What’s the JLPT?


If you happen to’ve been finding out Japanese for some time, you may need heard of the JLPT, or Japanese Language Proficiency Check. Loads of Japanese examine supplies are marketed towards individuals who plan to take this examination for varsity, work, or private functions, so the acronym may look fairly acquainted.

I took the JLPT N2 as soon as in 2021, and assume it is a pretty respectable gauge of your on-paper Japanese expertise. It is also a useful little qualification to have if you wish to reside/work/examine in Japan, or get a Japanese-related job no matter the place you reside. However earlier than you burn the midnight abura cramming for the JLPT, you need to know whether or not it is best for you or not. On this article, I will provide you with a basic overview of what the JLPT is, why folks take it, and what you possibly can count on whenever you saunter confidently into that testing room.

What’s the JLPT Anyway?

The JLPT stands for the Japanese Language Proficiency Check. It is a timed, paper-based standardized check designed to gauge your studying comprehension and listening expertise in Japanese with 5 issue ranges.

Who do we’ve got to thank/blame for this? Nicely, it was devised by the Japan Basis and Japan Instructional Exchanges and Companies (what a mouthful!) in 1984. A whole lot of hundreds of individuals take it world wide yearly, so it is presently the commonest check of Japanese language proficiency.

The check was revised in 2010 to be tougher — taking a look at you, N1 — and thus was born the present model of the JLPT we all know and love right now. And you do not have to be in any particular Japanese program or courses to take the JLPT; it is open to anybody who indicators up. Whereas the JLPT is meant to check non-native audio system, native Japanese audio system can take it too. The examination’s 5 ranges go from N5–N1 so as of accelerating issue, with test-takers selecting which degree to take.

Why Do Individuals Take the JLPT?

illustration of four different types of people who want to take the jlpt

Why would folks voluntarily topic themselves to standardized test-taking, you ask? Consider it or not, there are literally every kind of the explanation why folks join, relying on their Japanese language objectives.

In line with a survey by the Japan Basis in 2018, abroad candidates take the JLPT for 2 main causes. One purpose is for work — to get a job, promotion, or wage improve, inside or outdoors of Japan (33.4%). The opposite is just to measure their degree of proficiency in Japanese (33.2%). One other massive motive is to realize admittance to a Japanese college, for these need to enroll in a program taught in Japanese.

In Japan

In Japan, I’ve discovered that folks usually take the JLPT for sensible causes. Nearly each itemizing for a full-time technical and/or workplace job that may require you to function primarily in Japanese requires candidates to have N2 or N1 certification. Nevertheless, it tends to be uncommon that it’s a must to present proof, as usually crucial factor is demonstrating within the interview that you simply’re able to performing the job on the desired Japanese degree.

Nearly each itemizing for a full-time that may require you to function primarily in Japanese requires candidates to have N2 or N1 certification.

That stated, you clearly should not lie about having handed the JLPT, since sometimes employers do ask to see your certificates. Plus, if you happen to say you’ve got it in your resume, you might want to indicate a duplicate upon receiving a job provide. Additionally, for some professions, there is a increased probability that it actually will matter. For instance, medical practitioners, dentists, veterinarians, speech therapists, assistant nurses, some caregivers, and lots of different medical employees licensed abroad should go the N1 earlier than taking Japan’s medical licensing exams. So if you happen to’ve bought white-collar desires in Japan, or just aren’t certain what degree to name your Japanese expertise, you may need to begin boning up on verb conjugation.

And not using a passing rating on some degree of the JLPT, it may be powerful to get right into a Japanese-taught college program as effectively. There are language colleges devoted solely to progressing college students by every degree of the JLPT, from N5 to N2/N1, hopefully culminating of their acceptance to a Japanese commerce faculty or college. (I went to one in all these language colleges!) And hey, for all of you seeking to show you handed center faculty? N1/N2 certification also can get you exempted from the Japanese-language check on the accreditation examination for completion of junior excessive training. All in all, there are fairly a couple of doorways you possibly can open by waving an N1 or N2 certificates round.

Outdoors of Japan

Then again, extra folks outdoors of Japan join simply to check their information of Japanese, even when there are fewer concrete rewards for passing the examination. College students of Japanese are typically inspired to make use of the JLPT as one thing to try towards of their research, or at the least use as a basic framework to gauge their talents as they progress. For instance, college professors typically design their programs round materials for sure ranges of the JLPT, and lots of on-line examine materials is split up by JLPT degree. And for some self-learners, it may be a useful goalpost as effectively. If you happen to’ve been grinding it out on the WaniKani evaluations mill for a very long time, it may be extraordinarily gratifying to go the JLPT and show to your self how a lot you have discovered.

