Anyone tried Kanken?

Kanken is the kanji kentei (a kanji proficiency test intended for native speakers, with 12 possible levels)

I signed up for Kanken level 5 (it covers the kyouiku kanji, the 1006 taught in elementary school). It’ll take place in June. I doubt I’ll pass, even though I know 95%+ of the kanji tested at that level, I’m woefully short on writing practice.

Just curious if anyone else had given it a shot.


I’m not super familiar with that, is it a sort of proficiency exam? Just curious, I don’t know what Kanken is lol

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Is this what you are referring to? If not, could you provide a link.


My Japanese tutor said not to bother because as a foreigner there really is no point to taking the exam (other than if you yourself want to test your ability or do it for fun.) So I haven’t looked into it much.


I added the description and link in the first post… sorry, just assumed most people have heard of the various tests.


And other than how awesome you’ll be at kanji afterward if you do enough preparation to pass?

Did they just mean that no one will care that you passed it? What a party pooper. Obviously it’s not going to be relevant to anyone except maybe translators, but it’s fun to challenge yourself. That’s a reason to do it.


Yeah. Like for any purposes in terms of using Japanese for a job or university, it is not necessary. (Having N2 or N1, or taking a test the company gives you is how it would probably work).


I mean, if you did have kanken level 2 or something on your resume that would look crazy good as a foreigner. N1 actually isn’t that high of a level of language proficiency level in the grand scheme of things, so going beyond that can’t hurt.


I think level 2 and higher looks amazing even as a Japanese person.

Yeah it would not hurt, but it is not something places ask for or require, I guess was her point.

(And regardless of how well the JLPT gauges actual proficiency, it is used as a bare minimum by a lot of places.)


This is also called the “Joyo”, you can see how much of the Kanji you know for it using the WaniKani stats site.


Jouyou (daily use) is a bigger set that includes kyouiku kanji set. It’s not a proficiency test. It’s basically just a list of kanji that kids have to learn in school. The G’s listed there stand for grades in school. G1 = first grade, etc.

Yeah, the stats site is nice.

You have to take kanken level 2 to be tested on the entire jouyou set.

Kanken level 1 tests you on over 6000 kanji!!


I don’t know much about it, but I imagine it would be a fun (hard?) challenge.

I remember reading about an American, Bret Mayer, who made level 1. Apparently his strategy was pretty strictly writing repetition. Tofugu has a writeup on it too, which is an interesting read.


My boyfriend’s taken the kanken a few times. He was really diligent in studying and practicing writing. He also learned a lot of 4-kanji idioms for the test.

I’ve seen the Level 10 paper (lol), and doubt I could pass, personally, just because I don’t know stroke order and official radicals.

What are you using to study, out of curiosity? I’m sure you can pass if you study enough.

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I ordered some Japanese resources for level 5, such as this

I also have one of those kanken DS games.

I’m sure I can pass some day, I just don’t know if I can get to the level I need to for the exam I signed up for by June.


Ah okay. Well, good luck, in any case!

Even if I planned to take this thing some time (which I am not planning, no!) I wouldn’t bother until I got actually fluent with the language.

I mean, I guess I’m similar, though I never intended it for it to be that way. I’m going to take N1 in July, so I’m just looking for more tests to take all the time.

I’m kind of tempted to take it at some point.
It seems like it would be good motivation for studying kanji. I always study better if I have a goal in mind…
We will see what happens after the next JLPT I guess…

That’s like 3 times WK!
Some people really like suffering.


Tests kanji that people learn before becoming an adult (up to high school level kanji)
Tests everything from Level 3
Reading of all the joyo kanji (approximately 2000 kanji)
Tests on “complex” radicals
In theory, this is where native Japanese speakers “should” be (though of course this isn’t the case). Being able to read kanji is one thing… but being able to know all the on’yomi / kun’yomi, as well as being able to write everything is totally another. People don’t hand write anything anymore, so it’s doubtful that most Japanese people could pass this level of the test… and this isn’t even the “real” Level 2 test yet.

Tests everything from Pre Level 2
Tests the 284 kanji used in names (jinmeiyou kanji)
Tests “special” compound kanji words
Level 2 just adds the 284 kanji used in names. Many of these kanji are kanji that people know, but the hard part is knowing the reading of them (or knowing how to write them based off of the reading). For Japanese learners, knowing how to read names is one of the hardest advanced-level challenges (I’d say), and something I still have a ton of trouble with.

Tests everything from Level 2
Ability to read and write around 3000 kanji
Tests kanji unique to the Japanese language
Tests classical Japanese proverbs
I didn’t even know there was kanji unique to the Japanese language. Totally new information to me. This is how you know you’re running out of things to test on…

Tests everything from Pre Level 1
Ability to read and write 6000 kanji
Tests special or unusual kanji readings
Tests place and country names
Tests "the ability to recognize relationship between modern and ancient or old character forms"
And of course, here’s the ultimate level. If you can pass level 1 of the Kanji Kentei, then you might as well be a God of Kanji. I haven’t studied much along the lines of “old character forms” but I can tell you knowing that kind of thing is pretty epic.

About level 5


So, easily harder than it looks.