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The Japanese Language Proficiency Test

Well? How was it for you?

This is a test administered in early December of each year, in a couple of places in Japan and various locations worldwide. Last year (1999), in Japan, the test was on Sunday December 5th, so you'll have to wait a while for the next one.

I, like some of you, I'm sure, received my test results for the 1999 test in mid-February of this year. And the good news is... I passed! I was rather surprised because I assumed that I had screwed up the grammar section, but in fact I got a fairly respectable mark.

Luckily my kanji and vocab score was solid - if it hadn't been, then I would have had to re-think the whole idea of doing this website, I suppose...

If you've just got your results, then I hope you got the result you were looking for. Specifically, if you did Level 3 in room 1101 at Tokyo University Kyogo Campus, then perhaps we've already met...

PS: Where is the apple? "Kodomo no onaka no naka" - how we chuckled!

The official bits

There's an official website, which gives plenty of up-to-date information on the test sites and so on. Better that you hear it from them rather than me. Wherever you are, your teacher ought to be able to tell you how to get hold of the application forms.

What they don't tell you on the official website is that the application forms are some of the most complicated things you will ever have seen. When I did the Level 4 in 1998, it took a good hour and a half for my teacher to talk me through the application process. But then maybe I'm just dim. Certainly it was quicker last time (1999), but I challenge you to find anyone who enjoys writing their address out in kanji seven times - five of those on the same form.

Possibly the best advice I could give you would be to take the test in a different country, thereby bypassing all the byzantine Japanese bureaucracy. You can contact the JLPT to request information on where the test is administered in your own country, or just try to find a language school yourself.

Now the good news. The test itself isn't so bad. The question papers are the same format every year, so a little preparation can go a long way. Also, they are all multiple choice, so there's no actual writing involved.

I can only speak for Levels 4 and 3, of course. The general consensus among those I have spoken to is that passing Level 4 is possible after less than a year of part-time study. Level 3 probably requires a further year's part-time study (lucky that, seeing as how you have exactly one year to prepare for the next one...). To make the jump from 3 to 2 in a year appears much harder. And people who have passed Level 2 go all misty-eyed when the subject of Level 1 is raised, as if talking about some mysterious holy grail that many have heard rumour of, yet remains only the stuff of legend...

The Official JLPT Site The official site of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test
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