What Japanese Language Learners Need to Know to Pass JLPT N3 

What is the difficulty level of N3?
How much Japanese can a person with N3 be expected to know?
How useful is N3 in business situations?

An easy-to-understand explanation of the JLPT itself, the contents of the N3 exam, the pass rate, and the level of Japanese that can be expected at the N3 level.

Table of Contents

Take the JLPT N3 practice test now

Let’s try a JLPT N3 mock test.

Vocabulary: 30 min, Reading: 70min, Listening: 40min

This practice test is slightly different from the actual number of exam questions and question format on the actual N4 test. Please purchase the latest practice exam questions to make sure. Source: Japanese-Language Proficiency Test Worldwide Official Website

Kanji List for Passing JLPT N3

This is a list of kanji required to pass the JLPTN3. Learn 367 kanji to pass the exam.

Advantages of taking the JLPT N3

More than half of the purposes of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test are “study abroad, graduate school / university admission” and “employment / salary increase / promotion”.

In order to get the points for the “advanced foreign human resources” visa incentives and to take the Japanese national exam, you need to have passed N2 or N1, and in fact N3 is only one step away from getting the benefits of the system.

The number of test takers for the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test)

The number of test takers for the JLPT continues to grow every year.
The reason for this is that the number of people learning Japanese is increasing every year.

number of test taker JLPT

Refer to the JLPT official website.

  • According to the latest data, the number of examinees per year exceeds about 1 million. (Exams held in July and December 2019)
  • According to the latest data, the annual number of examinees is over 1 million.
  • The number of examinees by level is as follows: N2, N3, N1, N4, and N5.
  • JLPT N2 has the highest number of examinees, and JLPT N5 has the lowest number of examinees.
  • In addition, the number of test takers by level is skewed by country and region.
  • In East Asia, such as South Korea and China, the number of examinees taking the JLPT N1 and N2 tends to be higher.
  • In Southeast Asia, such as Thailand and Vietnam, the number of examinees for JLPT N3, N4, and N5 is higher.

JLPT N3 Test Outline

言語知識(文字・語彙)30分
言語知識(文法)・読解70分
聴解40分
 合計140分

Refer to the JLPT official website.

  •  The test is divided into three major parts, and all questions are in mark-sheet format.
  • There is no part for writing essays or short essays, and there is no part for measuring conversational ability, although this is common to all N1 to N5.
  • Of the four skills (speaking, listening, writing, and reading), this test measures only listening and reading.

How difficult is the JLPT N3?

  • If you pass the N3 level, you can be certified as having “some understanding of Japanese used in everyday situations.

Please refer to the text below for the specific level of “reading” and “listening” ability!

Guidelines for JLPT N3 Certification
Able to understand Japanese used in everyday situations to some extent.
Reading   
  •     Able to read and understand sentences that express specific content on everyday topics.
  •     Able to grasp the outline of information from newspaper headlines.
  •     Able to understand the gist of slightly more difficult texts encountered in everyday situations, if given paraphrased expressions.
Listening   Can listen to a coherent conversation at a somewhat natural speed in an everyday situation and understand most of the specific details of the conversation, including the relationships between the characters.

Refer to the JLPT official website.

N4 to N5 are set as “the level to understand basic Japanese”, while N1 to N2 are set as “the level to understand Japanese higher than daily conversation”.
N3, which is in between, is considered to be “Japanese at the level of daily conversation.

Passing Score and Pass Rate

  • N3 is a 180-point test with a passing score of 95. The passing score is 95.
    It is not enough to have a total score of 95 in all parts, but you also need to have at least the standard score (19) in each part.

JLPT N3 Passing Score (JLPT N3の合格点)   
Score Classification
得点区分  
Score Range
得点の範囲
Language knowledge (letters, vocabulary, grammar),
言語知識(文字・語彙・文法)
reading comprehension
読解   
0-60 (standard score: 38 points)

0-6 (standard score: 38 points)
Listening comprehension  
聴解
0~60 (standard score 19 points)
Total Score0~180
  • The pass rate is about 33% to 54% every year.

What is the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)?

Overview of the JLPT

The Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) is a language proficiency test for non-native speakers of Japanese (Japanese nationals are also eligible to take the test).

  • Sponsored by: Japan Educational Exchanges and Services and The Japan Foundation
  • It has been conducted since 1984.
  • Can be taken in Japan and in 87 countries and regions around the world
  • Date of administration: Basically July and December (twice a year)
  • English name: “Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)

Features of the JLPT exam

There are a total of five levels in this exam. There are five levels: N1, N2, N3, N4, and N5, with N1 being the highest level.

The test is divided into three parts:
1) language knowledge (characters, vocabulary, grammar),
2) reading comprehension
3) listening comprehension.

There are no written questions, all questions are mark-response type.

Why Foreigners Take the JLPT|Advantages

More than half of the people who take the JLPT do so for the following reasons: “To enter a graduate school or university when studying abroad” or “To get a job or a raise in salary.
Specifically, many people take the test for the following purposes and advantages

  • To meet the requirements for admission to a Japanese university.
  • To meet the requirements for employment or to show off their language skills
  • To meet the requirements for salary increase or promotion in the company
  • To obtain points to receive preferential treatment for “advanced foreign human resources” visas (N1 and N2 only)
  • To meet the requirements for taking the Japanese national examination (N1)
  • To be exempted from some subjects of the Japanese Junior High School Graduation Certificate Examination (N1, N2)
  • One of the conditions for selecting nurse and care worker candidates for the EPA (Economic Partnership Agreement) (N5~N3)
Attributes of JLPT test takers

Attributes of JLPT test takers

Refer to the JLPT official website

How to take the exam

If you would like to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test in Japan, please apply online.

How to apply: After registering for MyJLPT on the JLPT homepage of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JESS), you need to log in to MyJLPT and apply from the “JLPT application” screen.
For details, see the website of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.
My JLPT registration login website

How do you know the result of JLPT?

Those who took the exam in Japan: Please log in to MyJLPT to apply, or apply from your transcript application ID. You can check your JLPT results by logging in to MyJLPT.

You may not have N3 level speaking and writing skills!

The JLPT does not measure your business Japanese skills or your understanding of Japanese culture.
N3 is at the level of daily conversation, so you can speak in the “desu-masu” style, but not at the level where you can use honorific expressions with your boss.

Summary [Japanese Language Proficiency Test N3 level]

The JLPT is taken for the purpose of studying abroad, finding a job, getting a raise or promotion, or applying for a visa.

  • There are levels ranging from N1 to N5 (N1 is the most difficult).
  • N3 is the “everyday conversation level.
  • The passing score for N3 is 95 points, and the passing rate is 33-54%.
  • The JLPT tests vocabulary, grammatical knowledge, reading comprehension, and listening comprehension.