Climbing Out of a Deep Hole: My Journey

I currently have 334 backlogged vocabulary lessons and I’m about to level up so it will be more like 430 in a few hours. Now that the school semester is over for me, and I will have much more free time this summer, I have decided to catch up on my vocab lessons.

So I am looking for advice. Should I just keep my apprentice items at 100? Should I do 30 lessons a day no matter what? Should I keep reordering my lessons that way my leveling doesn’t slow down or should I stop leveling while I catch up? Has anyone been in a similar hole and had to dig themselves out?

Advice and encouragement requested, please keep the big-brother/parent/teacher lectures and scolding to yourself.

Edit: I decided to update OP with my progress as I go.

Day One: April 24, 2017

Well after day one of trying to get back on track, I’ve cleared out 40 vocab lessons, 20 of which were random, and 20 of which were from level 21. That brought my apprentice count up to 105 items. All good so far.

Day Two: April 25, 2017

Leveled up, but managed to get my lessons down to 310. Cleared out all of my vocab up to level 23 (I am level 28 as of this writing). Did about half and half clearing out lessons in level order, and half taking on random lessons. Currently I have 146 Apprentice items. Been clearing lessons as they come in with a pretty high success rate. Think I might continue to do lessons tomorrow? I’m not sure I’ve hit my breaking point in terms of review load, but I’m anxious to clear out these vocab lessons.

Day Three: April 26, 2017

Completed 41 vocab lessons today. Down to 247 lessons. Cleared out all vocab lessons up to level 25. Currently at 172 Apprentice items. The reviews are starting to be notably large and consistent, although I’m not having trouble keeping up because much of the vocab is very obvious based on the kanji. Still getting fairly high review %correct. Tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday I have to work a lot more, and I’m throwing a graduation party on Saturday, so we will see how well I keep up with pushing these reviews and lessons over the weekend. But if I keep this pace up, I’ll be out of my hole in about a week, which is promising!

Day 11: May 4, 2017

Stopped updating daily, but I haven’t given up! Slowed down a lot last weekend with working, throwing a graduation party, and cleaning up my house afterwards spoiler[/spoiler]. Been keeping at it all week and I’m down to 150 lessons. 60 of the remaining lessons are from my current level (28), 11 from level 26, and 79 from level 27. By the end of the weekend, I should be all caught up and begin the leveling process again as a proper WaniKanian. Also, I currently have 155 Apprentice items. I never hit 200, thankfully. I’m not even the best at memorizing stuff, but a lot of the vocab is fairly obvious if you know the kanji and some grammar. Hopefully next time I update this thread, I will be out of my hole.

Day 15: May 8, 2017

I did it (kinda)!

I cleared out all my lessons except for my current Level 28 lessons! I’m sitting at 160 apprentice items, so it will still be a day or so before I can comfortably finish my level 28 lessons and start leveling up again. But I cleared out ~350 old vocab lessons in just over 2 weeks!

Day 19: May 12, 2017

Finally free and back to normal wanikani life. Thank you to everybody who supported me and good luck to anyone who reads this in the future and may be in a similar situation.


In same boat as you (except school isn’t over for me yet), also requesting advice :cry:


Yeah… if you’re a lifetime member, then take your time. Stop leveling up until you’ve caught up on your vocabulary. I’ve been at level 36 for the last month and a half because I have 200 lessons to do (haven’t bothered going through them yet, and also have been on vacation for the last two weeks). I’d say if you’re lazy about lessons like I am, then take advantage of the times you feel motivated and do a bunch at once. SRS will cover you. :slight_smile: Otherwise, disciplining yourself to do a certain number of lessons per day can certainly be productive, although maybe less enjoyable.


If you’re about to be sitting at 400 lessons after leveling up, then you’ve clearly been naughty and using a re-order script to only study the Kanji/Radicals for a few levels. What you’re experiencing right now is why that’s bad.

I’d say just start getting through them whenever you feel like your review queue is lacking. It’s going to take you a while. Maybe use that re-order script that’s gotten you into this mess to help you out by only doing the vocab items first.


I would say definitely stop leveling. As for how many new items to introduce at a time, I would do as many as your brain can handle. If you start feeling overwhelmed do less. Maybe brake up the number of items into level sizes (about 70 items per level) and then tackle those however you normally tackle your lessons at the beginning of a level (since everyone does it differently. for example, I do 20 per day).

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If you actually know the kanji well, I find blowing through the vocab much simpler. Especially the ones that keep the same readings, and the ones that are just combinations.

I’d stop kanji lessons and not level until getting the 400 down, but because you already know the Kanji I would personally probably run about 50 vocab a day, suck it up on the high review counts and be back on track in a week and a half.

No way are you going to keep apprentice under 100 and level quickly…and if your goal is to just “learn” the kanji fast with no vocab to back them up, you might as well just be doing “Remember the Kanji”.

