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How to Prepare for the JLPT: Study Tips from a Student

How to Prepare for the JLPT: Study Tips from a Student

The Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) is one of the most popular standardized tests to evaluate and certify Japanese language ability for non-native speakers. Getting a qualification of Japanese language ability is necessary for international students wishing to study in universities in Japanese programs or work for a company in Japan. "Fluent" or "Business" level, which is equivalent to N1 or N2 level, are usually asked for applicants.


I am a Vietnamese student currently going to university in Kyoto. I want to share my experience of studying for JLPT. Hopefully, this article will be helpful for those wanting to ace this test.

Introduction to the JLPT

First of all, I will briefly explain the test for those just about planning to study for the first time.

There are five levels, and the test covers knowledge of Kanji, vocabulary, and grammar as well as skills of reading and listening. N5 is the lowest, and N1 is the highest degree. The maximum score is 180, with the passing score depending on the level. The table below summarizes the linguistic ability corresponding with each level, based on the official website.

Level Passing score Linguistic competency
N5 80/180 The ability to understand some basic Japanese.
N4 90/180 The ability to understand basic Japanese.
N3 95/180 The ability to understand Japanese used in everyday situations to a certain degree.
N2 90/180 The ability to understand Japanese used in everyday situations and various circumstances to a certain degree.
N1 100/180 The ability to understand Japanese used in various circumstances.

Source: JLPT official website

Summary of Linguistic Competence Required for Each Level:

Scoring Sections, Pass or Fail, Score Report:


Also, Study Kyoto has another article about the general information and how to study JLPT (What is the JLPT, and how can I ace it?).

Step 1: Set a goal

The first and the most important thing is to have a clear aim. Sometimes, the whole learning process could be challenging and unexciting, so it is essential to set the target to motivate yourself. JLPT takes place twice a year, on the first Sunday of July and December, so keep in mind this period for early preparation. Before starting, ask yourself these questions and write the answers down:

• What is my goal?
• Why do I want to study for the test?
• Why is it important?
• When should I achieve it?
• How can I get it?

Keep the answers where you can see them so you can look at them when you feel unmotivated. Let the initial objectives guide you through the entire journey.