Is the JLPT Worth It?

One widely-spoken untruth about the JLPT is how useless it is in the real world. As a blanket statement, it reminds me of how, in my 20’s, everyone told me a college degree was just a piece of paper. Of course, I later found out, everyone saying it had that piece of paper. But before we discuss it’s worth, let’s agree on a few things.

It is true that the JLPT will not guarantee you a job. It is also true that there are people who pass the JLPT who can’t speak much Japanese at all. While the expectations about having an N* under your belt may vary, I found taking the tests to have been very worthwhile.

I haven’t taken the N3, N4 or N5. But I use N2 or N1 vocabulary every day in my daily life. When I am having an especially good-Japanese-day, I even expel some JLPT N1 grammar into the world (generally of the 子供じゃあるまいし variety). N2 is very much conversational grammar, vocabulary and listening. N1 vocabulary is high-school level, as far as I am concerned. There is some grammar I may never use. But the more I read, the more I see those patterns appear.

At the beginning of your studies, survival Japanese is fine. However, at some point, you will want to learn how to express abstract concepts, to tell a complex story, to express a nuanced opinion. Or read a menu, a contract, or an adult book. Somehow you have to learn the vocabulary to do this, and the JLPT is not the only way, but it is a proven way to get there.

Everyone has a preferred way to learn, and the JLPT is a useful tool for those who enjoy the self-imposed torture and artificial deadlines of tests, like me. Regardless of how anyone learns, part of the road to fluency is seeing, hearing, and using common words. The JLPT is a ton of Japanese, deemed important by many Japanese people — it’s a good way to take advantage of a learning framework, without going the DIY route.

2 thoughts on “Is the JLPT Worth It?”

  1. Khin Zaw Hein

    Hello Admin!
    How do you do?
    I am the one who is learning Japanese language.
    I saw the JLPT Stories podcasts in Google podcasts. Very good.
    I want to request you to let me print some of your podcasts with my language translation.
    Many thanks in advance for your support.

  2. I am preparing for jlpt n2 by my self to get in japanese university for masters in information science and technology it is so true that clearing jlpt will not guarantee that you will speak Japanese beacuse right now i studying jlpt n4 curriculum and hardly able say daily life things in sentences but as I am saying i am going for the Masters s in japan should it will help me to become fluent in japanese

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