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I would say as a lifetime member, don’t do any new lessons until you’re at a level where you feel comfortable with your apprentice count.

OR… limit how many lessons you do a day (maybe only 10-15 a day, instead of 30) while you are trying to get tha

… I just realized you’re talking about your lesson pile and not your review pile…

Use the Reorder script (xMunch’s Ultimate Reorder if you don’t already have it)… but reorder them so that you’re doing older-level content first. Don’t do any new content for a while. Or possibly do 1-2 batches of old content a day, and only the remainder of however many items you normally would do a day on a regular “mixed bag” for a while.

So if you do batches of 5 (the default) and like to do 30 items a day usually…
The first 2 sets of lessons are only old stuff using the reorder script = 10 items
The next 4 sets of lessons are on “mixed” (everything all balanced), some will be new some won’t = 20 random items

                                                            = 30 items total a day still, and slowly working through your pile of old vocab.

If you want to speed that up more, do 20 old items and only 10 new/mixed items a day, or half and half. (You can set your reorder as you normally would for levelling up fast for the later sets of lessons, just make sure you get in your old vocabulary content first).

You can do it! :slight_smile:

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I used to look for sophisticated approaches to managing backlogs and review loads, but I’ve found that simple works for me. Rule number one for me is always do reviews first. I never take on new lessons when there are reviews. Second, assuming that my reviews are all done, I decide on a number of lessons I can tackle per day. Purely up to you what that number is, but remember this will translate into what kind of review load you’ll end up with. More lessons per day cascades into more reviews per day. Third, I do not sort my lessons. I used to sort my radicals and kanji up front, but that can lead to backlogs like you’re seeing. By leaving it random, you won’t level as quickly, but you’ll also not tend to get these big backlogs of vocabulary lessons. It tends to keep things steady and even. This works for me but YMMV.


You’re the kind of fella that give us reorder script users a bad rep :stuck_out_tongue:

Unless you purposely don’t want to learn vocab from WK (you should from some source at least to reinforce kanji), you need to either be consistent enough in your lessons and reviews that you don’t accrue a huge backlog, or don’t use the script (or at least use it a bit more strategically). Personally, I’ve been pretty darn consistent about 20 lessons a day (rarely 10 or 15 on the low end, and again rarely 25-30 on the high end) and I manage to never be more than a half level of vocab behind), so for me, the reorder script isn’t very damaging, if at all.

I am not a lifetime member, though, so that’s part of what keeps up my consistency to level up quickly (and what I hope doesn’t lead to burnout as well).

Also, it’s better to have a vocab’s kanji freshly guru’d when you learn it. If you do a vocab lesson for kanji you learned 2 months ago, it’s probably not going to be as easy or form memories as strongly.

Thanks @AnimeCanuck, reordering to do the lessons in the proper order sounds like a really good idea.

Thank you everyone else. I think my goal is to do 40 lessons a day, that way hopefully within 2 weeks I can get my apprentice log down low enough to start leveling again. To be honest though, I think I’m just going to follow @Mnemosyne’s advice and do as many lessons as I can handle on the daily.

I’ll keep checking back here for more advice, and update with my progress periodically.

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You’re welcome, SwiftElk. And good luck. You’ve got this.

*encouraging smile*

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I have my reasons. I know it is a dark path, but that is my choice.

@Glias, let’s dig out of our holes together!

I get that it’s sometimes hard to understand jokes over text, but I had hoped the :stuck_out_tongue: was a dead giveaway. Wasn’t trying to “scold” you - I’m not trying to be your mother

Thank goodness, although I’m sure you’d be a great mom if you wanted to

I am only give the same advice as the others. Go back to where you are comfortable then start learning from that level.

The only reason I keep a log of of everything I am learning is autistics, such as myself have to take things slower, but either way, learning a new language is a full time job. Thats why I am level 6 and planning to stay there until I feel comfortable. In short, I don't want to get blindsided.

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Well after day one of trying to get back on track, I’ve cleared out 40 vocab lessons, 20 of which were random, and 20 of which were from level 21. That brought my apprentice count up to 105 items. All good so far.

Sounds good. You can do this! What’s a comfortable apprentice level for you?

I usually cruise at around 100 apprentice items but I have kept it at 120 with no problem. I think for the purpose of catching up I’m going to try to push that higher. What’s the highest number of apprentice items you usually keep?

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You could probably push even higher. Since a lot of the vocab tend to have straightforward readings and meanings I think they’re easier to learn in general. If you’re on summer break it’d probably be worthwhile to sink in the extra hours to lessons and reviews to catch up. Some of the people here break up the lessons throughout the day or do am/pm session to help space them out while keeping a fast pace. Depending on the length of your break it probably wouldn’t cause much of a problem until they reach enlightened reviews in the middle of the next term.

100 max, one time it was close to 120 before I burnt out. Between 60 and 80 is the sweet spot for me, where I feel like I’ve got enough going on without being even the slightest bit overwhelmed.