How do you deal with 'tail-ender' vocab?

I’m at level 16, and I’m bit of a plodder. I’m not a one-year speedrunner, but I’d like to get to level 60 in 3 years or so, keeping my lessons queue small as I go. My time-on-level varies from 6 days to 38 days, with an average of 20 and a median of 17. The 38 outlier was just because I got so dispirited from churning through the 70-odd vocab lessons that dropped after I moved up a level that I just sort of… stopped caring.

Anyway, I did some reading about how to manipulate your queue more cleverly. So for the last level I switched to ‘prefer current level’ and maintained 100 apprentice items and smashed through the level in 10 days then 12 days.

And of course, because it’s preferencing new radicals and kanji, the vocab is building up and building up and building up and I hate it.

In this level I’ve been learning 5 at-level kanji at at time, then toggling back to vocab until I clear that set of 5 kanji through to guru, then going back to five more kanji, rinse, repeat. And not only is my accuracy plummeting (I’m down to around 60% most of the time) and my time on level increasing, but my lesson stack is not really reducing.

I get that there’s 3 vocab words for every kanji in this system, and that therefore there will always be a tail-end blob hanging over at the end of a level. I also quite like the vocab, because it cements the kanji readings way better than the mnemonics (for me). But the pile is completely awful and it’s always stocked with these irregular readings and annoying synonyms and hitting it in a big clump drains any joy I have from it.

It also seems to massively interfere with my recall and memory when it’s interspersed with lower-level vocab. A lot of stuff that I knew is being demoted to guru because I am forgetting readings I used to know. This makes it pretty hard to keep my queue below 100, so I’m learning stuff more slowly too.

How do the ‘level 60 in one year’ crowd deal with this? Are they (as I suspect) allowing the vocab to build up into an enormous mountain of lessons, while concentrating on only the kanji?

Does this bother you guys? Is there some magical way to get rid of the enormous blob in a manageable way that won’t also keep me at 20 days per level?

For context, I mainly use an app called Tsurukame on my phone, because it’s a bit more forgiving than the web interface of WK. For eg, it automatically switches between godan and qwerty for meaning and reading, which is ace. I say this because I’m not sure scripts are compatible with it, but I don’t know. So hopefully there’s a non script solve.


I’ve been going full speed for some time now, and while some people definitely let their lessons pile up, I’m not doing that. It’s really just a matter of doing your lessons at a consistent number, doing your reviews as they come so you can properly make use of the SRS system. I’ve been doing around 25 lessons a day, sometimes a bit less, sometimes a bit more. I also stay up quite late, so I even catch the reviews at 5am.

So, if I’m understanding correctly you want to get your lessons down and not take too long leveling up, but at the same time, not the quick 7 days, right?

I think you might want to consider spending some amount of time on your current level without doing the kanji so you can clear up your old vocabulary first. Once you have only current kanji and current vocabulary, then you should decide on a target goal for each level and that has to be decided based on how many lessons you will do in a day. So something like 10-15 could be a starting point depending on how much you can handle.

Now when you first start a level, here’s a suggestion, do all your radicals right away, and then, say you decided on 10 lessons a day, do 10 vocabulary from the previous level that carried over. You shouldn’t really treat radicals like they are lessons, they are far too easy, in my opinion. Now during this time that your radicals aren’t guru’d yet, you have time to start the kanji, so the next day, just do another 10 of your old vocabulary, or just do enough to get all your old vocab to 0, which may be more than 10. Anyway, before your radicals get to guru, you should start working on your kanji, 10 at a time. Because you aren’t going for 7 days, it’s okay if you get them wrong, let the SRS do it’s thing, and it’s okay that you’re not doing all kanji in one day. Once you have no more kanji lessons, go to your current level vocab and do that daily until you level up and repeat the process.

This should let you level up maybe around 10 days or maybe more, depends on what you want, you can adjust it even more if you want to take longer.


I’m not completely sure I understand what you’re asking for, so I don’t know if anything I say here answers your question.

When I was planning my daily lessons, my goal was for there to be no lessons left the day before I leveled up. Is this what you would like to happen?

Basically, I would look at WK’s level overview page, add up the number of radicals/kanji/vocab and divide by 7. That told me roughly how many lessons to do every day. Like @HaseebYousfani said, that came to 20-25 lessons per day. Of course, lesson reordering was necessary, and Tsurukame made that so easy.

