Language Information

Japanese Placement Test Information

Who needs to take the Japanese placement test?

The above apply to all students in all schools and programs, including graduate and professional schools. Transfer students are also required to take the Japanese placement exam before registering for Japanese courses.

What will the Japanese placement test look like?

The Japanese placement test has five sections. The kanji, grammar, and reading comprehension sections are taken on a website, a very short speaking test is administered via Zoom, and the final short essay section is completed by hand. Some students, including those who would like to use Japanese to fulfill their school’s foreign language requirement, may be required to take a longer oral proficiency test for validation after the written placement test. If this is the case, Professor Sato will explain how to sign up for an exam slot after you finish the writing portion.

How do I take the Japanese placement test?

The first four parts of the test are administered remotely in July (1 and 2 below) and the final essay writing portion of the test will be given on campus during Wildcat Welcome week. Be sure to follow the Academic Integrity policies and complete the test without any kind of help.

Go to the online placement test site at one of the specified times below. If you can, take the online test during the first three days that it is available.

a) If you already took JAPANESE 121-3 at Northwestern University and passed it, choose the Level II Test. Otherwise start with the Level I Test.

b) After filling out the questionnaires, you will have two hours to complete the entire Level I

test and one and a half hours for the Level II test. You may not receive a placement if you

spend more than the specified time on each test. Be mindful of the time.

c) While taking the test, save it as often as you can.

d) You can take the test only once.


Once you finish the online portion of the placement test, you will receive a Canvas invitation via email within 24 hours. Accept the invitation and sign up for a short oral test on Canvas.

When and where will the Japanese placement test take place? All times listed below are Chicago (CDT) time.

Date and Time for Level I and Level II online tests*:


Saturday, July 16, 2022, 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. (CDT)

              Sunday, July 17, 2022, 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. (CDT)

Monday, July 18, 2022, 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. (CDT)

Tuesday, July 19, 2022, 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. (CDT)

Wednesday, July 20, 2022, 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. (CDT)


Date and Time for short speaking tests via Zoom*:


Saturday, July 23, 2022 through Friday, July 29, 2022

The time you have signed up for at the Canvas site


* If you are absolutely unable to make the above dates, please contact Professor Sato as soon as possible.


Date and Time for the essay writing portion of the test:

Wednesday, September 14, 2022, 12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Kresge Hall 2524 (Tentative - if room changes happen, you will find the notice there)

When will the placement test results be posted?

The final placement results will be posted online at the same site where you took the online exam by 12:00 p.m. on September 15, 2022 unless different arrangements are made with Professor Sato. If you complete the online and short oral tests in July, you will be assigned a tentative placement by July 31, 2022. The tentative placement is for your reference only; you cannot use the tentative assignment to register for a Japanese course. Be sure to complete the essay portion on September 14 to receive a final official placement.


Note to transfer students:

If you are a transfer student, and would like to have a final placement before your advising time in August, contact Professor Sato before you take the online test. You may be able to complete the whole process before July 31.

Interpreting test results

JAPANESE 111-1, 121-1 and 211-1 are offered only in the fall quarters.

JAPANESE 111-2, 121-2 and 211-2 are offered only in the winter quarters.

JAPANESE 111-3, 121-3 and 211-3 are offered only in the spring quarters.

If your placement result lists two courses  ["121-2 / (211-1)"] , the course without the parentheses is your placement; however, if you want to start Japanese at Northwestern earlier and/or if you want to take a little more challenging course, you may go to the course indicated in the parenthesis and consult with the instructor.

If your placement indicates "121-2 / (211-1)" or "(211-1)," you are NOT placed out of the WCAS Foreign Language Requirement.

If your placement indicates 211-1, 2, 3 or 310, 311, 312, 313, 314, you are placed out of the WCAS Foreign Language Requirement and have completed the prerequisite for the Minor in Japanese Language and Culture.

For questions about placement in Japanese, contact:

Professor Junko Sato (さとう先生)