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The Tests You’ll Need to Study Abroad in Japan: A 3-Minute Run-Down

So you want to study abroad in Japan, but you’re not sure where to begin, what test you should prepare for. You’re not alone in this: many students have the same worries! Different schools ask for different tests, but largely speaking, there are four major categories: the EJU, the JLPT, English certification exams, and university entrance exams. Let’s take a look at what sort of tests these are!

1. The Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (​EJU)
The EJU is an exam conducted by JASSO (Japanese Student Services Organization) to test international students hoping to study in Japanese universities and other schools. This test measures for Japanese language abilities required by Japanese universities, as well as basic academic knowledge. At present, some 900 schools (including universities, graduate schools, and vocational schools) require EJU scores for admissions. It’s even said that this is the test that’s most often required for studying abroad in Japan. The EJU is offered twice a year, not only in Japan, but in 14 mainly Asian countries and regions.

・Exam Schedule
Application Period Exam Period Announcement of Results
First Time Feb – Mar Jun Jul
Second Time Jul Nov Dec

There are four exam subjects: Japanese as a Foreign Language, Science (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology), Japan and the World, and Mathematics. For university, humanities students are typically required to take Japanese, Mathematics (Course 1), and Japan and the World; and science students are typically required to take Japanese, Mathematics (Course 2), and Science Subject 2. Required subjects vary by school, so be sure to carefully check their admissions requirements.

The exam is offered in both English and Japanese, and the language can be selected when you take the exam. The Japanese as a Foreign Language portion of the test, however, is offered in Japanese only. The EJU is only offered a limited number of times in a year, but the test results are considered valid for two years. Before you submit yours, be sure to check their period of validity!

・Exam Subject
Subject Details Full Points Exam Period
Japanese as a Foreign Language Descriptive section (essay)
Reading comprehension, reading & listening/listening comprehension
Descriptive section 50 points
Reading comprehension, reading & listening/listening comprehension 400 points
125 min
Mathematics Course 1, Course 2 200 points 80 min
Japan and the World Geography of Japan
Japanese/Modern World History
Japanese Politics, Economy & Society
200 points 80 min
Science Physics, Chemistry, Biology 200 points 80 min

In many cases, even for students who live overseas, you’ll need to come to Japan to take your school entrance exams. However, some school have established a system that uses a “Permission for Admission Pre-Arrival to Japan.” With this system, prospective students can take the test in their home countries.

In other words, if you pass through the document screening of your EJU results and your high school grades, etc. (some schools carry out local examinations), you would be granted admissions even without coming to Japan. For foreign students living outside of Japan, this is an extremely helpful system. To see schools that participate in the “Permission for Admission Pre-Arrival to Japan” system, please see here.

You can also apply for a scholarship based on your EJU results. This scholarship program is called the “International Student Acceptance Program Reservation System.” The program is intended for privately funded international students who plan to enroll in Japanese universities (undergraduate programs), junior colleges, and vocational schools, etc.

The scholarship provide 48,000 yen a month, provided for one year. If you’d like to apply, don’t forget to put a check mark next to “International Student Acceptance Program Reservation System” on your application sheet for the EJU!

Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (​EJU)
How to sign up for the EJU
Schools that require the EJU for admissions

2. The Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)
The JLPT is a test that measures the Japanese language proficiency of non-native speakers. Relatively few schools require it for admissions. The test is divided into 5 levels, from N1 at the highest to N5 at the lowest. In cases when the JLPT is required for admissions, most schools required certification for N2 or above. This test is offered twice a year, and can be taken in 87 countries and regions around the world.

・Exam Schedule
Application Period Exam Period Announcement of Results
First Time Apr Jul Sep
Second Time Sep Dec Feb the following year

There are three test subjects: Listening, Language Comprehension (Kanji, Vocabulary, Grammar), and Reading. This exam mainly tests you on your Japanese listening and reading abilities. All three subjects combined give a maximum score of 180 points, but each subject has its own passing score, and the level can be passed with a combined score from all three subjects of around 80 to 100 points (depending on the level).

Points & test time for each level
Level Full Points Total points Total time
N1 180 points 100 points 170 min
N2 180 points 90 points 155 min
N3 180 points 95 points 140 min
N4 180 points 90 points 115 min
N5 180 points 80 points 90 min

JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test)

3. English Certification Exams
Aside from Japanese certification, some schools require English language certification for admissions, such as the TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS, etc. Prestigious universities will require English proficiency not only when enrolling in programs conducted in English, but also when studying abroad in a Japanese language program.

Some schools may even offer their own English certification exam, inside of relying on an outside test. There are a wide variety of English certification exams, so it’s important to check the type, number of points, and period of validity on results for the test you’ll be taking.

4. University Entrance Exams
The EJU, JLPT, and English certification exams mentioned above are tests that need to be submitted in advance during the document review portion of your application. Once you’ve passed this stage, in most cases, you’ll need to pass the school’s entrance exam.

The contents of entrance exams can vary widely, so while it can’t be stated definitively, they largely fall into three categories: written exams that include basic subjects like Japanese and English language, and well as some specialized subjects; essays that measure Japanese writing ability and logical argumentation skills, and oral examinations/interviews. To get an idea of what type of things the exams will test, you can find examples of past year’s tests on school’s websites.

And there you have the tests that you’ll need to study abroad in Japan. Each school has different testing requirements, so make absolutely sure to check with your particular school’s admission requirements! Also, when you’re planning to take your tests, it’s important to check that your test results are still valid for the time they need to be submitted. Being prepared early is best! We rooting for you to get into the school of your choice!