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April 25, 2010

Big changes being made to the Japanese Language Proficiency Test


There will be a new format for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test starting from July this year. The biggest change is the introduction of a new level between what used to be 'Level 3' and 'Level 2'. There will now be five levels, N1, N2, N3, N4, N5, where N1 is the highest level and equivalent to what used to be 'Level 1'. 'N' stands for both 'New' and 'Nihongo'.

The tests are administered by JEES (Japan Educational and Exchanges Services), who say they also plan to be much more careful about ensuring that tests are of a consistent level. There have been many complaints that tests taken in one year are quite a lot easier or more difficult than the same level tests taken in other years.

Levels N1-N3 can be taken twice a year, in July and December. Levels N4-N5 can only be taken in December. The Japan Times also reports: 'As to the specifics, N5-N3 all retain three sections: language knowledge (vocabulary), language knowledge (grammar)/reading, and listening. But grammar and reading have been made one section instead of separate subsections, and you will answer grammar and content questions pertaining to readings at least a paragraph in length instead of answering single-sentence grammar questions and content-only reading questions. For levels N1 and N2, the test has been trimmed to two sections: language knowledge/reading; and listening. The language knowledge section will combine both vocabulary and grammar.'

Click here for the full Japan Times article which reports more details of the changes to the tests. Click here to apply for the test or get further information in English.

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