How can some people level faster than others?

So I was trying to level up quickly but I’ve been doing a couple of reviews every hour or so all day and basically taking all my time lol so I was thinking. If I waited a whole day and did 100 reviews in one go would it be the same speed as doing a few every hour? but then that doesn’t explain how some people can level faster than others?

What matters are the radicals being gurued to get the kanji lessons and the kanji being gurued to level up. In theory you only need to review after the relevant reviews come due.

SRS Level Next Level Total Wait Review
Apprentice 1 4h - Lesson
Apprentice 2 8h 4h 1
Apprentice 3 ~1d 12h 2
Apprentice 4 ~2d 1d 11h 3
Guru 1 ~1w 3d 10h 4
Guru 2 ~2w 1w 3d 9h 5
Master ~1M 3w 3d 8h 6
Enlightened ~4M 7w 5d 7h 7
Burned - 24w 6d 6h 8

When you learn a new item (radical, kanji), you will be tested on it four hours later, eight hours later, one day later, two days later.

During the first three review steps, your item is marked as “apprentice”.

After the “two days later” (fourth) step review, your item is marked as “guru”.

When an item is “guru”, you are considered to have learnt that item well enough to receive new lessons based on that item. New kanji or vocabulary (words and phrases) based on that “guru” item then becomes unlocked.

If you make an error during a review, you will go back two steps, except when you are in one of the apprentice steps, where you go back one step.

After a radical (blue background) item becomes “guru”, any kanji which references that radical becomes available to you as a new lesson. After a kanji (pink background) item becomes “guru”, any vocabulary (purple background) which references that kanji will be unlocked.

After 90% of a level’s kanji items become “guru”, you go up to the next level. Many people call this “levelling up”. Any vocabulary related to the recently guru-ed kanji becomes available. A new slew of radicals and kanji (for the new level) also become available.


The fastest way to level is to do your reviews as soon as they are available.

Ninja’ed by kumirei with a much better answer :sweat:


Oh thanks a lot for the list! I felt like I’ve been going really slow from lv 2-3, even tough Ive been at it almost every day and usually getting around 90% accuracy, wow but I didn’t know one mistake could set you back 2 days. Is it true the average is 11 days per level?

What you need 90% on isn’t your reviews, it’s the amount of the level’s gurued kanji. I have no idea what the average is, though. Mine is 8 days, but the fastest you can go is 6 days 20 hours

Everybody has a different average. It is best not to compare yourself with others because you might not like the result. To see your own average level up time, use the third party idigtech Wanikani statistics page. It requires you to enter your API key, which you can find in your wanikani settings / account page.

Addit: I re-titled your thread so that others know what it’s about when they see it in the list of new threads.


Not sure if the average is 11 days, but that’s a good number to level up. Level 1 and 2 are shorter, so you might find yourself levelling up faster than that right now.

The most committed people tend to lvl up every 7/8 days. This however requires lot of commitment and organization.

Levelling up every 10 days means that you’ll be lvl 35 in 1 year, which means that you would have studied already 95% of the Kanji for JLPT N3 and almost 4000 words. That’s 3 new Kanji and 10 new vocab per day, every single day. If you can do a level every 10 days, that’s pretty good :slight_smile:


I’m sure others will tell you this, but you really shouldn’t sweat your speed yet. Once you hit level 10ish, maybe take a look back and think about your pace, and how you will be able to adjust your study to balance your desired speed against the amount of time and patience you have.

It’s hard to judge speed at lvl 2 because you don’t have master and enlightened items coming back yet.

I’ll also echo the sentiment not to get too caught up in percentages on review evaluations, even dismal scores are fine, because those items will just get cycled back in. Although at that level I was also totally obsessed with getting above 90%… Now If I get 50% I’m just like EHHHH WHATEVER :stuck_out_tongue:


Oh wow I don’t know how come you mention that number but lv 35 was exactly my goal! xD So If I level up every 10 days I can do it in a year? That’s longer than I expected but I completely forgot this is not only Kanji but Vocabulary as well. Then I’ll make it my goal to get a level every 10 days and reach level 35. N3 is more than enough for me I think to be able to read most things since I’m not writing any essays in Japanese or anything :slight_smile:

Thanks for the advise, yea I know what you mean. My average is messed up anyways because I forgot my account is really old, from 2016 and I just started using it now lol

365 days/10 days per level = lvl 35 :smiley:

Yep, if your goal is N3 in 1 year, then you’re fine doing a level every 10 days. Make sure to also use KaniWani (it’s the opposite of WK), where you get the ENG meaning and you have to insert the JP one. KaniWani follows your WK progress.

