Many jobs in Japan require a Japanese-Language Proficiency Test certification. For JETs seeking a personal challenge, the JLPT can provide a study goal. Below you will find resources to help you prepare.
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What is the JLPT?
The Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) certifies the Japanese competency of non-native speakers and is currently the most widely recognised Japanese language examination worldwide.
When and where can I take the test?
The test is held twice a year in Japan, once in July and once in December. To check your nearest test location and to get further details, please check the JEES website.
What level should I take?
After a format change in 2010, there are now 5 different levels from N1 to N5. N1 is the most difficult and N5 is the easiest. If you are unsure of your level, please check the JLPT level summary or look at some sample questions. You can also find a level checker at http://www.tanos.co.uk/jlpt/levelcheck/.
What kind of test is it?
The test is made up of multiple choice questions. N1 and N2 involve 2 tests: language knowledge (vocabulary and grammar) plus reading and a separate listening test. N3, N4 and N5 involve 3 different papers: language knowledge (vocabulary), language knowledge (grammar) plus reading and a listening test.
Sample questions can be found here. Although past papers are not available, most JLPT study books include numerous practice questions in the style of the exam and practice question books are also on sale.
How do I apply?
The application period for the JLPT will run from March to late April for the July Test and from August to late September for the December test. Applying online is the easiest method while residing in Japan. Make an account on JEES, following all of the steps. You can pay the 5,500円application fee online via credit card or at a conbini inputting the code sent to you in a Loppi ticket machine and paying at the counter. In addition, physical application packs cost 500円 and can be purchased at large book stores. The enclosed application form must be sent via delivery certified mail and the 5,500円application fee can be paid at the post office.
Applicants will receive a test voucher, required for entry into the exam, in mid-June (July test) or mid-November (December test).
JLPT results are sent out in mid-September and mid-February respectively.
How do I study for the JLPT?
Most large book shops will have a good selection of JLPT study materials specific to each test. Some books may have been written for pre-2010 version of the test so be careful you are getting the book for the correct level. There are a wide variety of grammar, vocabulary and kanji specific books and well as practice questions and flashcards which can also be purchased online.
Here is a selection of useful online resources for JLPT study:
www.tanos.co.uk: Created by an English teacher in Tokyo, this website includes a wide selection of resources organised by JLPT level.
http://www.japanesepod101.com/: Although access to a lot of its materials is via subscription only, Japanese pod 101 offers a big selection of podcasts, practice questions, flashcards and other materials aimed at those taking the JLPT. Many of the lower level materials are available free.
www.kanjibox.net: This application, available via facebook, can be used for kana, kanji, vocabulary and grammar drills and testing for all JLPT levels.
http://www.jlptbootcamp.com/jlpt-resources/: A number of useful JLPT study resources.
Official guidelines, dates, and registration information for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test can be found here.