If you’re applying for the Embassy-recommended MEXT scholarship, have passed the document screening and (maybe) the tests, your next step will be passing the embassy MEXT scholarship interview.
In this guide, I will cover the kinds of questions you should expect, what the interviewers are looking for, and other preparation recommendations.
MEXT Interview Process
Depending on how your country does it, you may have the written exams and the interview on separate days, or they may be different events altogether. Check with the embassy where you are applying for details.
MEXT Scholarship Tests
If you are applying for the MEXT scholarship for research students (i.e. as a graduate student), you will take up to two tests:
- Japanese language proficiency
- English language proficiency
Taking the Japanese language proficiency test is mandatory, even if you have no Japanese language ability. As long as you’re applying for a program taught in English, it won’t hurt your application chances if you get a zero on it.
If you do have Japanese language proficiency, then this test could help you get out of the six-month Japanese language program that most Embassy-recommended MEXT scholars have to go through before they start their degrees.
Note for Undergraduate MEXT Scholarship Applicants
In addition to the Japanese and English tests, you will have to take several subject area tests, depending on the major you selected in your application. You can find a specific list in the official application guidelines on MEXT’s website.
You can find past tests for language proficiency and undergraduate subject tests on JASSO’s website.
Preparing for the MEXT Scholarship Interview
First (because it’s simpler), you should understand the structure and conduct of the interview. Next, and most importantly, you need to know how you will approach it to maximize your chances.
I have never participated in one of these interviews directly, and there could be some variety in how the interview is set up, but if you were to face a typical, Japanese-style interview, it would be something like this:
Typically, there will be a panel of three interviewers seated behind desks facing you as you enter the room. There will also be a chair (but usually no desk) for you in the center of the room, around 2-3 m (6-10 feet) away from the interviewers.
The set-up and distance can be rather intimidating, but don’t let it get to you.
Stay confident and focused on your goals (more on that below). If you approach the interview with the confidence (but not cockiness) that you are the best candidate for the scholarship and answer the questions clearly and confidently, there is a very good chance that you will perform better.
As of 2022, some countries are still holding interviews online. The format varies from country to country so please be sure to check the details for your specific country.
Interview Panel Members
Based on comments from past applicants, both on this blog and on other sites, embassy MEXT scholarship interview panels typically seem to consist of three interviewers. Two are embassy officials and one is often a professor from an area university. According to past reports, the professor is typically someone from your general field of research (e.g. social science, engineering, etc.) but may not be well-versed in your particular area.
In past examples, I have heard of a Buddhist studies professor being on a panel for an applicant in policy studies and a mechanical engineering professor being on the panel for a software engineering applicant.
This means that you should plan to avoid deep, technical discussions of your research. Instead, you want to be able to communicate the purpose, desired outcomes, and importance of your research to someone outside of your field. Keep that in mind as you practice your interview questions.
Wear a simple, professional suit to the interview, or the equivalent of a suit in your national dress.
Since your interview will be at the embassy or consulate, you’ll have to leave all of your electronics behind at the entrance, but if you do have anything, including a digital watch, make sure that it is on silent mode or off.
Expect about a 20-minute interview.
Conduct in the Interview Room
When you first enter the room, you should bow to the interview panel. If you are confident in your Japanese, you can also say よろしくお願いします (yoroshiku onegaishimasu). They will direct you to sit.
Address your answers to the panel member who asked the question, but make eye contact with the others, as well, while you speak. If you get a multi-part question and forget the second part halfway through your answer, go ahead and ask the questioner to repeat the second half.
Answer in the language the question is asked in. If you have indicated some Japanese ability, or taken the Japanese language proficiency test, then you may get some questions in Japanese. These are more designed to evaluate your ability than for the quality of the answer, so don’t worry too much about them.
Once the interview is over, you also want to stop at the door, bow again and thank them for the interview. (ありがとうございます arigato gozaimasu).
If you cannot give the greetings in Japanese, then it is fine to thank them for their time in English (both on entry and departure), instead.
Conduct in an Online Interview
If you are participating in an online interview, some of the above will still apply. You will already be sitting when you start the interview, of course, but you should still bow to the camera at the start.
Make sure, of course, that the background to your interview video is clean and free of distractions. A white wall, etc., is best, or a bookshelf. You do not want a cluttered living space and also make sure that nobody else passes through the video area or makes noise around you during the video. Dress as you would for an in-person interview (at least from the waist, up!).
In an online interview, to make “eye contact” you want to look at the camera lens, not at the screen showing the speakers. It helps to keep your camera as close as possible to the screen. If it is in a different location, like far above or below, or off to the side, then every time you look at your screen, it’s going to look weird to the interview panel.
MEXT Interview Strategy
The most important thing you can do to prepare is to have a clear focus on the academic and practical goals of your research.
