Guessing Answers & Other Usage Advice?

I’ve been thinking and I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s better never to guess answers.

At best, it means you are recorded as remembering something when you didn’t really remember it, and at worse, it can introduce a mistaken meaning or reading, which then runs the risk of being reinforced as a wrong answer later.

What do people think about this? Anyone have any other bits of advice in the same vein, that relate to how you use Wanikani?

I’ve also been taking to recording the reason I make mistakes when I make a mistake, and that has been helpful so far.

Other Thoughts From the Conversation
It’s useful to differentiate between a “wild guess” and an “I’m not sure” guess.

I feel I can unambiguously say that guessing when I know I don’t know the answer is bad for my study.

If you consistently guess something correctly, then do you really need to “learn” it? If it’s not consistent then you’ll see the items more often and you will learn it properly

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To some degree, guessing correctly is a slight bit of positive reinforcement, but I think that it’s outweighed by the risk I’ve seen of guessing wrong.
A lot of my leaches are not things I forgot, but things I have the wrong answer memorized for. I think guessing may be a contributor to these.

I’m sure it’s different for different people, and obviously you made it to level 60 so you must have conquered your leaches somehow. :slight_smile:


My own approach is to treat the SRS more like a bulk, rote type of repetition. Learning one word a little hazily or even a little incorrectly isn’t so bad when there’s thousands other words in the same pool, and making sure I’ve got each one nailed in would take too long.

But for context, I’m not talking to anybody in Japanese, so the worst case for me making a mistake is like, taking a little longer to figure out what a book passage is saying, so that certainly colors my approach!

I do feel though in general that words learned only through Wanikani or other SRS shouldn’t be fully trusted as fully known words until other media or conversations reinforce the right meaning - so getting the exact meaning learned in the SRS doesn’t matter so much to me.
I can’t remember specifics, but I remember at least a few times I encountered a Wanikani word in a book or something and suddenly realized it had a slightly different nuance than I had thought/assumed. And in those moments my mistake evaporated naturally.

So at least in my opinion SRS is best as quick easy reinforcement as opposed to strongly policed study, but your mileage may vary and that’s totally fine!

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I think I barely have a handful of those. Many times an extra trip through the apprentice levels is enough to reinforce the right answer.

Most of my leeches are items where there are two different answers that I’m likely to guess and half of them are probably せい vs しょう. Those ones take a few trips through apprentice to sort out. Lol

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