sci.lang.japan FAQ / 10. Examinations

10.1. What is the Japanese language proficiency test?

The Japanese language proficiency test (Japanese name: Nihongo Nōryoku Shiken) tests your ability to understand written and spoken Japanese. It is a multiple choice computer-marked exam.

There are several books about the Japanese proficiency test on the FAQ book reviews page.

The brochure information contains the following rough guide to the contents of the test:

Objectives and Administration

The number of foreigners studying Japanese is rapidly increasing worldwide, and the day has come when those who have acquired the language can put their skills to use in a wide variety of careers. Students of Japanese have often urged the establishment of a system by which their proficiency can be certified. Therefore, the Japan Foundation and the Association of International Education, Japan have devised this test and administered it for nonnative speakers since 1984, both in Japan and abroad, to meet that need. Outside Japan, the Japan Foundation co-sponsors the administration of the test jointly with local cultural exchange or educational institutions, or with administrative committees established for this purpose. In the UK, the test is administered by the Japan Research Centre at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Contents of the Test

This test has four different levels; the examinee should choose the level that best matches his or her ability and training. East test is made up of three sections: writing-vocabulary (100 points); listening (100 points); reading-grammar (200 points). The contents and criteria of the test are as follows:

Level 1: Writing-vocabulary 45 minutes; Listening 45 minutes; Reading-grammar 90 minutes.
The examinee has mastered grammar at a high level, knows about 2,000 Kanji and 10,000 words, and has an integrated command of the language sufficient for life in Japanese society and providing a useful base for study at a Japanese university. This level is normally reached after studying Japanese for about 900 hours.
Level 2: Writing-vocabulary 35 minutes; Listening 40 minutes; Reading-grammar 70 minutes.
The examinee has mastered grammar at a relatively high level, knows about 1,000 Kanji and 6,000 words, and has the ability to converse, read, and write about matters of a general nature. This level is normally reached after studying Japanese for about 600 hours and finishing an intermediate course.
Level 3: Writing-vocabulary 35 minutes; Listening 35 minutes; Reading-grammar 70 minutes.
The examinee has mastered grammar to a limited level, knows about 300 Kanji and 1,500 words, and has the ability to take part in everyday conversation and to read and write simple sentences. This level is normally reached after studying Japanese for about 300 hours and finishing an elementary course.
Level 4: Writing-vocabulary 25 minutes; Listening 25 minutes; Reading-grammar 50 minutes.
The examinee has mastered the basic elements of grammar, knows about 100 Kanji and 800 words, and has the ability to engage in simple conversation and to read and write short, simple sentences. This level is normally reached after studying Japanese for about 150 hours and finishing the first half of an elementary course.

Applying to take the test

Applications are usually accepted from August each year, and must be received by mid-October. The exam itself is held in early December, and results are published the following February.

For those who live in Japan, it is necessary to purchase the application forms from a bookshop. Furthermore, all the information is in Japanese, so you may need someone to help you to read it. To find out about the test in other parts of the world, ask in the nearest Japanese embassy or consulate.

Test specification book

A fuller guide to the vocabulary and characters that are testable at each of the four levels of the test can be found in the test specification book.

sci.lang.japan FAQ / 10. Examinations

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