I covered this in the article on writing your Field of Study and Research Program Plan, so check out that article if you haven’t already. One way to think of the MEXT embassy interview is as a chance to expand on that research plan, though there will be some other elements, as well.
When I have sat as a member of an entrance exam interview panel, we could immediately tell when an applicant was prepared, confident, and competent. The difference in impression that it makes is enormous!
Your Basic Selling Points
Come up with your three top selling points that you want to communicate during the interview. One approach would be to have one sales point for each of the following categories:
- Your academic/research goal (what you want to contribute to the field)
- The practical outcomes of your research (how it can be used, and/or your own post-scholarship career)
- Why you will make a good ambassador to Japan (your intercultural experience and adaptability
You want to use every question you receive strategically.
That means you want to answer each question to the interview panel’s satisfaction and tie it to one of your sales points.
MEXT Scholarship Interview Questions
Here are some questions past applicants have faced, along with my interpretation of what the interviewers are looking for. At the very least, you should practice and be prepared to address these!
- What do you want to study?
The purpose of this line of questioning is to make sure you have a clear research focus and know your field. The interview panel has read (or at least scanned) your Field of Study and Research Program Plan, so expand on the contents there and particularly on connecting your studies to your academic and practical outcomes.
- What are the limitations of your research?
This question will usually follow your explanation of your research and is designed to see if you have really thought through your research topic and know your methodology. The tricky think about this question is that an interviewer can ask it even if they don’t really understand your research topic.
Be prepared to explain one or two limitations and how you will overcome them or why your research is still valuable despite the limitations. (I recommend that you prepare this as part of your Field of Study and Research Program Plan.)
- Why do you want to study that topic?
This line of questioning is also focused on your intended outcomes. It is OK to mention personal inspiration that started you on this path, but your focus should be on what you want to accomplish in the future.
Remember the panel is looking at you as an investment in positive relations between your country and Japan, so discussing outcomes that benefit both countries or bring them closer together is going to be helpful here. Also, remember here that your panel is not experts in your field, so you need to explain yourself clearly.
- What university do you want to study at in Japan?
They may also ask about your contact status with the universities you selected.
The purpose of this question is to assess how prepared and proactive you are. If you have been in touch with any professors, and have their informal approval to supervise you, mention that. If you have tried to contact universities but received no response, explain that and tell them that you understand many universities do not write back until after applicants can prove that they’ve passed the Primary Screening, so you plan to follow up.
At the very least, you should be able to explain your reasoning for selecting the universities and professors on your list based on their relevance your research and practical goals. It’s a good idea to have one or two other universities that you have researched but rejected to mention in this conversation. (e.g. I examined the programs at University X and University Y, but the professor at University Y was more aligned with my research)
- Why do you want to study in Japan?
Note:As of the 2020 Application cycle, this question was added to the application form as an essay, so it is less likely to come up in the interview.
The purpose of this line of questioning is to determine how serious you are as a scholar and how prepared you are for your studies.
Maybe you have always been interested in Japan since you saw your first anime as a child. It’s OK to use that as a brief introduction, but hopefully that is just an introduction and Sailor Moon is not the only reason you want to study microbiology or economics in Japan.
If your first encounter with, or passion for Japanese culture got you to look at the country in more detail and that helped you find a field of study or field of work where you could contribute to relations between Japan and your home country, that is an excellent thing to bring up.
If Japanese research or technical expertise in your field is more advanced than in your country and you want to leverage Japanese experience to benefit your homeland, that’s a great thing to mention, too!
- How do you think you will be able to handle living in Japan?
This line of questioning is intended to determine if you’ll be able to settle into life in Japan without any disruption to your studies.
If you have experience living in Japan for any length of time, you can bring that up as part of your example of how you will succeed.
If you don’t have any experience living in Japan, then you should give examples of how you are adjustable to other cultures or uncomfortable situations, such as friendships with people from other cultures, experience living abroad in other countries, or any experience interacting with foreigners, especially Japanese.
On the other hand, if there are any obvious challenges to you living in Japan, you should mention those and how you will adapt. For example, if you have a spouse and/or children, talk about what they will do while you are in Japan (hint: If you’re bringing them to Japan, MEXT recommends that you come alone first then invite them to Japan on a Dependent Visa after you have settled in.) If you have religious or dietary needs (e.g. halal food), mention how you plan to take on those challenges in Japan. No matter what your needs, there should be groups of international students from the past who had the same needs. Find these groups online and see how they handled the challenges you will face!
- What do you know about Japan/the Japanese Language?
Similar to the previous question, this aims to see how prepared you are to adapt to life in Japan. Take this opportunity to show the panel that you have done some basic research on the status of your research field in Japan as well as what day-to-day life is like in Japan. If you have any Japanese language ability, even if it’s at the level of basic interaction skills, you can bring that up, as well.
