3 Month Level-Up? What is Happening?

So when I made my last post, I believe I had just reached Level 5, which was probably about 3 months ago. Tomorrow I should be able to finish out the last of the vocab for level 5. That means I will have been on Level 5 for around 3 months! I know my life has been a lot busier lately, so some reviews slacked, and my study habits weren’t great for the first few levels, but that will mean after 422 days I will just be starting level 6!

I am really confused as to what is causing me to go so slowly. Should I be doing more lessons, but I can barely remember the terms with 6 lessons a day. Do I need to improve my accuracy it is 92% for meaning and 82% for readings, how do I improve that when a lot of terms feel like there is little rhyme or reason for the readings. Getting through the radicals and Kanji is always so easy then I get to the vocab and it just makes very little sense to me. It feels like it takes days for most of the vocab to click and me to start getting them right.

I am sorry if this is a kinda rant post, but this is the worst I’ve ever felt about my studies, and something about a 3-month level-up screams that there is an issue. I just didn’t know a better place or way to get my thoughts out and maybe get some advice.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and if you have questions please let me know.


It’s all good man! I wouldn’t worry so much. It’s about the direction you’re going, not the speed.

Different people take different amounts of time. Learning kanji is like training a muscle. You work it every day and it will get easier. The reason people get to the “fast” levels and do them in 4 days is because they have had between 6 months and 2 years to work that muscle. Keep the faith. In time you will do better and better.

My biggest advice would be to go have some fun. Go turn on a podcast you enjoy, watch an anime, read a manga, talk to someone in Japanese, study grammar etc. If you aren’t having fun, you will burn out. Make sure that everything you do is fun, not just hard work. Then reward yourself with chocolate.


Hey you, don’t get frustrated. 3 months is a very long time for a level though. That is about 1 or 2 items per day… I’m sure we can improve that.
First of all read this great guide so you fully understand what is needed to level up: My Journey of 368 days (+ The Ultimate Guide for WK 📖 ) - #665 by mariodesu

Most important thing is to do the level-up reviews as soon as you can. At least twice a day, but I prefer to do my reviews almost every hour to keep the review batches a bit smaller.

I’m doing 7 days per level and on average that’s learning about 20 to 25 vocab per day. Some of those take more effort to remember but the meaning can often be clear already when you know the kanji. For me the first levels were the hardest, after a while it just gets easier.

If you would do around 10 lessons per day you would be finished in around 2 years time.

1 Like

I haven’t calculated it, but intuitively that math feels like it doesn’t add up. >5 lessons per day and >75% overall accuracy, but three months to level up? You say most of your errors are vocabulary too, and levels are tied only to kanji and radical items, so that’s especially strange. Do you not complete your reviews at least once a day? If you did, it seems almost impossible that your level duration should exceed a month at your pace, but I digress.

The most surefire way to speed up your progression–besides additional time investment and practice of course–would be to be attentive to how WaniKani’s SRS system functions. At the start of a level you are provided with radicals, unlocked kanji, and locked kanji. When you start a level, the pace at which you clear the unlocked kanji items is irrelevant; first are foremost you must complete all the radicals so that you can begin the locked kanji. Once you’ve done that, you have access to all of the items required to complete the level. Provided you answer accurately, all WaniKani items return for review after 4 hours, then 8 hours, then 1 day, then 2 days; this means that after completing a lesson, you can easily review those items twice (4hr & 8hr) within the same day if you’re attentive to the timing. With perfect pacing, timing, and accuracy, it’s possible to complete levels in seven days.


Sorry, yeah the math probably doesn’t add up because while WaniKani levels you up after you complete the radicals and the Kanji I don’t really consider that a level-up. Technically I’ve been on Level 6 for like 2 months but only had access to level 5 vocab lessons. I also missed some lesson days because life has been super hectic this semester of college. Thank you for the tips!

