What Are The Stages Of The Chunin Exams?


  • The Chunin Exams in Naruto are a crucial way for shinobi to advance in rank, with only the most skillful and powerful participants being allowed to graduate to Chunin.
  • The exams are designed to test a wide range of skills, including the ability to gather information, survive in dangerous scenarios, and make strategic decisions in battles.
  • The Final Stage of the exam tested judgment during a fight, their ability to adapt from failed strategies, chakra management, and how well they could mislead their opponent.

The Chunin Exams from the original Naruto series adhered to the typical shonen Tournament arc cliché, and given the number of fans who still insist that it is the franchise’s best arc, Masashi Kishimoto must have done something right. The shinobi in Naruto are divided into three main ranks: Genin, Chunin, Jonin. Upon graduating from the ninja academy, a shinobi is granted the lowest rank of Genin. The only way to progress to Chunin is to participate in an annual selection exam. The Chunin Exam consistently changes over the years, but it’s always a series of exacting tests meant to ensure that only the cream of the crop are granted the rank of Chunin.

Since Chunin are capable of leading their own missions and overall handle a lot more responsibility, only shinobi that are both skillful and powerful enough are allowed to graduate to that rank. When Naruto took the Chunin Exam, the Jonin had already begun the process of screening the Genin that would be participating before it officially began. Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke were each tested individually by Kakashi. He staged different attacks on them to test their readiness for the exam and the trio passed easily. Another attempt at frustrating them was made when the exam’s proctors cast a simple genjutsu on the entire venue. Only the genin savvy enough to notice that they hadn’t actually left the second floor were able to register for the first real test.

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The Written Test

Chunin Exam phase one

The first Chunin exam appeared to be a written one, much like a regular standardized test the shinobi would have been used to in the ninja academy. It wasn’t until the aspiring Chunin began work that they noticed the exam’s hidden twist. Each one of the 9 questions was more difficult than the one before, and all of them were far above what one could reasonably expect a Genin to be able to solve. Most of them realized that the exam’s true objective was to test their ability to gather information.

Instead of a point reward system, the Chunin Exams were scored on a deduction system. Every exam participant had a Chunin supervisor assigned to them, monitoring their movements for any sign of cheating in the exam. Since the exam was meant to test the potential Chunin’s ability to discreetly observe their surroundings without attracting suspicion, a 2 point penalty was awarded for every instance of cheating their observers recorded. If a candidate was caught cheating 5 times, they and the rest of their 3-man squad were automatically disqualified from the exam.

The tenth and final question came with yet another twist. Ibiki Morino, the exam’s proctor, gave a unique set of rules. The candidates were presented with a 10th and final question. It wasn’t compulsory for any candidate to attempt it. If they decided to answer and answered correctly, they would advance to the next portion of the test. If they chose to attempt the question, but failed to answer it correctly, they would be banned from ever taking part in the Chunin Exam again. However, since they weren’t required to participate, anyone who chose not to answer and save their chances of becoming a Chunin in the future, would be forced to drop out of the exam along with their teammates.

Naturally, these strenuous circumstances forced several candidates to withdraw. Once Ibiki was sure no one else would voluntarily withdraw from the exam, he passed the remainder of the Genin that had remained in their seats. He explained that the additional pressure of the tenth question was merely to test their resolve. Only those that were willing to risk everything not to endanger their teammates were worthy of becoming Chunin.

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The Forest of Death

Naruto Forest Of Death Ambush

The second stage of the Chunin Exam was meant to test the survival skills of potential Chunin in mock battle scenarios. Every team was given either a Heaven or an Earth Scroll and enclosed within a large training ground known as the Forest of Death. The objective of the exam was for each team to survive in the Forest for 5 days and to convene at a tower in the center of the forest. A team could only pass this stage of the exam if they arrived at the tower with both a Heaven and an Earth Scroll. Even though it wasn’t explicitly stated, they were encouraged to attack each other, or at least steal a scroll that was the opposite of what they had been assigned by any means necessary.

The Forest of Death’s ominous nickname wasn’t given lightly. Apart from the danger the other participants posed, it was inhabited by several dangerous animal species, including giant snakes, deadly swarms of blood-sucking leeches, and wild tigers. This stage of the exam encompassed every potential aspect of survival Chunin would have to deal with in the field. They had to forage for meals during their 5 night stay in the forest, make camp without alerting rival teams to their position and defend against ambushes from the forest’s wildlife. Even if a team managed to survive the ordeal, arriving at the tower without two different scrolls would result in their disqualification.

The Chunin Exam’s Semi-Final Stage

Chunin Exams Part 3 Preliminaries

The group of Genin that took part in Naruto’s Chunin Exam were an especially adept group. Seven groups of 3 man squads successfully completed the previous stage, more than double the number the organizers expected. Kabuto chose to voluntarily withdraw, leaving an even number of 20 candidates still in the running to become Chunin. To further cull their numbers, a preliminary round of one-on-one battles were organized between those that reached this stage.

The tournament stage turned out to be the most brutal yet. The participants in each match were randomly selected, no matter how uneven each match-up seemed. These were no holds barred battles, where victory was only decided if one party voluntarily withdrew from the match, or was unable to fight anymore. The ten finalists that passed this stage were Shikamaru Nara, Temari, Naruto Uzumaki, Sasuke Uchiha, Shino Aburame, Kankuro, Neji Hyuga, Dosu Kinuta, and Gaara.

RELATED: The Real Reason Naruto Is an Uzumaki, Not a Namikaze

The Chunin Exams’ Final Stage

Neji Battles Against Naruto During The Chunin Exams

The Final stage of the Chunin Exams comprised of one-on-one battles similar to its preliminary stages, but these fights were going to be more closely monitored. Rather than a simple game of elimination, the fights were observed with a more nuanced eye. Simply beating your opponent didn’t guarantee that one would become a Chunin, rather it was their judgment during a fight that was observed, as well as their ability to adapt from failed strategies, chakra management, and how well they could mislead their opponent.

The only Genin that ended up meeting the standards of this test was Shikamaru Nara and his promotion was an example of the kind of qualities this test was supposed to unearth. Shikamaru voluntarily withdrew from his match with Temari despite being inches away from winning. He knew that if he attempted to claim victory, he would be vulnerable to a counterattack due to his low chakra reserves and decided to cut his losses while ending the match on his own terms. Luckily, Shikamaru has already impressed the examination board with his intellect and expert strategy. His last-minute call was the final confirmation they needed that he deserved the Chunin rank. Even among those who did win their matches, none showed the qualities of a Chunin better than Shikamaru did. The Final stage tested everything necessary to establish exceptional Chunin, and the Konoha Crush put those skills to the test before the exam was officially over.

Naruto Anime cover featuring Sakura, Naruto, Sasuke, Kakashi sensei and Iruka sensei


Naruto Uzumaki, a mischievous adolescent ninja, struggles as he searches for recognition and dreams of becoming the Hokage, the village’s leader and strongest ninja.

Release Date
October 3, 2002

Main Genre



Characters By
Masashi Kishimoto

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