In December 2007 I took the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test/Nihongo Nouryoku Shiken) Level 3. The pass rate is 60% and I fell somewhat below this with an overall score of 54%, including a very disappointing score below 40% in the Listening section. I took the test again in December 2008 (it’s run worldwide and for all levels concurrently and only once per year at present). It takes them three months to process the results, which I got in the post this morning. This time round I passed well, with an overall 70% (280/400) and scores of 69/100 for Writing/Vocabulary, 78/100 for Listening and 133/200 for Reading/Grammar.
The Level 2 test is the one that shows a proper functional level of Japanese, though and that will take me at least one more year and probably until December 2010 until I can pass that one. Then it usually takes another two years to get to Level 1. Apart from anything else, for Level 4 you need 120 kanji, Level 3 needs 300, Level 2 needs 1000 and Level 1 needs 2000 (this is approximately equivalent to High School graduation literacy in Japan).
So, a long way to go in learning Japanese but a satisfying milestone.