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About the JFT-Basic

Objective of the Test

The Japan Foundation Test for Basic Japanese (JFT-Basic) seeks to measure the level of Japanese language proficiency needed by foreign nationals about to reside in Japan mainly for work, to communicate in everyday life situations. It is used to assess whether they have the Japanese language proficiency to be able to engage in everyday conversation to a certain extent and handle daily life without difficulties. The test evaluates Japanese language competence based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment (CEFR) and the JF Standard for Japanese-Language EducationExternal link , a framework for Japanese language education grounded on the principle of using the Japanese language to facilitate mutual understanding among people. (The JF standard was developed based on the concepts supporting the CEFR by the Japan Foundation.)
The JFT-Basic is also used as a test to measure the level of Japanese language proficiency needed to obtain the residency status of “Specified Skilled Worker (i),” which began in April 1, 2019. Please visit the following for more information on Specified Skill eligibility.

Target of the Test

This test is for foreign nationals who are not native speakers of Japanese.
In particular, it is aimed for foreign nationals about to reside in Japan mainly for work.

Testing Method

This test is conducted through Computer-Based Testing (CBT). Questions are set and answered on computers at test centers in each country. In booths, test-takers answer on the computer screen based on questions displayed on the screen and audio played through the headphones.

image of CBT screen with Question number, Section name, Test name, Time remaining, Name of examinee, Display area for test question and answer choices, Navigation to questions using the Back and Next buttons, Flag for reviewing answer, Gray:Answered, Light green:Current answering, Green:Unanswered, With flag:Review needed, Tab:Section.
Figure 1: CBT screen

The test questions and choices are displayed on the central area of the computer screen. In addition, the section name, test name, time remaining and status of answers are displayed on the borders of the screen.

image of Question screen with Press the play button to play the audio, Problems are displayed in English, Answer by clicking on your choice, The selected answer will change color.
Figure 2: Question screen
image of Pop-up of the problem in local language with Click on the Your Local language button to pop up a screen with the problem in your local language, Understand the situation and setting before answering the question.
Figure 3: Pop-up of the problem in local language

In the test, problems are displayed in English. Problems can be read in your local language by clicking on the Your Language button.
Read the problem to understand the setting or situation and answer the question. For listening comprehension, press the play button to play the audio playback. To answer, click on your choice. The color of your selected choice will change.

Related information
To know more about how to operate the test screen, please refer to this link.

JFT-Basic Operating Guide (YouTube) External link

Test structure

This test is composed of four sections: Script and Vocabulary, Conversation and Expression, Listening Comprehension, and Reading Comprehension. The purposes of this test structure and questions are shown in Table 1. There are approximately 60 questions, and the test time is 60 minutes. There is no time limit for completing each section.

*You can scroll horizontally.

Table 1 Test Structure and Purposes
Section Purposes of the section Category Purpose of category
Script and Vocabulary(Around 15 questions) To test if the test-taker is able to read Japanese texts used in everyday situations, and whether the test-taker has the basic vocabulary and is able to use it. Word Meaning To test the meaning of a word.
Word Usage To test the usage of a word.
Kanji Reading To test the hiragana pronunciation of a word written in kanji.
Kanji Meaning and Usage To test the meaning and usage of a word written in kanji.
Conversation and Expression(Around 15 questions) To test if the test-taker is able to use the grammar and expressions necessary for conversation in everyday situations. Grammar To test if the test-taker can use the appropriate grammar matching the context.
Expression To test if the test-taker is able to use the appropriate expression matching the context.
Listening Comprehension(Around 15 questions) To test if the test-taker is able to listen to and understand conversations, instructions, etc. in everyday situations. Comprehending Content (conversation) To test understanding of contents by listening to an exchange of information or social exchange.
Comprehending Content (communicating at shops and public places) To test understanding of contents by listening to an exchange at a shop or public place.
Comprehending Content (listening to announcements and instructions) To test understanding of contents by listening to instructions and announcements, audio media, etc.
Reading Comprehension(Around 15 questions) To test if the test-taker is able to read and understand letters, notices, explanations, etc. in everyday situations. Comprehending Content To test reading of a short and simple letter, message, etc.
Information Search To test if the test-taker is able to find the necessary information from an everyday billboard, notice, information material, etc.

Summary of Linguistic Competence and Levels

This test follows the framework of the CEFR adopted by The JF Standard for Japanese-Language Education as a guideline for the kind of tasks the test-taker can accomplish using Japanese, and uses the test-taker’s competence in accomplishing tasks as an indicator of their level. Competence in accomplishing tasks is presented as their “Can-do” (description of linguistic competence) and is divided into six levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. Please refer to Figure 4 below for an illustration of the levels.

image of six levels of Can-do. Link to the extended image.
Figure 4: Six levels of Can-do

With test questions based on A1 to A2 levels of Can-do in the CEFR and the JF standard, the test comprehensively assesses the Japanese language communication skills required for daily life situations in Japan in four sections: Script and Vocabulary, Conversation and Expression, Listening Comprehension, and Reading Comprehension. Using the necessary “ability to engage in everyday conversation to a certain extent and handle daily life without difficulties” for working in Japan as a guideline, this test determines if test-takers are sufficiently proficient in Japanese at the A2 level. A summary of the linguistic competence required for A2 level is shown in the middle section of Table 2 below.

Table 2 Summary of linguistic competence required for A2 level (Comparison with adjacent levels)
Level Summary of linguistic competence
B1
  • Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
  • Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken.
  • Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
A2
  • Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).
  • Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.
  • Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
A1
  • Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type.
  • Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has.
  • Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

The CEFR Global Scale: Common Reference Levels

Test Result Notification

Test-takers will be notified of the test results as follows.

On the day of the test
The total score and assessment results will be displayed on the screen at the end of the test.
Within 5 business days after taking the test
The test-taker can download the official notification of assessment results on the registration website after logging in.
image of notification of assessment results with total score, assessment results, and percentage of correct answers for each section
Figure 5 Notification of assessment results

The official notification of assessment results includes the total score and the assessment results based on the score. The total score is not simply the sum of the number of correct answers. It is a scaled score calculated using a statistical method called “equating.” The range of the total score is from 10 – 250 points. If the total score is at or above the passing score (200 points), the examinee is assessed to have reached a level of Japanese language proficiency to be able to engage in everyday conversation to a certain extent and handle daily life without difficulties. The percentage of correct answers for each section will also be included for the examinee’s reference.
Also, the official notification of assessment describes how to view the Japanese language level on the 2nd page. Please visit“Summary of Linguistic Competence and Levels”for contents.

Sample Questions

You can try the JFT-Basic sample questions. There are a total of eleven sample questions presented, with one question for each category in four sections. You can check the testing method, test contents and the level of each category through these sample questions in Computer Based Testing (CBT).
※There may be differences with the question screen on the actual test.

Sample Questions (Open in new window)

Document Describing the Test

This is a document in slide form, which compiles the contents above and gives an overview of the JFT-Basic. Please feel free to download and use it.

Document Describing the Test download【PDF:1.38MB】

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