Japanese with Listening Subject Test

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If you’ve studied Japanese for more than two years, whether inside or outside of the classroom, and have an understanding of both written and spoken forms of the language, the Japanese with Listening Subject Test can help you enhance your college application.

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Test Basics

Scoring, Timing, Number of Questions
Points Minutes Questions

60 (20-minute listening section and a 40-minute usage and reading section)

80 (Multiple Choice)

Note: On test day, you must bring an acceptable CD player with earphones.

Getting Ready for the Test

  • Ability to understand spoken Japanese and identify what is being said in short spoken dialogues and narratives about everyday topics.
  • Ability to complete sentences in a way that is appropriate in terms of structure (grammar), vocabulary, and contexts.
  • Identify usage that is both structurally correct and contextually appropriate.
  • Understand such points as the main and supporting ideas. Selections are taken from materials you might encounter in everyday situations, such as notes, menus, newspaper articles, advertisements, and letters.
  • 2–4 years of Japanese language study in high school, or the equivalent
  • Gradual development of competence in Japanese over a period of years
  • Listening to practice CD that your counselor can order from the College Board
CONTENT Approximate % of Test

Listening comprehension
Based on short spoken dialogues and narratives, primarily about everyday topics


These questions require you to complete Japanese sentences in a way that is appropriate in terms of structure (grammar), vocabulary, and context. Usage questions are printed in two different ways of representing Japanese. On the left column, the Japanese is written in the most common type of Romanization (romaji), a modified Hepburn system. On the right column, the Japanese is presented in standard Japanese script with furigana for all kanji. You should choose the writing system you are familiar with and read only from that column on the test.


Reading comprehension
The reading comprehension questions are in English; the text is written in hiragana, katakana, and kanji without furigana.


Download the SAT Subject Tests Student Guide (.pdf/6.3MB) for more information on the topics.

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  • 20 full-length, previously administered Subject Tests
  • Detailed answer explanations for all test questions
  • The most up-to-date tips and approaches on selecting which tests to take, the best time to take the tests, and how to best be ready for test day
  • The latest versions of the instructions, background questions, and answer sheet
  • Detailed descriptions of every Subject Test, including topics covered and recommended course work
  • Two audio CDs for all six Language with Listening Tests

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Additional Things to Know

When should I take the Japanese with Listening test?

There are a few factors to consider as you decide when to take the test. You should have at least two years of strong preparation in the language, but the more the better.

It's recommended that you take the Japanese with Listening test as close to the end of the most advanced Japanese class that you plan to take, while still balancing college admission and placement requirements. You’re likely not to do as well if you take the test after you haven't been in a Japanese class for several months.

  • For seniors studying Japanese: If Japanese is a strong subject for you, be sure it’s one of the SAT Subject Tests you take in time for colleges to see your score. If you’re only taking it for placement purposes, and not as part of your application for admission, wait until you’re as far along in your course as possible. If you want to take the Japanese with Listening test, check the test schedule to see when it's offered (and don't forget to bring a portable CD player with earphones).

Which Japanese is used on the Japanese with Listening test?

The language used on the test is taken from pieces written and dialogue spoken by those who use Japanese in their everyday lives. Words or sayings specific to certain geographic areas will not be used in the test. If you’ve had at least two years of strong preparation in the language, then you should be able to understand the Japanese on the test.

I’m familiar with Japanese but have not taken a class in school. Can I still take the Japanese with Listening test?

No matter how you acquired your knowledge of Japanese, it’s important to show colleges what you know. Bilingual (or multilingual) abilities are achievements that deserve to be highlighted. Your test will be scored the same way as that of someone who learned Japanese in the classroom only. If you’ve been exposed to a lot of spoken Japanese, then you should definitely consider taking the Japanese with Listening test.

If you will be using these results to fulfill a college admission requirement, you should be aware that different colleges have different policies regarding Subject Tests in foreign languages. You should check with the colleges that you’re interested in about their policies and seek guidance from your counselor or teacher on your specific situation.

Please note that this test reflects what is commonly taught in high school. Due to differences in high school classes, it’s likely that most students will find questions on topics they’re not familiar with. This is nothing to worry about. You do not have to get every question correct to receive the highest score (800) for the test. Many students do well despite not having studied every topic covered.