- What are some famous places you want to visit in Japan?This question is just a test to see what you know about the country to make sure that you are really interested in Japan, and not just the scholarship.
To prepare, look up some locations in advance that are related to your research, if possible, related to the reason you described for your initial interest in Japan, or are at least near your intended universities.
- Tell us about your academic background.
Seemingly open-ended questions like this can be the most tricky. The key here is that you want to focus and use this to your advantage. If you tell any anecdotes about your past, make sure they relate to one of your sales points.
For example, if you moved around a lot as a child, you don’t need to talk about that, unless it specifically relates to your research topic. If you grew up in a single-parent household, that isn’t necessarily relevant. But, if growing up in a single-family household taught you independence and self determination, or inspired you to take action to help others in similar situations, then that is definitely something you want to mention.
If you get this kind of question before you have talked about your research interest or intended outcomes, then this is also a great opportunity to introduce those. What inspired you to this research topic? How did your background make you want to create a positive change in the world?
- What do you plan to do after your studies?
I have a lot of people ask me whether it’s “better” to say that you want to work in Japan or go back to your home country. But that’s the wrong question.
The best answer is to have a clear plan that involves contributing to relations between your country and Japan. Whether that involves working in Japan, or your home country is not so important. Having a realistic, well thought-out goal is.
- What is your plan if you do not get this scholarship?
Do not let this question discourage you. The interviewer is not foreshadowing failure. Instead, they want you to prove that you are dedicated to the goals you described and not just seeking a free degree. When you think about your goals before the interview, make sure that you have a Plan B – another way that you can make progress toward the same goals even if you do not receive the MEXT scholarship. (Ideally, that Plan B should not be more effective than your Plan A of winning the scholarship, of course.)
- Why do you deserve this scholarship?
For this question, I recommend that you mention your past academic accomplishments and practical contributions (such as work experience or community service, etc.), to show that you have a track record of success and contribution, then pivot to explain how you will continue that pattern as a MEXT scholar and after graduation. You are trying to persuade them that awarding you the scholarship will better achieve the government’s goals of strengthening the link between the countries and contributing to society in both Japan and your home country than awarding it to another applicant.
I have put this list together based on feedback from readers like you and from other blogs and forums, but you could always come up against something I haven’t seen before.
If you get a type of question I didn’t include above, let me know in the comments and I’ll add it to the list!
Good luck with your interviews!
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Thanks for your informative and helpful insights on each round of the MEXT application, I have managed to pass the first screening from Vietnam for the 2023 cycle!
I just want to share a bit of my experience in the written exam and the interview round since I have noticed that there haven’t been many experiences from Vietnam in particular in the comment section.
For the ENG written exam, it is helpful to revise the past exams. I even went further and did some of the EIKEN Tests. The latter was quite difficult IMO, but it is great to have as many sources as you can get as possible to practice.
For the JPN written exam, given my inexperience with the language, my only take is that try to complete the test even if I have no clue about Japanese. As you said somewhere in your posts, it is one of the criteria to show your determination to study in Japan. I also did try to write my name in Japanese where I was allowed to.
For the interview round, each of the applicants will have 20 mins with the selection committee. In my case, the interview was conducted online and the committee I saw was just only two people and I guess that they are embassy officials. They asked me most of the generic questions such as:
– Tell us about yourself
– Why do you want to study in Japan?
– What famous and beautiful sceneries/things you would like to visit/do in Japan?
And 2 on my RP:
– Tell us about your research
– What are your limitations in the research?
Since I tried my best to expand my answer so there weren’t many follow-up questions.
For my preparations for the itv round, I deep dive into the comment section to search for possible questions and answers from other applications all around the world as well as had three mock-up interviews in advance.
I hope my experience in Vietnam can reach anyone who has an interest in studying in Japan, especially through the MEXT scholarship. And I hope my comment would reach any Vietnamese student out there who stumbles to your insightful blogs.
Thank you very much for sharing your experience! I am sure that will be a valuable resource for many applicants in the future, not just in Vietnam, but other countries, too!
I had never heard the question, “What are the limitations in the research?” I will add that one to the main article.
– Travis from TranSenz
Thankyou so much for this post. I am Aditya From India and i have my MEXT Interview on 20th, i have been trying to become familiar with types of questions they might ask. Your post helped a lot. I have written points for each kind of questions, i want to make them short and crisp. My field is Animation and i emphasizes cultural exchange and support cultural interaction between my country and japan to strengthen bonds. Can I share you my answers to some questions on mail. Would u be so kind to check them and give me tips and how I can make them more on point . Thankyou again!
Unfortunately, there is no fair way for me to offer individual feedback to everyone who asks – I’d never be able to keep up or get to it all.
