I’ve reviewed several books for tackling the JLPT, but you can never have enough books to help you with grammar. That’s why I want to talk about the “Try Japanese Language Proficiency Test” or Try! 日本語能力試験 series. If you’re wanting a good book to help you with grammar that will do a good job, look no further!
Try Japanese Language Proficiency Test is a series of books that are geared to help you on the JLPT. The focus is on grammar, but you will get much more out of it. It has grammar tests, reading sections and even audio listening (CD included), which is great to actually hear grammar points being used in conversations. By going through the book, you are sure to learn a lot of vocabulary as well from the example sentences and reading.
I actually came across this series in 2013 when I noticed it had just been published and no one had written any reviews for it anywhere on the Internet. I’m really glad I took a chance with this series and I have recommended it to everyone.
For starters, the book promises English translations of grammar points/explanations. This is can be sometimes really helpful if you’re not quite sure what the Japanese explanation is trying to say. It doesn’t always help, but it certainly is appreciated.
Most other books try to do that “3 language translations in one” stunt where companies translate explanations into Korean, Chinese, and English. Except they usually get the most overworked, least knowledgeable person in English to do the translation. I’m mostly referring to the grammar books from the Sou Matome Nihongo series. (An excellent series if you avoid the grammar book) Try Japanese Language Proficiency Test does not do this and sticks to Japanese and a little bit of English translation.
One more thing I want to add is there are grammar quizzes that are modeled after the ones on the JLPT. The ones that are sure to be difficult for any test taker is the grammar sentence scramble.
For those that don’t know what I’m talking about, on the JLPT there is a section where each sentence has a starting point and an end point, with the middle of the sentence blanked out. You have to first put the words in order from the choice box and only then choose the right word to go in the box that has a star above it.
It’s totally scary and real. However, Try has practice quizzes for just this type of problem.
When should I use Try Japanese Language Proficiency Test?
I believe the series covers N4-N1, but I recommend them from N3 and onward. I personally own the N2 and N1 books and have gone through both. The books are well laid out and will make a difference in your understanding of Japanese grammar.
How is it different from Kanzen Master?
In my review of Kanzen Master, I talked about how it is a great resource for helping you with grammar. However, the book is completely in Japanese, which could turn off some people.
I still think Kanzen Master is excellent for grammar, but the material found in both “Kanzen” and “Try” are different. I actually recommend both books if you’re serious about hammering the grammar points down in your mind, but if you could choose only one, I think Try would benefit you in more ways than Kanzen Master.
Where can I buy the Try series?
The books are available (worldwide shipping!) from White Rabbit Press. They are a really cool shop for Japanese goods and I’ve personally ordered books and cards from them when I was in the US.