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Top five JLPT N3 Books

We want you to succeed, so we’ve put together a list of JLPT N3 of the best books to prepare to pass the JLPT N3.

2018年07月17日 - 4 minutes read

By Gabriel J. Pérez Irizarry
Posted in My Japanese Journey

If you’ve passed the JLPT N4 or are feeling confident enough to go straight to the JLPT N3, congratulations! Since we want you to succeed, we’ve put together a list of the best books to prepare for the JLPT N3.

Different types of learners need different types of books so we did our best to cater to that with our book choices. With a mix of cultural, comprehensive, and N3 directed books there’s something on this list for every intermediate Japanese student.

General Intermediate Japanese Textbooks

For learners who prefer a more comprehensive approach, there are two textbooks that we recommend. Neither of these books was written purposely to help you pass the JLPT N3, but they are both informational and engaging enough to get you to your goal.

Tobira Gateway to Intermediate Japanese

This textbook is marketed to those who have two hundred to three hundred hours of Japanese learning under their belts. It uses a well-structured chapter design that keeps attention without losing any informational impact.

If you’re a visual learner, Tobira is a great choice. It has illustrations, photos, and even manga to help put the information into context. There are dialogues and reading passages in each chapter followed by vocabulary list and grammar points.

Those who love this book cite it as being fun without being too easy and enjoy the Japanese language immersion. The small amount of English in this book is only found in the vocabulary and grammar explanations, so it feels like a real Japanese course.

Those who aren’t fans find problems with the lack of help for Kanji practice and exercises in the book. There is a workbook that may be purchased alongside the text that has both the missing aspects, but it needs to be bought separately.

Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese

If you’re looking for a culturally structured Japanese textbook, consider the Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese. It’s challenging without being overwhelming and the dialogues and reading passages are based on Japanese culture.

The chapters start with culture points followed by dialogue and a lengthy (but do-able) reading passage. The glossary follows with both Kanji and Furigana while the grammar section is presented at the end.

There aren’t many complaints about this book, other than that the grammar explanations are on the shorter side. However, those who found the grammar explanations lacking were able to supplement with online information and move forward in the book.

Unlike Tobira, practice exercises are included in this book at the end of each chapter. They move at an easy-to-follow pace while still being challenging enough to help you learn. With its cultural theme, this book is perfect for those who learn by real-life context that’s then broken into smaller chunks.

JLPT N3 Focused Books

We know that learning a new language is time consuming and some would like to focus directly on test preparation. The books that follow are directed towards helping you pass the JLPT N3 tests with flying colors. Learners who don’t have as much time, or those who already have finished textbooks but would like some reinforcement, might prefer this type of book!


The TRY! Book series were written to be fun and engaging for students with a large range of expertise. They are available for each level of the JLPT and get great reviews from people who use them.

The grammar lessons in this book are structured by similar situations, instead of the classic foreign language book method. Most people find this to be a refreshing take on grammar instruction, but there are some who find the change hard to adjust to.

After the grammar is presented it is shown in a few different contexts, to help students get a better idea of it’s usage.

Furigana and Kanji are present, but without making you depend overwhelmingly on a dictionary. Even with the contextual grammar sections, some students found they needed more in depth and traditional explanations.

Nihongo Sō-Matome

Efficient or time-pressed students love Nihongo Sō-Matome’s structure which is half textbook and half study guide. The book is written to be completed in six weeks, and expects students to study every day.

This book teaches you what is on the test with very little else. Students who are no-nonsense and deadline driven love this book, but it’s “get it done” structure can be lacking in the details of grammar explanations.

Shin Kanzen Master N3

This book is popular with students who learn through doing exercises, which it has many of. Often compared side to side with the book above, it wins out for students who need more explanation than Nihongo Sō-Matome provides.

There is a small content difference between these two books, but Shin Kanzen Master goes into a more detailed explanation for each point. Students who like this book appreciate it’s dedication to small but important details on grammar usage in different situations.

There aren’t many complaints about this book and those that exist stem from differences in learning styles.

Closing words

Now that you know what options are on the market, we hope you found the right option for your life and learning styles. Additional learning tools and native Japanese content are great additions to your study schedule when you need a break from traditional methods.

Good luck on the N3, we can’t wait to hear how you do!