How to Build the Perfect Japanese AP Study Guide Lesson

It may not be as valuable as a full-ride scholarship, but it definitely packs a bang for the buck.

It may not be as prestigious as a major award, but it can definitely make you look good.

The AP Japanese test has a lot to offer both teachers and students.

It’s a test of a student’s reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, but playing Japanese games and grammar games alone won’t be enough to prepare your students for the intense, comprehensive exam.

If your students hope to pass the AP Japanese test, they’ll need your guidance and support. Here is all you need to know to help your students ace it.

How to Build the Perfect Japanese AP Study Guide Lesson

First and foremost, passing the AP Japanese test can help your students earn college credits for a fraction of the cost. College credits can be pricey, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. However, the AP Japanese only costs around $100, meaning your students can save a lot of money if they pass the test.

Plus, preparing for the AP Japanese test offers a clear learning goal. Since your class is working with such a specific goal in mind, it may be easier to maintain study goals and have a more consistent motivation for daily practice, thereby driving students’ skills forward.

Finally, having students take the AP Japanese test can show the quality of your Japanese program. The AP test often has a prestigious reputation, and if you have a lot of students taking the test, it can show that your lessons are high quality. If a lot of students pass the test, that will reflect even better on your program.

What You Need to Know About the AP Japanese Test


The College Board website offers plenty of detail and resources you can use to understand the AP Japanese test in more depth and will prepare your students for what they’ll face. You can also access sample questions and materials for a clearer idea of what exactly is on the exam. Since AP tests sometimes reuse material, looking over previous questions is an invaluable way to prepare for the test.

But to get you started, it is first important to understand what the test is comprised of. Here’s a brief overview of the AP Japanese test you’ll be preparing students for.

Section I: Multiple Choice

The multiple-choice section features around 70 questions and takes one hour and 20 minutes. It counts for 50% of the overall exam score.

  • Listening: This 20-minute section features 30-35 questions.
  • Reading: This 60-minute section features 35-40 questions.

Section II: Free Response

The free response section only features four “tasks” and takes just 40 minutes, but it accounts for 50% of the overall exam score.

Section III: Writing

The writing section takes a total of 30 minutes. The first task is interpersonal writing, which takes the form of a text chat. This task is comprised of six prompts that take a total of 10 minutes. The next task is presentational writing, in which students will write a compare/contrast essay. Students are allotted 20 minutes for this task.

Section IV: Speaking

At just 10 minutes, the speaking section is the shortest portion of the test, but it can also be the most intimidating. The first task is a three-minute-long interpersonal speaking test, which simulates a conversation through four prompts. The next task is presentational speaking, in which students give a “cultural perspective” presentation. This section lasts for seven minutes.

How to Prepare Your Students for the AP Japanese Test

Start Preparing ASAP

When it comes to the AP Japanese exam, cramming last minute is not a good option. That’s because rather than testing knowledge, the exam tests skills, which take longer to hone. The earlier you start preparing your students, the more prepared and less intimidated they’ll be on exam day.

Familiarize Students with the Format of the Test

The test has a very specific format. While studying the format won’t actually help your students improve their Japanese proficiency, it can help them improve their test-taking skills. Obviously, all the instructions will be available when the students take the test. However, if they know the format and instructions ahead of time, they can shave a little time off from interpreting the instructions and instead spend that time on the test itself.

Plus, knowing the format can make the test less intimidating, and less stressed students are likely to perform better than anxious, sweaty teenagers who have no clue what they’re in for.

Practice Contextual Listening with Your Class

Encouraging your students to practice contextual listening can give them the skills they need to excel in the listening section of the test. Since they’ll need to understand spoken Japanese very quickly, practicing ahead of time can give them the confidence and skills they need to excel.

Work on Academic Reading Skills


The AP Japanese reading section generally features academically oriented content, like brief news articles, so it is important for students to practice reading similar material.

BBC in Japanese is a terrific source for news articles. However, if your students are just starting to transition to reading such complex material, you might want to pair it with Readlang. Readlang is a web reader that provides instant translation of words and phrases, allowing students to read in Japanese even if they don’t know every word yet.

Cover Relevant Vocabulary

The AP test will feature a wide array of vocabulary, so it will be helpful to study relevant terms with your students. Not only will they need conversational proficiency, they’ll need to know academic terminology and vocabulary related to current events.

Also, don’t forget that the presentational writing and speaking sections are relatively formal, so learning the sort of vocabulary one would use in a formal presentation or essay, such as transitional words, will be useful.

Encourage Students to Use Japanese Outside of Class

The more Japanese, the better! Some of your students may only be familiar with using their skills in class, and this might make them less comfortable using them in a different setting on test day. Encouraging them to use their skills outside of class is not only more immersive, it can also help ensure that they are comfortable in settings other than the classroom they’ve grown so familiar with.

Host Conversation Sessions

Hosting conversation sessions is a great way to give your students both listening and speaking practice that can help them approach the AP test with greater ease. Not only will this build up their confidence speaking, it can also improve their vocabulary. To upgrade the learning potential, you might even decide on a theme for the session to target specific vocabulary sets.

Have Students Record Themselves Speaking

Taping yourself speaking can feel awkward, but students must do it on the AP Japanese test. Practicing speaking on tape ahead of time can make the process seem less daunting. Plus, students can listen to the recordings of themselves speaking Japanese to hear what areas they need to improve.


With this in mind, go out there and lead your students to AP Japanese success! They’ll be grateful when they realize how valuable those college credits can be.

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