Don’t forget grammar also ^^ It doesn’t matter having crazy vocab, if you can’t apply it.


But that will dramatically increase the number of daily reviews, especially if items keep coming back to apprentice and guru.

1 Like

If you have a specific target date, you can enter a hypothetical average level-up time on the [stats site] to see exactly what date you would reach each level.

I can’t because my account is old, so it shows 365 days on level one xD

Ah ok thanks a lot! Yea I know Kanji and vocab, right now I can even read and understand pretty well but my grammar is like non existent xDD, I thought I wouldn’t worry because I could pick it up while talking to people but yea that may not be the best idea…what do you recommend for grammar? I’m not very good reading books tough :frowning:

The current minimum level up time is 6 days 20 hours. Any item can reach guru in 3 days 10 hours. You need 90% of the kanji to be guru to level up, so you usually need at least some of the kanji that get unlocked by the initial radicals in order to cross that 90% threshold. So you can do most of the kanji leisurely over the course of 6 days, but those initial radicals and the kanji that come from them have to be done in 3 days 10 hours to achieve the minimum level up time.

This isn’t that difficult in the grand scheme of things, but it does require you to be on top of your review schedule, and do things like occasionally wake up at 3AM to review 4 radicals.


If you click on Level 1 on the “Level Duration” graph, it will exclude it from calculations.

1 Like

It’s that kinda bs which will keep me in the 10 day range I’m thinking. Well that, and I keep fubaring new kanji, not even close to batting a 1000 the first day. I should just fold and commit to a giant binder-o-writing strategy already.

Additional fuel for the fire… when doing my Genki workbook, I just cannot bring myself to write using hiragana when I’ve already seen the vocab here on WK, even though Genki hasn’t taught it yet (if ever). Takes 5x longer to write out 二十四年生 because I’m digging through WK vocab to look up kanji stroke orders.

If someone would just turn your strategy into a mobile/stylus friendly WK companion SRS app, a la KW, it would be the best thang evah!

I checked out that stats site and now I’m disappointed my level speed average is 14 days (Excl lvl 1 which was idle before I really got started). I’m working on WaniKani very hard I don’t see how I could go any faster. But I’m also working my way through textfugu simultaneously and it’s a lot of work between the two of them I couldn’t dedicate anymore time than I already am.

I spend every other 2 weeks in Japan for work. And I still can’t hold a simple conversation past hello, maybe order food, or ask where something is. What usually happens is I open my mouth and say something in Japanese then I see this look of relief on their face and they start rattling off who knows what in Japanese and I have to just say sorry I only speak a little, then it switches to hand waving, gestures and basic words.


I was just talking to friends about this earlier today. This all or nothing approach can be quite frustrating especially in situations when you’re trying your best to apply what you’ve learned, and it seems far from enough. It’s certainly not a phenomenon unique to Japan, but eventually you’ll get there. Keep pressing forward!


If I was to start from Day 1 today, I would suggest the Youtube Channel Japanese Ammo with Misa and Tae Kim’s Grammar Guide (free online textbook).

While watching Japanese Ammo with Misa, I seriously advise you to take notes. Replicating what you’re learning highly increases your learning rate. I do it on the computer.

While studying the Tae Kim’s Grammar Guide, make sure to write your own sentences to apply the grammar point(s) you’re learning. The guide lacks exercises, that’s why application is important. You can make sure your sentences are correct by asking natives on the app “HiNative” (try it out if you haven’t).

Should you buy a physical textbook? Yes, you should. However, I would advise you to first try these resources. We’re not all the same. That’s why learning how you learn is important. By knowing how you study Japanese first, you’ll be able to know better what to invest in. For now, invest your time with these free resources and on WK.

This is just my opinion :slight_smile: I’m sure there’s different opinions in here. This is merely based on my brief experience.

1 Like