I do offer individual feedback on a paid basis through my coaching services, but I have not done feedback on interview questions before. If that is something you are interested in, please contact me at the coaching address and we can work something out!
Otherwise, I hope you can find someone in your area, like a professor from your past/current university, who might be able to help you.
– Travis from TranSenz
Thank you a lot for all your guides. Thanks to them, I have made it to the interview round in the next week.
Based on your guides and my observation, I expected my interview panel will consist of two embassy officials and one professor from a specific local university, in Japanese Studies field (which is my research field as well). Professors in our country have a habit to ask very tricky question to test interviewee’s ability. I know they don’t have bad intention, but I worry that will hurt my chance if I can’t answer some of them properly.
1. Should I answer their question with just enough information, or do I need to expand it? For example, if they ask how many books I plan to review, do I need to also tell answer with the name of those books or the reason for choosing those books? Is it okay if my answer for this question coincidentally covers the next question that they are about to ask?
In my internship interview, the panel seems to don’t like it when I answer just enough information. And in another interview, they also don’t like it when my answer covered some next questions that they are about to ask.
2. Should I expect a “Tell us about yourself” question? And same as above, what if my answer covers some of their next question?
3. Assume I get a question with difficult words that I don’t understand. I ask them to repeat the question with easier wording. After they do that, I understand the question and can answer it clearly. Will my points drop if I request for repeating the question with easier wording like this?
4. Should I expect a “Do you have any question for us” question? If so, what kind of question is okay to raise? I know they want to check if I am interest in their organization (in this case, the scholarship), but honestly saying, almost all things I’m interested in is considered sensitive information to them (like, what is my performance in this interview, does my research theme look interesting, how many applicants will be selected, what they will do in the Secondary Screening, etc..).
Thank you for your kind feedback.
1. I recommend that you expand your answer and don’t just give the minimum. Having been an interviewer in both admissions and hiring processes in Japan, I, and most other people on the panels I have been on, tend to mark down applicants who just give the minimum answer. Remember, in addition to answering their question, you should have a message that you want to convey throughout the interview and should use every opportunity to do so.
Don’t worry about covering something they might ask in a subsequent question. There’s no way you could know what was coming anyway!
2. Yes, you should expect/prepare for a “tell us about yourself” question. Make sure that your answer has a clear message that you want to convey and isn’t just a rambling autobiography.
3. Asking them to repeat the question is better than not answering it correctly or going off in the wrong direction because you didn’t understand it, but both will likely negatively impact your overall evaluation. (Part of what they are evaluating is your comprehension ability, but both asking for a simpler explanation and misinterpreting the question indicate a lack of comprehension).
However, asking for clarification, “Do you want to know about X?” should not hurt you.
4. Always be prepared for a “Do you have any questions for us” question in any interview you go into. You might run out of time and not have get that question, but you never want to be unprepared. I have known interviewers who will automatically reject any candidate that does not have a question for them.
The point in the MEXT Scholarship interview is not to show that you are interested in MEXT and the scholarship, it is to show how you will contribute to Japan, your home country, and the relationship between the two if you are selected. The only question I would suggest that you might want to ask about the process is when they expect to have the results of the Primary Screening, if they haven’t told you already. Otherwise, I would suggest a question more closely related to the purpose of the scholarship, like how the embassy keeps in touch with MEXT Scholars after they graduate and what kinds of activities those scholars are involved in in your home country now.
Also, be sure to thank them for their time!
– Travis from TranSenz
Hi, Travis! Thank you for keeping this blog which has helped me a lot in my application. I’m actually going to take my interview in two weeks, and I was wondering how long should my answers be in the interview? Will 1-2 mins be enough?
Your answers should be long enough to thoroughly answer the question and also to use the question to make any points related to your application strategy that you think will help you. The content of the answer is more important than the time.
– Travis from TranSenz
Good afternoon Travis! Thank you for answering my other question regarding the scholarship. This one is about the interview specifically so I thought I’d leave it here instead.
As I said in my previous comment, I’m currently waiting to see if I’ll get called to the interview (postgraduate) or not, but I’m still trying to prepare in case I do. I met the other applicants when we had our tests last week, we are a small group (around 15 people) so we made a group chat to exchange info. Some of them have previous experience applying, and one of them explained that last year embassy officials expected him to do give them a Meishi card + all the formalities that come with it. He made it sound like he didn’t know this was expected (Although they might ask for it in the email invitation for the interview. I’ll have to wait to confirm this though) How common is this? And should I maybe prepare one?
I’ve never heard of this before, not even from previous scholars from my own country and this isn’t common here either as far as I know (I’m from latin america).
Once again, thank you in advance for taking the time to answer my questions. Have a nice day!
