|Please note that this is the Narutopedia's article on the kind of exams. If you are looking for the article on the story arc then you should head to Chūnin Exams.|
To become a chūnin, a genin participates in a wide-scale examination, known as the Chūnin Selection Exams, with their team. All three members of the team are required to participate together, like Kakashi Hatake stated earlier. The only exams seen in the series are a three-stage exam held in Konohagakure, and a three-stage exam held in Sunagakure and Konohagakure.
At least in Konoha, the Chūnin Selection Exams take part in three different stages, all means of testing genin in having the necessary skills and judgment required to become a chūnin and thinning out those who aren't skilled enough. The test can differ from year to year, so the specific details for each task may differ.
- The first stage (proctored by Ibiki Morino) is a written test, which includes difficult questions related to different ninja subjects, and it is designed to be too difficult to be answered by a normal genin. It checks information gathering and decision-making abilities, because, to pass, the participants must find a reliable source of information, then discreetly cheat off them without getting caught by the watchful sentinels. As such, the sentinels place chūnins within the mass to provide a reliable source to cheat off of. However, extremely intelligent ninja can solve such questions without resorting to such, the prominent example being Sakura Haruno. After a certain amount of time, the proctor will ask the the tenth and final question, but if they fail the question they'll be forbidden to enter the exam again, but they can leave now and try another year. It tests their resolve and willingness to take risks, and if they decide to stay, they immediately pass, even if they fail to answer the other nine questions, as seen with Naruto Uzumaki, who was incapable of answering even a single question and had his paper completely blank. All three members of a team must pass this section of the exam in order to advance. In the anime, where it is stated that Ibiki Morino had proctored the exams before, it was revealed that he had selected different scenarios for the tenth question, with different solutions, such as giving the choice of either quitting and having the whole squad fail or continuing and having the lowest scoring member of the squad be forced to remain a genin forever (solution is to quit, rather than sacrifice squad members for personal gain).
- The second stage (proctored by Anko Mitarashi) tests the abilities of accomplishing a mission and real life survival skills without a sensei, as the participants are locked within a dangerous training area and must reach the central tower and survive five days without outside help. Each team is also given either a Scroll of Heaven (天の書, Ten no Sho) or Scroll of Earth (地の書, Chi no Sho) and teams are required to possess both in order to the third stage, forcing them to fight one another and hold on to their own. Kabuto also mentioned that it is possible for teams to gather multiple copies of scrolls to trade for information from other teams about the strength and abilities of other villages, to give them to other ninja from their own village, or simply to reduce the number of scrolls available, and thus the number of teams reaching the next stage. Additionally, teams are forbidden from opening the scrolls until they reach the tower, as the scrolls possess a spell that renders the reader unconscious until the stage's time limit has passed. Once the team reaches and enters the tower, they must open the scrolls which initiates a Summoning Technique that summons a higher ranked ninja who will congratulate the team. All three members of a team must pass this section of the exam in order to advance.
- If too many ninja teams pass the second round, preliminaries may be held at this point. In the Chūnin Exams arc, seven teams, an unusually high number, completed the second phase of the test. In the preliminaries, individual ninja are randomly picked to fight each other; the losers in this extra round cannot advance to the final stage and thus cannot be considered for promotion to chūnin. From this point on, team members no longer need to all pass their respective battles in order for their comrades to advance.
- The third and final stage (proctored by Genma Shiranui, originally supposed to be Hayate Gekkō) consists of tournament-like fights between those remainders who passed the previous two stages, observed by a council of daimyō and village ninja that decides who becomes a Chūnin and who does not. This exam takes place one month after the second phase (or the preliminaries), to allow the participants to prepare themselves. While the winners are able to proceed to fight the next opponent, aptitude, rather than winning, is evaluated to determine whether a candidate is promoted; for example, Shikamaru Nara forfeits his first match but is still promoted because of his strategic aptitude. This way, anyone who makes it to the third stage of the Exams has a chance to become chūnin. However, it is also possible for none of the candidates to become chūnin if the judges believe that they do not have appropriate qualifications. Those who win and advance to the next round have more chances to show their aptitude.
During the examinations, death may be involved. As such, participants are required to sign a release form to acknowledge and accept such risks. An example is when Gaara massacred Team Shigure as well as the countless of genin deaths as Naruto and the team saw on their way to the central tower.
