Japanese Language Proficiency Test

Japanese-Language Proficiency Test 日本語能力試験

Woman Studying for Japanese Language Proficiency Test

The Japan Foundation and the Japan Educational Exchanges and Services co-administer a bi-annual test known, in English, as the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (in Japanese, it is called the Nihongo Noryoku Shiken).

The Japanese-Language Proficiency Test is conducted both in Japan and outside Japan to evaluate and certify the language proficiency of non-native speakers of Japanese.

Job Hunting

Having passed Level One of the Test is a prerequisite for employment at many companies - and a big boost for those looking for full-time work at universities.

Test Locations

In addition to multiple locations in Japan, the test is also held in China, Taiwan, South Korea, Southeast Asia, Europe, South America, and North America. For a complete list of locations, click here.

Japanese-Language Proficiency Test Levels

The test has four levels: Level 1 - Level 4. Level 1 is the highest level, and is used primarily for foreign students seeking admission at a Japanese university.

Level One

900 hours of study recommended

Writing-Vocabulary: 45 mins - 100 points
Listening: 45 mins - 100 points
Reading-Grammar: 90 mins - 200 points

Total: 180 mins - 400 points

Level Two

600 hours of study recommended

Writing-Vocabulary: 45 mins - 100 points
Listening: 40 mins - 100 points
Reading-Grammar: 70 mins - 200 points

Total: 145 mins - 400 points

Level Three

300 hours of study recommended

Writing-Vocabulary: 35 mins - 100 points
Listening: 35 mins - 100 points
Reading-Grammar: 70 mins - 200 points

Total: 140 mins - 400 points

Level Four

100 hours of study recommended

Writing-Vocabulary: 25 mins - 100 points
Listening: 25 mins - 100 points
Reading-Grammar: 50 mins - 200 points

Total: 100 mins - 400 points

Passing the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test

To pass you need 70% in Level 1, 60% in all other levels.


Applications can be purchased at major bookstores, and must be submitted several months prior to the test. It is not possible to apply online.

A revised version of the test is scheduled to begin in 2010.

Tips for Success in the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test

If you are from a non-kanji using country - i.e., anywhere except China, Taiwan, South Korea to a certain extent (and of course Japan) - you are in for a long haul if you hope to make it to Level 1.

Use flash cards, study early in the morning, use mnemonic devices, and take practice tests (available for purchase in book stores). Patterns will emerge, and you will improve in fits and starts. Persist.

Study Aids for the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test

See a full listing of books on the Japanese language or invest in a Japanese-English dictionary.

Books on Learning Japanese

Goods From Japan to your home or business.