First of all, thanks to everyone for their support since I joined here.
I have 3 months to prepare for N4. I haven't taken N5 before.
I need sources to study for both N5 and N4. Do you have recommendations?
P/s: Or, do we have a thread somewhere for this purpose?
I only did (and passed :-) N4. If you never took the JLPT before, I'd recommend you to watch out for two main enemies:
1. time limits (specially on the reading part)
2. mental tiredness when you get to the last section (the listening part)
(also, it's important to take the usual measures to not get hunted by the need to go to the bathroom)
Being your first time, I'd strongly recommend doing at least one sample exam, with the same time constraints for each part as the real thing, if possible, just to get a thoroughly idea of what it tastes like. IIRC there's only one official example test available for each level, so, unless you already have other similar resources, if you feel like it you can do the N5 sample *right now* (but keep in mind it's a lot simpler, so don't get fooled by its easiness) and test yourself on the N4 around a week before the actual exam. You'll gain the experience that'll allow you to know which sections to skip or which ones to skim through.
You might not find it necessary for N4, but if you decide you want to more than just the official mock exam, I highly recommend the ゼッタイ合格!日本語能力試験完全模試 series (I was going to give an Amazon link, but it's not copying right, and I don't feel like figuring it out); I haven't done their N4 exams (started with N2), but the ones I've done have been a great help in preparing for the actual JLPT.
I highly recommend using their suggested times for each section to study; at the top of each question type there'll be a suggested time for that question (and a time for each problem that's just the question time divided by the number of problems). While it's not as much of a problem for the lower levels (or so I've heard, no personal experience), the reading part of the test is as much a battle with time as it is a battle with Japanese.
A lot of people like the 新完全マスター series. I personally don't think it's necessary for the lower levels, especially if you're already using a textbook, but you might look into it. I've only just started using them myself.
For drills (again, probably not really necessary at lower levels), the ドリル＆ドリル series is really good. They have lots of practice questions, and explanations in the back. I recommend using the times suggested by ゼッタイ合格 as time limits, if you get all of these books for some reason. If not, I'd say an average of thirty seconds per problem (about five minutes per question type). If you have to think really hard about an answer, you need to work on that grammar point, word, or whatever. If you can't finish the problems in the allotted time (better if you're using the times from the book), then you know that you need to focus on your reading speed.
Again, I don't know exactly how much each of these things applies for the N4, but they're things that have been really helpful in my studies for the N1 (which I just barely failed again...), so I think they'll be good for N4 as well, if you find yourself wanting some practice that resembles the stuff above.
Edited: 2017-03-27, 11:37 pm
Thanks for your feedback about amazon. I overcame my reluctance and opened an amazon.co.jp account. The purchase was just as easy as ordering from amazon.com.
There's even an option to view the website in (mostly) English.
Edited: 2017-03-28, 11:08 pm