As we have already explained to you in previous articles on job posting in Japan, finding work in the Land of the Rising Sun is quite difficult. if you don’t know Japanese. If you are aiming for further studies or a career on Japanese soil, it is therefore strongly recommended that you learn the Japanese language but also take a specific test called JLPT which will prove that you have the required level.

What does JPLT consist of?

The JPLT (“Japanese Language Proficiency Test”) is an aptitude test allowing you to judge your knowledge of Japanese. Officially called “Nihongo Nôryoku Shiken” (日本語 能力 試 験), this international exam is organized in Japan by the Japan Educational Exchange and Services (JEES) and by The Japan Foundation in the rest of the world. It comes in different levels:

  • N1: advanced level. The learner is bilingual. He can easily understand what is being said in the media and attend lessons in Japanese. He also has a perfect command of grammar. This level requires knowledge of approximately 2,000 kanji and 10,000 vocabulary words.
  • N2: intermediate level. The learner has an advanced level in grammar and in written and oral comprehension. This level requires knowledge of approximately 1,000 kanji and 6,000 vocabulary words.
  • N3: level added to reduce the difference in difficulty between level N2 and the old level N3. It requires knowledge of 600 kanji and 3,000 vocabulary words.
  • N4: medium level. The learner is able to understand everyday conversation and read simple sentences. This level requires knowledge of approximately 230 kanji and 1,250 vocabulary words.
  • N5: beginner level. The learner is able to read simple sentences and understand basic conversation. He also knows the most rudimentary rules of grammar. This level requires knowledge of approximately 80 kanji and 600 vocabulary words.

How is the exam going ?

When you register, you choose the level you want to take. The exam takes the form of a MCQ. For tests N3 to N5, participants must first answer vocabulary questions for 30, 30 and then 25 minutes. Next come the grammar and kanji reading tests (70, 60 and 50 minutes) followed by a listening comprehension test (40, 35 and 30 minutes). Level N5 is the simplest. It is the only one to contain answers in pictorial form. Levels N1 and N2 (the highest) stand out from the others by their greater difficulty but also by their organization. Indeed, the exam begins with a vocabulary and reading test (kanji and grammar) for 60 and 50 minutes, then continues with a test of oral comprehension for 110 and 105 minutes. Note that these last two levels are the most interesting to obtain. They are indeed the ones who will really add value to your CV. It must also be said that they last longer. Allow 170 minutes to take the level test N1, 155 minutes for N2, 140 minutes for N3, 125 minutes for N4 and 105 minutes for N5.

How is the test evaluated?

The exam is graded according to a point system with a total score per level of 180 points. For levels N3, N4 and N5, all the tests are worth the same number of points, namely 60. In the two higher levels, the written test is favored over the oral part, the first being able to score 120 points, against 60 for the second. However, and as in many language tests, be aware that a minimum number of points is required per test. You can therefore have 80% of the points in a test and fail because you have 2 small points in oral comprehension.

JLPT evaluation Japanese exam how it works

How to register for the JLPT and at what price?

To take the exam, you must complete a file and submit it before the registration deadline. In France, you can take the JPLT in Paris (Paris – Maison des Examens, 7 rue Ernest Renan, 94110 Arcueil), at the University of Strasbourg (4 rue Blaise Pascal, 67400 Strasbourg) or at INSA de Lyon (Avenue des Arts, 69100 Villeurbanne). The price for a JPLT registration on French soil is € 70 for levels N4 and N5, and € 80 for higher levels. These prices are regularly revised upwards.

Where can we train at JLPT?

Tests are available on the internet, see for example this video, or directly on the official JLPT website. You will also find many books on the subject.

You may be asked for the diploma obtained after passing this exam if you wish to enroll in a Japanese university. It all depends of course on the level you have passed.

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