I have never heard of anyone being asked to present a meishi (business card) at the interview and that seems highly unusual. In all the job and scholarship interviews I have participated in in Japan, that has never happened, and frankly, it would be odd from the interviewer’s perspective. Maybe it was just a test to see how familiar the candidate was with Japanese culture. But it still seems silly to expect that an applicant would even have a card.
Unless they tell you to present a card in advance or bring one, I don’t think that you should need to worry about it.
– Travis from TranSenz
First I’d like to once again thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Second, I have been called to take the interview!
I believe the meishi might’ve been a requirement for last year, as this year we were not asked to bring one. However, the embassy did ask for a self-introductory document where we have to sort of explain our hobbies, personality and to focus in extracurricular activities we might’ve taken part in during our undergraduate studies. We can use whatever format we want.
I have some ideas about what I could write, but I’d also appreciate if you could give me some tips as to how I could approach this.
Thank you in advance.
I haven’t heard of embassies asking for that kind of self-introductory sheet in the past, either, but I would approach it the same way as if they had asked you those question in the interview, itself: Be honest, but selective in your answers to steer them toward the points that you want to make about how you will be the best candidate possible. If you can connect your hobbies and self-description to characteristics that will help you adjust to a new culture or be an ambassador for your country in Japan, that is ideal. When you describe your hobbies and personality, in particular, try to do it in a what that will allow you to expand upon them in the interview to explain how they have changed you or made you who you are – how you have changed for having those hobbies, etc., or what they have enabled you to do.
– Travis from TranSenz
Your guidelines and continuously answering our questions makes me prepare for my IELTS exam this 30th June at the Embassy of Japan in Solomon Islands. Well, my questions is, is it only English subject for the research Qualifying Examinations for Applicants for Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarships 2023? Or do we have to do Math as well.
Hi Ronnie Vavu Vozoto,
Thank you for your kind words!
Are you applying for the undergraduate scholarship or the graduate one? If you are applying for the scholarship for graduate students, then you only have to take the English and Japanese language exams. If you are applying for the undergraduate scholarship, you need to take both language exams plus the exams specified in the application guidelines for your chosen field of study.
– Travis from TranSenz
Good afternoon Travis,
Thank you so much for all this information! It’s really helped in my preparations for my upcoming interview. I was curious if you had any information you could share about the types of questions that are often asked in the Japanese position of the interview? I’ve heard rumors that questions to test your Japanese language proficiency often relate to small talk type of questions (your family, things you like, etc.) but I was wondering if these rumors had any merit to them or if higher level Japanese questions about one’s research application would be asked. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I’m looking forward to your reply. 🙂
If you are applying for a degree program taught in English, I don’t think they will ask you higher level questions about your research in Japan. It would likely be closer to the types of questions you mentioned, just testing your ability to function in day-to-day life. If you do really well on those questions, they may start asking more difficult questions in Japanese to see how advanced your level is, but at that point, you would have already passed their basic expectations, so if you couldn’t answer the more advanced questions, it wouldn’t hurt you.
Of course, if you plan to conduct your research in Japanese, you had better be able to explain it in Japanese!
– Travis from TranSenz
Thank you so much for the information.
I have applied for the MEXT scholarship as a research student to then go for a master’s program, and I am close to having my interview. I am a little nervous since I think I do not know how exactly are the next steps.
I just chose some Japanese labs where I would like to do my research. However, I do not know how I then connect with the master’s program. On the page of the labs I chose, there is not much information about access to the master’s program. Please, Travis, any info would be helpful.
I do not know if I should know at this point how to contact the professors or the process to get the master. Would that be something that could come out in the interview?.
Please, I really appreciate any comment.
Typically, if you haven’t been in touch with your potential professors in Japan before the application deadline, then the time to contact them would be after passing the Primary Screening. It is not something you have to do during the interview or even something that will likely come up then. (They may ask if you have already been in touch, but you can simply answer “no”).
I have another article about how to contact universities to apply for a Letter of Provisional Acceptance, which is the next step after passing the Primary Screening. The current version is from last year, but I will update it next month with the new deadlines, etc.
– Travis from TranSenz
I would first like to thank you. Your book on the research proposal and blogs tremendously helped me in passing the document screening. I am currently preparing for the interview. My question is, this month I accepted a better job offer and will start soon. Should i mention this to the embassy since my letter of recommendation and application states a different company and the job is slightly different than my previous one.
Thank you in advance
Thank you for your kind words and your feedback. I am excited to hear that you passed the document screening!
For your job change, I would recommend explaining it if it comes up or if the new job is more closely related to your research in Japan. Otherwise, I would say that you should focus the interview time on your research in Japan and the benefits you expect it to have.
Talking about your job change is going to take precious time and shift the focus of the interview – they will also want to know if your new job is aware of your application and has no problem with your potentially quitting soon – so I would recommend that you try to keep the focus where it will benefit you most.
