A Complete Guide to Japanese JLPT Test 2021

Do you speak Japanese? Get an accurate level by taking the 2021 JLPT test, the most famous Japanese language proficiency exam worldwide.

Are you learning Japanese or planning to move to Japan? Then, chances are you might consider the JLPT—the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.

Besides the positive reasons you should learn how to communicate in a new language, you have many phenomenal benefits of studying Japanese.

If you decide to take Japanese to the next level or uncertain about the current strength, taking the JLPT test makes sense.

By doing this, you can discover your competency level. You will simultaneously earn the official certification accepted and recognized globally.

This guide will cover all the authentic detail you need to know about the JLPT examination.

I will also cover the 2021 registration procedure, question format, test structure, understanding the levels, marking system, preparation, and information about test centers, dates, and fees.

What is the Japanese Language Proficiency Test?

JLPT Exam

Inaugurated in 1984 in Japan, the Japanese language proficiency test (JLPT) is a standardized international exam to measure and certify the Japanese ability of non-native speakers worldwide.

The JLPT test assesses the candidate’s Japanese knowledge through writing, listening, reading comprehension, grammar, and vocabulary sections during the 1.5 to 3-hour examination.

Recognition & Acceptance

JEES (Japan Educational Exchanges and Services) administrates the exam in Japan. In contrast, the JF (Japan Foundation) operates overseas tests with local institutions’ help.

JLPT is the most well-known test for the Japanese language certification. Most businesses, public and private educational institutions, and governments trust it since the test design is explicitly for non-native speakers.

Advantages of JLPT

There are many clear advantages of JLPT. Here are the topmost ones.

Benefits of JLPT exam

1. Study in Japan

Suppose you’re planning to study in Japan. In that case, JLPT can be an excellent add-on to your profile while applying to Japanese colleges.

While the condition varies, but many Universities want you to pass a certain level of JLPT.

Sometimes, they also accept N1 by international students instead of taking the Japanese university (EJU) admission exam.

2. Work in Japan

Japan is truly a monolingual country.

For most jobs in Japan, you require having an outstanding grasp of the Japanese language. If you accomplish N2, it will play a significant role in finding employment in the country.

And if you hope to work as a nurse, caregiver, doctor, or working in the medical field. In that situation, JLPT N1 is often necessary to take Japan’s national exams for nurse and medical practitioners.

After clearing N2 and N1, you will receive 15 and 10 points under the government’s “Point-based Preferential Immigration Treatment System for Highly Skilled Foreign Professionals.”

Your application will also get priority at immigration if you score 70 points or higher.

The documentary record of the Japanese skill test added to other requirements on your CV will set you on your way to a positive interview process in Japan.

3. This opens various career opportunities

JLPT, an international certificate, is reliable proof of Japanese ability. Most companies, government establishments, and professionals seeking candidates with Japanese language competency accept it.

The scores help them understand prospective employees’ language skills and personality. Thus, this can enhance your job probabilities for the positions required to possess Japanese language skills.

As more careers requiring Japanese are opening up, JLPT’s importance has grown so much in the past many years.

Are you’re planning to seek employment possibility as a Japanese language specialist?

Then, JLPT can add both features and wings to your resume.

4. It helps you get scholarships.

Japan offers plenty of scholarships, fellowships, grants to deserving international students, and JLPT test scores are essentials for many.

This scholarship consists of a stipend every month and other perks throughout your stay in Japan. You can get a quality education in Japan at affordable or nearly free of cost.

The applicants who adhere to JASSO’s language specifications (JLPT N2/200 points in the EJU/ CEFR B2) get preferential treatment over those who don’t have JLPT certification.

5. To know your exact level & motivate you

Let’s say you’re learning Japanese for a while but unsure about your accurate level.

In that scenario, I recommend giving the JLPT test.

By taking this language exam, you will identify your current knowledge and focus on the parts you need to improve and fill the gap. It will encourage you to plan for the next JLPT test in a better way.

It is evidence of success compared with other Japanese learners across the world.

The joy of having a Japanese certification is that you can brag about it to your friends and have tangible proof you possess a certain Japanese level.

This results as a confidence booster. And also inspire you to continue to accomplish more goals in the Japanese language.

Everything About JLPT

Of all Japanese examinations, the JLPT (Japanese-Language Proficiency Test) is the most sought-after Japanese fluency test for non-native Japanese across the globe.

What are the JLPT levels?

JLPT

Earlier, JLPT comprises four levels, 1-4. However, in 2010 the composition has changed to add an extra one, i.e., 5th level.

The test has five levels (N1, N2, N3, N4, and N5), from level 5 for beginners to level 1 for advanced students. N1 is the most difficult one, whereas N5 is the easiest level.

What are the eligibility criteria?

There are no particular prerequisites. Any non-native Japanese speakers from anywhere in the world can take the JLPT, including those who hold Japanese citizenship. Plus, there are no age restrictions.

A Breakdown of the JLPT Exam Structure

JLPT test is of 180 marks.

For N1 to N3 — Test questions have three sections. (i) Vocabulary & Grammar, (ii) Reading, and (iii) Listening.

JLPT test structure

For N4 and N5, we have only two subdivisions: (i) Vocabulary & Grammar and Reading, and (ii) Listening.

