Do I cheat too much?

I cheat a lot on radicals and kanji. Especially early on in a level, when I can’t remember many of them very well (or I just know meaning OR reading, not both), I just look up the answers. Reason being, those are what’s ‘graded’ to level me up. I want to get through levels as fast as I can–provided that I’m still actually guru-ing at least like 80% of the vocab by the end of the level, which is a goal I’ve been reaching every level so far.

Will this stop working eventually? Am I setting myself up for bad habits and failure down the line?


Probably, yeah. In my opinion it’s better to level up slightly slower but with more confidence that you are learning the material properly.


I tend to agree that it may not be a good idea. If you don’t know the meanings or readings well enough but still level up, then you’re going to be met with vocabulary lessons that utilize those things - both of which you may still be shaky on. So it’s going to create a cycle where you may be tempted to cheat on those, too.

Just remember that learning Japanese isn’t about leveling up in WK - it’s about learning the material well enough that you can begin to utilize it in things like reading and writing. If you don’t actually learn it, then it’s going to be tough to use.


It’s fine to be doing this with new radicals and kanji in order to level up. But once levelled up, stop cheating and let the SRS work its magic.

Warning: If your goal is speed, be prepared to do reviews in their hundreds, several times a day.


Agreed, once you level it, be real with it. Also, get Rikaikun if you use chrome, there are equivalencies for other browsers. Just mouse over it.


Rarely, but sometimes, if I don’t quite remember the exact meaning or can’t quite remember my mnemonic, I will click ignore (there’s a script that allows you to ignore wrong answers). If you “cheat” on an Apprentice 1->2 or 2->3 then as long as you remember it fine on later levels it’s no problem. The ultimate goal is to create long term memory. So for God’s sake don’t cheat on any thing Guru or higher.

But Apprentice? The time intervals are so small you will still be able to reinforce the memory and cheat a little. And honestly, WaniKani progress is a little slow (2k kanji in under 6 months isn’t uncommon with other methods, although vocab is another matter of course) so I would err on the side of speeding things up as much as possible.

But what works for me might not work for you. If cheating early on almost always leads to failed higher levels then you might need to work harder on recollection during those earlier levels. Make sure you’re spending plenty of time on each kanji during lessons and really getting the mnemonic drilled in to your head. Come up with your own if you feel like the supplied mnemonic doens’t work for you. And don’t feel like you need to use the radicals WK gives you, if the kanji vividly resembles something else to you, then use that. Imagination is the key to making mnemonics work so the ones you come up with yourself will almost always work better.

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Here’s what I do. Before I start the review session, I manually review all of the radicals and kanji on the dashboard that haven’t been guru’d yet. Then I do the review without peaking. I don’t start until I’m 100% sure I know them all. Is this cheating? I don’t think so. After all, I do remember them. Once they hit guru, I never look them up before a review. But by then, they’re pretty well stuck in my head anyway so I think it doesn’t matter.


Yes; especially when it’s many of them. I used to find myself thinking I am going to learn all the Kanji, complete WaniKani, and do everything in a year, but in reality, you should go at your pace and make sure you learn everything thoroughly. If you make it too much of a habit, what can happen is that it comes back later (like an SRS system does) and you will likely still not know it and be tempted to do it again, making your feel guilty each time. If anything, self study (whether it’s with the script, the Benkyou App, or yourself looking over it). They will have to stick one day.

I feel your pain where I feel like I need to cheat sometimes with the main Kanjis and Radicals, but I only do it when I know it’ll be an instance where I’m stuck right at like 87% Kanji. xD

In general, go with what your heart says. For me, even when I fail enlightened to burned items (which take ~4 months to come) that I truly forgot, I tell myself it’ll be better in the end if I get it wrong, strongly re-enforce it my head, and truly burn it. They say Levels 1-3 is building blocks, but they do use more Kanjis as building blocks and sometimes utilize previous vocabulary in future lessons. And in the end, you may be proud (likely will be) if you hit Level 60, but what you carry that’ll make you really proud is what you’ve learned and how use it.

