Motivation: The JLPT, a good way to measure your progress

Today I received a message saying that the results of the JLPT were published:

The results will make me keep a fantastic mood for the rest of my life!

The n2 level is divided into three scoring sections, each with a range of scores of 60 points, the pass mark being 19 for each section. My results were:

Language knowledge (vocabulary and grammar): 34/60

Reading: 60/60 😄🎉✨

Listening: 38/60

This makes a total score of 132/180.

The results are much better than I expected and I am gladder than I can say with my reading score. It confirms that efforts pay off!

I am surprised with my listening score, I expected it to be around 20, and I even thought it might be lower than the pass mark. Maybe I was lucky when I picked answers randomly because I feel like it is the only thing I did…

As for Language knowledge… well, I think that I did well with grammar but completely messed up with vocabulary. It may seem strange to have such a gap between reading and vocabulary, but it confirms that, even if I can recognise and guess the meaning of many kanji, I don’t really know them, I do not master them. The consequence is that I can read comfortably, but I am lost if I am to answer precise questions about one word or one kanji.

What I have to do now is simple: work on my listening skills and learn new words while mastering the kanji I have learned so far.

Good reasons to take the JLPT

Apart from being useful if you want to work in Japan or because you need it for your studies, the JLPT can be a great boost for self-taught Japanese learners. Even if you don’t need to pass the JLPT, taking the test presents a lot of advantages. I have listed what comes to my mind at the moment.

  • It gives people who learn on their own a measurable goal, that punctuates, twice or once a year, something that is endless and may sometimes be discouraging: learning Japanese.
  • You don’t have to ask yourself which new words you should learn, just follow the preparatory books. It may sound boring, but I find it relaxing, I rely on my book to learn useful vocabulary, and I don’t have to look for new words to learn.
  • It gives you a milestone and obliges you to study and learn new things on a regular, if not daily basis. When I am not preparing the JLPT, I always say that “I am studying Japanese” when in fact I am not studying at all. I am just relying on my current level to read books, but I am not learning anything new. In the end, I feel like I don’t make progress and end up frustrated.
  • It allows you to make huge progress. If you study seriously for the JLPT, at the end of your preparation, you will be baffled by the progress you have made. There is nothing magic in it, learning a lot of vocabulary and grammar pay off.
  • If you learn Japanese on your own, taking the JLPT makes you a part of this international community of test takers. Every time I take the test and see all those people around me, who also study Japanese, I feel like a lonely runner who participates in a marathon and feels pushed forward by other’s energy.
  • Seeing your results can help you understand better your “Japanese level”. I can’t say, for example, what my Japanese level is because there is such a noticeable gap between my reading and listening skills. There is no shame to be less good at something, and being aware of it is the first step to mend it if you want to.
  • Of course, if you pass the test, it’s a great achievement.


The JLPT does not reflect your real Japanese level because it has no writing or speaking section. But again, what is meant by “Japanese level”? The JLPT is a good way to evaluate your ability to read and listen to Japanese. It also tests you on your knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. I just take the JLPT for what it is, a good, easy and not that expensive way to challenge myself and have a feedback on these particular skills. It also helps me to better focus my studies and create new goals.

full mark