Forever over 100 Apprentice

@Leebo - Correct… I could skip the vocab, but then it just builds up infinitely. I have 4 kanji of this level I have intentionally not done the lessons for because I don’t want to level up until I can get my apprentice down. So yes, I know why I am not leveling… but I don’t know why I can’t seem to get my apprentice down low enough to let me feel comfortable about the 100 new lessons on level up.

@tmahrt - Reading material would be good, I haven’t seen as much in the way of context for the majority of these words since they don’t fall into the standard child story I am capable of reading. The vast majority of my mistakes are mixing up vocab words. (Expectation, Exception, Unexpected, etc…) I realized WK does not have a good method for this, thats why I came here for help. I’ll try writing them down.

@chrispthompson - The majority of my reviews are around 70-75%. Occasionally I can get up to around 90% (very rarely), and never have I gotten beneath a 60%.

@plantron_RickMatsuri - I already use the script… the reason I have not leveled is because of the apprentice items not going down, I am intentionally not learning the last few Kanji needed to level.

Try not to sweat it, you are definitely making progress! If you have time to take note of leech items or combinations of items you confuse, and then review them every day, that will definitely help.

I see. Well, my point wasn’t that you shouldn’t do lessons, but it sounded like you thought you should be leveling up but aren’t. I guess that’s not what you meant. You’re not leveling up on purpose.

It’s hard for me to really recommend anything specific since it sounds like you’ve tried plenty.

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Another question – do you feel that you are at your limit with the time you are spending on WK? I know people often talk about keeping apprentice under 100, but it really is a completely arbitrary number. Far more important than the number of items in your apprentice queue is the number of minutes you have to spend per day to keep up with reviews.

It seems you are being really responsible about not getting overloaded, and that’s very smart. But unless you feel like you can’t keep up with reviews, there is no reason to let the apprentice number stop you in your tracks completely. That number truly is going to vary wildly.

Edit: speaking of things that are arbitrary… even the levels themselves are pretty much meaningless. No need to artificially hold back on certain items to keep from leveling up. Better to level up and have the material available to you when you are ready for it – that way whatever pace you decide to move at, you can be consistent about it.

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Yea, I do between 80-150 reviews twice per day. Once when I wake up, and once before I go to bed. Occasionally I can do 30-50 at lunch to lower my nightly reviews. At the moment I spend ~1.5-2h a day just doing WK, combined with work and other hobbies… its a large portion of my free time.

Yea, 100 is arbitrary. I found 150 to be a bit too much, really I can handle 110-120… Right now I am floating between 95 on one day and 115 the next.

That is a good point that leveling is arbitrary, maybe I will level up and then just continue at the rate I am going… the only difference is I have higher level stuff available.

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PS I know you said you’ve tried studying outside WK but maybe try speed-quizzing yourself inside WK with the @rfindley self study script. Choosing a level and burning through all the items a couple times does wonders for accuracy rate in your real reviews.

Also, as you go forward you can use this script to pre-study new items and give yourself a head start on making them stick. That helped me a ton when I got to higher levels – I would pre-learn all the next level kanji and not do their lessons until I could go through the self-study quiz in like 2 minutes and it felt easy.

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Just quit work and your other hobbies, put the pedal to the metal, say “F*%& my apprentice number!” and start leveling. Who cares if you’ve got 1,000 apprentice items? Just means you get to spend more time on WK, which is really where you want to be anyways.


Oh but for real though, the only advice I can give that hasn’t already been given is this:

When you get items wrong in a review, look at them again after the review. When you finish your review, on the review summary page, WK tells you what items you got wrong. Give yourself a little mini-quiz on those items by trying to remember the readings and meanings, then hover your mouse over them to make sure you got them right. Just doing that has done wonders for my review accuracy.

Also if you’re getting items wrong because of typos or something, there’s always the Override script to deal with that issue. Not sure how big a factor typos and synonyms are for you personally though.


Maybe since you keep doing the same ones over and over, you feel like you are staying in the same place…which you are basically.

Maybe if you just let yourself move forward, the next batch of items will be easier and you’ll see yourself making progress with those and it will make you get that sense of progressing again.

I mean I just looked back at my level 15, 16, and 17 and I still have a handful of unburned vocab on all of those levels. 見返す, for example, I swear I see it everyday…But since I have progressed with so many other things, it doesn’t bother me.

Do you have the answer override script?

If you’re getting synonyms or super close to the right answer (like you have the concept down, essentially), you could consider giving yourself the correct answer? (It’s also super useful for spelling mistakes!)

There’s also this site:
It tells you which items you are struggling with the most, and thus need the most attention.

As far as practice in context goes, have you tried Duolingo’s Japanese to English course? I’ve found myself stumbling upon quite a bit of vocab and kanji from WK on there. Unlike children’s books, there’s actually kanji used, plus you also get the benefit of learning grammar. You can also install the extension rikaichan/rikaikun if you need help with the translations.

