Taking the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)

A few impressions given by forum users who have taken the JLPT (Japanese-Language Proficiency Test). It can be useful for those who are going to take it for the first time and want to be prepared for eventualities.

Time Constraints

  • I do remember thinking that the website practice problems were quite easy but that is more or less what the test is like. The real test is just longer… and timed… so there’s more chance for things you don’t know or aren’t familiar with to pop up and less time to wonder about them. (drdunlap)

  • If you care about passing the first time you take the test, or passing sooner rather than later, than I would recommend picking up a full practice test and attempting it with the same time limits as the real test. Including the same break period - that you only get a short break between the written and listening portion of the test is actually quite important. If you have trouble with the test because you can’t finish quickly enough then you’ll want to practice reading with little or no reliance on a dictionary to bring your speed up. (SomeCallMeChris)


  • The listening part comes after the written one. I’m sure most participants could do -much- better on the test if the listening portion came first… it’s hard to focus and process correctly when you’re still frazzled from the written part of the test. Not so much of a concern if you pass the written part with ease and time to spare. If you have no trouble with the written part but have trouble with the listening portion, you’ll want to work on your listening comprehension. The listening part is -really- easy compared to the written part, in terms of vocab and grammar. The listening part is purely a listening-comprehension test not a language knowledge test at all, because anyone who can pass the written test would find the listening test dead simple if it were also written out. (SomeCallMeChris)

  • I just took the JLPT in San Francisco. It was my first time taking the JLPT, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially for the listening section. I was pretty surprised that it was done by playing a cd from a player up in the front of the class vs. having headphones like many other standardized tests use. So during the listening section, the person to my right began having several coughing fits. He hadn’t coughed at all during the previous sections, so in addition to being distracted, I was caught off guard by it and didn’t know what to do. (jasberg) → If you’ve got a problem then speak up! Of course they won’t play the questions again if nobody says anything. Next time raise your hand or just say “hey I can’t hear anything because this guys coughing”. (quincy)

  • The biggest problem with that listening section is that proctors don’t really give a shit about audio quality in general. So they get these giant speakers for what tend to be pretty small rooms, and then turn them up way too loud so it’s echoing real bad too. They turn it up real loud ostensibly so “everyone can hear better” when, in fact, having stuff up real loud like that makes it harder to understand. I should treat it like a concert, and bring earplugs next time to see if it helps. Plugging one ear with a finger helped me understand what was being said better. (erlog)

  • I took JLPT in San Francisco in December as well (N2) and there were several disturbances, just like the year before. When the proctor reads the test instructions aloud at the beginning, they say there’s zero-tolerance, but that’s never the case. Irritating. (Khakionion)

  • I think if I take the test again I’ll practice by doing the listening quiz in public, out of my laptop speakers with other distractions going on. Prior to the test, I had only taken the practice listening sections with noise canceling headphones on. I’m pretty easily distracted and found the general shuffling of papers somewhat distracting even before the coughing fit. (jasberg)