15 JLPT N2 Books for Advanced Japanese Learners

The JLPT N2 is considered the benchmark for professional Japanese fluency. Having the certificate shows that you can communicate and understand conversations with business colleagues and clients at a deeper level. 

In other words, the N2 is the level set as the “bare minimum” if you want to build a scalable career in Japan. 

However, the gap between one JLPT level with the other gets progressively bigger — likewise, N3 to N2. The JLPT N2 is divided into three sections: language knowledge, reading comprehension, and listening comprehension. Each section is scored out of 60 marks, and to pass you need at least 30 marks in each section.

The vocabulary list for the N2 consists of roughly 6,000 words – around 2,500 more than the N3 — but the vocabulary isn’t the only challenge. A lot of test-takers fail at reading sections. Why? Because you are expected to understand the contents of newspapers, magazines or research papers filled with industry-specific vocabularies. 

If you’re looking for the right study materials to ace the exam, we recommend these 15 JLPT N2 books. It will be a mix of vocabulary books, workbooks and textbooks.  

If you want to increase your success rate and achieve the test score you want, we can help you. Check out our in-person or online JLPT prep courseWe also online JLPT self-study courses for motivated individuals to help them pass the exam. By subscribing at 900 JPY a month (around 8 USD), you’ll get full access to all our JLPT self-study bundles.

JLPT N2 Bundles or All-in-One Study Book: Which is Right For Me?

Some books cover all aspects of the test, while there will be books that focus on certain areas (like reading or kanji), so it’s good to think about your study plan first before finding a good mix of materials  — you can’t rely on one book alone.

Buying a JLPT N2 book series will be more expensive, where each test section is made into individual parts instead of being compiled into one giant textbook, but you’ll get the complete study material because you will have more chance to dive deep into each test element (for example, there’s a book dedicated to just kanji, or grammar, or reading). On the other hand, it’s easy to feel disorganized with so many things to keep track of.

One textbook or workbook that contains all JLPT sections might be a good match. It’s also cheaper, but because it tries to cover everything within one book, you’re more likely to receive fewer mock questions and detailed explanations.

A good tip is to rely on a mix of books. For example, if you’re good at kanji, you don’t necessarily need to buy a textbook dedicated to it. You can instead buy a grammar-focused N2 book. At the same time, buy an all-around JLPT guide. You can’t depend on one book or one source alone.

In the meantime, check out one of our students’ experiences in passing the JLPT N2.

Jump to:

  1. Try! JLPT N2 Grammar
  2. Goukaku Dekiru JLPT N2
  3. Shinkanzen Master JLPT N2
  4. Nihongo Power Drill N2
  5. Nihongo Sou Matome N2
  6. Shin Nihongo 500 Mon JLPT N2
  7. Intro to JLPT N2 Practice Tests 
  8. JLPT Official Practice Workbook N2
  9. Pattern-Betsu Tettei Drill JLPT N2)
  10. 2500 Essential Vocabulary for the JLPT N2
  11. JLPT N2 Questions Speed Master
  12. JLPT N1 and N2 Shiken Ni Deru
  13. Drill and Drill JLPT N2 
  14. Last-minute Preparations JLPT N2
  15. The Best Practice Tests for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test N2

TRY! 日本語能力試験 N2 文法から伸ばす日本語 改訂版 (Try! JLPT N2 Grammar)

try jlpt n2 grammar book

The Try! textbook series is a popular grammar book among JLPT students. We’ve seen a lot of great reviews that complement the book’s well-designed structure. The book provides brief grammar explanations in both Japanese and English. It’s designed to teach you all the N2-level grammar within listening, speaking, reading and writing. Technically speaking, it is a grammar book, but you will also practice reading and listening comprehension through the questions — talk about killing two (actually, make that four) birds with one stone.

A unique selling point is the “When-to-Use” marks, which explain when to use certain expressions in real life. There are 14 chapters in total, each focusing on communication in practical situations. You’ll also get a booklet for answer keys and listening scripts.

