Skip to content

Issue 15: J-Book Review

April 11, 2010


Studying for JLPT this year? Then you would want to use these〜!


explanation-3awhitere you studying Japanese and planning to take the JLPT this upcoming summer or year’s end? Whether it’s for a job, your own satisfaction or just showing off, passing that JLPT is what everyone’s hoping for. And working towards that goal isn’t something that happens overnight and requires a lot of dedication to your study not to mention long nightly hours over books accompanied by gallons of extra strong coffee. We’ve all been there (I even did what a lot of Chinese students do, go out during the snow in mid Januari and study at the 暖かい 24/7 McDonalds at 2 am in the morning, your clothes with smell lovely like french fries afterwards). So how do you actually prepare yourself then in order to increase your chances of passing the Japanese proficiency test?

explanation-3aStudying for JLPT
If you’re studying for that JLPT, one of the best ways to prepare yourself is by doing tests of previous years or drill quizzes.『にほんご500』are a set of three books for JLPT quiz drilling. The first book is aimed at people planning to take JLPT N5-N4, book 2 is for N3-N2 and the last book aimed at N1 test takers. The book let’s you drill『文字』,『語彙』and『文法』and are set up in a handy and straightforward (no fuss, love that) way.

Book Usage
The book is designed to be used over a course of four weeks. Each day you do a set of 15 questions, 5『文字』, 5『語彙』and 5『文法』questions. Each page is divided into 3 sections and features one『文字』,『語彙』and『文法』question each. The answers can be found on the following page including detailed explanation like kanji meanings, word usage and grammar points for each of the sections. You can also put a right or wrong mark after you’ve checked each question. Till day 6 you will have finished a total of 90 questions, and on day 7 you do a mini test of 12 questions, covering material from day 1-6.


explanation-3aAfter this you count the number of correct marks and fill in a score card found at the beginning of each week. This let’s you keep track as you can do the questions again, mark the correct answers again, compare and see if you made any progress. If you feel like you’re lacking in the vocabulary or grammar department, you could choose to drill only just that particular section.

Extra Features
Apart from English and Chinese explanations, the book also features a list of Portugese and Korean translation of the questions found at the back of the book. A kanji list with stroke count for all kanji appearing in each book is also included as well as a word list (grouped conveniently by kind such as nouns, adjectives, verbs etc.). Finally, another list featuring grammar and sentence patterns nicely ordened by kana can also be found.


Anybody looking to do some JLPT style drilling will find these books very handy. Not only does the slightly-larger-than-handbook size let’s you read it anywhere (I often grab it when I do no. 2, for real), the layout, the clear explanations and just 15 questions per day doesn’t make it feel like a heavy load in terms of studying. Clearly a lot of thought and detail went into the books and its clever study system makes it a complete package for those wishing to strengthen their『文字』,『語彙』and『文法』skills. Finishing the book over the course of 4 weeks leaves you plenty of time to study other things till the upcoming JLPT. Anybody also thinking of taking this year’s proficiency test, 一緒に頑張りましょうか

Book Info
title: にほんご500 (book 1 初級 • book 2 中級 • book 3 上級)
pages: book 1: 296 • book 2: 310 • book 3: 293
dimensions: 20.8 x 15.2 cm
extra: n/a
language: Japanese – English – Chinese – Korean – Portugese
publisher: ASK (
ISBN: book 1: 978-4872176889 • book 2: 978-4-87217-699-5 • book 3: 978-4-87217-708-4
special Chokochoko rating: 90%

27 Comments leave one →
  1. Jacki permalink
    April 12, 2010 4:31 am

    I don’t know if I’ll ever end up taking any level of the JLPT. I just don’t see how that helps exactly. The material used for people buffing up on the test however, is another matter. I’m totally down with that (anything to learn, right?). I’m still a lower intermediate though, so I don’t think that a book at this level will be something I could use to most of its extent right now. It’s something to write down for the future though ^_^

    By the way, I noticed the calender you have on the right hand side of the site right about the categories. I recognize the card sets, but I don’t know about the other stuff going on in the graphic. What is that keeping track of exactly?

