Japan Educational Exchanges and Services (JEES) and The Japan Foundation, who are jointly responsible for the administration of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) , have announced that the current testing system is to revised by June 2010.
At present there are four tests to choose from, with level 1 being the most difficult. There have been many complaints from examinees that the gap – in terms of difficulty – between levels 3 and 2 is too large: to pass level 3 examinees need to know about 300 kanji, compared to 1000 for level 2.
The current plan is to revise the JLPT into 5 levels. Level 4 will become N5, level 3 becomes N4, while a new level – between the current levels 3 and 4 – is to be named N3. N2 will remain the essentially the same as the current level 2, while N1 will be a slightly more advanced version of the current level 1.
In addition, tests for levels 1 and 2 will be held biannually – in June and December – from 2009.
The revision, and especially the option of taking the exam twice a year, should come as a great relief to many students of Japanese. Many people come unstuck at level 2, and the fact that you can only take it once a year makes failure a very bitter pill to swallow.
I, for one, have been thinking about directing my attention away from the JLPT and towards the Business Japanese Proficiency Test (BJT) instead. My teacher thought it might be more useful for me seeing as everything that happens in my office, if not directly related to my area of expertise, requires me to use business Japanese. However, now that the JLPT is changing I may try both next year, just for the sheer hell of it.
By the way, if you’re interested in learning Japanese and don’t know where to start I’ve made a list of books to help you on your way. In fact, you can find it on the right-hand menu bar next to this article.
PS: The official website of the JLPT, where you can find out the latest news regarding the new levels, can be found here.