What is the pass rate for the JLPT N1?

2022/3/15 Updated

When hiring a foreigner, the first thing that comes to mind is Japanese language ability. If you are involved in the hiring of foreign nationals, you want to make sure that your Japanese language skills are a reliable indicator. If you don’t have the Japanese language skills to carry out your job smoothly, it will be a hindrance to your work. The Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) is a certification that allows foreigners to show their level of Japanese language proficiency, and employers will almost always check it during the selection process. N1 is the highest level of the JLPT, and it is considered difficult for even Japanese to pass. In this article, I will explain the pass rate for the JLPT N1.

The following article is also for you!

What is the level difference between JLPT N1, N2, and N3?

What is the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)?

The Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) is a test of Japanese language proficiency.
The Japan Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) was launched in 1984 by the Japan Foundation and the Japan Educational Exchanges and Services. The purpose of the test is to “measure and certify the Japanese language proficiency of non-native speakers of Japanese. It is now the largest Japanese language test in the world, and is held twice a year, in July and December, with many foreigners taking the test.

The test is divided into five levels, from N1 to N5, and there is no speaking or writing component. Answers are based on a mark-sheet system. Some status of residence visas (work visas) require a JLPT level of N1 or N2, and many companies that hire foreigners use this as a selection criterion.

Examination subjects and time

level Examination subjects
N1 Language knowledge (letters, vocabulary, grammar), reading comprehension <110 min>. Listening comprehension <60min>.
N2 Language knowledge (letters, vocabulary, grammar), reading comprehension <105 min>. Listening comprehension <50min>.
N3 Language knowledge (letters, vocabulary) <30 min>. Language knowledge (grammar), reading comprehension <70min>. Listening comprehension <40min>.
N4 Language knowledge (letters, vocabulary) <25 min>. Language knowledge (grammar), reading comprehension <55 min>. Listening comprehension <35 min>.
N5 Language knowledge (letters, vocabulary) <20 min>. Language knowledge (grammar), reading comprehension <40 min>. Listening comprehension <30 min>.
Source: Japanese Language Proficiency Test JLPT
https://www.jlpt.jp/guideline/testsections.html

Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) N1 level

The highest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test is N1. For the N1 level, you must be able to “understand Japanese used in a wide range of situations.

Criteria for N1

read

  • Be able to read and understand the structure and content of complex or abstract texts such as newspaper editorials and reviews.
  • Be able to read texts with deep content and understand the intent of detailed expressions and the flow of the story.

ask

  • In a variety of situations (conversations, news, lectures, etc.), be able to understand in detail the flow, content, characters, and logical structure of a conversation at a natural speed.

Passing score for each level

N1 N2 N3 N4 N5
total score 180 points 180 points 180 points 180 points 180 points
passing mark 100 points 90 points 95 points 90 points 80 points
Percentage of correct answers required to pass 56%. 50%. 53%. 50%. 45%.
Source: Japanese Language Proficiency Test JLPT https://www.jlpt.jp/faq/index.html

JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) Pass Rate

According to the data listed on the official website of the JLPT (December 2020 test), the pass rate for the N1 level was 45.2% for both domestic and international applicants.

For the 2020 exam, due to the new coronavirus infection, the July exam has been cancelled and only the December exam is being held. This may be the reason why the pass rate has been hovering around 20% to 30%, but the pass rate is noticeably higher only for the December 2020 exam.

N1 N2 N3 N4 N5
domestic Number of Examinees 38,537 61,458 60,324 25,184 2,997
Number of certified employees 16,110 31,126 30,440 10,682 1,982
Certification rate (%) 41.8 50.6%. 50.5%. 42.4 66.1
Overseas Number of Examinees 41,700 52,618 37,884 27,809 21,517
Number of certified employees 20,160 32,685 22,709 12,427 11,749
Certification rate (%) 48.3 62.1 59.9 44.7 54.6 percent
Domestic and overseas total Number of Examinees 80,237 114,076 98,208 52,993 24,514
Number of certified employees 36,270 63,811 53,149 23,109 13,731
Certification rate (%) 45.2 55.9 54.1 percent 43.6 percent 56.0
Source: Source: JLPT, Japanese Language Proficiency Test https://www.jlpt.jp/statistics/archive/202002.html

JLPT N1 is not necessarily required.

It is said that it is difficult to get a perfect score in the N1 level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, even if you are a native Japanese speaker. It is not uncommon for Japanese companies to require N1 level as a criterion for hiring foreigners. It is only natural that N1 level is required in business.

However, depending on the type of work you are engaged in, it is not always necessary. If you don’t have to interact with clients, N2 level will be enough, and if you work according to a manual, N3 level should be enough to handle the job.

summary

The Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) is one of the largest Japanese language tests in the world, and is taken by many foreigners in Japan and abroad every year. There are five levels, from N1 to N5, with N1 being the most difficult, making it difficult even for Japanese people to get a perfect score. N1 level holders can expect to play a wide range of roles in business. However, there are many jobs that do not require an N1 level. When hiring a foreigner, do not be fixated on the N1 level, but rather base your decision on the Japanese language skills required for the job.

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