N4 and N5 cover an elementary understanding of Japanese, mainly you learn in the classroom. It implies you can read Hiragana, Katakana, and 100 to 300 Kanji.

N1 and N2 evaluate advanced Japanese used in a broad range of actual everyday scenes. You need roughly 2000 to 2500 Kanji and over 10,000 words for N1.

N3, an intermediate level tossed halfway between N4 and N2.

You can find sample papers with answers on the official website, along with reference books and supporting study materials.

What are the passing marks for JLPT?

To qualify, you need to meet two mandatory criteria:

  • (i) The minimum overall score, and
  • (ii) The minimum section score.

You require a score of 19/60 or 38/120 in each of these for individual passing.

Japanese language proficiency test

One of the notable shortcomings of the JLPT is that it has no speaking part, probably because answers can differ and have to grade by hand.

The JLPT is entirely in MCQ format. It is on a multiple-choice computer-scored answer sheet. There are typically four choices, but some listening questions have only three options.

How to Apply?

Anyone wishing to take the test should register at least two to three months in advance (check the official website for exact dates).

You can register by email or online only during the registration period.

You can also visit your nearest centers, along with a passport-sized photograph, the registration fee, and a photo-identity card like a passport, driving license. Finally, fill the complete application form.

2021 JLPT Test Dates

The authority conduct JLPT twice a year – July and December, in various cities inside and outside of Japan. In some locations, they run only once per year.

For example, in the USA, you can take JLPT on the first Sunday of December. In comparison, you can take twice in India (July and December).

2021 JLPT test dates would be 4th July 2021 (Sunday) and 5th December 2021 (Sunday). You can visit the website of the official test centers for the most up-to-date information.

They schedule the test in two shifts — Morning 10:00 am to 12:00 noon and afternoon from 2:00 to 5:00 pm.

JLPT Test centers around the world in 2021

As of January 2021, there are 47 testing venues in Japan, 274 overseas centers in 94 countries worldwide. The total number of candidates has surpassed 1 million in 2017.

There are 8 test JLPT centers in India — Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, Pune, Santiniketan (West Bengal), and Salem (Tamil Nadu).

In the USA, there are several authorized testing centers — Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Honolulu, Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Fayetteville (Arkansas), Philadelphia, Boston, Houston, Ann Arbor, Boulder, Columbus, Miami, Portland, and Newark.

You can check the entire list on the official site.

When do they announce the Results?

Usually, you will receive the JLPT scores and results within two months from the test day. For example, for the test held in July and December, they traditionally announced in the last week of August and January of next year.

All examinees in each level receive a Score Report. Plus, the successful candidates get a “Certificate of Proficiency.”

What is the validity of the JLPT score?

Unlike Korean TOPIK, Spanish SIELE, and French TEF Canada, the JLPT score never expires. Once you pass the test, it is valid forever.

However, many educational institutions and companies have their own set of rules. For instance, some only acknowledge if you have gained the certification in the last 2-5 years. But a vast majority consider it, regardless of when you took the test.

What is the examination fee?

The registration fee for each level varies, depending on where you plan to give the test.

The cost is nominal compared to other popular language tests like DELF, CELI, TestDaF, DELE, and HSK.

For illustration, the price is $60 to $75 in the USA. It ranges between ₹ 1000 to 1600 and 90 to 100 AUD in India and Australia, respectively.

How to prepare for the JLPT?

JLPT test preparation

Perseverance, interest, and regular practice are the key ingredients to success in JLPT.

The first thing you should focus on building vocabulary. Once you complete Hiragana and Katakana, your next step should be to start Kanji. You can eventually expand the number of Kanji through consistent practice over a while.

It will later benefit you in reading, grammar, and listening comprehension. Combining everything will enhance your progress and will sound natural.

These days, there are varieties of tools readily available on the internet, especially for this purpose. You can take the help of language apps, such as Memrise and Duolingo, LMS courses, YouTube Videos, Audio podcast, J-Movies, and online study materials.

But these online tools can be a starting point, not the end. Japanese is one of the most complicated languages, and it takes enormous time to gain any meaningful fluency.

Thus, it would be better to take lessons from a Japanese teacher or enroll in any Japanese courses near you. Thanks to a growing demand for Japanese studies, you will find many choices across the world.

It bridges the gap between the skills you learned for the JLPT test and real conversational Japanese. It can cement your existing knowledge a few weeks before the test.

It would also be advisable to read the cultural aspects since you won’t fully understand Japanese unless you know Japan.

Most Common Frequently Asked Questions

Should you take the Japanese JLPT Test?

You may wish to check your precise level and challenge yourself. Or perhaps you need a high score for a visa application, or you fancy getting better at using Japanese for your professional reason.

Whatever may be your reason, taking the JLPT test can be a worthwhile endeavor to help you in your personal and professional life. You can show potential interviewers that you are indeed fluent, depending on the levels you have passed.

Do you have questions for me? Let your thoughts flow like Kanji in the comment section below!

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Vikash Gupta

Vikash Gupta

I’m a linguist, cinephile, lifelong learner, educator, blogger, and fun-loving guy. I write at StudyFrenchSpanish, LanguageNext and JoyOfKorean.

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