My Japanese NAT 4Q Test Preparation and Experience

2022.01.25

As someone who has completed the NAT N4 exam, I would like to share the preparation, procedures, and exam tips based on my experience going through the exam. In India, we are familiar with two exams: JLPT and NAT to measure the Japanese language skills. Both the exams have their profound expertise to judge one’s language proficiency. One can choose exams based on their preference and baseline requirements of work.

Precursory to my 4Q Attempt

Mastering any language is an Art and it's never easy, it needs passion and determined discipline to keep up with the pace. Generally, to attempt NAT N4, there is a recommendation of approximately 400 hours of practice. Soon after my college in the year 2020, starting from September, I've had 300 hours of online Japanese Training combined for N5 and N4. Then my work started in December 2020, since then I have been revising Japanese in my free time.

NAT 4Q Booking Procedure

I booked the NAT N4 level exam for December 2021 in Chennai, India. For scheduling your exam check in the official website for available locations, and based on your nearby location, email the concerned venue secretariat expressing your interest to write the exam. Then they would reply in your acceptance to fill a couple of documents and do the payment accordingly. Then a week before the exam one shall receive the admission ticket to the exam. That's all, you are all set with the booking.

NAT Paper Pattern

The focus of the exam is mainly on vocabulary, grammar patterns, kanji recognition, reading comprehension, and listening comprehension. The paper has 3 sections, and the exam requires us to clear each section with at least a 25% score to clear the overall exam. To know more about the exam content and passing criteria, visit this link.

Section 1 : Vocabulary

This section focuses on vocabulary. One would be asked to identify the right hiragana reading for the kanji that's underlined and the vise-versa. This type of question may seem easy because the answer is already there, but it's equally tricky because a small stroke difference can all together mean a different kanji. For instance, below is a question from a modal paper.

Kanji Question This section also has questions to fill the blanks with the right words based on the context. Hence the meaning of the vocabulary is very important. In addition to this, we shall have questions that would ask us to interpret the sentence in the question and choose the options that make similar sense.

Section 2 : Listening

This section focuses on listening skills. There are questions based on conversations, dialogues, image identification based on listening comprehension. Since NAT follows the same pattern as JLPT, I'd suggest you take a look at online resources for catching up with the speed and intonation.

Section 3 : Grammar and Reading

This section focuses on grammar and reading skills. This includes long and thematic comprehension-based questions. Also question forms like fill in the blanks, jumbled words patterns to test grammatical proficiency.

To have a better idea about the sections and paper pattern of NAT, I'd suggest checking this sample questions and mock JLPT paper.

My preparation

To be honest, the first round is never sufficient to grasp all the grammatical concepts. The regular revision or regular verbal usage of all the topics will eventually help us to express ourselves better in the language. Japanese has 3 scripts: Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. From an exam perspective all three of them play a major role.

I booked my exam approximately a month before the exam date. I believe planning based on our schedule and prioritizing important tasks will help us yield better results. Below is my schedule for preparation. I would like to share it so that you can gauge the rough preparation time. But this timetable of mine, would not work for the first-timers. Since my full-fledged training during 2020, I have had my Japanese learning on and off weekly (approximately thrice a week). This is my revision schedule, focusing mainly on the exam point of view.

Resources and Applications Used

Vocabulary

My vocabulary learning process is simple. While learning grammar from the Minna no Nihongo book or when I come across a new word, I write them separately with meanings and revise regularly. Specifically, if I should list out words for N4, refer to the link below.

  • https://www.jlptstudy.net/N4/?vocab-list
  • Additionally, I used the below applications to learn words.

  • https://www.duolingo.com/learn
  • Grammar

    Since my training institute followed the Minna no Nihongo series for N5 and N4 training, I used the same ooks for my revision as well. But there are many other resources available online for grammar. I believe more than which resource, proper understanding of grammar usage is important. Below is the complete N5 and N4 Minna no Nihongo book series with an explanation on youtube.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gi2AeYO-g8E&list=PLag_mhJfCJ-18WyYoklCPxIpYbeRgmWLJ
  • Kanji

    Kanji plays a major role in exam papers, you need not have to know how to write it but should be able to recognize and read it. The applications listed below helped me to regularly practice kanji.

  • https://www.tuttlepublishing.com/japanese-kanji-for-beginners-audio-pdfs-online-software
  • https://www.wanikani.com/dashboard
  • https://hire39.com/origin-of-kanji
  • Listening

    I used the JLPT listening series available on youtube as NAT had none as such. Since NAT also follows a similar pattern, it should be fine. Below are some links that I referred to.

  • https://soundcloud.com/user-749815849/sets/minna-no-nihongo-ii-26-50
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shMezSrVfig
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WSp9fTezeA
  • Tests and Sample Papers

    It's equally important to test our progress. Below are a few links to test your progress in vocabulary, grammar, and kanji. it also includes a mock paper, please checkout to understand the pattern.

  • https://sethclydesdale.github.io/genki-study-resources/
  • http://www.studykanji.net/kanjiquiz/chrome
  • https://japanesetest4you.com/category/jlpt-n4/
  • https://www.jlpt.jp/e/samples/sample09.html
  • Tips and tricks.

    For better results, I would like to share my tips:

  • Rather than just learning, do exam types of preparations like solving mock papers. This way you will get used to the paper pattern.
  • While learning words, make simple sentences using that word, it shall help us to remember longer.
  • For Kanji, use pictorial documents, it's fun and easy to remember.
  • Though exams or today’s scenario don't require us to write Kanjis anywhere, I think remembering each minute stroke is hard. A small stroke change can mean a different Kanji. Writing Kanjis in these initial days until we understand each radical will help us differentiate further Kanjis easily.
  • Study, discuss and talk with friends, this shall motivate us to study. We shall also end up learning more while discussing.