Any tips on how to self study Kanzen Master N4 series in 4 months?

Might sound silly at this stage if I’ve only got a few months to study (4 to be exact) but does anyone have any tips for how to work through the N4 kanzen master series? Anyone used them before and found a study plan that worked for them that they might like to share?

I’m planning to take N4 JLPT in December this year starting using Kanzen master as of next week (beginning of August) so that will give me 4 months exactly to work through all 5 books. The books only arrived today or I’d have started earlier.

From what I can tell, the grammar and vocabulary books are the thickest so may take the most time, the listening seems to be the shortest so I should be able to get that done in around a week with a refresher later on, the reading and kanji ones are about middle of the road but may take a bit of getting used to. Only the listening and the vocabulary books have suggestions for how much to study at one time, the rest leave it to the student but I’ve never studied for something like this before.

I’m unsure if I should try working through each book individually one at a time before moving to the next or if I should try to do a section of each one in each study session then move onto the next section in each book working through them together instead of separately (similar to how I worked through the MNN chapters in each book one chapter per week).

The first option, I risk missing out a book or sections in the last book if I don’t manage to keep up but should still have covered most if not all the content in other ways, the second option, I risk missing out sections in all the books if I’m not quick enough getting through them all. I’m leaning more towards working through one at a time but just looking for suggestions incase anyone else has a better suggestion or incase they can give me info from their own experiences that may help me decide on a better course of action.

1 Like

They’re all split up into little lessons, right? (I’m not 100% sure as I’ve only ever used the grammar ones). But if so just count them and make a schedule that you think is feasible with your personal speed and other obligations. Like give yourself x amount of lessons to do per day or something.

Not for this book series but general tips for prepping for standardised tests:
  • Do a mock test first.
  • See where your weak points are specifically.
  • Focus on that.
  • Do a second mock test half-way through.
  • Re-check where your weak points are.
  • Focus on that.

If you have a lot of mock tests available, you could theoretically also do one every month or even every week for getting used to the format.
You could also theoretically break up the mock test and do grammar on day 1, listening on 2 day, etc. but I’d recommend doing everything at once, so your brain is used to having to switch from 1 skill to the next.
Make sure you time yourself during the mock test. Time is often what breaks the camel’s back.

Good luck! :slight_smile:


There are mock tests in the Kanzen Master books so those will help with that.


I would be tempted to balance them, perhaps slightly front-loading the grammar and listening? It depends on your preference but you will effectively be practising and expanding your vocabulary and kanji by default with those two, so you should get through the vocabulary and kanji a bit faster. It depends on what your preferences are, but I feel like grammar is probably the most time-consuming for me to get my head around.


That sounds like plenty. I usually started panicking about two weeks before when I realize I hadn’t studied anything specific :smile:.

Also not really for this series

I would second @Biblio. Take a test now and see where your weak points are. Then you know what to focus on and not “waste” time on stuff you know well. I thought Genki 2 takes you pretty far for N4 so you could theoretically even be quite OK with the test?

I find it also important to remember keep having fun and having other goals than the JLPT. Only focusing on JLPT can be a bit demotivating at least.


I have completed Genki 1 & 2 as well as all of みんなの日本語 red series (still need to restart the blue series but think i completed almost half of them before switching to Genki) but my problem is repetition. Flash cards don’t help me and I’ve found my best way to learn is by re-doing textbooks and their exercises to try to help the grammar and vocabulary stick. It worked with みんなの日本語 but not so much with Genki because I was switching back and forth between languages.

There are tests in the Kanzen Master books but the mock tests I’ve done before place me at lower N3. The older ones vary greatly, some I’m passing N4 without issue, some I’m not. I know vocabulary from N4 up is an issue, as is grammar (mostly because I don’t know the vocabulary.

Taking the JLPT is just to prove to myself that I can do it. It’s not an end goal, just something to work towards in the grand scheme of things and it’ll give me a feel for what to expect going forwards. Also hoping it helps me pull my foundations up to N4 to give a better understanding of the earlier grammar and vocabulary for me to build upon if that makes sense.


Back in the day I used to do 2 pages a day (4 if I was feeling more ambitious and had extra time. You could probably do 2 pages between each set of books. Or divide it by sections/lesson. 4 months should be more than enough time.


Random thought: Just realised the patterns on the front of the books are Sashiko patterns previously used for mending or decorating fabrics.


I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that. Honestly, the stuff in N5 and N4 is so common you’ll encounter it all the time doing anything in Japanese. I think one’s “foundation” will improve more if you learn new stuff compared to just repeating what you have already done. It’s impossible to master the basics, and some of the grammar only starts to really make sense later.

Sorry for the off-topic and unsolicited advice :melting_face: .


Agreed. Keep moving forward, and you’ll see the N5/N4 stuff enough that it eventually just kind of fades into the background, and you won’t even think of it as “something I need to reinforce”, but just as the scaffolding surrounding the stuff you’re actually not sure about. “I know what [N4 point] and [N5 point] are doing here, which means that this section (N3 point) is the only thing keeping me from understanding” kind of thing.


That’s cool, and thank you for the advice, it’s still appreciated :blush: Sometimes advice helps me to figure out different ways to do things that I may not have thought about.

I know I won’t master the basics this way (since there’s always something new to learn) but doing stuff like this works better for me than flash cards and things like Anki, almost like this is my intensive reading so I can then do extensive reading when I’ve shorter time periods so I get more out of it. It gives me more practice to try to internalise the grammar and vocabulary in smaller context with ways to check my understanding without wasting my speaking time with my tutor trying to get writing checked for correct grammar and vocabulary usage.

But yeah, I know it’s not perfect and probably seems like a big waste of time but there’s a lot of N4 stuff I’m coming across that I cannot recall or recognise without help even though I’ve been self studying now for around 3 years. It has been helping so far with picking up certain filler words and also some particle uses that I was struggling a little with even though I’d read up on them countless times.


That’s part of the problem though, although I’ve read up on the N4 stuff through Genki and some of the red set of MNN, I don’t recall it because I don’t learn through just reading the explanations, I need examples and my brain needs to puzzle out “why this way and not that way?” Sort of thing.

I do understand I need to move on to higher level stuff but first I need to understand the stuff I should know by now but hasn’t sunk in yet :sweat_smile: that’s part of the reason I switched from MNN to Genki was because I wasn’t understanding the MNN stuff at the higher level so thought I’d get the gist from Genki but it didn’t actually help, it only cemented what I already knew and I’m still struggling with the upper half of N4 stuff. I think that’s why the practice tests I’ve been doing have been so all over the place with my scores, because I’m not understanding the foundations properly.

I don’t intend to stay at this level though, I will be going back to the blue MNN books after the exam so by then I should have a decent grasp of N4 since N5 I’m just missing a little of the vocabulary that I didn’t know before.