How to Be Ready for the Kanji Proficiency Test?

Feb 18, 2019


 How Difficult is Kanji Proficiency Test?


The Japan Kanji proficiency test, also known as Kanji Kentei test or Kan ken, is a test that Japanese people take to evaluate their Kanji knowledge and test written kanji, unlike JLPT. The test is administered by the Japan Kanji Proficiency Testing Foundation. The examination candidates must not be able to read Kanji in context and write Kanji correctly, but also they must be able to clearly understand Kanji’s meaning by using them correctly in each sentence. Likewise, the examination candidates must be able to identify Kanji correct stroke order and stroke count. I have a little tip to help with the stroke order.
1. Top to bottom: bottom enclosing components are usually written in the last step such as 道

2. Left to right
3. Horizontal to vertical: Vertical strokes pass through many Horizontal strokes such as 書
4. Center to outside 水
5. Enclosures before contents such as 国
6. Dots and minor strokes are written in the last step such as 玉
However, this exam was originally developed for native Japanese speakers, foreigners also can take Kanji Kentei tests. Unlike the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, also known as JLPT which only has 5 levels, The Kanji Proficiency Test offers 12 different levels. There are exams 3 times a year.
Here is the 2019-2020’s schedule of the Japan Kanji Proficiency Test:
16th June 2019, Registration period 1st March 2019 – 16th May 2019
20th October 2019, Registration period 1st July 2019 – 20th September 2019
16th February 2020, Registration period 1st November 2019 – 17th January 2020

The Details of Kanji Proficiency Test

There are 12 levels which include level 10 through level 3, level pre-2, level 2, level pre-1 and level 1. The easiest level is level 10, whereas level 1 is the most difficult level for this exam. Please allow me to introduce each level of The Japan Kanji Proficiency Test.

The Japan Kanji Proficiency Test Level 10

  1. 80 Kanji must be known by the examination candidates. It is the Kanji Japanese for the first-grade students of elementary school. The examination pass rate is 95%. It is 40 minutes long for taking the exam. You can try mock exam from these documents 2016 // Key answer, 2017 // Key answer, 2018 // Key answer and this website. I checked my Kanji level in the second link website. In my opinion, it is SUPER easy even for non-native Japanese speakers who study the Japanese language at the beginning level. A score of 80% is a minimum score requires for this level. In this level, you must be able to read kanji in contexts and 2 character compound words. They aim to test knowledge of proper kanji character stoke order and stoke count and be able to correctly identify, write kanji, given character reading and contexts.

The Japan Kanji Proficiency Test Level 9

240 Kanji must be known by the examination candidates. It is the Kanji Japanese for the second-grade students of elementary school. The examination pass rate is 90%. It is 40 minutes long for taking the exam. These documents 2016 // Key answer, 2017 // Key answer,2018 // Key answer and this website are the mock test for the Japan Kanji Proficiency Test Level 9. I had checked my Kanji level on the second website. I think it is still easy for non-native Japanese speakers. A score of 80% is a minimum score requires for this level. The specificknowledge test for this kanji test level is the same as level 10. 

The Japan Kanji Proficiency Test Level 8

This level aims to test 440 Kanji learned up to the third-grade students of elementary school. The exam passes rate for this level is 84.8%. The specific knowledge test for this kanji test level is the same as level 10. Besides, This level is a little bit special. They have extra specificity to test candidates. They test knowledge of antonyms, homonyms and 送り仮名 (oku ri ga na) as well. The Okurigana words are the kana after kanji in Japanese written words. There are used to inflect adjectives and verbs. Thus, it forces a particular kanji to have a specific meaning and be read a certain way. Thus, it can indicate the aspect perfective – imperfective, affirmative or negative meaning, grammatical politeness among many other functions. These documents 2016 // Key answer, 2017 // Key answer, 2018 // Key answer and this website are the mock test for the Japan Kanji Proficiency test level 8. It is 40 minutes long for taking the exam. A score of 80% is a minimum score requires for this level.

The Japan Kanji Proficiency Test Level 7

640 Kanji should be known before taking the exam. It is the kanji exam for the fourth-grade students of elementary school. Around 86% of the examination candidates who took this exam passed the Japan Kanji Proficiency Test level 7. This Kanji exam level aims to estimate the ability to distinguish characters between “on” reading and “kun” reading. Besides, the ability of correctly writing Kanji characters when given the character radical and testing the knowledge of two-character compound words. The following websites are the mock test for the Japan Kanji Proficiency Test level 7. These documents 2016 // Key answer, 2017 // Key answer, 2018 // Key answer and this website It is 60 minutes long for taking the exam. A score of 70% is a minimum score requires for this level.

The Japan Kanji Proficiency Test Level 6

825 Kanji must be known by the examination candidates. This is the kanji exam for the fifth-grade students in elementary school. The pass rate for this Kanji level is around 80%. The specific knowledge test for this kanji test level is almost the same as level 7, but it aims to estimate the knowledge of two-character compound words include the various method by which compound words have been formed, antonyms and synonyms. Three-character knowledge also appears in the exam. There are mock exam files. Do not forget to check it out! These documents 2016 // Key answer, 2017 // Key answer, 2018 // Key answer and this website. It is 60 minutes long for taking the exam. A score of 70% is a minimum score requires for this level.

The Japan Kanji Proficiency Test Level 5

1,006 Kanji must be known by the examination candidates same as JLPT N2 which requires knowing 1,000 Kanji and 6,000 vocabularies. This is the kanji exam for the sixth-grade students in elementary school. The pass rate for this Kanji level is 72.2%. The specific knowledge test for this kanji test level is quite the same as level 6 except they add four-character compound words. These documents 2016 // Key answer, 2017 // Key answer, 2018 // Key answer and this website. It is 60 minutes long for taking the exam. A score of 70% is a minimum score requires for this level.

The Japan Kanji Proficiency Test Level 4

1,332 Kanji has to be known by the examination candidates. Around half of the examination candidates could pass this exam level in the past. This is the kanji exam for junior high school students. Passing this level requires the ability to read about 1,300 characters, write about 900 characters and an additional 316 daily use kanji or around 70% as a minimum score. This exam aims to evaluate the candidates’ abilities to differentiate between homonyms, idioms and the knowledge of radicals required to use a kanji dictionary. These documents 2016 // Key answer, 2017 // Key answer, 2018 // Key answer and this website. It is 60 minutes long for taking the exam. A score of 70% is a minimum score requires for this level. 

The Japan Kanji Proficiency Test Level 3

1,607 Kanji which include the Kanji learned up to the sixth grade of elementary school plus additional 601 daily use kanji must be known by the examination candidates. Around 46.8% of the examination candidates could pass this exam level. This is also the kanji exam for junior high school students. The specific knowledge test for this kanji test level is the same as level 4. It also tests special or unusual kanji reading and 当て字 (a te ji). The Ateji characters are kanji characters matched against a word. It generally uses the kanji readings to phonetically match them to words’ syllables. Less than half of the examination candidate could pass this level. These documents 2016 // Key answer, 2017 // Key answer, 2018 // Key answer and this website are the mock test for this Kanji level. It is 60 minutes long for taking the exam. A score of 70% is a minimum score requires for this level.

The Japan Kanji Proficiency Test Pre Level 2

1,940 Kanji, which include the Kanji learned up to the sixth grade of elementary school plus additional 934 daily use kanji must be known by the examination candidates. Around 32% of the examination candidates could pass this exam level. This is the kanji exam for high school students. The specific knowledge test for this kanji test level is almost the same as level 3. Likewise, testing special compound words, the ability to differentiate between homonyms and complex radicals are added into this level. These documents 2016 // Key Answer, 2017 // Key answer, 2018 // Key answer and this website are the mock test for this Kanji level. It is 60 minutes long for taking the exam. A score of 70% is a minimum score required for this level.

The Japan Kanji Proficiency Test Level 2

2,136 Kanji must be known by the examination candidates. This level requires the ability to read and write all of the 2,136 daily use Kanji. Around one-fifth of candidates could pass this level. However, everybody with a high school diploma usually passes the Japan Kanji Proficiency Test Level 2. JLPT N1 language level aims to check the knowledge of 2,000 Kanji with 10,000 vocabularies. Thus, the JLPT N1 level is between the Japan Kanji Proficiency Test Pre Level 2 and Level 2. This level aims to evaluate the examination candidates’ same as the Japan Kanji Proficiency Test Pre level 2. These documents 2016 // Key answer, 2017 // Key answer, 2018 // Key answer and this website are the mock test for this Kanji level. It is 60 minutes long for taking the exam. A score of 80% is a minimum score requires for this level.

The Japan Kanji Proficiency Test Pre Level 1

This level aims to check the ability of reading and writing all 2,956 Kanji. Passing this level requires the ability to use kanji in sentences and choose the most appropriate kanji for a given context around 19% of the examination candidates can pass this level. They also test special or unusual kanji readings, ateji, the knowledge of synonyms and antonyms, the difference between homonyms, special compound words, complex radicals, Kanji unique to the Japanese language, the knowledge of abbreviated kanji forms and the classical Japanese proverbs and idioms. These documents 2016 // Key answer, 2017 // Key answer, 2018 // Key answer are the mock test for this Kanji level. It is 60 minutes long for taking the exam. A score of 80% is a minimum score requires for this level.

The Japan Kanji Proficiency Test Level 1

The examination candidates must be able to read and write all 6,355 kanji. Passing this level requires almost the same as the Japan Kanji Proficiency Test Pre-level 1 plus the knowledge of a place and countries’ name, the ability to use kanji insistences and to choose the most appropriate Kanji for a given context and the ability to recognize the relationship between modern and ancient or old character forms. Around one-tenth of candidate could pass this level. These documents 2016 // Key answer, 2017 // Key answer, 2018 // Key answer are the mock test for this Kanji level. It is 60 minutes long for taking the exam. A score of 80% is a minimum score requires for this level.

There is a huge gap between the Japan Kanji Proficiency Test Level 2 and Level 1. However, passing the Japan Kanji Proficiency Test Level 2 can be used for applying for jobs. Since this test is for Japanese native speaker, the level of Kanji obviously goes way beyond JLPT N1, so non-Japanese native speakers want to test their kanji ability at a higher level or focus on writing also take this test.

What are the Advantages of Taking the Kanji Proficiency Test?


Elementary school

1. It is an acquirement knowledge in elementary school.
2. It is a requirement for passing some enrollment course in school.

Junior high school

1. It is necessary for entrancing dream high school.
2. It is an acquirement knowledge in Junior school.
3. It requires for passing some enrollment course in junior high school.

High school

1. It is sometimes necessary for entrance into dream university.
2. It makes benefits during job seeking time. It is possible for newly graduated candidates to have been hired.
3. Even you are a company employee if you have the Kanji Proficiency Test certification. Some company may offer you more salary.

University Student and Company Employee

1. It supports your resume when you are about in job seeking period.
2. This Kanji Proficiency Test certification increases a chance for newly graduated students to work in a well-known company.

How can you study for Kanji proficiency test?


This exam feels extremely Japanese because it requires an incredible amount of memorization. There are a lot of books for studying and preparing yourself ready for the Kanji Proficiency test in online website. However, I have some recommended application on smartphone which is 漢字検定. It can be downloaded from Apple Store.

The huge part of taking the Kanji Proficiency Test is not just learning or memorizing kanji, words in contexts, but also the on readings and kun reading for all of these kanji too. My Japanese friends said she is not good at memorizing, all she did to pass the exam was writing as a way to memorize these kanji. She wrote Kanji as often as she could until she was able to memorize it.

Ferinmi/Thailand

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