Everything You Need to Know If You’re Taking the Japan Foundation Test for Basic Japanese

Taking an exam is one way to measure your proficiency in a language.

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If you want to live or work in a foreign country like Japan, sharpening your language skills is a must. One way to measure your Japanese proficiency is by taking exams by certified institutions like the Japan Foundation. Their certification would sometimes be a requirement to qualify for educational institutions or employment. There are currently two proficiency exams administered by the Japan Foundation, the
Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) and the Japan Foundation Test for Basic Japanese (JFT-Basic). In this article, we will discuss the JFT-Basic Test. 

What is the JFT-Basic Test?

The JFT-Basic Test is a Japanese language proficiency test that seeks to measure the level of communication in everyday life situations of foreigners in Japan. It is based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: learning, teaching, assessment (CEFR) and the JF Standard for Japanese-Language Education. This test is going to be used as a means to qualify for the residency status of
Specified Skilled Worker (i) (SSW). 

Testing Method 

Unlike the JLPT, JFT-Basic Test is done through Computer-Based Testing (CBT). The test questions would be presented through a computer screen, which makes it easier for the audio portion of the exam to be held. And lastly, the language of the exam changes accordingly to the country where it is held. This minimizes any room for misunderstanding the instructions of the test.  

Test Structure

The test is divided into four sections: Script and Vocabulary, Conversation and Expression, Listening Comprehension, and Reading Comprehension.
Although there are different sections, there is no time limit per section. The test has approximately 60 questions, and everyone is required to finish it within an hour.

Summary of linguistic competence

The test follows CEFR as a guideline to measure a Japanese-learner’s proficiency. It is divided into six levels of the “Can-do” framework (description of linguistic competence): A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2, in increasing order of difficulty.

Currently, the JFT-Basic Test A2 level falls under the easy side of the spectrum. To be able to understand what to expect from the A2 level, here we included levels A1 and B1 for comparison: 


Summary of linguistic competence


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. 


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. 


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 traveling 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. 

The CEFR Global Scale: Common Reference Levels

Source: Japan Foundation 

Test Result Notification

The test results are announced right after taking the exam. It will be displayed on the computer screen with a range of points from 10 - 250. If the score goes above 200 points, one is assessed to have proficient Japanese language skills fit for everyday conversation to a certain extent. These people can handle conversing daily in Japan with no difficulty.


Please note that the point system is not the accumulated number of points, but rather is calculated through the statistical method of equating. 

Sample Questions

Sample questions are provided on the official website. 

For more information, and updates on the JFT-Basic Test, please refer to the official

 (7 October 2019)

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