Personally, I find I make more mistakes with reviews if I go too fast. I don’t know how quickly you go through reviews, but maybe taking a minute to pause and think, or walk away, or refresh the page to hit all the ones you know confidently first, could help?

Best of luck though!

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I found myself in a similar situation with my apprentice items. The number one thing I told myself was to run my own race. I need to slow down. It is better to spend more time on each level and have a higher accuracy rate. With lifetime membership, there is really no reason to accelerate my progress.

There are two causes of an increased apprentice queue:

  1. New lesson item
  2. Guru review error.

I can control (1) by not taking new lessons. Regarding (2), the guru intervals are too long for me. I struggle to recall an item after one or two weeks.

What I’ve done in the past fortnight is to create an Anki deck from the WaniKani to Anki Exporter. I initially populated the deck with about 100 so-called critical items. I had to adjust my “max percentage” value to 80 to get 100 items. I set the Anki review intervals in Anki to 4 hours, 8 hours, 24 hours, 72 hours, 7 days, 14 days etc. I reviewed 20 new items every day for five days.

When I used up the 100 items, I went back to WaniKani to Anki Exporter to retrieve some more critical items by increasing the “max percentage”. I did not want to have a “max percentage” of 99 because that would cause too many items to be retrieved and not the biggest leeches.

Every day, I export more items at “max percentage” 85. There are always new items.

Since starting this routine, I am finally sending items to the master queue. The apprentice queue is shorter but for one day, the apprentice queue grew from 70 to 89, without taking new lessons. That gives an idea of how difficult it has been to recall something after one / two weeks in the guru queue.

The so-called “important reading”, which is usually on-yomi, has always been easier to remember. After a kanji is guru-ed, the related vocabulary lessons are unlocked. Typically, there are three or four kanji combinations using the on-yomi reading and then just one word with the kun-yomi reading. It stands to reason that the on-yomi reading is easier to recall. We get more items to practice with it! So I now pay a bit more attention to the mnemonic I use to remember the less frequently used reading.

Regarding the ideal size of an apprentice queue, this is an individual thing. I’ve tried 120 and I can’t handle it. I’ve now let it drop to around 70 so that I can spend time on grammar and listening practice. Seeing new words in real world use also helps with recall. I’m trying to read one NHK News Web Easy article every day.

Another thing you could try is go to rfindley’s WaniKani Statistics web site and see which levels have the most guru items. Then run rifndley’s self test quiz a couple of times on those levels. I’m about to try this myself.

Damn it. Was down to 140 last night, thinking, finally I’ll get this apprentice pile sub-100 soon, maybe, and then I’ll finally start level 25. Well, just looked and I’m back up to 193. Over a month later of ‘whittling down my apprentice pile’, the results have been negligible.

I took some of your guys advice and went ahead and just started leveling again anyways. Now there is an odd paradox I am gaining lessons, which gives me more apprentice items, but my pile is not growing. (Which is just bizzare)

So now I am half way though the next level and still at the same apprentice size. I think what is happening is that I have ~50-80 items that I don’t know… and am just pushing the 20 new lessons every few days though to guru.

@DaisukeJigen - People have said the apprentice pile grows and cycles… which doesn’t make sense to me, but do you feel like you are getting them right and it is growing? Or that you are having a bad month of reviews?

Just a lot of guru+ items that have apparently completely left my mind. For every Apprentice I guru, there 1 or 2 highers that I totally forget :cry:

Are you doing enough reviews that they’re actually coming up in the right amount of time? Or are they reaching guru and then sitting around for the equivalent of master time before getting reviewed.

Generally do reviews a couple times during work, and at once or twice at night. That’s all reviews, usually. Sometimes it takes a couple sessions to get through them. Try to do reviews more often, but time management doesn’t always allow that, but rare is a day I don’t at least get them all at least a couple times.

Is it such a problem that its over 100? right now i have 214 apprentice items but it doesn’t bother me in any way…

I’m going to guess you are probably young. The reason for this is because most adults understand that not everyone has the same ability to commit time to certain things. When you have a job, a wife, a family… you tend to have less time than for example… a student on summer vacation.The point I want to make is “good for you”, you have more time to do things than someone else, but if it wasn’t a problem, it would not be a post for you to respond to.

Now… this is intended to be a bit rough and abrasive, but not mean. Think about it, you may learn something.

My advice is really taking your time during reviews whenever you’re unsure. Sometimes it feels like you’ve completely forgotten the item but when you really start thinking about it, even if it takes minutes you might be able to recall it. The same with items you know you can easily mix up, instead of entering whatever first comes to your mind, take an extra minute to reflect if it’s really correct. If you manage to remember by putting in this extra effort you’ll memorise it even better.

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I know you weren’t directing that toward me, but I have a fulltime job, and while I don’t have a wife or kids, I do have a girlfriend. She supports my studies, and knows what WK is, so she doesn’t mind when I stop during a date to do a review or get up at 3:00AM to do lessons.

I guess that’s not a situation everyone will have, but I just make WK my priority above lots of other things.