of the N5 will be like.

For the reading section, studying the vocabulary and reading sections of textbooks and making flashcards is recommended. A strong focus should be put on hiragana and katakana because this is where N5 takers are prone to making simple mistakes. The JLTP website and many others provide quizzes and helpful study materials that can aid in preparation for both sections as well. These websites are often created by people who have taken and passed all 5 JLPT. Therefore, they are reliable sources of information and tools that one would need to successfully study for and pass the N5.

The Japanese Language Proficiency Test N5 is a useful benchmark for students to gauge their basic abilities in Japanese. A firm knowledge of hiragana and katakana along with a grasp of basic kanji uses and meanings are essential to passing the reading section. For the listening section, comprehension of slowly spoken basic conversation is needed. Studying for the N5 is made much easier by utilizing textbooks and internet sources so students can increase their chances of passing.