Earlier post deleted because I clicked the wrong button haha. But yeah I probably need to work on slowly upping my lesson count to get to at least 10 a day. Luckily I learned more about the double review in a day from my post a couple months ago. Add that with more lessons and maybe I will make more progress

This isn’t intended to be snarky, but to answer your question directly: what’s happening is that it’s taking you a long time to get 90% of the kanji on level five to SRS stage 5 (Guru-1).

No, not in my opinion. In my opinion you need more reviews and possibly even fewer lessons. More below.

The only study habit that matters on WK is doing your reviews every day. Real life happens, and we all miss a day here and there, or don’t finish all our outstanding reviews sometimes, but the more often this happens, the harder it gets and the slower you will go.

Those accuracy levels sound fine to me. Your problem is very likely that it’s mostly the same 10%-20% of kanji that you answer incorrectly, and they are preventing you from leveling up.

There really is is little rhyme or reason to readings (though you will start to notice some patterns as you progress). It’s normal to find readings harder in the beginning. Rote memorization is truly the only way.

Leveling-up is gated by guruing kanji, not by vocabulary, but vocabulary helps to cement the meaning of characters. You’ll eventually start to notice patterns with the various readings, too.

There are a few reasons readings are harder. For one, every character has multiple unrelated readings. For another, vocabulary almost always reinforces the meanings (()() are the exception) but different vocabulary readings make remembering the correct kanji reading harder.

Finally, remember that vocabulary is the entire point. Learning the meaning and one reading of a couple thousand individual kanji is little more than a party trick. Learning to read vocabulary words using those underlying characters is a life-changing skill. The more vocabulary reading you do (eventually outside of WK as well as inside) the better you will learn the individual characters.


Keep an eye on the “progress” section of the dashboard (here’s mine at the moment):

As you’ve probably realized, you need to get all four blocks to turn green on 90% of those characters before you’ll level up.

Since you’ve just started level six, you’re probably still doing vocab from the prior levels but you might have started seeing level six kanji. What usually happens is that most of them progress at the same speed (the green bars move to the right at the same speed) but you keep getting the same few wrong day after day. If after a week or two, most of the items are fully green, but a stubborn few still have just one or two blocks green then those are the ones you need to focus on.

It’s counter-intuitive, but doing more, out-of-band reviews (with extra-study or the self-study script) can make a world of difference.

If you end up in this situation where a handful of characters are preventing you from leveling up, I’d strongly recommend taking an hour or so one day and do multiple iterations of “extra study” for recent lessons (or even better, use the “self-study” script).

Extra study won’t let you finish the session until you’ve answered all the questions correctly. Once you finish, though, go back and start over again from the beginning. You’ll almost certainly find it easier the second time. Continue iterating like this until you’re 100% confident in every answer.

[The self-study script let’s you re-quiz just the items you missed in the prior iteration, so this process can go faster with the script since you don’t have to keep re-quizzing the items you already “know”.]

If you spend the time doing this even once, I think you’ll be amazed at how much easier the reviews go on subsequent days, and how much more quickly you level up.

Before the extra study feature arrived, I’d just glance at the “progress” section before starting my reviews, and quiz myself on the meaning/reading items for any items that haven’t turned completely green yet. I’d click on them to get the right answer if I couldn’t remember. Again, I’d wait until I was 100% confident I knew them all before starting my formal reviews (and then inevitably miss a couple anyway).

Final point: repeated, “extra” reviews of Apprentice items (stages 1-4) is NOT CHEATING. You cannot have too many reviews of early stage items. The more iterations you can get in, the better you will remember them.

Formal reviews of later stage items (guru - enlightened) are better thought of as “retention tests”. You need to prove you can still answer them correctly after not seeing them for weeks or months. Apprentice items, though, benefit from as many review iterations as possible.

Finally, as other have pointed out: ultimately speed doesn’t matter. It’s far, FAR more important to learn to read comfortably and easily than it is to get to level 60, no matter how long it takes.

Have fun.

Oh: regarding doing more lessons/day.

