Language tests are a great way to set goals for yourself during your time on JET. Sadly, most of the tests are not offered within Akita, but for many they are worthwhile nonetheless. Be aware that many of these test do not check for practical Japanese ability, but rather for skills that company has deemed important.
Japanese Language Proficiency Test
The JLPT (日本語能力試験; nihongo nouryoku shiken) is the most widely used test in the Japanese language testing world. It has 5 levels ranging from N1 to N5. N5 is for beginners, and N1 is for people who have spent a considerable amount fo time an resources studying Japanese. The test for all 5 levels is in December. Levels N3 though N1 are also available in July.
Check the official JLPT website for official test dates.
- JLPT Resources Everything needed to study for the JLPT.
- Guide to the 2008 JLPT
- JLPT Kanji Project
- The JLPT Study Page
- Yoshida Institute: Learning Kanji for the JLPT
- Read the Kanji The test is SRS based. It shows you a kanji or a kanji compound, and a sample sentence. You can set the tests according to JLPT level. Hiragana and katakana are free, the rest is$6 for a trial and $20 for a year.
- Renshuu JLPT website of quizzes.
- JLPT kanji and vocabulary lists
Nihon Kanji Nouryoku Kentei
The Nihon Kanji Nouryoku Kentei (日本漢字能力検定; にほんかんじのうりょくけんてい), often shortened to just Kanji Kentei or Kanken, is a kanji proficiency test. It is mostly intended for Japanese people, but foreigners can take it too. There are 12 levels, 10 through 1 and pre-2 and pre-1. Level 10, the easiest, is aimed at first grade elementary students and tests approximately 80 kanji. Level 1, the hardest, tests approximately 6000 kanji. The test can be taken at the public testing sites (including Akita City and Odate) or in some cases, if you talk to the Japanese teacher at your school, can be taken at your school with your students. For more information (in Japanese), see the Kanji Kentai homepage.
Business Japanese Test
The Business Japanese Test (ビジネス日本語能力テスト; Business Nihongo Nouryoku Test) (homepage), or BJT for short, is offered by the 日本漢字能力検定協会, or the same organization which offers the Kanji Kentei above. They assumed operation of the test after JETRO (the Japan External Trade Organization) discontinued it. The test is designed as a competitor to the JLPT. Unlike the JLPT however, the test is not split into levels, nor is it pass/fail. Rather, you are assigned a rank from J5 (lowest) to J1+ (highest) based on your test results.
The test is divided into three parts:
- Listening Comprehension
- Combined Listening and Reading Comprehension
- Reading Comprehension
All of the sections test high-level, business-related vocabulary and grammar points. The closest test centers are located in Sendai, Niigata, and Sapporo. The test is also offered in large cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, etc.
The J-test (実用日本語検定), also know as the Test of Practical Japanese, is an alternative to the JLPT that aims to test more widely used skills compared to the JLPT. The closest place to take it is Tokyo, although it is held 6 times a year. For more information, see the J-test homepage.
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