New JLPT specifications


I read an interesting document about the new JLPT specifications for the test starting in 2010 from the Japan Foundation.

Considering the search terms people use in Google these points are a big departure from the old test:

There are no plans to publish collections of complete copies of tests administered in past years.


The goal of learning Japanese is not to memorize vocabulary, kanji, and grammar, but to become capable of using them as a means of communication. The new test is to measure both “Japanese language knowledge, including vocabulary and grammar,” and “the competence required to perform communicative tasks using language knowledge.” Therefore, we determined that it is not appropriate to publish “Test Content Specifications” which includes the lists of vocabulary, kanji, and grammar.


Failure to exceed the minimum acceptable score in any scoring sections will result in a fail for the entire test, even if your total score is above the minimum acceptable score.

While the old levels 1 through 4 map more or less onto the new N1, N2, N4, and N5, figuring out N3 will be a challenge in the beginning. I wonder if people won’t just study for the old level 2 and take N3 if they don’t feel confident.

I suppose the many and varied JLPT sites with lists of kanji and grammar points will still exist. Maybe many unchanged. Publishing companies may start publishing their own guesses at what material is required or re-jigging their old books in new covers perhaps. I do predict a fair amount of confusion in the short term, until the Japan Foundation starts publishing some example tests or textbooks.

The requirement to pass each section in order to pass overall is new. No longer can your kanji ability carry your weak listening ability. Although the score requirements have yet to be published, I think the pass requirement might be lowered and two pass levels Weak and Good will be introduced from what I see in the booklet.

Overall it’s a more modern sounding test. The emphasis has changed to testing real world abilities rather than memorisation and exam technique. The main guideline is now the “Linguistic Competence Required”.
Ideally an oral exam and written exam would also be offered but within it’s limits (multi-choice and thousands of candidates) JLPT is trying to keep up with modern ideas about language teaching and learning.

I wonder if I’ll attempt N3 this June. I reckon I have “the ability to understand Japanese used in everyday situations to a certain degree.” What that certain degree is I’m not sure!
I wonder if SOAS will offer it.
In the meantime here’s a link to sample questions on the new JLPT test.

11. December 2009 by ロバート
Categories: 01 news • 新聞, 02 reading • 読む事, 04 listening • 聞く事 | Tags: , | 6 comments

Comments (6)