This is irrelevant, but today is my anniversary since I started WaniKani (not being in the community, but finding and doing WaniKani on 10/30/2018). :smiley:
I’m still happy here and I wish all of you the best of luck (and beyond WaniKani too).

Oh, and make sure to always do your WaniKani. lol


Don’t. Why bother leveling up if you don’t know the material? .-.

Radicals are whatever after a certain point, but not in the beginning, depending on how you use WK.


Because the brain doesn’t seem to work that way. You could learn a bunch of new stuff in the meantime. Why force yourself to stop studying new stuff just because you are stuck on old stuff?

To put it another way; If you failed grade 3 science does that mean you shouldn’t study grade 4 math? Should you just stop studying math until the science gets to the same level?

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Well, it depends more on you than anything else, I think. I also cheated a lot (not only for leveling up) and it never felt like I was setting back my learning. Rather, it felt really good because I was saving future me from having to do a bunch of extra reviews, so I never regretted it.

If it works for you and you feel you’re still learning the material, I’d say go ahead.

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I think your example is flawed. Since grade 3 science is not a requisite skill to do grade 4 math there is obviously no reason you would need to stop math.

On the other hand, as an 8th grade math teacher, I have many students who struggle with 6th and 7th grade math concepts that they never learned, and it makes learning the 8th grade math much more difficult for them. I certainly think it would have been in their best interest to slow down and spend the extra time to learn the previous concepts before doing the stuff we are doing now.

On WK it is definitely the case that kanji you learn in the early levels can come up in later levels, so if you aren’t learning them well the first time you are going to make things harder for yourself later (and I’m talking from personal experience here because I’ve done it). There is also something to be said for pushing things to guru, then having them drop back to apprentice and having your review counts go up a lot, but if someone had the time to handle all the extra reviews then I suppose it’s a matter of preference at that point.


Oddly enough sometimes I cheat on an item and I end up remembering because I cheated on it. Sometimes I just know I know a word but it is just not coming out of my brain correctly and when I cheat on it I end up making it stick more in my brain.

Slight caveat
I’ve been studying Japanese for a while so I’m trying to get to a level on wanikani that is at my level or above and so maybe the few items I cheat on just stick because I already know everything else.


I agree with what you are saying but I think I may have oversimplified just to stress a point.

Radicals build up to form different kanji, but once you get to kanji, they don’t build in to bigger kanji, they just pair up to form words. (With the exception of kanji that are later used as radicals, in which case, your point holds)
Kanji get used again and again, but if you find a word that you don’t know, then you soon find out which kanji you’ve forgotten how to read. You in turn end up studying ONLY the ones you have forgotten. The time spent waiting for new lessons due to 1 or 2 leeches, can instead be spent on new kanji that your mind absorbs easily.

I guess we are approaching the same thing from two different ways: either spend more time at the start, so you never have to study it again; or spend more time getting it wrong and having to redo the items. I think the latter is more efficient as most of the time, I don’t forget the meaning by the time I’ve guru’d a word that contains the same kanji.

Also, if I remember how to read the kanji based on another word, then I’ve got another mnemonic device to help me remember for future words. If I forget for example that 王 means king, but I remember 王子 means prince (and I also know how to pronounce it because it’s just a word I’ve always known), in the future when I come across 王妃 I can use my knowledge of 王子 to deduce the meaning. (even if I forgot 王 on its own.) The words thereby reinforce the kanji, so you don’t have to get hung up on the kanji. WK seems to be designed to review earlier kanji with new jukugo words that reuse them in the later levels.

In my experience, native Japanese speakers often don’t know the meaning of a kanji in isolation. They can however, read any word that comes their way and know what it means. Same with radicals. Native Japanese will often have a special name for a radical (when trying to describe how to write their kirakira names with Nanoji or ateji) and an innate sense of the radical or kanji’s meaning, but they don’t know a specific or meaningful name for it like one that has been ‘given’ a name in WK.