There’s a downside, though. Because the book tries to keep the structure clean and simple, it summarizes only the essential points. Explanations are in-depth, but if you’re looking for quantity (because you can never be too careful with N2 grammars), we recommend pairing Try! N2 textbook with the Shinkanzen Master (more of that below), which is more comprehensive.  

Buy on Amazon (¥1,980 JPY) or OMG Japan ($21.70 USD)

合格できる日本語能力試験 N2 (Goukaku Dekiru JLPT N2)

goukaku dekiru jlpt n2 book

Besides the Try! JLPT N2 series, self-study learners will opt for the Goukaku Dekiru JLPT N2 book too. This book commits to all parts of the JLPT N2 level and includes two CDs for the listening section. This is a practice test book and not necessarily a study guide, so don’t expect to see a lot of explanations.

The main benefit of this book is that it’s a great way to find out your weak and strong points. The book provides a lot of practice questions, so over time, you’ll build confidence to practice. In total, the workbook consists of two parts for each test section: grammar, kanji, vocabulary, reading and listening comprehension Part one conditions you to get familiar with the JLPT through 663 problems in total. The second part is the review. You’ll receive answer keys and scripts, so don’t worry about feeling left behind.

This book is perfect for:

  • Students who want to focus on all JLPT N2 test sections, instead of just one
  • Students who want to self-study and get familiar with the general JLPT N2 structure. This book is a great starting point. It’s not too intimidating, but it doesn’t slack you off either.

Buy on Amazon (¥2,420 JPY) or Kinokuniya Web Store

新完全マスタ 日本語能力試験N2 (Shinkanzen Master JLPT N2)

shinkanzen master jlpt n2

If you’re the type who wants to get the highest JLPT N2 test score possible, choose the Shin Kanzen Masuta Bunpo Nihongo Noryoku Shiken N2. In fact, a lot of JLPT prep courses — including Coto Academy — use the Shin Kanzen Master JLPT N2. Why? Because the textbook covers a lot of grammar points. So many, in fact, that it can be too intense. The book has 37 lessons, divided into three structures: grammar questions and an overview of how to solve them; a series of exercises and more interesting questions; and a final mock test. 

For a start, there’s no English translation in the Shinkanzen Master JLPT N2. Instead, new words come with a short phrase and explanation so you can learn them — in Japanese. You’re then conditioned to use these words with exercises and unique questions. 

Still, can be annoying and time-consuming to check all the new words. On the other hand, because it’s so packed, you’ll find the Shin Kanzen series introducing more words (around 2,200 new vocabularies). According to the publisher, it “ensures continued strengthening of the learner’s ability in grammar, but also his/her overall ability at the advanced level.”

Shinkanzen Master has four JLPT preparation textbooks, each focusing on different elements with the same intensity: reading (dokkai), listening (choukai), kanji and vocabulary (goi). 

This book is perfect if:

  • You are looking to study intensively. This book compiles everything you need to know for the JLPT N2, so it’s very comprehensive and effective.
  • You can dedicate more time to prepare for the test.

Available Shin Kanzen Master JLPT N2 books:

You can buy the complete set on OMG Japan ($95 USD)

Nihongo Power Drill N2

power drill n2 book

The Nihongo Power Drill N2 is designed for learners who need more grammar practice, with over 30 lessons that you must complete in 10 minutes (you’re supposed to time yourself) to reinforce you to answer the questions rapidly — something you must do in the real JLPT. There’s a total of 580 problems. 470 of them mimic the real JLPT exam, while the other 100 focus on building your grammar strength. 

This book is perfect:

  • If your study plan for the JLPT N2 is to go over bit by bit, instead of learning everything at once.
  • If you’re a busy person. The book only needs you to spare 10 minutes everyday.
  • The Nihongo Power Drill Nihongo sets daily and weekly learning target, which is perfect for individuals who still need more solid guides.

Available Nihongo Power Drill N2 books:

Psst… Hey! Quick reminder

Our JLPT N2 Kanji Course, Workbook and Cheatsheets are on sale for 50%! You’ll get 55 lessons and writing exercises from our PDF workbook, as well as a printable sheet.

