Japanese, long noted for its high level of difficulty, has become increasingly difficult to master this year with the onset of the new Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) format.
In the past as is the case still today, the JLPT was divided up into several sections based on reading, grammar, and listening. However, whereas in the past your passing score was based on your overall score, this year’s test-takers will need to pass every single section in order to be awarded proficiency in that level of Japanese. What this means is that in order to pass the exam one must be proficient in all levels of Japanese (except speaking). In other words you may be a fantastic reader and have a high level of kanji-recognition, scoring high in the first section; but should your ear be green and unaccustomed to spoken Japanese then your chances for passing are slim. Slim still are your chances should the opposite be true.
Another change that has been made this year is the addition of a new level between the old level 1 (the most difficult level) and 2. This change means that the JLPT now offers 5 levels of proficiency examination.
This year I have had the privilege of being in South Korea for the summer where the test is offered twice a year (as opposed to only once a year in the United States). My aim was 一級 (ikkyuu), the highest level of Japanese proficiency. Note: Ikkyuu is now known as N1. Continue reading