If you wish to reside in Japan in some unspecified time in the future, the JLPT is one instrument that may assist you do this.

However even in case you are abroad, there might be some sensible advantages and added bonuses to passing the JLPT, comparable to enhancing your resume for Japan-related packages like MEXT or getting a Extremely Expert International Skilled visa. Passing the N1 earns you 15 factors towards preferential therapy for this visa, and the N2 will get you 10 factors. You could find extra details about this level system on the Immigration Bureau of Japan’s web site. However principally, if you wish to reside in Japan in some unspecified time in the future, the JLPT is one instrument that may assist you do this.

That stated, not each pupil of Japanese has to take the JLPT. In reality, standardized checks are just one measure of language proficiency, and an imperfect one at that. So if you happen to’re not making an attempt to get a job or go to highschool in Japan, you possibly can resolve for your self whether or not it is price it!

How Can I Take It?

Alright, now you recognize what the JLPT is. However how do you get your Japanese-learning posterior in a type of chairs to take it?

Make sure to be aware of the dates you possibly can join, as a result of the registration interval is notoriously quick!

The JLPT is given twice a 12 months in Japan, in July and December. Abroad, it is given a couple of times a 12 months, relying in your location. And it isn’t supplied on-line, so you may must hike out to a testing website and take it on paper. You’ll be able to search for your testing website and join on-line on the official JLPT web site and MyJLPT registration portal. Make sure to be aware of the dates you possibly can join, as a result of the registration interval is notoriously quick! The window to submit your software is often about two to 3 weeks lengthy for every check date. I’ve managed to overlook this window twice in my life, so be vigilant.

Every host metropolis has its personal designated testing website(s). In Japan, it could possibly be anyplace that has the capability to host crowds of nervous foreigners — as an illustration, I took it at an enormous lodge in Nagoya. Nevertheless, abroad, it might be your native Japanese embassy/consulate or college.

The appliance price can fluctuate primarily based in your location and degree, nevertheless it’s usually 5,000–6,500 yen in Japan and $50–60 within the US. Earlier than you cough up this variation, be sure to’re really obtainable on the check date. Until the check is canceled attributable to circumstances like COVID, you do not get a refund if you happen to miss it. The Japan Basis has definitely profited from my negligence in that division (learn: skipping the check to go to a live performance or take finals), so do not be like me!

What is the Check Like?

So what precisely are you and your quantity two pencils signing up for?

Nicely, the JLPT is an in-person check that lasts about three hours, with some slight variance relying on the extent. You may be in the identical room as different test-takers for your entire time. The proctors will learn the directions aloud to you, time every part, and watch to be sure to’re not dishonest off any secret kanji scribbled in your bottle of Pocari Sweat.

You may have to convey your picture ID, check voucher, and useful dandy pencils and erasers. It is price mentioning that the anti-cheating guidelines might be fairly stringent, which means no pencils with designs on them, erasers with wrappers, water bottles with labels, or garments/baggage with Japanese characters on them. How effectively these restrictions are enforced may fluctuate relying in your proctors, however greatest to not take any probabilities. They’re additionally not presupposed to lend you additional pencils, and there might not be a pencil sharpener obtainable, so convey a number of!

For the reason that check is kind of strictly timed, I like to recommend bringing or shopping for an affordable analog wristwatch for the event.

Moreover, for the reason that check is kind of strictly timed, I like to recommend bringing or shopping for an affordable analog wristwatch for the event. In case your testing room does not have a dependable or easily-visible clock, you may be glad you introduced it. Digital watches are okay too, however make certain they do not beep or make any sounds that may get you disqualified. Then they’d must shred your check and feed it to the wolves. 🙁

Total, the JLPT is a reasonably simple expertise — extremely standardized and a few quantity of nerve-wracking, relying on how a lot you have bought staked on it. Taking the check as soon as was sufficient for me, however do not let that cease you from sending the Japan Basis fifty {dollars} twice a 12 months if you wish to!

Ranges of the JLPT

illustration of 5 jlpt textbooks from n5 to n1 forming a staircase

So now you need to have a reasonably good concept of what taking the JLPT is like, however a part of the expertise will rely in your degree. So, what degree of the JLPT must you take?

The JLPT has 5 ranges: N5-N1, with N5 being the simplest and N1 being essentially the most troublesome. As talked about, N2-N1 are sometimes considered qualifying an individual to have the ability to work in a business-Japanese setting or get by in an all-Japanese educational program. About 90% of worldwide college students on the lookout for jobs in Japan are reportedly N2–N1 degree, in line with Bounce Japan Media. Conversely, N5–N3 are geared extra towards fundamental, “on a regular basis” Japanese.

