Comparing the NAT-TEST and the JLPT

Here is an overview of the differences between the Japanese Language NAT-TEST and the JLPT.

The content, questions and format of the NAT-TEST conform to those used by the JLPT. The NAT-TEST has been specifically designed so that you can use material and practice questions designed for the JLPT when you are preparing for the NAT-TEST.

Sponsor Organization

NAT-TEST Senmon Kyouiku Publishing Co., Ltd.
“NAT-TEST” Administration Committee (Tokyo)
Regional Office: The NAT-TEST Chinese Executive Office
Administrations: ATA Co., Ltd. (Beijing)
JLPT In Japan: Japan Educational Exchanges and Services
Outside of Japan: The Japan Foundation

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Number of Times Held

NAT-TEST Six times per year
JLPT Twice per year

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Exam Format

NAT-TEST Levels 1 and 2:
1) Language Knowledge (reading, vocabulary, grammar), Reading Comprehension [120 points]
2)Listening Comprehension [60 points]
Levels 3, 4 and 5;
1)Language Knowledge (reading, vocabulary) [60 points]
2)Language Knowledge (grammar) [60 points]
3)Listening Comprehension [60 points]
JLPT Same as above

Note: The vocabulary in katakana that appears on the NAT-TEST is encountered frequently in daily-life situations and is an important part of the vocabulary section. Much of this vocabulary comes from foreign languages, however this does not necessarily mean that all of the vocabulary has the exact same meaning as the word from which it originates. Because of this, when encountering katakana vocabulary, be careful as to the meaning of the word in Japanese.

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Number of Vocabulary

NAT-TEST Level 5: Approx. 1000 words
Level 4: Approx. 2000 words
Level 3: Approx. 4000 words
Level 2: Approx. 6000 words
Level 1: Approx. 10000 words
* For a detailed list of 10,172 vocabulary words separated by level, please see the "1万語彙集" textbook, published by Senmon Kyouiku Publishing Co., Ltd.
JLPT Not publicly disclosed by The Japan Foundation

Note: Even though the JLPT changed their policy by refusing to provide information on the exact content of the exam starting in 2010, the content on the NAT-TEST is still equivalent to what appears on the JLPT.

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Number of Kanji

NAT-TEST Level 5: 102 characters
Level 4: 428 characters
Level 3: 700 characters
Level 2: 1338 characters
Level 1: 1864 characters
* There is a criterion of kanji that appear on each level of the NAT-TEST.
JLPT Not publicly disclosed by The Japan Foundation

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Hours of Study

NAT-TEST Level 5: 200 hours
Level 4: 400 hours
Level 3: 600 hours
Level 2: 800 hours
Level 1: 1000 hours
JLPT Not publicly disclosed by The Japan Foundation

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Exam Pass Criteria

NAT-TEST 1) Scoring more than 25% on each individual section and 2) Achieving an overall score that exceeds the passing score for the exam (typically around 60%).
JLPT The Japan Foundation announces the pass criteria for each specific exam.

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Other Guidelines

NAT-TEST Accented Words
The accents used by Japanese speakers in the Listening Comprehension section follow standard guidelines for Japanese native pronunciation, however some speakers who portray younger Japanese use a slightly different accent for words that are commonly encountered in everyday life in Japan. Using this accent, speakers raise their voice slightly at the last syllable of a word and the succeeding particle.
Examples: グラフ、ドラマ
The orthography found on the NAT-TEST are based on those used in everyday life and found in all Japanese dictionaries and we favor those expressions used in everyday life by Japanese speakers. These expressions will not appear on the kanji reading section of the test.
Examples: 一所懸命、一生懸命

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