Posted: 2nd Mar 2023
Before we begin: this post contains some info that only applies to the UK (e.g. about available test centres), but broadly speaking, advice on how to register should be relevant pretty much wherever you are in the world!
If you're sitting the JLPT in the UK this July, you may have spotted that SOAS has announced test registration will open from 20th March, 8am! Similarly, Leicester will be taking applications from 9am on the same day.
When preparing for the JLPT, it can be easy to get carried away with prepping purely the language side of things. However, as with any exam, it’s important not to miss key dates such as the deadline to sign up - or else you might find yourself facing a pretty big disappointment further down the line.
To help you avoid getting into trouble with the practical and administrative side of things, I want to use this post to answer the following questions about the JLPT:
- Where in the UK can I sit the JLPT?
- Why do some test centres only operate in July or December?
- The test centre nearest to me isn’t offering the JLPT in July. Should I leave it till December?
- How do I register and how much does it cost?
- Are there any accommodations available for test-takers?
If you'd rather skip ahead, you can do so by clicking on any of the above links. If you don't have much time to spare, make sure you read this section: How do I register and how much does it cost?
Finally, please note that I am not affiliated with any of the JLPT test centres in the UK. For up to date information on exam dates, fees, registration processes etc, please refer to the relevant test centre’s website (linked in the next section).
1. Where in the UK can I sit the JLPT?
Outside of Japan, the JLPT is held in 141 cities in 52 countries/areas* outside of Japan, with a list of test centres available to view here.
*An online search brings up a whole host of different figures, but this is the number given in the most recent (July 2022) data on the JLPT website at the time of writing.
If you’re in the UK, the test centres available in 2023 are:
While this geographical spread may seem quite meagre, it’s actually pretty good compared with a lot of other countries. Norway, for example, doesn't even have a test centre in its capital city of Oslo, while Sweden has a test centre in Stockholm but apparently no exam taking place in either July or December this year (more on what the UK has to offer in a moment).
The reason I mention Norway and Sweden is because I remember when I first sat the N2 in Edinburgh there were several test-takers who had travelled from Scandinavia specially to sit the exam in Scotland, which really surprised me at the time! If you live somewhere relatively remote, it might be worth considering travelling beyond your own country's borders. Maybe you could make a holiday of it!
2. Why do some test centres only operate in July or December?
If you’ve ever taken a look at the list of overseas (i.e. outside of Japan) JLPT test centres, you may have spotted something: not all test centres offer the JLPT in both July and December!
In case you’re totally new to the JLPT, even in Japan the test is only offered twice a year, with dates typically sitting on a Sunday right at the start of July and December. In 2023, the JLPT will be held on Sunday 2nd July and Sunday 3rd December.
While from a learner's point of view, twice a year already feels like pretty slim pickings, for test centres, it simply isn't always logistically possible for them to offer two rounds of JLPT exams every year. While I don't have an official answer to this question, having previously worked as an assistant to the JLPT test centre team in Edinburgh, I do know that it takes a huge amount of organisation - and staff - to make it happen, and as such it seems to be an unfortunate truth that few test centres are able to deliver the JLPT twice a year.
Here's what the UK has to offer in 2023:
As shown above, UK JLPT dates in 2023 are as follows:
- July: London, Leicester (no Edinburgh or Cardiff)
- December: London, Edinburgh, Cardiff (no Leicester)
While it seems to be more common for test centres to offer only a December date and no JLPT in July, throughout the time I’ve been following the JLPT in Edinburgh, it has - to my knowledge - always been available in both July and December here. As such, I was extremely disappointed to find out it wasn’t running this summer, as I have several students in Edinburgh who are now going to have to travel to London or Leicester – no small undertaking!
If you too are located further north in the UK – or simply anywhere not particularly close to London or Leicester – you may find yourself needing to make some practical decisions about whether you can afford the time and expense of making the journey to one of the two test centres available this July. More on this in our next section!
3. The test centre nearest to me isn’t offering the JLPT in July. Should I leave it till December?
This is a question I've had from students quite a bit in the last year - in particular from those who originally planned to sit the JLPT in Edinburgh in July before realising they wouldn't be able to do so.
If travelling further afield for the JLPT is a barrier for you, naturally it makes sense that you may need to put off sitting the exam until you can do so at your local test centre. However, if you have the luxury of being able to choose between travelling to sit it sooner or staying put till December, I suggest you think carefully about how important the exam is for you.
While putting the JLPT off until December may seem like a good bet, it does come with the risk of not getting a place at your desired test centre. You're likely not to be the only person waiting for that once-a-year chance to sit the exam locally, so competition for places may be even stiffer than usual.
Taking this into account, I recommend basing your decision on how urgently you want/need to sit the exam. For example, those sitting the N2 or N1 may require the qualification to get a job in Japan or with a Japanese company. If this is you, it may not be worth the wait - especially as a pass mark is never guaranteed. Others who may want to speed up the process include those with visa or Japanese citizenship applications, as having a JLPT certificate is typically viewed positively by immigration (fun fact: I used to work at a law firm in Osaka handling Japanese visa applications!).
If the JLPT is more of a casual study goal for you, there's naturally less pressure on you to get the qualification *right now*. That said, only you know how important it is to you, so consider talking things through with a friend, partner or family member if you're feeling unsure. If you have a Japanese teacher, you could also ask their advice.
4. How do I register and how much does it cost?
To sign up, simply go to the website of the test centre you'd like to sit the exam at and follow the instructions given there.
The date from which applications open is usually announced a couple of weeks in advance. For example, this year SOAS announced on the 2nd of March that they would be opening registration from 8am on Monday 20th March. In terms of what the application form looks like, fortunately it's an online form, so you shouldn't need to print anything.
However, here comes the key piece of advice I want you to take away from this post, which is: treat registering for the JLPT like booking gig tickets for your favourite band.
This is no joke. In particular as there are only two test centres operating this summer at a time when there's still significant backlog due to lockdowns, competition for places is exceedingly high, with test centres reportedly reaching full capacity within hours.
As such, I recommend you make your way to the relevant website nice and early, payment card at the ready, and do what you can to fill out the form as speedily as possible. If you run into technical problems, don't forget to try switching browsers (e.g. Chrome instead of Firefox).
Speaking of payment card, don't forget you will have to pay a fair chunk of money to sit the exam! The JLPT registration fee in the UK is £100* regardless of what level you're sitting (N5-N1).
*Note: this fee appears to be uniform across UK test centres at the time of writing, but make sure to double check on the website of the test centre you intend to sit the exam at!
5. Are there any accommodations available for test-takers?
If you require accommodations to sit the JLPT, you may be eligible for a Special Testing Accommodation.
The SOAS JLPT Test Guide July 2023 (available from this page) describes Special Testing Accommodations as follows:
"If you want to be provided for Special Testing Accommodations because of a disease, a personal injury, a physical disability or other impairments, please ask your local host institution for a 'Request Form for Special Testing Accommodations' and submit the completed Request Form together with your Application Form before the deadline set by your local host institution. Please make sure to check the box in the upper right corner on your Application Form. If the information provided on the Request Form is not sufficient, applicants may be requested to submit a medical certificate or other such documentations. As preparation takes time, late requests may not be acceptable."
I'm going to do another post giving more information on this topic soon, so watch this space!
Update: you can now click here to read my post on Special Testing Accommodations .
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