Your mileage might fluctuate, in fact, however this is a tough breakdown of what you may have the ability to do at every degree:

  • Learn and perceive quick, frequent Japanese sentences utilizing kana and fundamental kanji
  • Perceive Japanese conversations which might be about acquainted on a regular basis matters and spoken slowly
  • Work part-time doing jobs that do not require a lot Japanese, comparable to handbook labor, cleansing, delivering mail, and so on.
  • Learn and perceive Japanese supplies about acquainted on a regular basis matters utilizing fundamental kanji and vocabulary
  • Perceive Japanese conversations which might be spoken slowly
  • Work part-time doing jobs that require fundamental Japanese, comparable to kitchen work, catering, and so on.
  • Learn and perceive Japanese supplies about on a regular basis matters
  • Perceive Japanese conversations spoken at nearly-natural pace
  • Qualify for some full-time jobs and internships (particularly at worldwide corporations) involving Japanese, in fields comparable to IT, customer support, consulting, tech, and so on.
  • Work part-time doing jobs that require easy verbal communication with coworkers and prospects in Japanese at a comfort retailer, cafe, restaurant, retail retailer, workplace, and so on.
  • Learn and perceive newspapers and different Japanese supplies written in a simple method
  • Perceive native Japanese spoken in a wide range of settings at nearly-natural pace
  • Qualify for some full-time jobs at Japanese corporations doing net improvement, engineering, translation/interpretation, HR, and so on. absolutely in Japanese
  • Get accepted to some undergraduate or graduate-level packages in Japan taught in Japanese
  • Learn and deeply perceive advanced, summary Japanese supplies
  • Comprehensively perceive native Japanese spoken at pure pace
  • Qualify for full-time jobs at Japanese corporations doing extremely technical and/or educational translation and interpretation, medical providers, and so on. absolutely in Japanese
  • Get accepted to some undergraduate or graduate-level packages in Japan taught in Japanese

To find out which degree you may need to take, I counsel wanting up movies and sources of examine supplies for every degree to assist gauge your information. You may also confer with this official “JLPT Can-do Self-Analysis Listing” of comprehension duties primarily based on what examinees who handed every degree of the examination reported they will do (e.g. learn novels, perceive TV dramas, and so on.).

Select the extent that speaks to you, or that it’s a must to take with the intention to meet any faculty or work necessities. Remember that you possibly can retake the identical degree everytime you need, so long as you pay to use once more. You may also begin low and work as much as the next degree over time. Simply know that when you have N1, N2 will not be of a lot use to you, so you possibly can skip from N3 to N1 if you wish to go for it with out worrying about failing. Even if you happen to do not do effectively, you may acquire the real-life expertise of taking the check in particular person, which can provide you a a lot better concept of what you may have to do to go it subsequent time. But it surely all is dependent upon your priorities and scenario. I took the N2 as a substitute of the N1 as a result of I valued passing the primary time over gaining expertise. So it is as much as you!

Sections of the Check

concerning the ranges of the JLPT now, however which expertise must you be brushing up on to prep for it? Nicely, just about every part besides talking and writing — vocabulary, grammar, studying, and listening comprehension — as a result of there are not any talking or writing sections on the JLPT. So at the least you are protected in these regards!

On the whole, all ranges of the JLPT check you on three foremost classes: Language Information (Vocabulary and Grammar), Studying, and Listening.

On the whole, all ranges of the JLPT check you on three foremost classes of Japanese language proficiency: Language Information (Vocabulary and Grammar), Studying, and Listening. The Vocabulary part is fairly simple: you may select kanji readings in multiple-choice questions, fill within the blanks in sentences with the right phrases, and decide which sentences have roughly the identical which means. The Grammar part may have you selecting the right particles to make use of in a sentence and puzzling out which sentence order is right. As you may count on, the Studying part comprises passages of various size and magnificence with accompanying comprehension and fill-in-the-blank questions. And the Listening part principally consists of quick, medium, and lengthy conversations it’s a must to bear in mind the small print of with the intention to reply the comprehension questions that come after.

The chart beneath reveals you the part breakdown of every degree of the JLPT.

