New Scoring for the JLPT (日本語能力試験)

Discouraged by your score on the last JLPT? JEES has finally published the scoring information, and it might not be as bad as you think!

The N1, N2, and N3 tests are graded in several new ways.

1. Minimum percentage vs. overall score

First, although you have to pass each section to pass the overall exam, you only need a minimum score of 19/60 (N1, N2, N3), or about 33% to pass each section.

What does this means? It means that if you have at least 19/60 points in all sections, you can pass the test as long as your overall score is high enough. For example, for the N1, you need at least 100/180 to pass. With the minimum passing scores, this means you can pass with a 19/60 in kanji/vocab, a 41/60 in listening, and a 41/60 in grammar/reading (fulfilling all minimum passing scores and the overall passing score).

However, you cannot pass the test if you have a score under 19/60 on any section. You could get 120/180 with perfect scores on kanji/vocab and reading/grammar, but if you received no points on listening, you would fail the whole test.

2. Scoring: A and B

A score of B is a passing score of 33%-67% on a section. For example, if you pass the N1 with the minimum score of 100/180 (and passing scores in each section), that would be an overall B. Scores of 35/60 in each section would give you grades of B. If you pass a section with 68%, 41/60, you would get an A. You can pass (or fail, actually) with Bs in each section or overall. This is to measure your ability in each section–to point out your strengths and weaknesses.

3. Scoring Overview
To pass, you need
N1: 100/180, with at least 19/60 in each section
N2: 90/180, with at least 19/60 in each section
N3: 95/180, with at least 19/60 in each section

N4 and N5’s sections are 120 points for Vocab/Grammar/Reading and 60 for Listening. Passing scores will be determined and published after the Dec. 2010 test.

Official English explanation
Official Japanese explanation

There’s still time to register! See here for details.

Leah Zoller is a second-year CIR in Anamizu and the editor of this blog. Let’s give the JLPT what for, Ishikawa!


5 thoughts on “New Scoring for the JLPT (日本語能力試験)

  1. Thanks for the info. I know you posted this a while ago, so it may be the best post you could have made with what you had to go on then. But with current information I find this post rather misleading and would like to note for others who land on this page via a google search as I did.

    The scores are scaled using Item Response Theory, but the actual method they use to determine the weights is not published. This means you have no way at all of knowing what 19/60 or 100/180 means in terms of how many/which questions you need to answer correctly.

    However, we do know that they say the difficulty should be roughly equivalent to the previous 1 kyuu format, in which you needed at 70% overall score. That’s really the only thing we have to go on.

  2. If you get a full score, does this mean that ALL of your answers are correct?
    I remember checking some of my answers using a dictionary after the test ended just to see how much had gone wrong, and I thought I had found some mistakes… But then I got a full score 180/180 so I’m confused.

  3. The interpretation presented here, of what the A & B scoring system represent, is not correct. In the official explanation that is linked, they make it clear that A, B, and C are awarded on the basis of what percentage of questions, per section, that you answered correctly. This is in absolute terms. If you answered 68% or more of the questions in the Vocabulary section correctly, you get an A for Vocabulary. If you answered 68% or more of the questions in the Grammar section, you get an A for Grammar. For N4 & N5 only, there is a corresponding score for Reading. There is no such overall score for any test. (There is no such score for Listening on any test.)

    The individual scores on each section (out of a maximum of 60, or 120) are weighted/scaled, the same as the overall score on any test (maximum of 180). They do not correspond to the system used for awarding A/B/C. Thus, a 41/60 on any given section does not, in itself, indicate you will get an A.

    To answer tooi_yume’s question, it is technically possible to get a 180 without getting all the answers correct. If you get a perfect score but answered at least one question wrong, what it means is that (practically) everyone else who took the test also missed at least one question. Since we don’t know how they weight the questions or scale the scores, we can’t tell if it’s possible to miss a question and still score a 180 even though at least one other person might have gotten them all correct.

  4. I want to know each score of each section for example,
    how many marks are there in Question 1?
    how many marks are there in Question 2?
    how many marks are there in Question 3?
    with best regards,
    a student

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