The Japanese Language Proficiency Test is the most recognized standard test for judging your Japanese language ability. It has several levels, with 1 being the most difficult level. It seems that on each level the demands for vocabulary and kanji character knowledge roughly doubles. The test is held all over Japan and internationally as well. I just came back from Takamatsu where the test was held for Shikoku this time (July 2013) to attempt it.
The types of questions that were in the test:
- Sentences with kanji underlined and you have to know the reading of the kanji.
- Sentences with hiragana underlined and you have to know the kanji that would be suitable. Some of these were really tricky, the options given would be the same kanji except for just one different radical.
- Sentences with word (kanji or kana) underlined and have to know the meaning of that word. Explaining concepts in other words. For example 単なる -> ただの.
- Get a word, need to select correct usage of word from four example sentences.
- Have four words that need to be arranged in the correct order and need to report which word was selected for a certain slot.
- Longer story with some words missing, have to select suitable words from among options.
- Some text. Then a multiple-choice question about the contents. For example we were presented with an article about how time of the day affects your ability to study and were then asked questions such as whether 10am is better for studying than 3pm according to this article.
- Listen to speech and answer question. I felt the language used in the spoken test was easier than in written. This not only tests your Japanese ability, but your memory a bit as well.
Talking with others taking the JLPT test with me, the most common question seemed to be "how well do I have to do pass"? In our case the answer was that you needed to get 90 points out of 180 to pass JLPT level 2. But not only that, each section (listening comprehension etc.) has their own minimum requirements that must also be met. In other words, to pass you need to have a good overall score, but also have a good enough score in each of 言語知識 (文字, 語彙, 文法), 読解 and 聴解. More specifically, for 言語知識 (60 max) need to get minimum 19. 読解 (60 max) need to get 19. 聴解 (max 60) need 19.
The test lasted for 155 minutes. There was one break in between where you were allowed to leave the classroom. The rules were strict, each section stopped and started at one minute accuracy.