– Travis from TranSenz
Hi Travis! Thank you so much for this article!
I have passed the exams and now I am preparing for the interview (I don’t know whether or not I’ll get one, so it’s just in case and also to distract myself from the stress of waiting lol).
I was wondering one thing about the interview though. I am going to Japan this autumn as an exchange student for a year and I am extremely anxious about how this will be viewed by the committee. It will take me a year longer to complete masters because of it, so I am quite sure that it may come up at the interview. Do you think this will be viewed negatively and lessen my chances to get the scholarship?
For context, my research can only be done at one university in Japan, it is very specific and I won’t be able to get the resources I need at this other university. I will also be taking loads of classes in Japanese (both language classes and classes in my field).
I was thinking that mentioning this would show that I will have more preparation and chance to succeed as a mext scholar, on the other hand, it might just not look good that I am going to go to Japan in the first place.
I don’t think there could be any negative interpretation of your spending a year in Japan on exchange! If anything, it shows your dedication to studying here.
If you can, I recommend that you try to visit your target university and professor during your exchange year and start building your relationship with them in addition to your exchange studies. Mention that plan in the interview, too. It will help to show your level of dedication and preparation so they will be able to see that you will be acclimated to studying in Japan, have connections here, and that you are proactive about your studies.
I think you can certainly use this experience to your advantage in the scholarship application!
– Travis from TranSenz
Dear Travis, thank you so much for your answer! That is very encouraging to read!
Actually, the number of applicants in my country doubled compared to next year (now there is around ten applicants, which is not much compared to countries like India, but still there are only two spots). I feel like the pressure of the interview are is getting to me and I might be overthinking thigs a little bit, so I am very happy to hear that this is something positive.
こんにちは Travis さん,
with the guidance that you provided through your blogs and articles, I was able to clear the preliminary stage of the first screening. I opted for master’s course in physics. Now I have to appear for the Japanese and English written exams. My question is that what documents do I need to take along with me when appearing for the exam? please if possible can you mention the necessary documents that are required. I also want to know how well versed do I need to be in Japanese to get a good score on a Japanese written test? ( if compared to any JLPT level)
Hi Kushagra Uniyal,
Congratulations on clearing the document screening stage!
You should not need to bring any documents to the language exams, unless your embassy has specifically told you to do so (I have never heard of anyone having to bring them.)
As for the Japanese language test, I’m afraid that I don’t know, but hopefully someone else with experience on the test can chime in! As long as you are applying for a degree program taught in English, you shouldn’t need to worry much about your score on the Japanese test. Of course, it looks a little better if you have some Japanese knowledge, but it isn’t going to be critical to your success or failure in the application.
– Travis from TranSenz
Thank you for all your guides and information.
And sorry for the following wall of text.
My major in university is Japanese Language Studies. I did write a thesis in Japanese for my graduation.
I am going for Embassy-recommended MEXT Scholarship 2023.
Please help me about how to reply to certain questions on Embassy interview: should I answer truthfully, or make up another story for it.
1. “Why did you choose this research theme? Why do you think it is necessary to conduct research in Japan?”
The research theme I choose is the same as my graduation thesis, just more detailed on the topic. My (thesis) supervisor said that I can extend the topic on my thesis and use that as research topic.
The necessity is due to there seems to be no teacher/supervisor in my country that even know about that topic. According to my supervisor, not even Japanese know much about it. There is a pretty small amount of Japanese document about the topic, and none of them are available in my country. Also there is no research around that topic has been conducted in my country.
2. “Why did you choose MEXT scholarship among all other scholarship like A, B, C, …?”
I’ve aimed for MEXT scholarship since first year in univ., because that is the only scholarship (that I know) that pays 100% tutor fee and doesn’t limit to 1 student only. My family can’t provide enough financial support for 2 years in Japan (we are not that poor, but not enough for 2 years in Japan).
Why not conducting research in my own country, they may ask. That’s because in my country there is no Japanese ‘Language Studies’ research lab, only “Japanese Language used in other major” (Japanese in Economy, Japanese in IT for example)
3. “Did you write this Letter of Recommendation?”
My advisor told me to write the letter myself, whatever I want, and he will only sign it (trust-based). Yes, my advisor, and he is also the Department Head. My university’s University President, Dean, or even Department Head don’t sign any LoR (unless he is also an advisor in this case).
Thank you for taking time, and sorry for this wall of text.
Hope you can help me.
You should always be truthful, but also select the details that are most relevant to the interviewer and their objectives. For example, in the case of 2, below, you would want to focus on how the scholarship would allow you to study at a top Japanese university and focus completely on your studies. (Don’t mention your family’s financial situation, since this is not a need-based scholarship and that is not a relevant detail.)
