It’s that time again! Those planning on taking the JLPT test or interesting in improving your Japanese should check out PlaySay. Click on the BT PlaySay link to test it out! PlaySay can be downloaded to ANY MP3 device. The picture above and below show PlaySay on an iPod. (Pix credit to Japan Newbie)

PlaySay is a great resource for preparing for the Japanese Language ProficiencyTest (nihongo n?ryoku shiken?), or JLPT, which is a standardized test to evaluate and certify the language proficiency of non-native Japanese speakers. It is held once every year, on the first Sunday of December. The JLPT has four levels beginning at level 4 and progressing to level 1 – the most difficult. The Japan Foundation estimates that level 4 is reached after approximately 150 hours of study and level 1 after approximately 900 hours of study.


The content of the test is determined by the Test Content Specification (Shutsudai kijun?). The Test Content Specification was first published in 1994 and partially revised in 2002 and serves as a reference for examiners to compile test questions (rather than as a study guide for students). The JLPT student is therefore required to obtain past-exam papers or other publications that reference the Test Content Specification in order to determine what to study.

The test specification is written in Japanese and consists of kanji lists, expression lists, vocabulary lists and grammar lists for all four JLPT levels.

The JLPT exam does not require the examinee to write in Japanese, as all of the questions are multiple choice. The questions classified as writing involve choosing the correct word or grammar to complete a sentence, or choosing which kanji is used in a particular word.

Test content and requirements summary
Level Kanji Vocabulary Listening Hours of Study Pass Mark
4 ~100 (103) ~800 (728) Beginner ~150 60%
3 ~300 (284) ~1,500 (1409) Basic ~300
2 ~1000 (1023) ~6,000 (5035) Intermediate ~600
1 ~2000 (1926) ~10,000 (8009) Advanced ~900 70%

Numbers in brackets indicate the exact number in the current Test Content Specification (Revised Edition, 2004). Note that about 20% of the kanji, grammar or vocabulary in any one exam may not be in the prescribed lists and may be selected at the discretion of exam compilers

Test sections

Part One: Characters (Kanji) and Vocabulary – 100 points

The first part of the exam has an average of between 35 and 45 questions that require knowledge of kanji characters and vocabulary. That is, identifying the right kanji character; selecting the correct katakana and hiragana reading; and choosing the most appropriate word for a given sentence.

Part Two: Listening Comprehension – 100 points

Consists of two sections. The first, involves identifying the correct picture from a selection of four, based on a given conversation. In section two, a conversation is also heard but four possible answers are given orally.

Part Three: Reading Comprehension and Grammar – 200 points

Approximately 20 to 30 questions regarding grammatical constructions, and 20 to 30 questions based on reading comprehension are given in Part Three. These may include fill-in-the-blank parts of a conversation and answering problems or paraphrasing.

Duration of answering time for each section
Level Kanji and
Reading Comprehension
and Grammar
4 25 min 25 min 50 min 100 min
3 35 min 35 min 70 min 140 min
2 35 min 40 min 70 min 145 min
1 45 min 45 min 90 min 180 min

Application procedure

An application form must be submitted during a particular time period – usually from early July to early September – along with a fee. The fee is a fixed price for all examinees in Japan, while outside of Japan, fees are determined by the local host institution in consultation with the Japan Foundation.



An example of a JLPT Certificate of Proficiency, awarded for passing Level 3 JLPT, conducted in December 2005

All examinees receive a report including a breakdown of their score for each section of the test. Those who pass also receive a Certificate of Proficiency. Exams take several months to process, hence results are announced the following February for examinees in Japan, and March for overseas candidates. Test results are given to the examinee through the testing organization or centre to which they applied.

Results of the 2007 JLPT in Japan 
Level Applicants Examinees Certified  % Certified
1 47,761 42,923 14,338 33.4%
2 34,782 31,805 11,884 37.4%
3 16,808 15,710 8,664 55.1%
4 3,908 3,383 2,332 68.9%

Study 3 Ways!

* Actual product images are 2x as large as shown below
1) English to Japanese
2) Japanese to English
3) All Combined
You can review or order PlaySay buy clicking here!