    • April 12, 2010 9:40 am

      Hi Jacki, thanks for dropping by! I guess everybody has their own reasons for taking the JLPT be it needing it for a job, be it for one’s own self satisfaction etc. Since there’s a book for each level, the ‘beginner’ book for JLPT N5-N4 might be something for you then 🙂

      As for the ‘calender’, it’s actually my study ‘progress chart’. The three books I’m using currently, each cover grammar, reading and listening respectively. Each square is one lesson in the book and the kanji used in the mark means ‘finished’.

      Anyways, fyi,

      花丸 (はなまる) = gold star (the ones kids get in school for good work)
      勉強 (べんきょう) = study
      成績 (せいせき) = results
      表 (ひょう) = chart
      文法 (ぶんぽう) = grammar
      読解 (どっかい) = reading comprehension
      聴解 (ちょうかい) = listening comprehension
      課 (か) = lesson
      終 (しゅう) = finish
      漢字 (かんじ) = kanji

      • Jacki permalink
        April 17, 2010 6:39 am

        Oh wow! You are super generous with the information, dude. Thanks a lot! ^_^

      • Jacki permalink
        April 17, 2010 6:41 am

        Also, that’s a great idea. I think I’m going to have to utilize something similar since I don’t have a serious method of tracking my progress in any of my books.

      • April 17, 2010 11:01 am

        Well, how about your blog? Isnt that one big tracking method? 🙂

      • Jacki permalink
        April 18, 2010 2:18 am

        Hmm, well, I haven’t blogged in quite a looong time, but I could start up one again. Not a bad idea!

  2. Nik permalink
    April 12, 2010 6:09 pm

    Glad to see you’re back!! I’m really diggin’ the new feel/expanded look of the website. 🙂 I look forward to seeing more!

    • April 12, 2010 6:34 pm

      OMG it took you this long…?! 😛 Hows the study? (not Japanese I mean) I can’t wait to see some of your design stuff!

  3. April 16, 2010 11:02 pm

    Thanks for this post!! I’m not doing JLPT, but I find my Uni work quite difficult, looks like these books might be good practice (the drills look really useful!)

    • April 17, 2010 11:14 am

      They are very useful! What kind of uni work do you mean? You studying Japanese in uni?

      • April 18, 2010 12:31 am

        Hi thanks for replying 🙂 Yeah I study BA Japanese and History in London…it’s a pretty intensive course. I always find that grammar points escape me…I’m a “It sounds right if I say…” kinda gal ^^ I think the drills are a good idea too.

      • April 18, 2010 9:33 am

        Sounds like a awesome course! Well just take in everything bit by bit (you can never ‘rush’ a language) and don’t get swamped 🙂

  4. June 28, 2010 4:00 pm

    I’m taking JPLT this year, I failed my nikyuu (level 2) two years ago because it was just too difficult.

    I’m waiting for the new JPLT version because I want to take N3 , it’s between sankyuu and nikyuu, so I have confidence.

    This drilling book looks helpful, however I have no time to do any drilling.

    I’ll find my way to study…somehow. Kanji is the main problem here and N3 is so new I don’t know what to expect

    • June 28, 2010 5:21 pm

      Hey, I think you should just go for N2 and drop N3 (I mean, you’re two years further now right). Drilling is for people who don’t have time. Studying takes more time. Then again, drilling is about stuff you usually (or rather should) know. Study those kanji! They’re your best friend!

  5. aaninoue8 permalink
    September 21, 2010 4:36 pm

    Hi, the drill books look great. Where can I get the copy?Can i order it online?
    Thanks =)

  6. pan, peter permalink
    October 11, 2010 2:25 pm

    I saw this book in yokohama recently but was a bit confused about the grouping of N3 and N2. At first, it looked great, but if you finish the book, will you be ready for N2? Whats the benefit of putting two levels in one book?
    Isn’t it confusing?
    I currently study with the 日本語総まとめ collection, but I think it’s grammar and kanji part are not so good.

