Just a heads up, but I have not been able to take the JLPT exam yet. In this review I am sharing my studying experience and comparing it to other study resources available.
500 Practice Questions for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) Level N2: New Edition(新にほんご500問 N2) written by Noriko Matsumoto and Hitoko Sasaki. This book is part of the Nihongo Sou Matome JLPT textbook series. It is a popular series known for its ease of use. Each textbook is broken down into days to help the learner develop and maintain a good study pace. While it is easy to use, this book series is also known for being the easiest JLPT textbook series content wise as well. I am usually more concerned with getting a good amount of content and study time out of the books I invest in, so the main series that I use for JLPT is Shin Kanzen Master(新完全マスター). This is my first time using a book from the Nihongo Sou Matome series.
My partner bought this book for me in a random book store while they were visiting family in Japan. The book was purchased for 1,200 yen(~$12) plus some extra for tax. I have seen this book available in America at Kinokuniya for around $18.
The set up
Just as the title suggests, it is a drill book that contains 500 JLPT practice questions aimed at the N2 level. The chapters are structured for the reader to finish the book in 4 weeks. Each page is pretty much the same set up. There are three questions per page and go in the order of kanji, vocabulary, and then grammar. The 7th day of the week has 6 questions per day with no explanations on the back of the page. This is a review of topics covered in the first 6 days of the week. All of the questions are multiple choice, giving you 4 options to choose from just like the JLPT. On the other side of each page directly behind the each question, there is the sentence completed with the correct answer. The kanji and vocabulary questions answer sheet will have readings or definitions of the other choices that were incorrect. On the grammar answer sheet, there will be a short explanation of the correct grammar point and example sentences for the incorrect choices. The explanations are written in 3 languages, English, Chinese and Korean.
I enjoyed using this book along with the other JLPT resources that I have both purchased and found online for free. I used to bring the book to work with me and use it when I had some down time.
It actually highlighted a weakness to myself that I have never realized before. I rely too much on kanji. For the vocabulary questions, often the words were only written in hiragana and I had a hard time “recognizing” some of the words that I thought I knew. Like I knew them right away when I saw the kanji for the term, but even with the context of the practice question I was sometimes bot able to recall the meaning of the word when seeing it in hiragana. I am really grateful for this book for pointing this out to me.
I did feel that the book was limited due to the fact that all of the practice questions followed the same structure. I had other sources of practice questions so it didn’t really bother me that much. Even with that issue, the book did cover a large range of topics. I do prefer the questions from Shin Kanzen Master series, but I treat this book as a light way to study when I am too tired for the more serious stuff. If I had a redo, I do not think that I would purchase this book again(even though I already have this book for the N1 level as well).
This is a good light practice book to help you fit in a few different topics a day. All of the questions within each category are the same set up and there is a serious lack of variety. This is a good book for those who already have a main source of JLPT studies decided and are looking for an extra book to add. I do not recommend this book to those on a budget. I especially do not recommend it for people who are living outside of Japan as I feel that $18 is too high of a cost for this book. I feel happy about the $12 I spend on it, so maybe it might be a better choice for those who are living in Japan. For those who are looking for more varied practice question, I think that the Shin Kanzen series and Japanesetest4you.com are both sources that have a large amount of diverse questions focused on helping you to pass the JLPT.