Monday, May 30, 2011

Applying for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test

Recent changes in the JLPT mean that it's now easier to take the test in Japan than it previously was. You can now take any level test twice a year (previously only the two highest levels were available twice). In celebration, here's a brief guide on how to apply.

If you are applying and taking the test outside of Japan, you can apply online when the time is right, but you may well have to travel quite far to find your test site. There are around 100 sites in 20 countries atm. Here's a list of locations.

Edit: Online application is now available within Japan. Click here for our guide.

Applying in Japan
  1. Go to a big bookstore, like Kinokinuya or Maruzei.
  2. Ask for, or find, the form. It should be either with the language learning books, or in front of the service counter. 
    1. NB: This form can sometimes sell-out, so it may be a good idea to get it early, or call the store before you leave and ask them to keep one back for you.
    2. It is sometimes possible to find these forms on online bookstores, like or However, make doubly sure that you have the right one, as they continue to stock out-of-date forms.
  3. Pay 500yen (or steal it because you didn't realise you had to pay, like I did...)
  4. Fill it out and send it off.
    1. The form is in English, and thankfully comes with a detailed guide on how to complete it.
    2. You will need to include a passport-sized photograph of yourself.
    3. If you make a mistake you will not be enrolled in the test, so be careful.
    4. You need to pay (5,500yen) via bank transfer before you mail the application, and include your receipt in the envelope.
Application dates
  1. Dates within which you can apply for each test during the year are not fixed, so you will have to check the website for current dates. Applications generally close about ten weeks before the tests (the two being early July and December).
What level should I aim for?
  1. Dunno, man. Have a look at the sample questions on the JLPT website for each level and see what you can manage.

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