JLPT Guide/About JLPT

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The Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) (日本語能力試験 nihongo nōryoku shiken) was set up in 1984 in response to the increasing demand of students of the Japanese language to certify their proficiency. There are five levels: N5 (easiest) to N1 (hardest).


The JLPT tests are held twice a year. In December all five levels can be taken but in July only the most difficult levels, levels 1 and 2, can be taken. The test date for winter is in December and the application period is usually September-October.

If you are interested in applying for the JLPT test, see [1] for your nearest test center. Also ask about the application period and application fee as they differ in each country. The JLPT is offered in approximately 40 countries.

In Japan, the test is administered by the Japan Educational Exchanges and Services (JEES) (財団法人 日本国際教育支援協会 zaidan hōjin nihon kokusai kyōiku shien kyōkai), [2], while the Japan Foundation (独立行政法人 国際交流基金 dokuritsu gyōsei hōjin kokusai kōryū kikin) administers overseas tests.


Important note to students wishing to study in Japanese universities:

The JLPT certification was a requirement for entry into Japanese universities until 2003. The Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU) replaces JLPT as the requirement for university entry in Japan. More on this will be written on a seperate page.

Test sections[edit]

Level Test section
(test time)
Total duration
N1 Language Knowledge (Vocabulary/Grammar)・Reading
(110 min)
(60 min)
170 min
N2 Language Knowledge (Vocabulary/Grammar)・Reading
(105 min)
(50 min)
155 min
N3 Language Knowledge (Vocabulary)
(30 min)
Language Knowledge (Grammar)・Reading
(70 min)
(40 min)
140 min
N4 Language Knowledge (Vocabulary)
(30 min)
Language Knowledge (Grammar)・Reading
(60 min)
(35 min)
125 min
N5 Language Knowledge (Vocabulary)
(25 min)
Language Knowledge (Grammar)・Reading
(50 min)
(30 min)
105 min

To pass the test, the test taker must be over the minimum overall score and also over the minimum score in each section.

Level Overall pass mark
(180 points total)
Language knowledge
Reading Listening
N1 100 points 19 points 19 points 19 points
N2 90 points 19 points 19 points 19 points
N3 95 points 19 points 19 points 19 points
Total possible 180 points 60 points 60 points 60 points

Above tables from Japanese Language Proficiency Test.

Estimated Study Time[edit]

Study hour comparison data published by the Japanese Language Education Center:

JLPT Study Hour Comparison Data 2010-2015 [1]
Level Students with kanji knowledge 

(e.g. speakers of Chinese or Korean)

Other students

(no prior kanji knowledge)

N1 1700~2600 hours 3000~4800 hours
N2 1150~1800 hours 1600~2800 hours
N3 700~1100 hours 950~1700 hours
N4 400~700 hours 575~1000 hours
N5 250~450 hours 325~600 hours

Old test levels[edit]

In 2010, the test changed from four levels to five. Additionally, the criteria for passing the JLPT was changed, requiring a passing mark in all sections of the test, not just an overall passing mark. Some websites have not been updated to reflect this change, but the material on them for N5, N4, and N1 can be considered fairly reliable, since those tests are much the same as before.

Year Equivalent levels
Past - 2009 Level 4 Level 3 Level 2 Level 1
⬋ ⬊
2010 - present N5 N4 N3 N2 N1

External links[edit]