The Examination of Proficiency in English for Medical Purposes (EPEMP)

About the EPEMP

The Examination of Proficiency in English for Medical Purposes (EPEMP) is a specialist examination designed to objectively assess a candidate’s ability to use medical English for practical purposes.

It is one of the first and only such examinations in use and is written, offered, and awarded annually by the Japan Society for Medical English Education (JASMEE). Since its inception in 2008, it has been taken by thousands of candidates from a wide range of professional backgrounds.

EPEMP levels

The EPEMP is divided into four levels, as outlined below:

Level Description
Expert level
(Level 1)
Recipients are certified as having a standard of medical English allowing them to take a leadership role within the field of medical English education and train Level 2 EPEMP candidates.
Professional level
(Level 2)
Recipients are certified as having the ability to write academic papers for medical journals, give oral presentations in English, and engage in discussions at academic meetings.
Intermediate level
(Level 3)
Recipients are certified as being able to use English for practical purposes in a variety of medical situations.
Basic level
(Level 4)

Recipients are certified as having a basic medical English ability equivalent to those who graduated from a medical university or college in Japan.

Table 1. Descriptions of the four levels of the EPEMP

Who takes the EPEMP?

Anyone is welcome to take the EPEMP, however, it is especially suited to medical professionals, such as doctors, nurses, medical students, and allied health care workers, and individuals working in education, publishing, interpreting, and translating.

The level 3 and 4 examinations can be taken by anyone and there are no pre-requisites for candidates to qualify to take these levels. It is a requirement that level 2 candidates have previously passed level 3 and that level 1 candidates have previously passed level 2 and are members of JASMEE.

Test format and structure

The EPEMP is designed to evaluate a candidate’s ability to: 1) read, understand, and assimilate medical texts in English across a range of themes; 2) to communicate medical information, via speaking and listening, in English; and 3) to write information covering a range of healthcare-related themes in English.

Further information regarding the test structure is outlined below:

Level Test structure
Expert level
(Level 1)
Interview A viva voce on the candidate’s history and achievements related to medical English or medical English education 30 min
Professional level
(Level 2)
Paper test An essay test related to medical writing 80 min
Oral test A medical presentation test 25 min
Intermediate level
(Level 3)
Paper test A multiple-choice test of medical terminology and reading comprehension 90 min
Listening test A multiple-choice test of listening comprehension 30 min
Basic level
(Level 4)
Paper test A multiple-choice test of medical terminology and reading comprehension 90 min

Table 2. Structure and format of the four levels of the EPEMP

Where and when is the EPEMP taken?

Each level of the EPEMP is offered once a year (in June for levels 3 and 4 and in January for levels 1 and 2). The test is hosted in various locations throughout Japan.

How is the EPEMP scored?

All candidates must achieve a minimum standard, as described in table 1. Consequently, test-takers receive a pass or fail for each level of the EPEMP and there are no further classifications of grades.

How is the test developed?

Under the supervision of the EPEMP Steering Committee, the test is written by the EPEMP Contents Subcommittee—a group of medical and linguistic experts from a wide range of specialties and disciplines. All examination questions are peer-reviewed and undergo rigorous checks by the Analysis and Evaluation Subcommittee to ensure that high standards are consistently maintained.

Commitment to fairness

The EPEMP Steering Committee is committed to treating all candidates equally and fairly. Annual reviews are performed to eliminate candidate bias or discrimination at any point in the test-taking process.


You can find out further information about the EPEMP in the following publications:

Frequently asked questions

1) For how long is the EPEMP certificate valid?

There is no expiration for the award of a pass grade at levels 2, 3, and 4 of the EPEMP. Successful candidates have reached the minimum necessary threshold to receive a pass grade and are not required to renew their certificate. Individuals who are awarded a pass grade at level 1 of the EPEMP will have their award renewed every 5 years if they have attended the JASMEE annual meeting at least twice within the past 5 years and have punctually paid all membership fees.

2) How is the EPEMP score validated?

The EPEMP has been evaluated and validated in a number of ways since its inception in 2008. Further information can be found under the Publications section.

3) Is the EPEMP comparable to other tests, such as TOEIC or IELTS?

The EPEMP is a specialist test for medical purposes and, consequently, scores cannot be compared to more general assessments of English language ability.