How do the JLPT levels work?

If someone takes it and passes JLPT N5, are they on N4 or N5, and what level were they on before?

Also, what does the N mean?

You can take any of the levels at any point even if you had done no tests before. I don’t know if that helps.

I’d guess the ‘N’ stands for Nihongo nouryoku shiken 日本語能力試験 (Japanese language ability test).

It means “new”. There used to be four levels, levels 1, 2, 3, and 4. They added a level between the old levels 2 and 3, so to clarify which level you passed they added the N to the new level system. So there are people with a JLPT 3 certificate from 8 years ago or whatever, which is about the same as a JLPT N4 certificate now.


If you pass N5, you’re N5 level proficient. If you pass N4, you’re N4.

Before N5 you’re nothing lol


According to the JLPT Guidebook, PDF Link this: 「N」は「Nihongo(日本語)」、「New(新しい)」を表します。

So it stands for both things, the “New” is in reference to the New version of the test created in 2010.

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