Do I have hope of passing a high school entrance exam in japanese

I’m currently a freshman in highschool (US) and have been looking into exchange programs to japan considering as soon as next year, but the problem is that I 1. need credits to graduate and 2. would want to find a program that is reasonably priced. I have looked into the rotary exchange, but they don’t do japan where I live, and I have also met with some people from commercial exchanges, but they’re often more expensive and don’t have options for credits.

(if anyone has been on a highschool exchange, if you have any ideas on companies to look into, it would totally help me out searching for this)

Because of this, my mom came up with the idea to directly enroll in a Japanese school, but before I look into how I would even do that, I want to know if I have any chance of passing these exams.

I would describe my japanese level as intermediate/n3 maybe just starting to get into more advanced subject material, but as you can see by my level, my kanji knowledge is pretty behind and more like n4. I have no doubt that I would be able to pass the exam if it were in english, I’m a top student, but I don’t really want to try to get into international schools or english programs as I feel like it would defeat the point.
I’ve very briefly looked at a couple of sample problems, and it seems pretty kanji heavy, I’m wondering how much I would have to study and what level would I need to get to in order to pass.

Also maybe if you have recommendations on what kind of vocab to study, but I assume it would mostly be math and science language right?

And if I do pass I guess the real question is if I have any hope of passing my classes lol

1 Like

I’m not going to be super helpful, but I believe it’s possible to find examples of entrance exams online. It looks like the public school exams depend on the prefecture, but I can find plenty of examples from a quick search.

Personally, I think you’d have to be fairly confident in your language abilities because you’d be hearing about entirely new things in a new language for about six to seven hours a day, before you even consider homework (which will, of course, also include writing assignments). I’m tired just from thinking about it.

I think you’d still have a ton of opportunities to learn Japanese in your daily life if you were living there and interacting with Japanese people.


Yeah, uh. That’s… ambitious.

For the exams, sure. For day-to-day classes, you’d need to know all of the vocab you currently encounter in your usual classes, but in Japanese.


I think that, if you’re absolutely set on attending high school in Japan, trying to find an exchange program is still your best bet. There will probably be much better support from the school or program, and your housing and food will almost certainly be taken care of (either through a boarding facility or a host family). Trying to figure that out on your own would be complicated—especially since you’re a minor—and probably quite expensive.

The room and board issue is part of the reason it can be expensive to study in another country. The Rotary program you mentioned would still cost a few thousand dollars, but the cost is tempered somewhat because you typically stay with a family and it’s an actual bidirectional exchange program (supported, in part, by grants) and not just a facilitator/host. Unfortunately, that latter fact is probably why it’s unavailable where you live. If there’s anything like that, though, I think it would be your best option.


If you don’t end up finding something you like for high school, I think you should consider applying for the MEXT Scholarship (from the Japanese government) for university when you’re a senior. It’s very competitive, but it is an amazing level of support.

It provides for airfare to Japan, tuition for the university, and a stipend for cost of living.

The scholarship is open to students pursuing any major and is intended to provide the student with a one-year program of intensive Japanese study and then complete an undergraduate degree (typically a four-year program), for five years on the scholarship. Individuals who already have knowledge of the Japanese language sufficient to function in an academic setting may choose to opt out of the one-year intensive study of Japanese language.

You do need to know Japanese fairly well, so you’d need to study seriously for the next few years.

all applicants will sit for written exams held at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC, including a Japanese Language Exam, an English Language Exam, and a Mathematics Exam.

It seems like the exam is quite comprehensive and, in contrast to the JLPT, it includes a writing section. If you can make significant progress on Japanese in high school, though, applying is always worth a shot.


Searched a bit about the topic and seems like having enough knowledge to pass Kanji Kentei lvl 3 is good enough for passing high school entrance exam.

That’s ~1600 kanji plus vocab, synonyms, antonyms, ateji, radicals…

It’s a lot of information, but then you add grammar, reading/listening/writing/speaking.

I think it’s “challenging” to just come to Japan, pass a high school test and stay there without prior experience of studying in Japanese. You need to relearn everything you know from school in Japanese.

Of course I am sure there are cases of kids moving with their parents to japan and going to a local school. Probably there are multi-month onboarding programs that prepare them for school. And most kids probably go to an international school.


Can add anecdotal confirmation! I teach at a junior high school in Japan - there’s one school in the city that does an intensive Japanese program for kids who’ve recently moved from abroad. They spend a few months there before coming to their official school, and even when they’re here, they spend half of the day with a tutor teaching them their class material in simpler Japanese. At the high school level, most students who don’t speak Japanese well mostly either go to lower-achieving high schools or schools with a multicultural/languages focus.