The biannual Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) is held in July and December and is touted as the most popular benchmark for folks in Japan and abroad searching for a goal to work toward in their personal studies or a certification to help them break into Japan’s workforce.

Exclusively multiple choice with no speaking or writing requirements, the JLPT is divided into five levels and is scored on a pass-fail point system. N5 and N4 cover basic kana, kanji and grammar points most common to everyday interactions, while N3 is the middle ground before the leap to N2 and N1’s battery of advanced kanji and technical understanding.

Test length and structure also vary depending on the level. N5, N4 and N3 are broken down into three sections: 25 to 30 minutes for vocabulary, 50 to 70 minutes on reading comprehension and 30 to 40 minutes devoted to listening. N2 and N1 both compress vocabulary and grammar into a single reading comprehension session lasting 105 and 110 minutes, respectively, with 50 minutes (N2) and 60 minutes (N1) for listening.

Applications open in April and September and can be submitted via snail mail or online by creating a MyJLPT account on the Japan Educational Exchanges and Services website.

The site doesn’t openly list a price for domestic applicants, but the most recent test, held on Dec. 2, was ¥5,500. The December test was also offered in all 47 prefectures.

Even if you’re in Japan for only a year or two, getting at least one level of JLPT certification can help you with job hunts when you go back home. When prospective employers see that you made the effort to engage with the community by trying to learn the language, it’ll only help in making your application stand out.

For your preparedness please sign up for our JLPT Test sample exercises on our Goocus App at Castalia.co.jp

Esther Waliaula