Nihongo Sou Matome N2 

sou matome jlpt n2 textbook series

The Nihongo Sou Matome is similar to the Shin Kanzen Master in terms of book structure. Each element of the JLPT (grammar, vocabulary, listening comprehension, kanji and reading) are broken down into individual books. But unlike Shinkanzen Master, Nihongo Sou Matome gives a friendlier vibe. You will learn 400 kanji and 1400 words through the provision of short sentences and illustrations. 

Nihongo Sou Matome programs learners to study the JLPT in 6 weeks. We recommend the Nihongo Sou Matome if you struggle in pacing your studies. Because you’re only expected to take one lesson a day, with each lesson ending with practice, you’re less likely to cram last minute and feel overwhelmed. Every week is a different ‘major’ topic, which is followed by weekly practice exercises that materials covered the last 7 days.  

You can buy the textbooks in bundles or individually. 

This book is perfect:

  • If you are just starting out studying for the N2. This is because the vocabulary used in that book is not all that challenging.
  • If you want to study for the JLPT N2 less intensively.

Available Nihongo Sou Matome N2 books:

Complete st on OMG Japan ($93 USD)

Shin Nihongo 500 Mon JLPT N2

shin nihongo 500 mon jlpt n2 textbook

You might notice that the book’s design is similar to the much-loved Nihongo Sou Matome book series. That’s because the book is under the same publisher. The Shin Nihongo 500 Mon JLPT N2 is an updated (hence, the shin, which means new) version of the 500 Questions workbook. There are 500 multiple-choice questions in total, designed to be taken gradually for 20 minutes every day for 4 weeks.

You’ll find 4 main chapters, corresponding to each week. Each day, you’ll do 15 questions: 5 kanji, 5 vocabulary and 5 grammar questions. The answers and explanations, provided on the reverse rise, are in English, Chinese and Vietnamese. You can track your progress by a weekly log and ‘check’ off the questions once you’ve mastered them.

Like the Nihongo Sou Matome, the book tries to make the entire study experience fun and engaging. Pages aren’t text-heavy (one page only fits 3 questions), so you’re less likely to feel burnt out. Lists for all kanji, vocabulary and grammatical structures are compiled in an appendix.

This book is perfect:

  • If you’re too busy to study the JLPT intensively. It’s great for busy people because you can always fit in a few exercises during your commute or lunch hour.
  • If you’re looking for a N2 workbook that doesn’t feel overwhelming.

Buy on Amazon (¥1,320 JPY) or OMG Japan ($18.50 USD)

Intro to JLPT N2 Practice Tests

This is the newer series from ASK Books, the same publisher behind Nihongo Sou Matome and Shin Nihongo 500 Mon. While N2 is considered the pre-advanced level (a lot of students who take N2 have usually taken other JLPTs in the past), the Intro to JLPT series is catered for individuals who are taking the test for the first time.

The first half of the book contains multiple practice questions. After that comes three mock test exams, before being followed by an answer and explanation key.

This book is perfect:

  • For those who want to take multiple practice tests before the actual exam to avoid getting shocked.

Buy on OMG Japan ($24.00 USD or ¥2,753 JPY)

Nihongo Nouryoku Shiken Koushiki Mondaishuu N2 (JLPT Official Practice Workbook N2)

How accurate are these mock questions and textbooks? If you want the ultimate credible textbook, you can consider the Offical JLPT Practice Workbook, which is published by the JLPT committee. The book covers almost the same number of questions as the actual test, with some of them even picked from previous tests. You’ll also receive an outline of the exam and relevant guidelines: certification guideline, scale score and FAQ. The book contains a listening CD and a script. If you want a sample, you can head to their official page here

It’s divided into three parts: “shiken mondai”, which is the example test question; answer key for questions and scripts for listening section; and explanation of the test structure and updated information about the JLPT.

This book is perfect:

  • If you have trust issues (which we totally get). We’ve seen people complaining about the accuracy of third-party textbooks. Some say they’re too hard than the actual JLPT. Some say they’re too easy, which causes a lot of students to downplay the test. The official practice workbook sets clear expectation.

