How can I get good Anki decks for the JLPT N2 exam?
(heads up – Skritter account needed)
While one of Anki’s strong points is its users and the shared decks users create. This is also a weakness as many users share decks with a lot of typos or mistakes. In particular, finding quality Anki decks for the JLPT exams has been a challenge. In the last couple of years, I’ve found that many shared decks on Anki were either full of errors, or typos or lacked important information (no translations).
This is important as if you are studying for the N3, N2 and N1 exams the amount of vocabulary, grammar and phrases you need to learn increases quite a bit. For example:
- N3 1200 vocabulary words, 336 Kanji and 850 words using the Kanji
- N2 1400 vocabulary words, 739 Kanji and 2200 words using the Kanji
- N1 1300 vocabulary words, 2300 Kanji
So that means making cards from scratch becomes too time-consuming (even if it is a good thing to do). To find quality Anki lists with no mistakes I looked at other websites that had Japanese vocabulary lists. As I am also a Skritter user, I was able to check the Skritter lists and realised that they have some excellent JLPT N2 word lists that can be downloaded and imported into Anki.
When I was studying for the N2 exams, I used the Nihongo Sou Matome textbooks日本語総まとめ漢字・語彙･文法･読解. Fortunately, I found that these textbooks can be downloaded from Skritter. The advantage of using lists from Skritter is that they do not have errors or typos as they are made in conjunction with the book publishers. This means when you are studying you are not learning Japanese with errors or mistakes which can happen from shared lists of Anki.
Using the Nihongo Sou Matome textbooks and Anki decks of these books had a few other useful benefits. Firstly, I was able to study for the JLPT using the Nihongo Sou Matome books as a reference. This was good because using real books and getting away from the computer screen was nice. Secondly using Anki in conjunction with the textbooks made the books much more interactive and interesting while also Anki-fying my studying.
I’ve got Skritter, why can’t I just use that to revise for the JLPT exams?
There’s one big reason, and that is time. Using Skritter to review words takes much longer than it takes on Anki. A conservative estimate is that using Skritter to review words and grammar would take 3 or 4 times the amount of time to review the same words and grammar in Anki. That is because, in Anki, you do not spend time learning stroke order which makes each review time much quicker.
In Anki, you see a word or sentence, and in a second you can either know you know it or not. In Skritter, you are forced to write the character or sentence out even if you do not know it. This makes the process of learning words and grammar much longer (even if it is a good thing in the long run).
Another reason is that the JLPT tests do not test your writing ability. So that means you are not required to know stroke order or tested on correct Kanji writing. These are the things which you will spend a lot of time learning in Skritter.
So it depends on what your goals are. If you are focused on passing the JLPT tests, and you have limited time, then I would recommend using Anki for 80% or 90% of the time and then use Skritter for 10% or 20%. However if your goal is to live or work in Japan, or you are going to study at a Japanese school or university, then learning how to write Kanji will be more important for you and you can change the amount of time you use Skritter accordingly.
How to download from Skritter and import into Anki
For the N2 Sou Matome (vocabulary, kanji, grammar and reading) decks:
- I exported the decks from Skritter to my desktop (You need a Skritter account to access this feature.). Export with tab as the delimiter.
- I then opened the deck in word and changed the encoding of the file to UTF8 as Anki cannot read the Skritter files correctly. To do this save the file as a plain text file (Save as- Plain text). Then change the encoding to UTF8 when prompted.
- Open Anki, and press import.
- Select card type either use a previous card type or choose a Japanese card type if you have one.
- Add deck name Sou Matome
- You will be asked what card type the lists should be imported as you can use these field names: Field 1 – Expression or Kanji, Field 2 Kana, Field 3 Meaning or English
- Press import and done. Here is your pristine N2 Sou Matome deck, no errors or typos.
When studying from these decks, I still add my own notes or example sentences using online dictionaries for words I have trouble remembering. However, I am already happy knowing that the decks are high quality and do not contain errors.
Have you found any Anki decks that you think are great? If so please tell other readers and me about it in the comments section below. Or, are you finding it difficult to use the import function of Anki? If so, please again leave a comment with your problem and I’ll be happy to help you figure it out. Cheers and good luck with your Anki studies. 🙂