Tomorrow, August 22, will be the first day of registration for the December JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) in the US. After passing level 4 in December of 2009 and skipping the exam in 2010 (I didn’t think I was ready), tomorrow I will be registering for the N4 exam.
As those of you who are interested know, in 2010 the number of exam levels was increased from 4 to 5 with a new level being inserted between the old level 3 and level 2 exams. One of the reasons for the change was there was too wide a gap in language proficiency requirements between the level 3 and level 2 exams.
The old level 4 exam is now called N5, the old level 3 exam is now called N4, the new level 3 exam is called N3, the old level 2 exam is now called N2, and the old level 1 exam is now called N1.
That is not the only change, however. For a number of years, the administrators of the test have been researching ways to improve the test to more accurately evaluate the proficiency of the exam taker. The new levels incorporate significant changes to the content as well as the structure of the exam. One of the results is it is now more difficult to pass if one relies on memorization.
As far as the structure, the old exam was broken into 3 distinct sections; Writing/Vocab, Listening, and Reading/Grammar. The new exam consists of only 2 sections, as writing, vocabulary, reading, and grammar have been combined into one section called Language Knowledge. Listening remains in its own section.
Scoring of the exam has also changed. In the old exam, a perfect score in the writing/vocab section was 100 points, in the listening section 100 points, and in the reading/grammar section 200 points, for a total maximum score of 400 points. In the new exam, a perfect exam score is 180 points, with 120 for Language Knowledge, and 60 for Listening
The amount of time allotted to take the exam has been decreased. For the exam I’m taking this December, exam takers had a total of 140 minutes to complete the old exam. The new exam only allows 125 minutes.
I’m a little nervous, but I know the 300 kanji and 1500 vocabulary words in my sleep at this point, so I should do okay. Anyway, I have about 4 months to continue practicing and learning.
There was a rumor that part of the new exam would have a jikoshokai requirement, which I was partly looking forward to and partly in a subdued panic about. Happily, or sadly, depending on how I feel about it at the moment, it never became part of the exam. It would have been a real challenge.
Good luck to all SDMB members who register for this year’s JLPT. 頑張りましょうね！[spoiler] Let’s do our best![/spoiler]