Buy on Bojinsha (¥770 JPY)

パターン別徹底ドリル日本語能力試験N2 (Pattern-Betsu Tettei Drill JLPT N2)

pattern settei drill jlpt n2 book

If you’re looking for an N2 JLPT study book that’s more well-balanced, this is a perfect choice. The Pattern-Betsu Tettei Drill JLPT N2 specifically provides learners a complete preparation guide for all test sections of the JLPT. Naturally, the book is divided into four parts: vocabulary, listening, reading comprehension and grammar. Keep in mind that kanji is a part of the vocabulary section — but most textbook series separates them. The book tries to familiarize you with the real JLPT exam structures and exams. Through ‘drilling’ you with multiple questions and examples, you’re going to be able to recognize question patterns and find the best effective way to answer them correctly. Think of it as a comprehensive mock exam that fits everything you need to learn for the JLPT N2.

The book includes 2 CDs, but you won’t find any English translations.

Buy on Amazon (¥2,420 JPY)

2500 Essential Vocabulary for the JLPT N2

n2 tango 2500 jlpt vocabulary book

2500 Essential Vocabulary for the JLPT N2 is a vocabulary resource by ASK to prepare for the JLPT N2. Included in this book is vocabulary found commonly on the JLPT and often used in daily life. In this book, you will find several sections with each section focusing on a specific topic. The structure is consistent throughout the whole book, so it is easy to get used to it. 2500 Essential Vocabulary for the JLPT N2 book structure: For each word, the book presents the following information: Part of speech, English and Vietnamese translation, Japanese example sentence with English and Vietnamese translation.

You can mark every word you learned with a tick, making it easy to find where you left off. The book is structured in 12 chapters. A red sheet to review and guess the missing words in the example sentences is included.

This book is perfect:

  • If you want to start of vocabulary first. It’s a small, practical and well-structured book. You can carry them anywhere — trains, work or cafes — and finish a chapter or section without feeling confused. All vocabularies are grouped based on context (like “emotions”, “household activities” and sports)

Buy on Amazon (¥1,760 JPY) or OMG Japan ($19.99 USD)

日本語能力試験問題集N2スピードマスタ (JLPT N2 Questions Speed Master)

n2 speed master supiido masutaa book

Like the Shinkanzen Master and Nihongo Sou Matome, the JLPT Speed Master is a JLPT study book series, rather than an all-in-one guide (again, this can be both a good and bad thing, depending on which type of Japanese learner you are). There are four books in total: JLPT N2 Questions Speedmaster on reading, listening, vocabulary and grammar.

It’ll be more a workbook than a textbook, as the book is designed to help you build an understanding of how to approach JLPT texts. You’ll find three sections. The first is the “warm-up”, which is an explanation of how JLPT test how to tackle them through analyzing relevant information on sentences. The second is “practice”, where you’ll encounter close-to-similar JLPT N2 texts (same vocabulary, grammar and expressions). Finally, the mock test — so you can see your progress and give you an idea if you’re ready for N2 or not (there are two mock tests).

Buy on Amazon (¥1,320 JPY) or OMG Japan ($16.50 USD)

JLPT N1 and N2 試験に出る (JLPT N1 and N2 Shiken Ni Deru)

jlpt n1 n2 shiken ni deru book

The Shiken ni Deru JLPT workbook combines two of the highest JLPT level: N1 and N2. There are four books in total: Shiken ni Deru Dokkai (reading), Shiken ni Deru Choukai (listening), Shiken ni Deru Bunpou to Hyougen (grammar and expression) and Shiken ni Deru Kanji to Goi (kanji and vocabulary).

Some people thought the series is a bit intimidating because it’s all in Japanese, but that’s actually one of its strengths. Each book consists of certain days of activities. For example, the reading workbook is meant to be completed for 40 days. The first 10 days go over the reading strategies, with the rest 30 days for activities. Finally, a mock test for each section. The grammar and expression N2 workbook is designed for 42 days, and the kanj and vocabulary for 28 days.