Originally in Konoha, the Chūnin Selection Exams went through three rounds, each similar to the current. The primary difference between the two is that the Second Round in the Forest of Death consisted of regulated matches, making it significantly safer. This is presumably due to the Chūnin Exam having only held ninja from Konoha as opposed to the other villages. The phases are also monitored by the Hokage and the competing team's jōnin leaders.
- First Phase: While nothing is known about the original first test, it is presumably similar to the written test used during Konoha's later examinations.
- Second Phase: Team Matches: The second stage consisted of regulated, pre-chosen matches in the Forest of Death.
- Third Phase: Individual Matches: The original third stage works nearly identically to the one used in the Chūnin Exams arc except that it appears to follow a bracket style, meaning a competitor may have to defeat more than one opponent.
In the non-canon ninth Naruto OVA, Gaara hosts a Chūnin examination to help find more potential Chūnin candidates to take part in the Fourth Shinobi World War. It was commented by Temari that the examination style was irregular for this reason. Like Konoha's chūnin examinations, it appears to be stage based. Use of senjutsu was made against the rules during the exam due to it being an unfair advantage Naruto Uzumaki would possess.
- A preliminary stage is shown in which many genin are locked into a large empty and dangerous fenced off desert space known as Drill Area or the Demonic Sea for an unknown amount of time. The desert space's only known inhabitants appears to be large carnivorous bugs. Aside from this no known plants, animals or rocks are known to exist. The purpose of this phase appears to be similar to Konoha's second test, though it is unknown if one progresses from it in the same manner.
- The final stage of the exam consists of 1 on 1 Battles in which the winner becomes chūnin. The stage is held on the edge of the Desert Space in a large arena. This stage seems to follow similar rules to Konoha's optional preliminary stage while still remaining similar to their final portion.
In the anime, the Chūnin examination that took place during the time-skip of Naruto's absence is sponsored by both Konoha and Suna. Tsunade's main reasoning for the new exams was to lure Akatsuki out of hiding, which Gaara agreed to by making himself as bait for them and those in his village planning a coup d'état. The other three major villages declined the invitations, whilst Takigakure and Amegakure accepted.
- The first phase (proctored by Shikamaru Nara), as in the previous examination, consists of a written test. For the written exam, the three members from teams are split each into three rooms instead of being placed in the same room. The goal for this test is to see how well the team-mates know each other, as each member of a team must answer one of three questions and depending on the question picked will decide whether the team pass or fail. Ultimately, the team members have to achieve a combined score of 100 points. Along with the three question choice test, there was a bonus question that must be answered unanimously by each team which asks what member of their respective team would be chosen to be a decoy and the one picked will be disqualified. This happened to be a trick question, as all members of a team must be present in order to be qualified for the second round. Communication between team-mates is allowed.
- The second phase (proctored by Temari) takes place in Suna's Demon Desert. Due to a high number of teams passing the first phase, only the first 30 participants that arrive to Sunagakure within 3 days can qualify.
In the past, each village held their own chūnin exam. After the Third Ninja World War, allied ninja villages agreed to hold the exams together at the selected village that would host the exam. This was done to improve relations between the villages and prevent war between them. Another advantage is that ninja that took the exam might attract clients who are interested in hiring them. Because of the growing number of ninja in each village, the exams are hosted twice every year. The exams are also used as a gambling device and during the Konoha Crush, Sunagakure and Otogakure used the exam to their advantage to declare war against Konohagakure.
- According to Kabuto, during the first Chūnin Exams seen in the anime and manga, the number of participants from different villages were as follows:
- In the first Naruto OVA, Kakashi mentioned that in the past, genin went to Akagahara with the dream to become the best ninja and those who returned safely were accepted as chūnin.
- Although there are Getsugakure ninja shown in the first stage, they are not mentioned.
- In the non-canon ninth Naruto OVA, use of senjutsu was against the rules during the exam due to it being an unfair advantage. To use it all will result in an automatic disqualification.
- In the Land of Tea Arc, during an escort mission, it is revealed that the first exam proctor, Ibiki Morino, failed his younger brother Idate Morino for risking the future of his squad.