Why Take the JLPT? Part 2 of 2

Why take the JLPT?This week, we are going to finish off the list of reasons to take the JLPT. If you missed the first part of this series, I encourage you to go back and read Why Take the JLPT part 1 of 2. In last week’s article, we covered the two main extrinsic reasons for studying the test (job and school). Today, we are going to go over more personal reasons for taking the test.

A lot of people focus on the extrinsic reasons for studying the test. They’ll tell you that the only reason why someone might take the test is to get a good job or to enter a school. However, there are more reasons than that to take the test. There are intrinsic factors to consider as well.

The JLPT can be Used for Goal Setting

When studying a language or learning any new skill, it can sometimes be difficult to stay motivated. It’s important to have a long term goal, but it is also very important to have short term goals to act as pit stops along the road to that long term goal.

The JLPT can act as a perfect short term goal because it has specific requirements for passing each level. There are 5 levels each with a specific set of guidelines of what should be tested at that level. There is also a relative guide of how many classroom hours is required at each level too, so that these tests can act as benchmarks for your learning.

The JLPT provides Feedback

As a language teacher, one of the most difficult parts of my job is to give clear feedback. This is because I’m only with my students for a small amount of time each week. Also, I don’t specifically test them on a regular basis.

Feedback is invaluable because this is the only way to learn about your weak points and strong points. To be truly fluent you need to be a good all around speaker of Japanese. Knowing what points you need to improve can help you concentrate more on those. This will help you be more of a well-rounded Japanese learner.

The test won’t give you detailed statistics on what questions you got right, and what questions you got wrong, but simply taking the test will point out what you are strong at and what you are weak at. Did you take too much time on reading? Did you have trouble concentrating during the listening? These can all be signs that you have skills you need to improve.

The JLPT helps you Retain Information

Have you every had a question come up on a test and had not been sure of the answer? You narrow it down to two choices and sweat it out between them, coming up with reasoning why one is more correct than the other. Immediately after the test, you whip out your dictionary or grammar book to find the answer and sigh in relief as you find out you got it right, or alternatively groan in disgust as you find out you got it wrong.

I’m sure you have. We all have. I also bet that you remembered that test question for a long time as well as retained the particular point that was being tested. That’s because every time we retrieve information, we have to re-remember it. It’s brought to the top of the pile so to speak. The more we struggle to recall that information the deeper ingrained that memory becomes.

The JLPT Forces you into Good Study Habits

I started out as a self-studier of Japanese. I took classes which were useful, but in all my wisdom I thought that I could just learn Japanese by the simple virtue of living in Japan. I studied really hard and tried to use my Japanese as much as possible. I watched Japanese TV and tried my best.

But, I didn’t feel like I was making that much progress. I was forgetting things pretty easily and always messing up my sentences. This of course is all apart of normal language learning, but I couldn’t really seem to get off the ground. I started thinking about quitting, but then a friend of mine recommended a tutor to me and that helped me get back on track.

My tutor suggested that I study for the JLPT as a means of setting a goal for myself. It was incredibly useful to me because I could focus on the grammar points for that level. Also, as the test grew near, I took a practice test and discovered my weaknesses I needed to work on. I focused on those leading up to the test and eventually scored pretty much evenly across the board.

I was forced to take a look at my weak points and so I concentrated on those instead of just learning as I went along. I feel like I’m a lot better speaker because of it now too. If I hadn’t taken the test, I probably would have kept on studying the same way and emphasized my strong points (kanji, vocabulary, listening) and ignored my weak points (reading, grammar).


There are many reasons for taking the test. Last week I went over extrinsic reasons for learning. Extrinsic motivation is good, but not the best kind of motivation for doing something. Intrinsic reasons for doing something are far more motivating. So, even if you are taking the test to get a job, it may at least be better to think about the intrinsic reasons to take it.

Action Steps

  1. What is your reason for taking the test? Why?
  2. Can you think of other reasons why someone might take the test?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I always love to hear from readers.

Image by Stefan Baudy, available under the Creative Commons 2.0 Generic License

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Eldon B. Tenorio August 7, 2019, 6:45 am

    I have always loved the Japanese language since I was a child. We even had basic Japanese during high school but that was just it. Years passed by, and I am in my late 30s now, I have decided to take the JLPT N5 this coming December 2019. I bought review books and even the official workbook of JPLT N5. I actually don’t have plans working in Japan, or even in a Japanese company outside Japan. It is just that I am taking the JLPT examination to test myself with how far I am already with my Japanese, one step at a time. I have a goal for myself to be an N3 passer by the end of 2020. But I am also taking into consideration having to learn Japanese by heart, not because of JLPT. There were articles I read where there were N1/N2 passers and yet could not understand company documents more so with oral communication. I enjoyed your 2-part “Why Take JLPT” articles. More power to you, and GANBATTE for me!

    • Clayton MacKnight August 29, 2019, 11:18 pm

      Yeah, I think I’ve said a few times that passing N2 is quite useful since it forces you to have good listening and reading skills. And after passing you will definitely have the good background skills you need to use Japanese well, but still need to get some practice in to really know it by heart. Thanks for sharing.

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