I have no particular date that I need to be ready for, so I can go as fast or as slow as I want. Even with my relatively slow pace, I did eventually realize the importance of maintaining a comfortable workload, though.
For me that means:
- Aiming for around 150 items in my review queue each day, and finishing my reviews within about an hour or so.
- Keeping around 100 total items in the Apprentice bucket (not just today’s review queue).
- Only missing about 10-15% of the questions posed during a review session.
If I violate any of those three conditions, I’ve found it starts to feel like a slog so I slow down on doing lessons.
Everybody will have different comfort levels. The above is just what works for me. I do think, however, that it’s just a matter of throttling your lessons and managing your daily review queue for whatever you find comfortable
Like you, I also suffered from the “terrible twenties”. I finally learned the importance of slowing down on lessons after level 26 (the horrible black bar below). Some kind soul gave me the sage advice to keep my number of Apprentice items down to around 100 or so.
After adopting the rules above, I’ve made steady progress without resorting to any reordering scripts or the like. My number of days-per-level crept up to about 3 weeks during the “terrible twenties” but I started to feel like I had it more under control before exiting level 29. I knew I didn’t want to repeat level 26!
I’m very happy with my overall progress:
(I’ve got more items than usual in Apprentice because I leveled-up recently and found most of the vocabulary items from the end of the prior level fairly easy.)
Note my wording in item 3 above: I like to miss no more than 10% to 15% of the individual questions posed (the number next to the thumbs-up icon on each individual review screen). That’s very different than the number of items I answer correctly the first time: if I miss either the meaning or reading question for an item, the entire item gets marked wrong in the stats database, as reported in this graph from the wonderful workload graph userscript:
That graph tells me that, up to today, I’ve struggled the most with the items in levels 21 and 25. It also shows that I’ve burned at least one item in every level through 28.
The actual workload graph shows me I’m achieving my desired average of around 150 reviews per day (on a one week rolling average).
Anyway, none of this is intended to brag (I’ve still got a long, long way to go). It’s just that I also struggled a bit in the 20’s and have finally learned how to interpret all of these stats, charts, and graphs! I found it useful and hoped that you might as well.