Created for expats living in Japan

JLPT for Studying and Working in Japan

JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) is without a doubt one of the most popular Japanese language tests for non-native speakers. If you already live in Japan or plan to study or work there in the future, taking the JLPT can be extremely beneficial. While there is nothing that prevents you from preparing for the test on your own, attending one of the language schools can help with your studies and make the process more efficient. If you live in Tokyo, please check our list of Japanese language schools in Tokyo.

There are also a variety of other ways to improve your Japanese language skills. For instance, language exchange can be a great way to practice Japanese. You can also study from the comfort of your home with an online tutor.  If you are looking for a job in Japan, be sure to check our articles about job search websites and recruitment agencies.

Why Would I Need JLPT?

You may be wondering about benefits of taking the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. To begin with, it is an official certificate that proves your level of Japanese language. When considering foreign candidates for employment, some companies may request the JLPT certificate. It can also be used to meet the language requirements for studying at the university in Japan,  "specified skilled worker (i) " visa, certain national exams in the medical field, or to earn extra points for “preferential immigration treatment based on the point-based system for highly skilled professionals" program.

JLPT Levels

The Japanese Language Proficiency Test used to have four levels. However, the test was revised in 2010 and the number of levels was increased. Nowadays the test has five levels ranging from N5 (beginner) to N1 (the most advanced) .

In Japan, the JLPT is held twice a year, in July and December.  At the time of application for the test, you must select the level you wish to take. Beginners may start with N5 and work their way up to N1. If you feel confident about your Japanese language ability, you can skip all other levels and go straight to N1. It is not required to take JLPT levels in any particular order. There is also no limit on the number of attempts. In order to pass the test, you would need to achieve the minimum required score in total and each section.

If you are not confident about speaking or writing Japanese kanji by hand, no need to worry! There is no speaking and writing sections in the test. The JLPT assess your knowledge of Japanese grammar, vocabulary, as well as reading and listening skills. 


The JLPT N5 can be recommended for Japanese language learners who have studied basic grammar, vocabulary, etc. to some extent, and would like to have their language proficiency formally evaluated.


At this level, it can be said that you can use Japanese at the basic level. This is also the minimum level of the JLPT that can be used when applying for "specified skilled worker (i)" visa.


Passing the JLPT N3 indicates that you have mastered Japanese language to the point where you can use it in daily life. Although it may be useful when applying for certain jobs, many employers will probably ask for N1 or N2 certificates.


If you intend to use the JLPT for educational or professional purposes, there is a high probability that you would be asked to demonstrate at least N2 level. Generally speaking, this is considered as the minimum language requirement for studying at the university in Japan (subject to certain exceptions). Regarding the  “preferential immigration treatment based on the point-based system for highly skilled professionals” program, you would earn 10 points for passing the JLPT N2.  


This is the highest level of Japanese language proficiency that can be assessed by the JLPT. Whether you are looking for a job or plan to study at the university or college in Japan, N1 will certainly be helpful. If you apply for “preferential immigration treatment based on the point-based system for highly skilled professionals” program, it will get you 15 points. This level of the JLPT is also a language requirement for taking certain national examinations for foreign medical degree or license holders (subject to certain exceptions).

If you are not sure what level of the JLPT to aim for, you can always check sample questions in a form of quiz for each level. It is a very useful tool to get a grasp of what kind of Japanese language knowledge is required by various levels.


While living in Japan and using Japanese on daily basis is an excellent way to improve your language skills, preparing specifically for the JLPT is also important. Textbooks are effective for accumulating necessary vocabulary, studying grammar structures, as well as practicing listening and reading skills. 

Among many fantastic textbooks,  "Nihongo Sou Matome" can be especially recommended.  You can either choose an edition with English, Chinese, Korean translations, or opt for the one with translations available in English and Vietnamese languages. This series of textbooks covers all levels from N5 to N1. "Shin Kanzen Masuta" and official practice workbooks are also highly recommended. Please note that there are no "Shin Kanzen Masuta" for N5 level.

If you feel you are ready to take the JLPT, please register at the official website and check the information on the application process, deadlines, and other updates.