Going Slow by Going Fast

Is it a mistake to be answering as quickly as possible in reviews? I take longer than average to level already, because I only do ~10 lessons per day and I don’t have a very strict schedule with WK. I don’t miss a single day for reviews, but sometimes I’ll do a batch when I wake up and a batch before bed, or I’ll just do one big pile in the middle of the afternoon.

I have considerably worse stats than many I see posted here (85.25%/92.71% reading/meaning) but I don’t like sitting there staring at a kanji waiting for the reading or meaning to come to me over 15 seconds; I feel like if I don’t know it immediately, I don’t know it. So I type whatever comes to mind, and get it wrong fairly often until it’s been hammered into me.

It’s going to take me several years to complete WK at this pace, which I’m fine with in theory. I’m just curious if there’s some overall learning psychology/strategy type thing I’m missing out on by trying to blow through my reviews like this.


I don’t think those stats are the average. I know mine are generally more in the 80 range, since when it comes to vocab I don’t give myself time to decipher the individual kanji.

You do you! As long as those kanji are eventually burned, I don’t think accuracy really matters (unless its consistently sub 50, then I guess its time to focus a little more on lessons)

1 Like

I also blow through my reviews at lightspeed, and I used to do what you do before I reset, that is “if I don’t know it immediately, I don’t know it”, but I found out that you might indeed know it but you might experience mental block for whatever reason on this vocab/kanji. For that I suggest you shuffle your reviews if you have the reorder script, so that you can do other vocab/kanji in the meantime, and if it comes back, either you have the reading/meaning and it’s okay or you still don’t know it and then you might consider either reshuffling again or admitting that you indeed don’t know it.

I am of the opinion that you might fail it once but that doesn’t mean you don’t know it, since evaluation is a measure of your understanding at that exact moment, not 5 minutes after or the day before.

Either way, going at lightspeed on reviews is fine, as long as you feel confident in what you’re doing, but taking some time on kanjis you don’t really know/understand is fine and you can do multiple passes with the reorder script/ignore button if you want. It does not have to be absolutely perfect the first time :slight_smile:


I have that 10 second timer script when doing my reviews, coz let’s be honest if I can’t answer it in 10 seconds, I’m pretty sure, I don’t know the answer and thinking about it for a minute hasn’t proven to be any useful either.


I sometimes feel like the struggle of remembering is really helpful in retaining the answer. It’s one of the only times I know I’m actually using my brain for something.


That’s a fair point. I have had times where the process of failing to remember something has turned into a mnemonic in and of itself. Or I’ll think of one I keep second-guessing myself on as “[kanji], the one you keep second-guessing yourself on” to force me to single- or triple-guess it. :joy:

I entirely agree. I’ve been embracing faster reviews with lower accuracy but with extra time reviewing and it has helped me. It also takes away the temptation over-ride items that are clearly not solid yet and progressing to levels you have no business tackling yet. Unless your only goal is reading/writing, language is otherwise grease lightening. The SRS system is built for people to strengthen their wrong answers (that is really the beauty of it though it is a relentless beast). For those not using it, I seems like a waste IMHO cause you can just go back to much cheaper (free) standard flashcards systems.

1 Like

Like Kare-uso, I use the reorder script, and if I don’t know immediately but I have a nebulous feeling that the meaning/reading is in my brain somewhere, I shuffle. More often than not, I have the answer immediately upon seeing it 2 minutes later.

I would like to add that there is evidence that long-term memories form more strongly when you review the item just as you’re about to forget it. So taking an extra 20 seconds to let your brain search for the memory may be worth it. (I read about this years ago and don’t have the source at my fingertips, but I could go searching for it if asked.) Many people use SRS in just this way, tinkering with their anki intervals just so, trying to time their reviews so that they’re just about to forget the word when they see it. These reviews are a bit more painful and they take longer per item, but the reviews are spaced out more, as you know.

You might think that learning something by almost forgetting it would make it pretty useless in a practical sense, but in my experience, trying to recognize words without context–as in WaniKani–is about as difficult as it will get. Of course, you know that you should know the word since it’s in your reviews, and that makes it easier than seeing a word you’re not certain about in “the wild”. But in the wild, you’ll usually have context. So a word you might not recognize in 20 seconds on a plain purple screen may take 3 seconds to figure out in the middle of a sentence.

There are some words I fail at time and time again, and I use the self study quiz script for those. It interrupts SRS, but I’m not bothered by that at all if it helps me learn better. Maybe you have some leeches that you could train in the self study quiz. I’ve also found that using the quiz to study words in reverse–that is, audio to meaning, meaning to reading, meaning to kanji, etc–makes those words much, much more accessible when I see them in my reviews again. You might try that and set up the quiz to quiz you on words you’ve failed during the last review, and you can make sure they never faze you again. You won’t benefit a whole lot from increasing your meaning percentage unless your reading percentage increases too, so you could use the quizzes to drill audio to meaning and meaning to reading to bump up that 85.25% to 92% or so, and strengthen those connections in your brain.


I always allow a ton of time, maybe even 5+ minutes, for me to use should I feel like it on Apprentice items. Pretty often I’ll remember some parts of the WK mnemonics, or maybe that a kanji is part of a word but not which of the 2 or 3 kanji it is. Focusing on an item for some time makes it easier later on because I remember the struggle I had with it. It also helps with figuring out if a mnemonic is useful or not. I’m hoping that by thinking a lot before making a mistake, I could avoid the multiple mistakes I’d done had I answered instantly, but it doesn’t always work like that. :sweat_smile:

During lessons I’ll just blaze through though. Mistakes don’t matter there, and knowing what first comes to mind when seeing a word can tell me what to watch out for.

