December has finally come, everyone is feverish ‘cause Christmas and New Year’s eve are approaching and from now on even people who hate this period of the year have to get used to Christmas decoration everywhere and Mariah Carey’s “All in want for Christmas” played on repeat.

But for people who are studying Japanese like me, December means also JLPT.

What is JLPT? JLPT (“Japanese Language Proficiency Test), or in Japanese 日本語能力試験 “Nihongo nooryoku shiken”, is an exam that tests and certifies the level of Japanese of those who aren’t native Japanese speakers. The exam is held twice a year if you’re in Japan, respectively the first Sunday of July and of December. You can also apply for it in other countries, even if somewhere is held just once a year. For example in my country, that’s to say Italy, you can take it just in December.

There are 5 different levels, N1, N2, N3, N4 and N5. Each one measures the ability of the speaker in Japanese. N5 and N4 prove that you can understand basic Japanese, like daily life topics, N3 it’s an intermediate level, whereas N1 and N2 certify that you can broad in different topics, from everyday life to politics. The exam is divided in 3 sections, vocabulary, grammar and reading, and listening. Differently from other language certification exams, for example those measuring English proficiency, there’s no writing nor speaking.

Below you can find the tables showing the linguistic ability expected for each level, I made screen-captures from the official website.

There are different ways to apply, I made it through my Japanese language school, but you can also do it via Internet. Application opens 4/5 months before and closes 2 months before. Once you’ve done the payment (if I remember it well it’s around 5000 yen) your application is completed and you just have to wait until mid-July or mid-December to know where you have to take the exams. Yes, since the number of people trying the JLPT is huge, it’s held in different universities. For the results you have to wait for a couple of months.

I decided that I wanted to apply too, so last Sunday I tried the N3 level. Unfortunately, even if I have to wait 2 more months to get the results, I have the feeling that I didn’t pass it. It was more difficult than I expected and even if I studied maybe I should have put a little bit more effort in it. For me the most difficult part was listening. As soon as the new trimester started I’ve been attending the lessons to prepare for the N2. Even if I applied for the N3 I thought that maybe testing myself on something more difficult would have been useful. Anyway, I’m not giving up that easily and I’ve decided that I’m gonna try the N2 on July. This time I swear I’m gonna prepare for it better, also ‘cause it’s way more difficult.

If you’re studying Japanese and you’re thinking whether to try it or not I suggest you to do it. Comparing to other Language-proficiency exams it’s not that expensive and it might be an occasion to challenge your abilities. If you need to know more, you can check the official website:

Has anyone tried it? If so, what do you think about it?