AIMS of the NEW Test:
The intent is to produce a test that measures communicative competence in accomplishment of tasks. Ofcourse, linguistic knowledge that provides the basis for communicative competence are not fogotten. The test is aimed to reflect the situation in which the test taker will be using the language in the actual life.
Level & Test Sections:
In the past there have been requests for revisions to address the fact that the examinees who have passed the Level 3 test often have trouble passing Level 2 test because of the large gap in those two levels, as well as to address the need to measure abilities more advanced than those targeted by the current Level 1 test. In fact, advances in Japanese language education and societal changes have produced a more diverse range of needs among examiness than existed when the test was introduced. To better address such needs, the test levels will be revised and a 5-level format will be established to replace the current 4-level format.
The existing test incorporates 4 levels, or kyu: 1-kyu(Level 1), 2-kyu(Level 2), 3-kyu (Level 3) and 4-kyu (level 4), in descending order.
The NEW test will have 5 levels:
N1- Approximately the same passing level as the existing Level 1 test, but designed to enable slightly more advanced abilities to be measured as well.
N2- Approximately the same passing level as the existing Level 2 test.
N3- Positioned at a level bridging existing Level 2 and Level 3 tests.
N4- Approximately the same passing level as the existing Level 3 test.
N5- Approximately the same level as the existing Level 4 test.
("N" may stand for both "NEW" and "Nihongo".)
There will be a Reading Test (yomu shiken) and a Listening Test (kiku shiken). The former will incorporate the Writing-Vocabulary and Reading-Grammar sections of the existing tests, while the latter will take the place of the Listening section of the existing tests.
taken from: www.jlpt.jp/e/info/index.html