An important thing, though: these activities are split between N1 activities and N2 activities. So, it may seem like a steep price to pay for a book that only half the activities are for the test you are studying for but if you are hoping to take N1 sometime in the future it’s a pretty good buy.

This book is perfect:

  • If you’ve studied all the vocabulary for N2. In other words, those who fel like they’re ready to go into the test but still need a (more intensive) warm-up.
  • Learners who are planning to take the N1 in the future too.
  • Those who want to get a better feel of true N2 and N1 levels.

Available JLPT N1 and N2 Shiken Ni Deru book:

Drill and Drill JLPT N2

drill and drill n2 jlpt textbook nihongo nouryoku shiken

Drill and Drill is a three-part N2 JLPT book, each focusing on different sections: grammar, listening-reading and vocabulary. The format and style of the questions in this book are like real JLPT questions. True to its name, the focus of the Drill and Drill JLPT N2 is to gear you for the exam with a large number of questions. They’re accompanied by explanations of the answer and translations.

Available Drill and Drill N2 books:

JLPT N2 Chokuzen-taisaku (Last-minute Preparations JLPT N2)

last minute n2 jlpt preparaiton

The Chokuzen-taisaku series contains fifteen tests modeled after JLPT N2, each modeled to be finished at 50 minutes (or under). It’s perfect for students who want to strengthen their test-taking skills specifically (instead of the overall Japanese language ability) and it’s a great last-minute confidence booster, too. There’s an attached appendix of verbs, adverbs, adjectives and vocabulary, and a separate booklet for explanations and answers.

This book is perfect:

  • For individuals who have 50 minutes to spare everyday. Think of this book as a final two-week JLPT preparation.
  • If you prefer timed sample test for self-study.

Buy on Amazon (¥1,540 JPY) or OMG Japan ($21 USD)

The Best Practice Tests for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test N2

the best practice test jlpt n2

Fair warning: This book is not a learning material. It’s a practice book that contains three tests, created based on previous JLPT N2. The questions are all in Japanese, but if you’re feeling stuck, there are answer sheets with English translations and free audio downloads.

Buy on Amazon (¥2,090 JPY) or OMG Japan ($24 USD)

Not sure about your Japanese level? Take our free Japanese language assessment test

If you are planning to take the JLPT 2022 and would like help in mastering the JLPT from professional instructors, we recommend signing up for our upcoming online and in-person 2022 JLPT Prep course (Tokyo and Yokohama).

Want to take the 2022 JLPT but are not sure about your level? Get in touch with us and find out how we can help you achieve your Japanese language target. If you’re unsure where you are, we provide a free Japanese level check. You can also contact us at [email protected] for any questions about course options and details.

Coto Japanese Academy is a unique Japanese Language School in Iidabashi Tokyo. We offer relaxed and fun conversational lessons for all levels of Japanese learners. If you are interested in our courses, please visit our contact page.

How many words and kanji do you need for JLPT N2?

You’ll need roughly 5,000 to 6,000 words to at least be ready for JLPT N2 – around 2,500 more than the N3. In total, you need to know roughly 1000 kanji for the N2 (around 350 additional kanji after N3).

How hard is JLPT N2?

The N2 is the second hardest level of the JLPT. A lot of people who’s taken the test consider the reading section of N2 to be the hardest. This is because there are a lot of unfamiliar kanji and industry-specific words, so you must build a larger kanji and word vocabulary.

When and how do I sign up for the JLPT?

The JLPT is held twice a year, usually in July and December. If you’re outside, the test may be held only once a year, in July or December. Registration is usually open until mid-March (for July) and mid-August (for December)

What are some popular JLPT N2 textbooks?

It greatly depends. In classrooms and JLPT prep courses, you’ll notice the Shinkanzen textbook series are used the most. For those who are self-studying, the Try! JLPT N2, Nihongo Sou Matome and Goukaku Dekiru are popular choices — although it comes down to your preference.

Lastly, the 2500 Essential Vocabulary for the JLPT N2 is a great filler to get all vocabulary. It’s a small vocabulary book, so we see a lot of students bring it to their work, read it on trains or study it on their break.

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