Does self-study break SRS?

I am wondering if certain kinds of self study (like reviewing guru+ items) interferes with proper SRS. For example, if you were to refresh yourself via self-study about all guru items, ones you were not ready to advance to master might be elevated next review. Is this a real issue? Is there something I’m missing?

For this reason I’ve been restricting my usage of self-study to recently failed, recently learned, and leeches.

Thank you all!

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Basically only if the self-study and the review were within a short time span. The longer the SRS gap, the longer a “short time span” will be.

The SRS times are meant to maximize efficiency, that’s all. You won’t be reaching Koichi’s maximum proposed efficiency, but you won’t be “breaking” anything.

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Happy birthday, Leebo! Thanks for the reply.

So basically the risk is a loss of efficiency. That doesn’t seem so bad.

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One thing I’ve realized is that coming across them in context while reading seems to help retention without affecting the SRS method.

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If you do the studying right before the next review it may interfere with the ability of SRS to track what you learned. You have just seen the item so you will get the review right and the SRS time delay becomes meaningless. The Self-Study Quiz script has a Time Until Review filter to prevent this problem. This filter ensures you don’t see an item if it is too close from the review time. Use it and you may do any kind of study without problem.

If you use the Item Inspector Script it has this filter as well.


I always do my WK lessons &/or reviews at the beginning of my Japanese study sessions in order to minimise any sort of interference with the SRS, but otherwise I accept that any studying I am doing is going to help reinforce any other studying I am doing - i.e. WK is one of many tools I am using, so there will be overlaps, and that is not only okay, but beneficial.


So long as you aren’t reviewing very close to actual review time, it should be fine


Thank you for the great post! Looks like I did not do due diligence in my research.

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Allow me to answer your question with a question.

Is it your plan to go from 1 to 60 on WaniKani without ever engaging with the language in the wild? WK has some weird kanji and uncommon words for sure, but the majority of them are useful and you stand a good chance of seeing them in any book you open or any street sign you walk past in Japan.

If you want to zealously guard against “poisoning” your SRS, you would be forced to study in isolation for the entire year (at minimum) that it takes to finish the course, let alone burn everything. I can tell you from personal experience that without real-world exposure to Japanese, all the reviewing in the world won’t do you any good. You need to have something practical for these words to latch onto, so they can make connections and become real practical knowledge rather than just data points you’ve memorized.

My go-to example is 鎮魂, which you’ll learn at level 55. It uses two complicated kanji and has no cultural equivalent in English. I was fully expecting it to be a terrible leech, but as luck would have it, shortly after learning that word on WK I saw it in a manga I was reading and, as a result, I have never once forgotten it. Far from being detrimental, it was actually incredibly helpful for me to see that word in the wild, in a context where I understood the significance behind it and could get a feel for how it might actually be used.

As far as I’m concerned, SRS is best for helping you get a lot of words into your medium-long-term memory so you can reinforce them in real material. There are quite a few words from low WK levels that I’ve completely forgotten despite burning them ages ago, but the ones that have stuck with me are those that I’ve seen elsewhere and have found practical use for. Just remember that SRS is a tool, not the end goal.

(I do think that if you go in and scroll through all your upcoming items in order to “refresh” on them right before studying, that’s no good. At that point you’re just cramming into short-term memory and that probably doesn’t help.)

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I only briefly review kanjis that are painfully similar until I can tell them apart. But that doesn’t always hold until I get to review them on WK. So it’s fine.
Also, by self study I suppose you mean sitting down and going over kanjis only. If you were to run into one kanji that’s part of the batch from your current level, I wouldn’t really call it cheating at all. It’s unavoidable, too, you see. I think the more you naturally study, the better.
For instance, if you burn a kanji and still you don’t feel comfortable with it, use the Override script and mark it wrong. I hardly do that, but it has helped me.

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