1. Focusing on how your research topic is only available in Japan sounds perfectly sound to me. You’re going to want to learn more about the Japanese researchers that do focus on your topic and identify them by name as people that you want to study with. You should also be prepared to describe why the research itself matters.
2. As mentioned above, try to focus less on the financial aspects and more on what opportunities the MEXT Scholarship and studying in Japan offer.
3. You can tell them that at your advisor’s request, you provided a draft of the letter for his consideration and he determined to accept it. I doubt they would ask this, though.
– Travis from TranSenz
Hello, I would like to ask about the undergraduate MEXT scholarship university recommendation interviews. Could I know how should I prepare for the interviews and who will be in charge of the interviews, the university admissions team or MEXT representative?
There are very, very few university-recommended undergraduate MEXT scholarships available overall and they would all fall under the PGP programs.
The interview should be conducted by the university faculty members, not the admissions administrative staff or MEXT. You should be prepared to explain what you want to study, why (e.g. how you want to apply that knowledge to help society in the future), and what particular areas of study/research you might be interested in, looking forward to your capstone project at the end of your degree. I know that’s a lot to think about before you even start your degree, but the clearer image you can present, the better impression you will make!
– Travis from TranSenz
1 . Also,For Natural sciences student The total score of the test is 500 and For Humanities Based student is 300, Is both of these score are calculated and compared in the same manner or they have different approach?
2 . Which one of these has higher chances of success,when compared to each other,
Humanities background or Natural sciences.?
1. Since the total possible score is different, they can’t compare the two fields based on absolute scores. I have seen cases in the past where the embassy pre-determines a certain number of slots for Humanities and a certain number for Natural Sciences. It is more likely that they compare the outcomes to expected performance for each test – and of course, to the other applicants in that field!
2. There is no “higher chance of success” just for choosing one field or the other. It all depends on you, the quality of your application, and the competition level for each field. You should choose your field based on your future career/academic goals and make sure it is a field that you can excel in.
– Travis from TranSenz
First of all thank you very much, Travis
First of all my Grades,
10th ( Native lang – 93, English- 91, Maths -86, science- 100- social science 96)
Due to financial situations I didn’t able to attend the school for the next two years in a row.
11th(Native lang- 60 , English- 61 – ,Maths -45, physics-47- Chemistry- 80, Biology – 49.
Here’s the scenario, Due to the virus My 12th exams got cancelled, The Government Distributed The 12th marks Depends on 11th and 10th marks.(Mean,I haven’t written any single exams from 12th)
12th(native language- 90 , English- 89 -Maths- 88, Physics-91, Chemistry -93, Biology- 91.
You previously answered my question that I needed to calculate each of the subjects individually.
I don’t know about MEXT calculating scale,
I wish to opt for Business Administration as My first choice,2nd Law and 3rd Economics.
I tried Mock tests of the past 2yrs of Math A ,Eng and Japanese.my scores are..
Math A – 25/100
Japanese – 0/100
English – 44/100
I’m studying for N5 over a year.. only 80kanji, I’d like to study Japanese for real that’s my main motive to Give a MEXT so that I can learn Japanese with Native speakers.
I really worried about The questions in the UG Application(no idea)
How can you able to contribute both nations…
Trigger for studying in Japan.
Also I don’t know much about the fields that I’ve chosen,,
I really worried about if my application pass the first screening test.
Sorry for my grammatical mistakes.
Hope you reply soon
If you want to convert your grades, I have an article that walks you through that process. You will need to know your current school’s grading system in order to figure out the conversion.
I don’t have an exact reference to what typical passing scores are on the test, but the scores you reported seem really low, so I think you would need to study to get them a lot higher! Remember, too, it’s not just a matter of passing a certain mark, you need to be better than all of the other applicants, so try to get your scores as close to 100 as possible. (Obviously, with Japanese, that is not going to be possible, but you should work on the others).
If you have no idea about how to answer the questions in the application form, then I honestly don’t think you are ready to apply. I have an article about maximizing your chances for the MEXT Scholarship that describes creating an application strategy. I think that might be a good place to start, but you should work with a trusted teacher or university applications counselor at your current school to help you decide what it is you want to do in the future and how you can use the scholarship to get there. You should be able to answer all of these questions confidently and also have a clear idea about how the fields you have chosen will help you reach your future goals.
– Travis from TranSenz
Thank you Travis, Btw here in India they’re using 0-10 grading scale.
First, I want to thank you for giving a proper idea about the interview. It will really help when I face it my it in person.
I am going to be 11th grade student soon and I am planning to prepare myself for Mext at the same time. It would be a big help, if you could give me a proper guideline for preparation.
Is it necessary to do IELTS ? Also, I read somewhere that JP Embassy isn’t willing to let people participate who don’t know Japanese.