By the way, I did not worry at all about the number of Apprentice items I had. I just kept consistently piling on those lessons every day. This is the “magic” that worked for me, ymmv.

If I were to try to do lesson planning with a longer target level-up time, I would probably follow the same steps. You would need to figure out how many Kanji to learn everyday so that you don’t inadvertently level up before getting all lessons down to 0.


I’ve got a system going now that’s making me much faster. 20 lessons a day. All radicals if reached. I’m getting a level every 8 days, sometimes 7. By doing this the tail ender vocab is never more than a single day of new lessons. No problem for me. I’m not changing the order.

What would I do if I could change something now? Read more. Don’t worry about levels and cruising so much as grammar and even more so reading practice. Everything gets easier when you read more.


The blob will only occur if you sit on lessons while doing the Kanji. Focus on getting to 0/0 twice in each level. Once when you are learning the radicals, again when you complete the first set of kanji.


I think one of the great common denominators for speed runners is that they tend to have an easy time with short(er)[1] term memory - they’re able to do those 20-25 lessons a day without having to worry about apprentice numbers, it simply never reaches 100 because their apprentice accuracy is very close to 100% (it can drop beyond Guru, but that has a way lower impact on the daily review volume).
The higher your daily review volume, the lower your accuracy tends to be, simply because you’re trying to remember lots of stuff at the same time, and short(er) term memory is limited in capacity (unlike long term memory).

Blobs of vocab lessons become available if you guru lots of kanji at the same time. I’ve seen people reorder so they do 3 kanji/7 vocab in lessons per day (or only vocab if they run out of kanji). It leads to about 15 day levels and level vocab unlocks in batches because you’re guru-ing roughly 3 kanji at a time. By alternating 5 kanji and then vocab, you already seem to be doing something like this though.
As mentioned, aiming for a 0/0 can also help.

I’ve seen multiple people get disheartened by a large lesson stack - while having a sizeable stack of available stuff to do is actually par for the course (doing 20 lessons a day my stack capped around 200 available lessons at some point). Consider installing a script that hides the number and just do lessons without worrying about it. Or, if you can handle really big numbers, install a script that shows how many items are still locked away at higher levels. Because even though big, that number does continually just go down.

edit: afterthought - if you struggle with accuracy in apprentice with an apprentice stack that is 100, consider reducing it to 75. Technically you can finish within 3 years with an apprentice stack that is size 50 - but again that relies on an apprentice review accuracy close to 100%. If your apprentice review accuracy improves with a smaller apprentice stack size, it should barely impact your leveling time. 100 is the sweet spot for many, but not for all.

  1. shorter because I think officially short term memory is only 15 minutes or so ↩︎

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Granted I’m not level 60, but I’ve been speed running (“doing my lessons and reviews on time”) since the beginning, so …

I level up and do all my lessons ASAP. I do my reviews ASAP. Every new batch of lessons starts off ~70 items, but as I fail things it spreads out the reviews. I don’t put any more thought into it than that. I use scripts to order from highest to lowest level, current radicals and kanji first, Anki mode with readings before meanings. I always have below 120 apprentice items, I never do more than 100-300 reviews a day, and I’m at 95% accuracy across the board. I don’t think my memory is any different to anyone else’s, I just think I have the discipline to do my lessons and reviews on time, so my accuracy is high.

The only special thing I do which a lot of people might not agree with is that I autopass kanji and radicals to guru. I treat the initial 3 days as preparation for the vocabulary to come and reinforce the kanji with the vocabulary. Then I start failing kanji.

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everytime I log into WK and I see that “in just over a year” I am quite happy that is is not true :rofl:

so for an extended period of time I can keep studying kanji and be engaged more in getting a larger vocabulary.

lvl 45 now and after I hit 60 I dont know what to do later, if I can find a similar srs for the remaining of the 10k words at least (never used anki).

when i was speedrunning, i’d map out my lessons quite carefully.

after levelling up, obviously do the radicals, then see how many kanji and how much vocab had to be done in the next three and a half days (until unlocking the second set of kanji). spread those lessons out accordingly, so i hot zero lessons before guruing the radicals. then those kanji, and the freshly unlocked vocab spread over the next days to level-up. like that i had a steady rate of 20-25 lessons a day.

like that i got all my vocab done, and went at (near-)max speed.

but it does lead to an enormous workload.

i’m going at a much more sedate speed of approximately 10 lessons (plus radicals after level-up) a day now.

i do still use a re-order script, which i’ve set to give me 3 kanji and 7 vocab lessons (or up to 10 vocab if there’s no kanji). with just over 30 kanji and approx 150-160 lessons total per level, this works out very nicely for just over 2 weeks per level. (11 days for the kanji lessons, plus 4 days to guru the last ones. and when i make a few too many mistakes and it takes a day or two longer to level up, that’s time to catch up on the few extra vocab lessons).