    • October 11, 2010 2:47 pm

      I guess it’s about the same as the previous L2, so I think they grouped it for that reason. I don’t think this book covers everything you need to know for N2 (no book does), and I don’t think thats the intention of this book, but what it does do is provide you with a good drilling session. See it as a good practise book rather than a ‘study’ book.

      • pan, peter permalink
        October 11, 2010 2:54 pm

        Thats what I am thinking about it. But I am somehow afraid that it might be depressing, if you studied for N3 and suddenly are confronted with questions about N2.

        If you tell me its not that big a deal, I will go buy it tomorrow, I really need some test practice. If I get started with it right away, I can do another book before the test 😛

    • October 11, 2010 3:04 pm

      Well, it is a book for N3 and N2, though it’s structured from N3 progressing to N2 (if I remember correctly). Still, the N2 stuff you’ll encounter is easy to understand (just because there are explanations following each question). It’s a really good practise book and besides, it ain’t that expensive 🙂
      Just go to the book store and take a peek inside, I think you’ll like the book (the way it’s structured and stuff). If you decide to buy it, let me know how you like it. Goodluck!

      • pan, peter permalink
        October 12, 2010 12:47 pm


        I went yurindo today and took a closer look. The last time I was in a hurry, just noticed it.
        Its a really good book with good questions and good explanations. I finished the first lesson in 10 minutes and was surprised, how easy it goes – but I think its going to be a lot more difficult… 😀

        Thanks for the review and making me buy the book – now I have something useful to do in MRT. 🙂

  7. Elliott permalink
    December 17, 2010 6:49 pm

    I used the 中級 version of this book as part of my preparation for N2 this year, and I really liked it a lot. It showed me all the information I didn’t know so I could study in a more focused manner. Although now that the test is over, I feel like the real test questions were harder than the questions in this book. What do you think?

    Also, have you tried the Unicom books? The Nikyuu kanji/vocab book was particularly useful for me.

    • December 18, 2010 2:01 pm

      I actually used the 中級 book (the pink one) as my main prep book for the test. I did manage to finish the book about a week before the test. As far as vocab and grammar, it was about the same, but the reading part was definitely harder than the questions in the book (maybe because the answers in the actual test were really long).

      Haven’t heard of the Unicom books, but I have way too many vocab/kanji practise books which I haven’t even touched yet. But I think the best way is to just stick to a book (albeit a good one) and finish it.

  8. Elliott permalink
    December 18, 2010 3:19 pm

    that’s true. you know, when I prepared I had the whole Kanzen Master set for 2Kyuu (vocab, kanji, grammar and reading books) and they were really helpful, especially the reading book. if you’re looking for a good 2kyuu specific reading workbook, I really recommend it.

    What other vocab books do you use?

    • December 19, 2010 2:46 pm

      Yeah I heard a lot of good things about those Kanzen Master books, also Kanji in Context. But there are so many good books out there, sometimes you don’t know what to get (cus they all seem good).

      I use a bunch of Chinese-Japanese vocab books (I bought a whole bunch when I was living in China), so you might not know them. But I particulary like this book series「日本語総まとめN2(nihongo so-matome JLPT N2)」(which I have the Chinese edition of). It’s a set of 4 books to study grammar, vocab, reading and kanji. (you can preview them on

  9. annon permalink
    September 4, 2013 10:16 am

    Haha, I laughed at your description of what Chinese students do to study… It seems as though McDonalds is one of the places they go to to study? When I was in China I didn’t see many people going into the 24 hour breakfast places although I did see (and disturb) a large number of people going into McDonalds at 6am after a group of us had been out clubbing all night… I am sure we got more than a few death glares!

  10. thuyntk58 permalink
    September 17, 2014 5:53 pm

    This site has a lot of material to learn Japanese

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: