The JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test, 日本語能力試験) was developed in 1984 by the Japan Foundation (国際交流基金) and is a standardized criterion-referrence test to evaluate the Japanese language proficiency of non-naitive speakers. 

In 2010, the JLPT got revised and instead of four Levels (1-kyû, 2-kyû, 3-kyû and 4-kyû) five new Levels were created with inserting a new Level between the old 2-kyû and 3-kyû. The new Levels are now called N1, N2, N3, N4 and N5. Furthermore, the highest level (formerly 1-kyû) N1 slightly advanced more, but is still the same passing level. N5 is on the same level as 4-kyû, so as N4 is the same level as 3-kyû. The new N3 is something between the old 3-kyû and 2-kyû, while N2 is still equal to the old 2-kyû.
Out of 180 possible points you need 100 to pass the N1,  90 to pass N2, 95 to pass N3, 90 to pass N4 and 80 to pass N5. 

The JLPT focuses on language knowledge as grammar, vocabulary and kanji (chinese characters); reading and listening comprehension. The JLPT is a multiple-choice test, there is no evaluation of oral or writing skills in Japanese. 

Test Dates
In Japan, the test is held twice a year: on the first sunday of July and the first sunday of December
Outside of the Japan, the test is held once a year (December) in 40 countries all over the world - but not in Austria. Until this year, Austrian students have had to go to test sites around Austria, e.g. in Germany, Switzerland, Czech, Hungary or Poland, to make the JLPT. For students living in Vienna, the nearest test site city is Budapest, Hungary. 
(There are some rumors, that the JLPT will also be held in Austria in this Winter, but neither the Viennese school, where it is said to be held, nor the official JLPT homepage did publish any such information. :/)

The results of the JLPT are released in September (for the July test in Japan) and February (for the December test in Japan). Test results for examinees outside of Japan will be announced in March. If the student passed the test, next to the information about their scores, they receive a Certificate of Proficiency.

Until 2003, the JLPT was a requirement for oversea students for entering Japanese universities, but since 2003, additionally to the JLPT the EJU (Examination for Japanese University Admission, 日本留学試験) is a further requirement to enter Japanese universities, because this test also evaluates also the writing skills of the further students. However, sometimes JLPT resultes are a reference for foreign students from countries, where the EJU is not conducted. 

The JLPT does not expire, but some companies or universities have a validity period for the test results.

Further information:

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