It’s like suffixes and prefixes in English. Most of us don’t know Latin but if a word starts with ‘pre’ or ends in ‘ology’, we have a good idea of what it means. I knew what biology meant before I knew what ‘ology’ meant. When I came across scientology for the first time in…maybe junior high?, I associated the ‘ologies’ and subconsciously associated it with ‘the study of~’. Doesn’t matter if I know ‘ology’ or ‘王’.

I guess I shouldn’t have used Math as an analogy. It doesn’t work because you can’t do calculus without algebra, which you can’t do without arithmetic. That’s not how WK works for me. I was trying to compare one unrelated kanji (let’s call it ‘math’) with another unrelated kanji (‘science’). I wasn’t trying to emphasize the progression of math skills. Anyways, I think we have different learning styles and that is swell. :slight_smile:

Edit: just looked it up and apparently I still don’t know the meaning of ‘ology’!


Short answer, yes. What’s the point of trying to go as fast as possible? Bragging rights? Last I checked WK is a learning app, not a speed contest.

Slightly longer answer, yes, you’re setting yourself for bad habits. You’re completely circumventing the SRS system. At that point, what’s the point of using WK anyway.


Instead of cheating, why not just review the items on your own in between the timegated review sessions? I usually do radicals and first wave on kanji in bulk and honestly would make several mistakes at the 4h mark review session, if I didn’t go through them once in between.

WK is not a test of leveling speed, but a tool to help you learn. By cheating you will get unlock more and more items even when you might not be ready with the previous material.

Ifyou want to keep up max speed, I would suggest reviewing the items on your own as well to lessen the need to cheat :slight_smile:


It’s a technique for advancing faster. If that makes Wanikani more fun and reinforcing for you then this is a good thing. It also unlocks vocab which for me tends to be the thing that cements the kanji reading. Some people seem to use reorder scripts to skip ahead to the next level radicals and kanji and leave behind a trail of unlearned vocab which to me is a much more dangerous way to advance quickly.

If you’re cheating the kanji and not the vocab, you’re trusting that the vocab that WK introduces you to will be representative of the most common readings of a particular kanji. If WK fails to do this, you will sometimes be at a disadvantage when encountering new vocab. That said, I think it’s a valid approach to focus on vocab more than the kanji itself, as it’s similar to expanding your English vocabulary instead of learning the latin / root words. Knowing the kanji can help you decipher a new word that you encounter in the wild, but that’s only if you can somehow predict which reading of each kanji the new word is using.

When Japanese children learn to communicate, they are learning vocab and grammatical patterns first. Later, when they start learning to read and write, they learn the kanji that the vocab is comprised of. You must be able to recognize and produce vocab to effectively communicate in Japanese. Kanji by itself is mostly academic.

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I think you make some really good points. I think the only thing I’m not on the same page as you for is the waiting on 1 to 2 leeches thing. Since you only need 90% of the kanji guru’d to level up, you can have a few leeches every level and not actually have your paced be slowed down. In this case I would agree that you should just keep going at your current pace.

However the OP said they were cheating a lot to keep their leveling pace, and that they were trying to keep ~80% efficiency on Vocab, which is a bit lower than 90%. I don’t know if having 80% on vocab translates to only being 80% on Kanji, but the number does seem a bit precarious. If 20% of the kanji you learned each level dropped back into apprentice right after you guru’d them, I think eventually the workload would become pretty fatiguing if not unbearable. Just my opinion there though everyone is different. It’s a matter of how many 王’s I’m forgetting each level.

Other than that, I completely agree with your analysis.


Maybe, or maybe not, but imagine the following scenario. Ok, so you no longer cheat when it’s after guru. What do you do when a master or burn review comes in, and you don’t remember the item? It drops down in SRS and that will turn into a few more reviews in the future until you properly remember it. Imagine this phenomenon occurring for a good proportion of your kanji. It could easily snowball out of control and slow you down in the long run. It might seem harder to take more time in the beginning to properly remember items, but your workload in the long run will probably be a lot more manageable. Right now at level 7 it might not seem like that much, but see how well you can deal with it in the long run. If you can, kudos to you, but when I tried to do that I burned out pretty fast.