The Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) has been offered by the Japan Foundation and Japan Educational Exchanges and Services (formerly Association of International Education, Japan) since 1984 as a reliable means of evaluating and certifying the Japanese proficiency of non-native speakers.
The JLPT has five levels: N1, N2, N3, N4 and N5. The easiest level is N5 and the most difficult level is N1.
N1 difficult ←→ easy N5
N4 and N5 measure the level of understanding of basic Japanese mainly learned in class. N1and N2 measure the level of understanding of Japanese used in a broad range of scenes in actual everyday life. N3 is a bridging level between N1/N2 and N4/N5.
Linguistic competence required for the JLPT is expressed in terms of language activities, such as Reading and Listening, as shown in the table below. While not noted in the table, Language Knowledge, such as Vocabulary and Grammar, is also required for successful execution of these activities.