Did I do it all wrong?

Good question. I use mnemonics extensively but do make my own up rather than use the pre-cooked ones. Sometimes, if I can’t remember a given kanji, I can re-create the mnemonic by looking at the radicals. Other times, it just doesn’t work.

And there are certainly people here who don’t bother with mnemonics at all and do fine without them.

So I don’t think there’s any such thing as ‘doing it wrong’. It’s kind of up to what works best for you. What I think you’re probably running into is something that is pretty common around level 16. You were able to do pretty well remembering what you learned in first levels, but as you progress, you’ve learned more and more things, so your brain starts to discard unused information (and WK’s SRS system is designed that you don’t see kanji for a period of time which tricks your brain into thinking that the information is not useful).

In theory (or in WK’s theory) they test you on items just before you would have forgotten them, thereby solidifying them in your memory. This sometimes works! Often, try as you might, you just can’t remember the darn kanji (or radical or vocabulary).

I think that’s all pretty natural. Don’t beat yourself up about it. The thing to do is

  1. after a review session, on the summary page, test yourself on the ones you got wrong.
  2. if mnemonics help you, make up new ones that can jog your memory about the meaning and/or reading.
  3. don’t worry about maintaining 90% or whatever accuracy. Just keep doing your best and relearning. The more times you learn something, the more likely it will stick eventually. Then you’ll forget it again. Then it will really stick.

Believe me, I’ve been through all these cycles over and over. I’d love to think that I’ll never forget the kanji I learned 20 levels ago, but it happens. I just relearn them again.

Final point is that reading really does help, because once you see kanji/vocabulary in context, your brain suddenly realizes that this isn’t just an abstract exercise. These things you’re learning are actually useful, so you’ll be much more likely to remember them. Hope this helps!

Oh, one more thing you could try is install the self study script. It’s really flexible and lets you test yourself whenever and however you feel like it.