TLC Offers Prestigious 日本漢字能力検定,  Nihon Kanji Nōryoku Kentei; The Japan Kanji Aptitude Test

日本漢字能力検定,  Nihon Kanji Nōryoku Kentei; The Japan Kanji Aptitude Test, also known as Kanji Kentei, or Kanken for short, evaluates a student’s ability to read, write, and understand Kanji.  Kanji are a system of Japanese writing using Chinese characters. The Kanken is one of the most highly respected student certifications recognized by various industries all over in Japan.  The test is administered by the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation. The Tennessee Language Center is the only Kanken Test provider in the Southeast United States.

The test examines not only the ability to read and write kanji, but also the ability to understand their meanings, to use them correctly in sentences, and to identify correct stroke order. Although the test was originally developed for native Japanese speakers, non-native speakers may also take the tests. There are 12 levels (levels 10 through 3, pre-2, 2, pre-1 and 1) with level 10 being the easiest and level 1 the most difficult.

Registering for the Kanken


The next testing date is Sunday, June 16, 2024, from 1-3 p.m. Central. Levels 10-8 will be from 1-1:40 p.m. Levels 7-2 will be from 2-3 p.m.

The test must be taken in-person at The Tennessee Language Center, 220 French Landing Drive, Nashville, TN 37243.

The deadline to register is May 13, 2024.


The cost is determined by the level that you select.  Current prices are below. If you decide to take two levels on the same test date, you will need to pay for two tests.  

Level 2  Levels Pre-2, 3, 4  Levels 5,6,7  Levels 8,9,10 
$40  $35  $30  $25 

* Discounts are not valid for Kanken test registration.


If you are a current or former TLC student, contact your Japanese instructor, and they can provide advice. 

Non-TLC students should seek advice from their current class or organization. If you are a self-taught learner, you need to self-check your level by reviewing practice tests to determine which level you should take. TLC employees are unable to provide level assessments to non-TLC students. 

Test-takers are not permitted to repeat taking exams more than once for the same level at the same test site within a testing round. It is permitted, however, for the test-takers to take multiple exams for the different level(s) within the same testing day of the same testing round. 

For example:
– Taking two exams for Level 9 twice within a testing day at the same test site – Not allowed
– Taking two exams – one for Level 8, one for Level 7 within a testing day – Allowed 

Once you have selected which test or tests you would like to take, you can register for your test(s) at this site. Make sure to select the appropriate level  

Once you have enrolled on Matrix, you will receive a form 


Once you have enrolled for a specific test date through our online registration system, no refunds can be granted, nor can registrations be carried over to a future test date. If you are unable to attend after you have enrolled, and you would like to still take the test at a later test date, you will need to make an additional payment at full price. 

Preparing for the Kanken

Level 10: 80 Kanji (+80)
– read kanji in context
– write kanji in context
– 2 character compound readings
– stroke order and stroke count

Level 9: 240 Kanji (+160)
Same as level 10, plus:
– tests correct ending of Kanji strokes, e.g., whether a hook is drawn or not, and in which direction

Level 8: 440 Kanji (+200)
Same as level 9, plus:
– antonyms
– homonyms: different kanji with the same reading
– finish writing the Kanji when given radicals
– okurigana

Level 7: 640 Kanji (+200)
Same as level 8, plus:
– distinguish between on and kun readings of characters 

Level 6: 825 Kanji (+185)
Same as level 7, plus:
– identify the formation of compound words
– three-character compound words 

A bar graph show each level of the Kanken test with the number of Kanji characters you need to know for that level.Level 5: 1006 Kanji (+181)
Same as level 6, plus:
– identify compound words based on the word definition
– four-character compound words

Level 4: 1322 Kanji (+316)
Same as level 5 

Level 3: 1607 Kanji (+285)
Same as level 4, plus:
– special, unusual readings
– ateji: phonetic readings
– idioms

Level Pre-2: 1940 Kanji (+333)
Same as level 3, plus:
– complex radicals

Level 2: 2136 Kanji (+196)
Same as level pre-2, plus:
– composition of kanji

What To Expect The Day of The Test

On test day, please arrive at the Tennessee Language Center (220 French Landing Dr, Suite B, Nashville, TN) at least 20 minutes before the start of your test. Once you park, you will enter the building, and check in at the security desk with an official ID (passport or driver’s license). The guard will guide you to the TLC entrance, and a TLC staff member will be there to greet you. 

Ten minutes before the test starts, the proctor will give the general instructions. 

A booklet of Kanji characters on a table with two hands marking in it with a pen.You will be allowed to enter the test room until 20 minutes after the start of the test for levels 10 to 8, and 30 minutes after the start of the test for levels 7 to 2. You will not be permitted to enter the room after that time.  Examination time will not be extended.

If you leave the test within 30 minutes after the beginning of the test, your answer sheets will not be scored – they are treated as abstention. 

Pencils with B, 2B, or HB lead and an eraser.  Pens are not allowed.

No additional resources are permitted to be used during the test. This includes any electronic devices such as smartphones, smartwatches, etc.


The time it takes depends on the level; average times to finish the test are 40 minutes for levels 8 through 10 and 60 minutes for levels 2 through 7.  

After the Test:

As soon as an exam is completed, all the answer sheets and other required documents must be collected and sent back to the Japan Kanji Aptitude Test Foundation in Japan.  

The test results, standard answers, and the certificate (if a test taker successfully passes the level(s) will be issued) and mailed to the TLC approximately 35 days after the test was completed. Test takers can pick up their certificate in person at TLC during business hours.