Kanji Aptitude Test
English words made only from twenty-six characters? Are English a bit lazy or what? We have fifty thousand characters in Chinese
— A Concise Chinese – English Dictionary for Lovers — Xiaolu Guo
On Sunday 22 June at SOAS in London the 11th Kanji Aptitude Test in the UK will take place.
There are 12 levels ranging from level 1 with 6000 kanji, Genius level! to Level 10 with 80 kanji, primary school level. Each test takes 1 hour. The pass mark is a relatively high 70% or 80%.
Pretty much the real deal.
You can find details of the levels here.
The test fee is from £23 to £50 depending on level, but averaging about £25. Unlike the JLPT you are able to sit different levels on the same day.
This way you can either collect the full set of certificates, over time, or you can fall back on an easier level or stretch yourself by trying a higher level without having to wait a year to resit because you chose the wrong level. The only limitation seems to be the willingness to pay the fee for each level.
The tests are more traditional than JLPT; no multichoice here. You have to write your answers; both reading, where you write the hiragana for a kanji, and writing where you write the kanji are tested.
Stroke order and counting are also tested. So are the correct way of writing strokes and radicals.
Reading through sample pages, I think it also helps to have a good vocabulary and ability to speak Japanese. Context will help you a lot. Remember that these tests are actually for Japanese people rather than second language learners.
You can find sample tests on the Kanken site. The site is in Japanese however. The buttons to various levels are in the middle of the page. There are grade school tests available on this site which would be useful to practice with.
Application forms can be requested from SOAS, details are on their website. The deadline for applications is May 22. SOAS also say they can send you sample tests but somehow I didn’t get any with my application form.
I think I’m going to give level 8 (440 kanji) a go. (Maybe 9 to be safe! after all I have to write them as well.) For future years I’ll work towards level 5 which should overlap quite a bit with JLPT 2.