Friday, January 15, 2010

the ultimate Japanese language test

There is a Japanese test for Japanese people that has 7 different levels. 3 are elementary levels, and 2 each of intermediate and advanced levels. The elementary levels are at elementary school level. The intermediate levels are junior high and high school level. The two advanced levels are college and adult level. See the embedded spreadsheet below for a summary. I created it from one of their documents.

And for every level, there is a possibility of getting a sub-level ranking. If you score 70% or better, your level rank is in full, but if you score 60%, you'll get a sub-level rank for levels 7 to 3. For levels 2 and 1, 70% will only get you the sub-level rank. You need 80% to make the full grade.

The time for taking this test is 60 minutes for the top 3 levels and 50 minutes for the others. So it is much shorter than the Japanese tests for foreigners. The testing fee is cheaper for the lower levels. It starts at 1400 yen. Level 1, the highest level, is 6,000 yen.

The website for the test is

There are a lot of preparation materials for this test too, but don't look in the foreign language section. You won't find anything there for this test. You have to go to the section of the bookstore that has books for tests for Japanese people. You'll find books for the Japan Kanji test there as well.

If you do use any of the books specially written for this Japanese language test, you'll be studying them entirely in Japanese. Even for the lowest level, you'll only find books written in Japanese.

I'll search for some books the next time I go to the used book store.

The advantage of taking this test is that once you pass a level, you can actually say what level of Japanese understanding you have. If you pass level 4 then you can consider your ability equivalent to a junior high school student. If you can pass level 3, then you can say you know as much as a high school student should know. Whereas with the JLPT, you can't really make that comparison.

There are some example questions for each level available at the official website.
Click here for Level 7 questions. Be careful on that page; the link to level 6 is currently pointing at level 7. If you go to one of the other levels, though, the link to 6 will be correct.

I'm not positive, but I think there is no listening section on the test. That would be reasonable since people do not need to have their listening comprehension tested in their native language.

I am considering taking this test, starting from the lowest level. It's cheap and I ought to be able to pass the lower levels easily. At least levels 7 and 6. It would be interesting to find out which level becomes difficult for me and why.

The testing times are arranged so that you could take two tangent levels on the same day. Such as 7 and 6 or 6 and 5, etc.

If I do take it, you can expect to see a post here announcing the results. Until then, happy testing, everybody!

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