Degree Part Breakdown
N5 Language Information (Vocabulary) 20 minutes
Language Information (Grammar)・Studying 40 minutes
Listening 30 minutes
N4 Language Information (Vocabulary) 25 minutes
Language Information (Grammar)・Studying 55 minutes
Listening 35 minutes
N3 Language Information (Vocabulary) 30 minutes
Language Information (Grammar)・Studying 70 minutes
Listening 40 minutes
N2 Language Information (Vocabulary/Grammar)・Studying 105 minutes
Listening 50 minutes
N1 Language Information (Vocabulary/Grammar)・Studying 110 minutes
Listening 60 minutes

As you possibly can see, in contrast to the N5–N3, the N2 and N1 group Vocabulary, Grammar, and Studying into one lengthy check part. This implies you possibly can full them in any order regardless of which one comes first within the booklet. The time allotted for every part can fluctuate relying on the 12 months, so make sure to examine the JLPT web site’s time schedule for essentially the most present info.

Time Limits

Apart from the content material and issue, did you discover the opposite foremost distinction between JLPT ranges? That is proper, the size of every check varies fairly a bit, with decrease ranges taking much less time than increased ranges.

The N2 and N1 final roughly three hours general, whereas the N5–N3 solely take between one to 2 hours. Mainly, the upper the JLPT degree, the longer you may be sitting there Christmas-treeing the solutions. (Simply kidding…possibly.)

It is price noting that the time restrict on the Listening part tends to be a exhausting restrict. The proctors usually aren’t presupposed to replay any questions regardless of how pitifully you beg. So be sure to use the paper they provide you for note-taking whilst you pay attention, as a result of it will possible save your life. Apart from that, all you are able to do is pay attention up the primary time round and hope nobody round you coughs or squeaks of their seat.

The time restrict of the JLPT makes it partially a check of endurance.

The time restrict of the JLPT makes it partially a check of endurance. Granted, throughout my N2 examination, there was a brief break in between the Language Information and Listening sections throughout which you could possibly go to the lavatory and have a snack to replenish your test-taking juices. Besides, I discovered it troublesome to maintain my vitality ranges sufficient to remain 100% centered all through the entire check. It is easy to drop off after Vocabulary/Grammar/Studying and snooze by the Listening part – the worst part to take a nap, since there are not any playbacks. So make certain to organize for the closing dates and get a superb evening’s sleep beforehand!

Scoring & Outcomes

illustration of an jlpt n5 certificate

Okay, you have gone by the testing gauntlet and hopefully made it out the door together with your dignity intact. Now, how will the almighty Japan Basis resolve your destiny?

Nicely, there is a sure benchmark of factors required for each part with the intention to go, which means you possibly can’t bomb any of them. On common, it’s a must to get at the least a ~32% on every part and a ~50% on the entire check to go. Nevertheless, every degree of the JLPT is scored a bit otherwise math-wise, so I like to recommend viewing the breakdown for your self on the JLPT’s “Willpower of go/fail” web page.

However how precisely do they resolve how effectively you probably did on every part? That is a sophisticated query. The best way the JLPT is scored is definitely type of convoluted. They use “scaled scores,” which means your rating is not a direct one-to-one reflection of what number of questions you bought unsuitable. As an alternative, the Japan Basis calculates outcomes utilizing Merchandise Response Concept (IRT), which relies in your “answering patterns.” This implies they keep in mind which questions you bought proper and throw out questions everybody tended to get proper or unsuitable. You will not be notified of your uncooked rating, solely this scaled rating. And excellent news: there is no penalty for getting questions unsuitable, so attempt to reply all of them!

They use “scaled scores,” which means your rating is not a direct one-to-one reflection of what number of questions you bought unsuitable.

Presumably due to all this fancy arithmetic, the exams take about two to 3 months to attain. So simply sit again, watch folks gossip concerning the check on Reddit, and look forward to the outcomes to roll in. You’ll be able to see your outcomes on-line on MyJLPT, and your Rating Report can even be bodily mailed to you by way of the establishment the place you took the examination. The Rating Report tells you your rating on every part, however does not go into element about which questions you bought unsuitable. Abroad examinees get to see their percentile rank in comparison with different test-takers, too. And if you happen to handed, you may additionally obtain a pleasant little Certificates of Proficiency to obnoxiously whip out subsequent time somebody doubts your Nihongo prowess.

Completely happy Testing…!

Hopefully after studying this, you’ve got a greater understanding of what the JLPT is and whether or not you are curious about taking it. If you happen to do resolve to enroll, better of luck!

Whether or not you have been diligently finding out for months or slammed a bunch of grammar into your noodle the evening earlier than, I am pleased with you. Even if you happen to gave up after twenty minutes and doodled an image of Colonel Sanders in your reply sheet, at the least you recognize extra about the place you are at now. Bear in mind, the true achievement is in displaying up and doing the work to higher your Japanese, regardless of your rating.


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