I don’t think doing more lessons will make you go faster. Lessons are like getting into college. Once you’re in, you need to answer items correctly four times in a row to graduate (or make it into the next year).

It doesn’t sound like your gated on an insufficient number of Apprentice items. Instead, it sounds like you’ve got kanji that gets stuck in Apprentice, preventing you from leveling up. Focus on them, not on adding more.


unless you are a speedrunner I wouldn’t mind the time necessary to “finish” wanikani

it is a tool, and in the long way you will see the immersion will take even more time with you and little by little you wouldn’t even finish wk like many users actually end up doing.

I started wk in december 31st 2020, and here I am, about to renew the subscription again this december with no hurry, because after all Wanikani has become my daily tutor in learning.

Renew again? Buy the lifetime. You sound like the exact kind of person who would use it for your whole life!

First, I want to thank you for your long and thought-out reply. Technically speaking I have been level 6 for about two months but didn’t consider myself leveled up because I hadn’t completed the vocab for level five. Sorry if that wording caused confusion.

The extra study and self-study scripts seem like a thing that I should really look into because honestly one thing that bugs me is missing the same term multiple times in a row to feel like I’m going nowhere. Would you mind informing me where I can find these scripts and how to add them to Wanikani?

1 Like

Extra study is built in. It’s on your dashboard.

The self study quiz userscript is an addition (I’m a huge fan).

You can also launch self-study from other scripts. I highly recommend the following two:

Since you’ve already been on the level for a while, both the “recent lessons” and “recent mistakes” queues in Extra Study should be helpful.

1 Like

I want to echo the importance of doing reviews twice a day! But if it helps, you can break them down even further if smaller batches help you answer more accurately. (I’m so embarrassed that it took me five levels to figure out that you don’t need to do all the reviews at once and can just exit out if you need to :weary:) The REALLY important thing is to try to keep your reviews at 0 by the end of your “day” so they don’t build up and stop you from progressing.

Also, as someone who HATES doing lessons, especially with vocabulary, I can totally relate to taking a bit to go through them! I have a hard time figuring out the pronunciation of certain vocabulary words, and I’m not sure if I’m just bad at it or if the mnemonic tricks just aren’t as good as the ones for the kanji. One thing that I’ve figured out is that it’s better if I do larger “batches” of vocab lessons together, fully expecting to get them wrong on my first, second, or even third try! Mistakes with vocabulary won’t stop you from progressing, and honestly, getting them wrong a couple of times at the beginning fully solidifies them in my head by the time they go Guru.

Just remember, don’t give up! Everyone has troubles on certain levels, but it’s just part of the path to progress. If you feel bad, I really encourage you to read the celebration posts for people who made it to level 60, especially if they didn’t race to finish. When I look at their progress charts and see that they too had levels where they had difficulties, I feel much better about my own progress (or lack thereof :joy:).

Good luck, and keep working! :grin:


Yes, two (or more) sessions per day is better if you can swing it, as you’ll catch the 4-hour and 8-hour intervals of items in Apprentice levels 1 and 2.

That said, many of us (myself included) only do (or did) one session per day. It’s slower, but it doesn’t harm your learning.

I’ve heard this from many, but it seems so alien to me. I’m 180° opposite: I find vocabulary immensely easier.

It’s at least partially because I’ve been speaking the language for many years, so my “vocabulary” (words I can hear and understand) was already reasonably large before starting on WK.

That’s not the only reason, though: a very large fraction of the vocabulary words I’m learning these days are utterly new to me.

Just from a logical standpoint, vocabulary is objectively “easier”:

  • Most are 熟語(じゅくご) (compound words) very likely to contain other characters you already know.

  • You’ve ostensibly already learned the “meaning” of the underlying characters, so you’ve at least got a clue for the meaning (当て字 are a thing though).

  • On higher levels you’ll have acquired better skills at remembering readings, too, based on other characters and similar words.

Kanji, on the other hand mostly require pure, rote memorization. Perhaps surprisingly, though, it sort of flip-flops on higher levels: readings become easier to memorize than meanings! Your brain starts to recognize patterns based on the underlying components of a character.

