Hosted by the Japan Foundation and Japan Educational Exchanges and Services (JEES), the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) is one of the most standard and widely used criteria for measuring Japanese language ability. The test has 5 levels, N5 being the most basic and N1 being the highest level of achievement.

Japan Educational Exchanges and Services (JEES), the organization hosting JLPT, is currently developing a “new Japanese Language Proficiency Test” in collaboration with the Japanese government. The new test is said to be more focused on Japanese used in everyday circumstances. It aims to assess practical language ability and fluency with a focus on communication than on theory. The new-JLPT was developed and is being slowly implemented out of a growing need for more workers in Japan due to severe labour shortages caused by Japan’s decreasing population. At the current, this test has only begun to be implemented in specified areas of Asia, as a means of piloting it, so for most other regions of the world, including the West, we will still be using the standard JLPT for the time being.

Official Names

English: Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)

Japanese: 日本語能力試験 (にほんごのうりょくしけん Nihongo Nouryoku Shiken)

Purpose / Advantages

The most common reference for Japanese language proficiency for non-native speakers.

For those wishing to study, work, or stay in Japan, passing a certain level on JLPT may be one of the application requirements or standards of Japanese language ability. Examples include:
  • Entry into university/graduate education course: Some courses in universities, graduate schools, or other educational institutions may require applicants to have a certain level of Japanese language ability. JLPT is often used as a common criteria.
  • Applying for a job in Japan (full-time or part-time): JLPT is often referred to as a common criteria of Japanese language ability.
  • Points-based System for Highly Skilled Foreign Professionals: The Immigration Bureau of Japan uses a points-based mechanism to evaluate and provide preferential immigration treatment to foreign professionals. The higher your points, the more likely you will be accepted (for details, look here). Professionals with JLPT N1 receive additional 15 points. Professionals with JLPT N2 receive additional 10 points.
  • Specified Skills Visa: To obtain the Specified Skills Visa, you need a certificate in the JLPT. The JLPT level required for the Visa may differ according to the field of work you are applying to.
  • Accreditation Exam for Completion of Junior High School Education in Japan: Students with JLPT N1 or N2 are exempt from taking the Japanese-language test (国語/こくご/Kokugo) for the Accreditation Exam for completion of Junior High School Education in Japan.
  • National Exams for Medical Practitioners: For applicants who have not graduated from either Japanese junior high or high schools in Japan, JLPT N1 is required. For more information, see the designated website (Japanese) in the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare.
  • Prefectural Exams for Assistant Nurses: For applicants for assistant nurses who have graduated from nursing schools outside of Japan, JLPT N1 is required. For more information, consult the prefecture of your interest.

Eligibility

Open to anyone of age, nationality, purpose of taking the test. There are no prior requirements.

Testing dates

Test are held 2 times a year (July and December).

Here is this year’s schedule:
Session Test Dates 2019 Application Deadlines
July 7 (Sun.) April 22 (Mon.)
December 1 (Sun.) TBC

In some areas outside of Japan, tests may only be held once a year (July or December). For more information, see the JLPT website.

Testing areas

Testing areas in Japan

The test can be taken at test centres in all 47 prefectures of Japan.

Testing areas outside Japan

Testing areas outside Japan: The test can be taken at a number of overseas centers in 85 countries. A list of test centres and testing dates can be found here.

Application process

Taking the test in Japan

  • Register for MyJLPT online or apply offline (ask for Test Guide (Application Form) at a bookstore for free)
  • Pay test fees online or at a bookstore, and follow the instructions from JEES
  • Receive the Test Voucher (受験票 じゅけんひょう juken-hyo) from JEES
  • Take the test at the designated test center
  • Test results will be sent to your address.

Taking the test overseas

  • Refer to the instructions given by the test centers.

Format

Language Knowledge (Grammar, Vocabulary), Reading, Listening

Language Knowledge (Grammar): tests your knowledge on the construction of sentences. Includes questions such as those that require you to fill in the blanks (short sentences / long passages) and to put phrases in the correct order.

Language Knowledge (Vocabulary): tests your knowledge on Japanese vocabulary and expressions. Includes questions such as those that require you to identify synonyms and to answer how to read kanji (Chinese characters).

Reading: tests your ability to understand Japanese passages. Includes questions that requires you to identify the correct summary for the passage, to identify the meaning of certain phrases, and to make decisions based on information and data.

Listening: tests your ability to understand spoken Japanese. Includes questions that asks for the key points that were spoken.

*test time differs according to section and level. For more information about the test format, look here.

Levels and Results

5 levels: N5 (lowest) to N1 (highest)

Results: Pass / Fail system (Maximum score: 180 / Pass mark: 80-100, according to level).

Each section will have an individual maximum score and pass mark (20-25%). To pass the test, you will need to reach the pass mark for every section and have an overall pass mark.

For more information, look here.

Official Website (English)

JLPT: https://www.jlpt.jp/e/index.html

JEES: http://info.jees-jlpt.jp/