You use lesson reorder script to do kanji and vocab at the same time and you finish both equally. I do 3 kanji and 9 vocab every day and finish every level with just a handful of vocab left over that were unlocked from clearing the last few kanji. This pace also puts you at roughly 15 days per level.

I thought this thread was going to be about 語尾。。。

I personally spread the vocab through the level as much as possible and usually only have about 10 or fewer vocab left when I level up. If I feel like I’m getting too many kanji or radicals in a lesson section, I just refresh to make sure I’m always getting more vocab than kanji or radicals. Sometimes, I even have one kanji lesson left when I level up. I don’t really have any ‘tail-ender’ vocab.

Any time you start to feel overloaded, switch your “Review Ordering” (in WK settings) to “Lower levels first”. The worst thing you can do is let vocab build up, and that setting will help you get caught up.

The biggest key to a fast pace is good memorization. You need to get your accuracy up, which is actually a lot easier than you’d think: Spend more time up front on your lessons. In the lessons, instead of starting the quiz when it asks, click “I need more time”, and keep looping through the lessons until you can recite the reading and meaning without hesitation.

Half of your brain’s neurons are dedicated to sequence memory, but by default you’re not taking advantage of that. Every time you see an item, recite the reading and meaning in your head together, in the same order, regardless of whether it’s asking for reading or meaning. I personally prefer reciting reading-then-meaning, but others have said meaning-then-reading works better for them. Either way, doing it in consistent order will help you take advantage of sequence memory. (You can also speed up your reviews by using a “back-to-back” script, i.e. “1x1 mode”, which puts your reading and meaning reviews for an item back-to-back. But some people found that this reduced their accuracy, so maybe try it for the speed and smoother review sessions if you want, but keep an eye on your accuracy. It’s probably best to wait a while before trying this, though. Get settled into a routine first)

All of that effort may take longer up front, but your accuracy will go way up, and your reviews will become a lot easier and will go faster.

Once you have your accuracy up, you can start doing pace control to speed up, if that’s something you’re interested in. But to speed up, it helps a lot to avoid ‘bumps’ in the road, such as “level-dump syndrome”, where you get a bunch of lessons at once when you level up. If you do all of your available lessons at once, then your reviews will also come back at the same time, and you end up having days with 400 reviews and other days with only a small handful of reviews. That gets overwhelming.

The key is to strategically spread your lessons out over a few days. You can use a reorder script to do your lessons with radicals first, then kanji, then vocab… but ONLY do that if you are doing ALL of your reviews every day, otherwise you risk falling behind again. Leave the order for your reviews set to “lower levels first” (in the WK settings). That’s an insurance policy to make sure you don’t fall behind.

So, when you level up, do all of your radical lessons immediately, then split up your kanji over the next few days. For example if you have 30 kanji lessons, do maybe 10 of them per day. That will help spread your reviews out to a consistent daily number. When you reach the halfway point of the level (i.e. you unlock another batch of kanji and a ton of vocab), do all the kanji lessons immediately and divide the vocab lessons over the next few days (again, if you have 60 vocab, do maybe 20 per day). If you do one third of them daily, you will level up in about 7 days. If that’s too fast, divide the number of daily lessons by 4, 5, 6, or whatever. One fifth of the lessons daily will get you leveled up in about 10-11 days.


A good way is to keep apprentice items under 100. That ensures manageable queues. But if you want less than 10 days per level, you’ll have to do 200 ish reviews everyday in your lv 20s.

everytime I level up, just like I did yesterday to lvl 45, I always take one more month only doing vocab lessons from previous level, is this normal?

If you just made that change then it’s going to take a while for your previous queue to clear up since you’ll be seeing batches come up for the last 4 months worth of levels.

It may be prudent to take a month off leveling and just work through your reviews to try and smooth out your daily load.

don’t neglect the vocab lessons too much, they often help reinforce the kanji readings/exceptions. personally i just always do all my lessons in one go but i have a lot of free time so that’s just me.

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