How Can I Get a 5 in AP Japanese?

4 min read•september 29, 2021


Jordyn Haynes

AP Japanese  🇯🇵

28 resources
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In 2019, 45.3% of AP Japanese students scored a 5 on the exam. Although that number may seem small, achieving a 5 on this exam is most definitely possible with the correct approach. In this post, we'll cover the skills you need to perfect to get a 5 on the exam. We've also compiled a list of top tips to help send you well on your way to a 5!

Exam Overview

Before we get into the specifics of how to get a 5, let's cover the basics of the AP Japanese Exam. The test consists of two sections: Multiple Choice and Free Response, which are both broken into two sub-sections.

Section 1A: Multiple Choice Listening👂🏼

  • Listen to audio from public announcements, voice messages, instructions, cultural presentations, radio broadcasts, uncontextualized dialogues, and school debates
  • Each type of media will have a question set of 2-5 related questions
  • 30-35 questions, 20 minutes

Section 1B: Multiple Choice Reading📖

  • Read print sources such as journalistic articles, short stories, email inboxes, letters, step-by-step instructions, and travel brochures
  • Each source will have a question set of 3-5 questions
  • 30-40 questions, 1 hour

Section 1A: Free Response Written✍🏼

  • Read and answer six text-message questions, 10 mins
  • Write a 300-400 character compare and contrast essay for two related topics and two opposing viewpoints, 20 mins

Section 1B: Free Response Spoken🔊

  • Engage in a simulated conversation ( 4 prompts, 3 mins)
  • Deliver a 2-minute presentation about your perspective on a Japanese cultural element or practice (1 prompt, 4 mins prep time, 2 mins delivery time)

Tips to Get a 5

#1: Sharpen Your Skills🤓

The AP Japanese Course and Exam Description from the College Board details eight skills used throughout the course. Mastery of these skills will significantly increase your chances of earning a 5 on the exam. Here they are:
  • Comprehend Text🧠: Describe the literal meaning of a text
  • Make Connections:📍 Use cultural/interdisciplinary information to determine the meaning of a text. Explore how cultural/information is related and explain these connections.
  • Interpret Text🧾: Identify the audience, theme/main ideas, and purpose of a text. Infer implied meaning.
  • Make Meanings🔡: Infer the meaning of familiar and unfamiliar words/phrases. Use a variety of vocabulary words in your spoken/written responses on the exam.
  • Speak to Others🗣: Communicate with others through spoken conversation
  • Write to Others📝: Communicate with others through writing

#2: Immerse Yourself in Japanese Language and Culture🎎

Aside from learning the required course content, it is a good idea to supplement your AP Japanese studies with some real-world materials. Watching anime, listening to Japanese music, listening to podcasts in Japanese, reading Japanese literature, and consuming Japanese media are good examples of further understanding the language.
Immersing yourself in a language is one of the quickest ways to learn. Put on some anime while you do your homework and listen to the language in the background or read a Japanese blog in your spare time. Hearing and reading how Japanese functions in the real world (through written text and spoken word) will help you succeed. All of the audio/written samples you will have to analyze are real-world materials such as news articles and conversations.

#3: Practice the Essays✍🏼

Practicing the essays is essential to get a 5 on this exam. Make sure you can form coherent sentences and connect your ideas smoothly. Practice staying focused in your writing, making sure to clearly communicate your responses. The essays are where you can demonstrate a high-level understanding of the Japanese language by making thoughtful comparisons and connections.

#4: Go Above and Beyond🚀

To get a 5 on the AP Japanese exam, include advanced vocabulary in your responses and show that you have a super deep understanding of Japanese language and culture. You want to "wow" your exam reader with your knowledge. Immersing yourself in Japanese language and culture and learning phrases used by native speakers are examples of how you can achieve a higher-level understanding. By going "above and beyond" the basics of Japanese, you will give yourself an extra edge, pushing you closer to that 5!

#5: Use Resources That Work For You⭐

In any AP class, it is crucial to have an approach that works FOR YOU, which is no different for AP Japanese. AP Japanese is a class that, in order to get a 5, requires some outside studying. Deciding how to study outside of class and what resources to use is an integral factor in getting the highest possible score on the exam.
It is essential to understand your own learning style when considering different supplemental resources. This will also help you create a study schedule and what you need help with, specifically. Is there a specific concept that gives you trouble, or do you just need extra practice with grammatical concepts? To find the best AP Japanese resources for you, check out Best AP Japanese Textbooks and Prep Books (coming soon) and Best Quizlets for AP Japanese (coming soon).

Tips from Students

Here's some extra AP Japanese advice from successful AP Japanese students! 👇🏼
"Practice your language skills in non-scripted and timed settings (i.e. have a conversation with a friend or give a presentation on a website in the target language) and develop a standard form and/or script for each question and practice with a variety of prompts." - Solomon Kim, Fiveable Student
"I studied for the test. I didn't ever feel stressed out in the class... just watch lots of dramas and movies... know the kanji on the AP list... The college board samples show you EXACTLY how the test is formatted. They tell you EXACTLY what type of problems are on the test." - anniemac, student, via College Confidential
"I watched a lot of dramas, read books/manga in Japanese, and spoke to Japanese friends That helped me a lot." -syua1120, student, via College Confidential

For more AP Japanese resources such as live streams and study guides, bookmark Fiveable! Remember, you're not alone in this journey! You got this 🥳

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👨‍👩‍👧Unit 1 – Families in Japan
🗣Unit 2 – Language & Culture in Japan
🎨Unit 3 – Beauty & Art in Japan
🔬Unit 4 – Science & Technology in Japan
🏠Unit 5 – Quality of Life in Japan
💸Unit 6 – Challenges in Japan
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