1 Like

@wriothren That was very full and meaningful for me! We really should never underestimate the flow and memory-reinforcing power of learning (or absorbing naturally) things in the wild. I suppose WK provides a formal approximation for that contextualisation for the turtles who don’t see the wild so easily, but nowadays the wildness is not far away*. (Does this call for a new post: “Where the wild things are?”)

@Potema I did WK’s complimentary 3 levels a few years ago and I was doing your shinkansen speeds then. I was going too fast to read the kanji properly, to bother reading if it was the meaning or the reading being asked, and too fast to give myself the few seconds I needed to recall well. And I would feel very angry when the red appeared so often, kicking myself, it wasn’t fun.
Now, second time around, I am pacing myself, there is time to pay more attention and recall, and I am happy with the result, which is much better. WK will be a learning process, so its no problem if you don’t know it immediately, you are getting to know.
I still love @kitsunensei’s “you do you!”, you are you of course, but who are you? (Ah, you are you.)

*I went to a book launch a few years ago by the grandson of Oswald ‘Shiro’ White, an important figure working at the UK’s consular services in Japan during WWII. Why I am going on about this?

  • This chap became proficient in Japanese in the UK around 1900. Can you imagine!? It would have been thick books and very boring classes. (We are so spoilt for resources nowadays.)
  • Despite becoming exceptionally skilled at Japanese with these books and lessons to be sent to Japan to work in the consular services right after graduating, when he got there he was unusual in his ranks by going out and learning in the field; he paid attention to how people actually spoke, and he learnt Japanese again but properly (probably)
  • This was a free book launch in London, one of many events going on organised by one of a few Japanese associations: I really recommend them, even if it might seem pretty unrelated at first. It doesn’t matter if you don’t live in a “big”** city like London either: get on the internet, get on a plane, and/or meet with Japanese people who got on a plane and came to where you are. This is where the wild things are.

**London is not big. If you think London is big, go to Tokyo.


You’d be surprised! You absolutely can rely on that time working for you. You have to concentrate on the kanji. Soak it in. Call out the radicals in your mind. If that takes 15s the first few tries, then it takes 15s. Be patient :slight_smile: You’ll find that the next time you read it, it will come to you a lot quicker. Synapses will form around the path that it had to take to get you your answer. Over time you’ll be able to recognise the kanji and the reading a lot faster. Take note of recall times for the kanji you’re learning for this level :slight_smile:

Oh, and you’re finding it hard to remember stuff, try sleeping more and varying the times you do your reviews. I also don’t recommend doing only 10 lessons at a time. You’re giving yourself a dose of this frustration every day. Try reading through all 100+ radicals / kanji / and vocab that get thrown at you next time you hit a new level. By the third or fourth day you might be able to remember all of them.

If you are into the psychology side of things, I suggest pushing yourself so hard you rage in frustration. Tell your brain that you want to do this! Drown in the content. DREAM about it. That’s what you ultimately want to do :+1: Your brain will actually actively try and resolve frustrating things while you sleep. It’s interesting. There’s a lot of TED talks around :slight_smile:

1 Like

can I have the name of this 10 second timer script please?

It’s this one WK Reviews: The Final Countdown (userscript)

@Sephiris Usually when I have to slow down for a kanji, the first thing I do is try to find a vocab word associated with it (I write the example vocab down when I learn my kanjis) so that I can then work my way to the meaning/reading, usually it works, it’s a bit harder for kun-yomis, but those 15s are what does it for most if not all the situations i’ve been in as of now.


@Hoshinobike I’m glad! I certainly need to be using a lot more native content than I currently am. It’s as satisfying as it is reinforcing.

@Potema I thought of one more thing. It sounds like you’re having more trouble recognizing kanji than mistaking one kanji for another kanji, but I remembered another trick I have for the latter problem, which would certainly help in recognition as well. The majority of people aren’t going to want to do this because it takes up time and it’s likely not a skill they actually need, but I export my WaniKani kanji via the WaniKani to Anki exporter, and then I practice writing those kanji when they come up in anki. I do actually care about writing, so I want to be able to write every kanji I learn. But you don’t have to do it that way. If you’re just having trouble telling apart a few similar looking kanji, try writing those few kanji 10 times next to each other, recognizing the radicals that make them up, and the next time you see one of them in your WK reviews, I can guarantee you’ll know which one it is within a few seconds. Similarly, if you see that a certain kanji or vocab word is a leech, or if you notice it takes more than 15 seconds to guess it in your reviews, write it out a couple times. You learn things you pay attention to, and the more connections you make to the thing you want to learn–such as the way to write it–the easier it’ll be to recall that memory.


I’ve found that my ability to memorize new kanji and vocab has definitely increased as I work through WK.

1 Like

I go slow as well. I used to go very fast but the problem with that is that it’s difficult to recall the learnt *vocabulary in the long run plus there is always the stress factor.

When I was going fast I did all my lessons and reviews on the same day, everyday. It got to a point where I actually started to hate doing them and I started to become indifferent if my answers were all wrong or correct. I guess I had this wrong feeling of archievment only by seeing that I had no more reviews left to do. Eventually it got worse and I took a break from WK in which a lotta reviews started to pile up.

Now I go slow and I SERIOUSLY LOVE THAT. I do like 50-70 reviews a day and I can easily fit it into my schedule.i do lessons in response to the reviews that are up next. I never or seldom go past 80 reviews max. Since I am not running a marathon anymore, reviewing is more fun and relaxing. Plus I also put in more effort and time to learn the kanji/ vocab individually so it’s easier to make next connection with the new pile of vocab.

Going slow is a real miracle.

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.