Levels and Sections of the Exam

An Exam with Five Levels

The Japanese Language NAT-TEST has five levels. The easiest level is 5 and the most difficult level is 1. Each level corresponds to its respective level on the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (N5 to N1).

Levels 1 and 2 of the exam contain the following sections: Language Knowledge (reading/vocabulary/grammar) and Listening. Levels 3, 4 and 5 of the exam contain the following sections: Language Knowledge (reading/vocabulary), a second Language Knowledge (grammar, reading comprehension) and Listening.

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Level 1 One has studied Japanese for about one year (approx. 1000 hours of study) and has achieved an extremely high level of Japanese competence. This level is suitable for those who wish to enter a Japanese university or graduate school and for those who are seeking to pass level 1 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.
Level 2 One has studied Japanese for nine to twelve months (approx. 800 hours of study) and has achieved a high level of Japanese competence. This level is suitable for those who are studying Japanese as a prerequisite to enter a vocational school or Japanese university in the future and for those who are seeking to pass level 2 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.
Level 3 One has studied Japanese for six to nine months (approx. 600 hours of study) and has achieved a moderate level of Japanese competence. This level is suitable for those who wish to prepare for a university or vocational school entrance exam and for those who are seeking to pass level 3 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.
Level 4 One has studied Japanese for three to six months (approx. 400 hours of study) and has achieved a basic level of Japanese competence. This level is suitable for those who are seeking to pass level 4 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.
Level 5 One has studied Japanese for one to three months (approx. 200 hours of study) and has achieved a very basic level of Japanese competence. This level is suitable for those who are seeking to pass level 5 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.

*The Japanese Language NAT-TEST is based on the same standards as the JLPT. For more detailed information on the NAT-TEST guidelines, please see “Classified Catalogue of 10000 Japanese Vocabulary Words”(1万語語彙分類表) and “Vocabulary Guidelines Indexed by Chinese Character” (語彙別漢字基準表) which are published by Senmon Kyouiku Publishing, Co. Ltd.

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The Three Sections of the Exam

The exact organization and content of the exam differs slightly for each level, however a basic guide to the content on the NAT-TEST is as follows:

Language Knowledge (reading and vocabulary)

Level 1 Kanji reading, contextual comprehension, synonyms, usage
Level 2 Kanji reading, orthography, word formation, contextual comprehension, synonyms, usage
Level 3 Kanji reading, expressions, contextual comprehension, synonyms, usage
Level 4 Kanji reading, orthography, contextual comprehension, synonyms, usage
Level 5 Kanji reading, orthography, contextual comprehension

Language Knowledge (grammar, reading comprehension)

Level 1 Grammar – Conjugation, sentence composition, grammar in compositions
Reading Comprehension: Understanding content (short and medium-form writings), integrated comprehension, thematic comprehension, information retrieval
Level 2 Grammar – Conjugation, sentence composition, grammar in compositions
Reading Comprehension: Understanding content (short and medium-form writings), integrated comprehension, thematic comprehension, information retrieval
Level 3 Grammar – Conjugation, sentence composition, grammar in compositions
Reading Comprehension: Understanding content (short, medium and long-form writings), information retrieval
Level 4 Grammar – Conjugation, sentence composition, grammar in compositions
Reading Comprehension: Understanding content (short and medium-form writings), information retrieval
Level 5 Grammar – Conjugation, sentence composition, grammar in compositions
Reading Comprehension: Understanding content (short and medium-form writings), information retrieval

Listening Comprehension

Level 1 Task-based comprehension, comprehension of key points, understanding a synopsis, quick responses, integrated comprehension
Level 2 Task-based comprehension, comprehension of key points, understanding a synopsis, quick responses, integrated comprehension
Level 3 Task-based comprehension, comprehension of key points, understanding a synopsis, expressions used in speech, quick responses
Level 4 Task-based comprehension, comprehension of key points, expressions used in speech, quick responses
Level 5 Task-based comprehension, comprehension of key points, expressions used in speech, quick responses

Including the breaks between each section, the entire exam will take approximately half a day to complete. For more information on what to expect on exam day and beyond, please see this page.

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Test Times and Scoring

Levels 1 and 2

  Time Maximum Score
Language Knowledge
(reading・grammar・vocabulary) Reading Comprehension
Level 1: 110min
Level 2: 105min
120 points
Listening Comprehension Level 1: 60min*
Level 2: 50min*
60 points
Total Level 1: 170min
(2hrs,50min)
Level 2: 155min
(2hrs,35min)
180 points

* The exact time allotted for the listening section may differ slightly based on the length of the recordings.

Levels 3, 4 and 5

  Time Maximum Score
Language Knowledge
(grammar, vocabulary)
Level 3: 30min
Level 4: 30min
Level 5: 25min
60 points
Language Knowledge(grammar) Reading Comprehension Level 3: 70min
Level 4: 60min
Level 5: 50min
60 points
Listening Comprehension Level 3: 40min*
Level 4: 35min*
Level 5: 30min*
60 points
Total Level 3: 140min
(2hrs,20min)
Level 4: 125min
(2hrs,5min)
Level 5: 105min
(1hr,45min)
180 points

* The exact time allotted for the listening section may differ slightly based on the length of the recordings.

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Passing Criteria

In order to pass the exam, test takers must achieve a score of at least 25% on each of the individual sections as well as achieve an overall score that exceeds the overall pass mark for the exam (typically around 60%).

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The Japanese Language NAT-TEST and the Japanese Language Proficiency Test

For more details about how the NAT-TEST compares to the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, please refer to our comparison guide.

The NAT-TEST and the JLPT