The Unofficial FAQ for the JLPT

What is the JLPT?

– The Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT, 日本語能力試験) is a test of Japanese language ability designed for foreigners.  It tests primarily reading and listening skills.  It is a great way to motivate yourself to learn Japanese as well as a tool to measure your Japanese ability.  The certificate can also be used as more concrete “proof” of Japanese proficiency.

When is it?

– Twice a year, summer and winter.  Next one is Sunday, December 4th from 12 noon.  Test takes about 4 hours.

Where is it?

– You can take the test within Hyogo.  The exact location will be mailed to you in mid-November after you apply.

How many levels are there?

– Five.  N5 (easiest) to N1 (most difficult).  My personal opinions of them are at the end of this article (since it’s not official)!  But sample questions are offered here:

How do I apply?

JLPT Application Form

1.  Purchase an “application guide” (受験案内 じゅけんあんない).  It is called a “juken annai” (lit. test information) or “moushikomi youshi” (application form) from a bookstore below.  It will be 500 yen.

You can get them at:

  • Junkudo in Himeji (second floor of Plie, in the station).
  • Junkudo in Akashi near Sanyo-Akashi station.
  • Nishimura Shoten in Kasai, near the Kasai Post Office
  • Junkudo in Nishinomiya, near the Nishinomiya Kitaguschi station
  • Book 1st in Nishinomiya, in Hankyuu Nishinomiya Gardens

There are also many in Kobe: (on the bottom, do a search)

2.  The instructions are all in there.  Please read it ALL carefully!!  Test fee is 5,500 yen (pay at the post office!  Details are inside the application guide), and deadline to mail it in is September 30 (postmark). You will also need to submit a photo and other things.  Your test voucher (test location, etc. that is required to take the test) will be mailed in mid-November.

What percentage do I need to pass?  When will I get results?  More questions?

– It is nicely put together (in English) on their homepage:

(My interpretation of the levels)

N5 (basic):  Great test for those who came to Japan with no Japanese skills.

N4 (intermediate):  Great test for those with a basic foundation, took about 1-2+ years of Japanese.

N3 (intermediate-advanced):  Great test for those who took several years of Japanese and can hold fairly well in daily conversations.

N2 (advanced): This is the benchmark that companies often use to consider you fluent enough in Japanese to hire you in a Japanese working environment.

N1 (professional):  Can be tested on any kanji that the Japanese people themselves learn, and this test certifies you as fluent to all levels, even to a business Japanese standard.

If you know the old test (4 levels only), it works like this.

Old Level 4 –> New Level N5

Old Level 3 –> New Level N4

(Inbetween Old Levels 2 & 3 –> New Level N3)

Old Level 2 –> New Level N2

Old Level 1 –> New Level N1

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