1 Like

I don’t think you’ve lost much time.
Hear me out.
I registered on WK in 2016.
Since then I tried to do it several times. Couldn’t stick to the schedule. Seemed difficult to me.
Only this year things are going well so far.
So just keep trying, even for a little bit at a time. Don’t give up. Just do as much reviews as comfortable for you for now. Things will get better.


No, because after getting to lvl 60 (which I will take one more year or less) then there is nothing left to do with WK.

if it had gammar or something like bunpro, then I think is worth because you will have to check all the time.

This always bugs me, too. I find that, if I miss an item more than two or three times, I need to really stop and think about how I can remember it; whether that means reading the mnemonic for the vocab itself, the kanji it includes, and the radicals as well just to really bring it all together - or perhaps making your own mnemonic. Some people find success with writing the hard ones to solidify them in their memory. Whatever works for you to make sure these repeat offenders stop coming back - it’s definitely important to make sure these words don’t drag you down for weeks/months on end!


I write ALL my kanji & even vocab…both at time of lessons, and in reviews via KaniWani (with Apple Pencil japanese kanji scribble support)…and I can tell you this…

A leech is a leech is a leech…writing the kanji may help, but for me it’s either I fully know the entire context, or I don’t. Overall to the process though, writing the Kanji definitely helps with my overall retainage percentage though. It’s an extra solidification step in remembering which all radicals or stems are used in the Kanji’s makeup.

Am I the only one who finds themselves drawing in the “air” with their finger sometimes when trying to remember Kanji? I have to laugh at myself, but sometimes I’ll just start wiggling my finger around like a Harry Potter spell… but I’m just inside my own head working out the stroke order :laughing:


I think there’s something to be said for that. The first kanji with multiple strokes that I firmly memorized was 週 and I will literally never forget this kanji for the rest of my life, because it’s also the kanji that my drawing SRS app gave me the most. I know this kanji as a friend, as a lover, and as a lifetime partner. If I was in a terrible accident and suffered massive brain damage and forgot almost everything, I would just chill in my room with my helmet mounted drool cup, using crayons to draw this particular kanji over and over (in-between eating the crayons).


If you are having a hard time with the vocabulary it sounds like you need to focus more on the reviews and less on the lessons? Are you using the Extra Study feature? Are you practicing the recent lessons and recent mistakes over and over again in the Extra Study section? For the vocabulary are you reading the combination section and context example sentences? Are you using WK’s mnemonics or coming up with your own?

Also there is a website called Immersion kit so if you are having a hard time with certain vocabulary you can just copy and paste it into Immersion Kit then listen to the example sentences.

My other question to you is are you practicing reading? Crystal Hunters? Graded Readers? Etc?

I feel using Immersion Kit and reading easy level material will help you greatly. :smile_cat:

It’s not the total number of reviews that matters:

It’s the time it takes you to get in that number of reviews.

I’ve honestly never been too bothered by leeches. Eventually, they all fall to a sufficient number of reviews.

The bad leeches, though, are the ones that keep bouncing between Enlightened (stage 8) and Guru-II (stage 6) so that you don’t review them nearly often enough. Out-of-band “reviews” for those (Extra study of recent misses) are particularly important.

If I notice that an item I’ve just answered incorrectly has bounced more times than seems reasonable, I’ll sometimes intentionally answer incorrectly several times in a row just to ensure I see it more often over the next several days.

Stage 6 items answered correctly won’t be seen again for a month, stage 7 for two months, and stage 8 for 4 months. That long a delay between “reviews” mean they are definitely “retention tests”. Those infrequent “reviews” won’t help you at all to remember them (whereas more frequent reps would).

It definitely helps to figure out why something is a leech (especially if you’re confusing it with something else, or consistently answering with the wrong reading — 人情(にんじょう) is my nemesis above). But NOTHING works better than sheer repetition. With enough reps, you will eventually memorize anything.