I am planning to participate in the undergraduate program. Do I need to try contacting the teachers in those Japanese university ?
I am not a native English speaker and I didn’t do English medium studies. So, I have to do a lot.
Thank you for your kind words.
Most of the articles and guides on this site are about the scholarship for graduate students, which is where my expertise lies.
For the undergraduate program, you can find the official guidelines in English from last year on the Study in Japan site, so I recommend looking through those. You’ll see in the guidelines that you aren’t required to have IELTS or other proof of language ability during the application process. You will take language proficiency tests at the Embassy (along with subject tests) during the Primary Screening, after you pass the document screening stage. However, it would be to your benefit to learn Japanese as much as possible and to prepare for the English language tests, too!
You do not need to contact professors because in the undergraduate scholarship you do not get to choose where you are placed. You will spend your first year in an intensive language program, then MEXT will decide on your university placement. (Unless you are applying for Direct Placement at a university, but in that case, you would need formal proof of language ability.)
I hope that helps.
– Travis from TranSenz
I am ushno, a 9th-grade student
I wanna ask you to tell me how should I prepare myself for MEXT undergraduate scholarship. And should I start preparing from now ??
And also could you tell me about the syllabus …
Thanks in advance.
It’s impressive that you are starting so early!
The first thing I recommend is that you decide on what kind of career you want in the future, and think about what kind of contribution you can make to society through that career, then decide what you want to major in in order to set yourself up for that career. Those will be important questions in your application, and the earlier that you decide and start making progress toward that career (participating in extracurricular activities, etc.), the better.
Of course, you will need excellent grades in high school. You can also start preparing for the tests that you will take during the Primary Screening (you can find more information about what tests are required for different majors and sample tests on the official Study in Japan site).
If you can, I also recommend attending events held by the Japanese embassy to start building relationships, too.
– Travis from TranSenz
I am ushno, a 10th grade Bangladeshi student.
I am interested to study medicine in future.
So, can you tell me “is Japan a suitable country for studying medicine? ”
Thank you for providing these information, it helped me a lot.
Hi Juhita Yesmin Ushno,
Japan has quite a good medical system, so it stands to reason that it would be a good place to study medicine, but there are a few things you need to consider:
1) You should check if a medical degree earned in Japan will give you the ability to practice medicine in your home country.
2) Be aware that most medical programs are taught only in Japanese and you would have to be fluent in Japanese to pass the national licensing exams to be able to do the residency part of the education. If you want to study medicine in Japan, you should start intensive study of the language.
– Travis from TranSenz
I am Ushno, from Bangladesh. I am a 10th grade student.
In future I want to study medicine in japan through MEXT scholarship.
So, can you tell me the syllabus and question pattern of this exam?
and also, can you suggest me any website for learning japanese?
Thanks a lot for your help.
My area of expertise is the scholarship for graduate students, so I don’t have a lot of specific details about the undergraduate application, but hopefully I can point you in the direction of some better resources:
Application guidelines – You can find a list of the subject exams that you will have to take on page 7 (Medicine is under “Natural Sciences – C”)
Examples of past exams – for practice.
I don’t know any online resources for learning Japanese that I can recommend, but I’m sure that you’ll be able to find that information from another source on Japanese language learning.
– Travis from TranSenz
Thank you for the information provided~
I am applying as an undergraduate this year. I did perform badly in the mathematics examination since I don’t understand either one of the questions. I am not confident with the performance for other subjects also.
Luckily, I still received the chance for an interview. I have read the information you provided and it really helped me a lot with the preparation. However, due to the nervousness, I think I didn’t do my best during the interview also. I gave up using Japanese for answering questions in the beginning and even cannot speak fluently in English.
But, after waiting for few weeks, I received the notification for passing the first screening. The news cannot comfort me much since I have poor performance, I am really afraid that I could not pass the second screening. Therefore, may I ask is there a high chance the candidate, who is recommended by the embassy, cannot be approved by the MEXT?
On the other hand, I also wonder in what case, I may be rejected due to a health problem. If I have some disease, but the doctor thinks that my health status is suitable to study in Japan, will I still have the chance to get the scholarship?
Thank you for spending time to read this comment!
Congratulations on passing the Primary Screening!
My area of expertise is the scholarship for graduate students, so I am not as familiar with the process for undergraduate applicants, though I assume that it is similar.
In my experience, the Secondary Screening is not competitive and it is more of an error check. It is very rare that I hear of an applicant being rejected during that stage. The only exception was a year when MEXT reduced the slots dramatically during the selection process and had to eliminate applicants at that stage, but I do not expect that to happen again.
If you have passed the Primary Screening and you have been honest about your health situation in your application documents, then that should not be a reason for rejection moving forward. As long as the Doctor has checked that your health is sufficient to study in Japan, you should have no issues.
– Travis from TranSenz