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Placement Test and Proficiency Exam

Are you interested in taking a Japanese language course? Please check this chart to find out what you need to do to be placed in an appropriate course. 

If you are taking Japanese courses for your college or major requirements, please consult with your college or major advisor first to find out what your goals are.

If you have never had any exposure to the language, JAPN 10A is the right class for you. If you have been exposed to the Japanese language in any way (ex. Japanese courses taken at Japanese schools, high schools, community colleges, AP credits in Japanese, experience in living in Japan, speaking Japanese at home, etc.), you need to take an online placement test. There are two types of language exams available; Japanese Online Placement Test (SPOT) and Japanese Proficiency Exam.


For more information, please refer to our Language Sequence Sheet (PDF), which outlines important notes about the Japanese language sequence and provides a sample guide.

Online Japanese Placement Test (SPOT)

Students who have been exposed to the Japanese language in any way must take the online Japanese placement test, the Simple Proficiency-Oriented Test (SPOT) in order to enroll in an appropriate JAPN course at UC San Diego.

This includes taking Japanese classes at schools, self-studying, tutoring, speaking Japanese at home, and/or having lived in Japan. AP credit and articulated Japanese language courses taken at community colleges do not give you permission to automatically enroll in a certain JAPN course. Student who participate in the study abroad programs also must take SPOT upon completion of the programs if they wish to continue their Japanese language study at UC San Diego after returning from Japan.

Click here for the URL and detailed instructions on how to take SPOT.

Once you submit your test results, essay, and Student Information Form online, you will receive an email from one of our Japanese language lecturers within 5 business days. Please schedule your placement interview as instructed. If any of the required documents are missing, your interview will not be scheduled. At the end of your interview, you will find out which JAPN course is most appropriate for your current Japanese proficiency skills.

Once you receive a confirmation email regarding your JAPN course preauthorization from the Japanese Studies advising office, you may enroll in the course via WebReg during your enrollment period. Please note that you are not guaranteed to place in a certain JAPN course in which you wish to enroll. If you are currently out of town, your placement interview can be conducted via video chat. 

Your test results are valid for one academic year (3 consecutive quarters). All the placement interviews are scheduled on a first come first served basis, and we recommend that you complete a placement test at your earliest convenience as our Japanese classes become full very quickly each quarter.

If you have any questions regarding the placement test, email at (Current students must submit their inquiries via the Virtual Advising Center.)

Japanese Proficiency Exam

UC San Diego students may wish to have it certified that they have attained a level of conversational and reading proficiency to satisfy their language requirements. Revelle and Eleanor Roosevelt Colleges require such certification for the baccalaureate degree and some UC San Diego departments have an undergraduate language requirement as part of their major program. We offer a proficiency exam for Japanese.

Proficiency Exam Procedures

Please follow these procedures.

  1. Contact the approved proficiency exam administrator and make an appointment for the test.

    You must make arrangements to give the tester the “Proficiency Guidelines” and “Proficiency Test Form” before the test date. After the test, the test administrator fills out the form and either certifies that you have passed proficiency or indicates that you are not proficient.

  2. Bring the completed form to the Linguistics Language Program Office, APM 3101. You must return this form to the Language Program whether or not you passed the test.
  3. The Language Program office will contact the test administrator to verify that the test has been given and that the results indicated are correct. If you have passed the test, the Language Program office will notify your college or major department of the results and will also inform the Registrar so the result can be posted to your transcript.

More information about taking a Proficiency Examination can be found on the Linguistics Department Website: