How to build an efficient WaniKani schedule (level up as comfortable as possible): the guide

Hi everyone,

in this thread I want to share with you my WaniKani-routine and how I schedule my lessons in order to keep doing the same amount of lessons everyday, but reduce my time spent on a level. Basically I want to level up more efficiently. This post is directed more towards the beginners of WaniKani, since most of the users that have been around a bit have probably figured out their schedule a long time ago. But I‘m sure it can be very useful for someone on the first few levels, since it took me five myself, to plan mine. If you come up with questions while reading, finish the guide. Everything should be explained at the bottom.

What is the problem?

Now, obviously you can do WaniKani at full speed, but that would be way too many lessons for me and not before too long waaay too many reviews as well. That‘s why I settled for 10 lessons a day, an amount with which I‘m comfortable. When I try to do, say, twenty lessons, I‘m bound to forget at least 1 – 3 items on the apprentice 2 or 3 stadium and that feels very frustrating to me, since I get the feeling of wasting my energy. I‘d like to work properly and efficiently. But with only ten lessons a day, one level takes ultimately up to 19 days, since you‘re unlocking the radicals and kanji for the new level on day 10, but spending the last 9 days finishing your vocabulary lessons for that level. And don‘t get me wrong, moving at your pace and not stockpiling your vocabulary lessons are all the right values I stand for, too, but there are still ways to improve this schedule and save time while doing the same amount of lessons.

The solution

The number of days it takes to pass a level by doing ten lessons a day is simply the total number of items in a level divided by ten (level 5 being the longest with 194 items or 19 days).

In the following concept I‘ve spaced out radical, kanji and vocabulary lessons using the Reorder Script to reduce that time. Please note, that this is my rythm and if you want to reduce or increase the amount of lessons per day, that is no problem at all.

As soon as I level up, the next time I do lessons I do all the radicals at once, since radicals are quite easy to rember due to the mnemonics and them not having a japanese reading (also from level 6 on, they‘re never more than 20). After that I do 10 vocabulary lessons, which I will be doing every day. This is the first day of a level and the only one with that many lessons, but I still think it‘s very doable because of radicals.

The following days after that I will be doing 5 kanji each day (until I‘ve learned all kanji for that level) and, of course, 10 vocabulary lessons. Vocabulary lessons will get easier, since most of the time you already know kanji meanings and readings very well from previous levels, so an overall of 15 lessons a day really doesn‘t seem that intimidating.

With this concept you will never have the sweet 0/0 (no old vocabulary before the start of a new level), but you‘ll be always just half a level behind with vocabulary and therefore able to constantly have 10 lessons available.

If we take level 5 again, we will see that the number of days has been reduced from 19 to 12! And all that without really increasing the number of lessons. The only thing that will go up are your daily reviews (around 130 a day). I think that‘s pretty neat, since I don‘t feel like I‘m moving at a snail‘s pace anymore, but I‘m am still doing a comfortable amount of lessons and reviews and I don‘t feel suffocated.

Important notes and how to customize the schedule

For anyone who isn‘t too familiar with the WaniKani system yet (SRS, the three times a day you should do WaniKani, what the hell is a script?!), couldn‘t fully understand what I‘ve been talking about or is simply interested at completing WK at full speed – I highly recommend the Jprspereira’s ultimate guide for WK. Any questions following this guide should be answered by reading it. Another useful link then might be the list of api (an extensive list of scripts).

Now, there is one problem to look out for. If the difference between the amount of kanji of a level and the amount of vocabulary is too great, you will fall behind on vocabulary. In that case you have to slow down with kanji or just wait a bit longer before starting a new level. In order to spot those levels you have too look out for the following: A level‘s lenght can be calculated by the number of kanji (of that level) times 0.9 (you need 90% to pass a level). Then divide by five and add 4 days (one day is the radical day and the last three days are the ones you need to guru the last kanji for 90%). If we take a look at level 8, we see that we need 10 days to pass that level, but it has 134 vocabulary items. That would result in a backlog of 34 vocabulary items. Just beware of that.

Now, as previously mentioned, this schedule is completely customizable. You simply have to understand, that with more kanji lessons per day, you have to increase your vocabulary lessons, too. If you decrease kanji you don‘t really have to do same with vocabulary, but you may have days where you don‘t have any vocabulary lessons left. And that‘s not really efficient. If you want to do less radicals, just break them up into two days or more. It‘s quite simple.

Accuracy

Now, a very important factor (the only one next to available time) determining the amount of daily lessons one feels comfortable in doing is accuracy. Obviously there are the standard methods of engraining a mnemonic into your mind by writing it down, drawing it, acting it out, telling it to yourself out loud or even coming up with a story of your own. But, as highly effective as these methods are, they aren’t the most practical. It takes a lot of time and effort to practice these methods and after all, we’re all here because we want WK to do these things more or less for us.
But I have come across one very easy and very effective tip in the forums. And even though this tip has already been shared a lot in the forums, in my opinion this thread needed an accuracy section, so here goes: After every lesson session you do, look at all the freshly learned items and try to recall meaning and reading. If you don’t know them anymore, look them up and that’s that. I found this to have an astonishing effect. I went from 15 daily lessons where I forgot around two items to 20 daily lessons where I forget one at most! If you want to know where to look at all your freshly learned items (in case you’re not doing everything in one continous session and therefore can’t use the lesson summary page) I use the heatmap script. If you click on lessons and then your current day, you will find everything there.
Final disclaimer: I did not mention this yet, as I think most people do this anyway, but whenever I’m reviewing an item (lesson quiz, post lesson review, actual review) I’m saying both meaning and reading out loud. And I think that helps a lot, too.

Forum discussion

As you may have noticed, there are still days in which I only learn vocabulary lessons. There‘s the problem with the kanji pause → catching up on vocabulary and also does this guide become less efficient the higher your level is (radicals just become so few, you can do a batch of kanji on the first day, as well). It‘s really not perfect nor the most efficient. But I think it‘s a great starting point for anyone who just wants to make the first step towards smart leveling and shave off a bunch of days. Please feel free to share your schedule and sumbit improvements in order to make this concept even more efficient. I‘ve been testing this schedule only for a few days myself and I‘m sure there still are a lot of tweaks to be made. I will update this thread as we go along.

Thank you for reading

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I usually recommend against the reorder script for beginners. It’s so easily abused like you mention here:

I’ve seen quite a few posts where people get into trouble later on where they have 500+ Apprentice items with most of those being vocab.

Other than that, great guide! :smiley:

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Thank you! But yeah, you’re definitely right on that. Reorder script and also the Double Check have to be used with caution. But as long as you keep an eye on that you can benefit a lot.

Thank you for sharing! Reaching level five was the first time I looked at my lesson pile and thought ‘…no. Too many.’ The first three levels you don’t need a schedule at all really, but 4+ is when planning gets rather more important!

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I’m glad you like it! I was facing the same problem, but as i said in the 21 before 2021 post, I like this kind of stuff ^^. So I looked how I could shave off time and that’s what happened. My expirience so far: You can pretty much hold an on average 12 day rythm, if you do 10 vocab every day and 15, as soon as you’re done with kanji.

I don’t naturally lean to following schedules much myself, but taking the time to think through all sorts of schedules and extrapolate them to the next week/month helps so much in understanding the consequences (good and bad) of how you choose to do your lessons and reviews that day. So, thank you :blush:

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man i took forever to clear lvl 5 items too. I did skip a few days and only did like 5 lessons a day sometimes, but eventually I managed to level up (22days lol rip). It did take me 3 days into lvl 6 to start all my lvl 5 vocab…

just cleared my radical pile, and am trying to mix more vocab than kanji into the queue. Like a ratio to 3:2 or 4:1. Unlocking a whole batch of vocab was sure tiring…

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Hello there, this guide has helped me a great deal with leveling, but there’s just one thing I’d like to run by you to make sure I’m correct, which is customizing the leveling schedule.

Calculating leveling time:
(Example Level 11)
(All Radicals are done upon leveling-up)
Kanji 38 x 0.9 = 34 (34 needed to level-up) |
(Divide by 5 Kanji lessons each day) 34 / 5 = 6.8 (7)
(Plus 4 days to account for Guruing Radicals) = 11
(Take No. of Vocab 134 divided by No. of days to level-up) 134 / 11 = 12
Meaning I must do 16 lessons per day (5 Kanji and 11 Vocab) to reach Level 11 in 11 days?

Apologies if this appears to be a confusing question, I just want to check whether or not this method is correct, Maths isn’t one of my strong points so any help with this is greatly appreciated!

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Actually it always comes out to ‘all but 3 kanji needed for level up’ so in this case, 35/38 kanji to guru.

But that doesn’t actually affect the rest of your calculations.

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Thank you for the correction, does everything else seem okay to you with my calculation?

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You’ll have a couple days of only vocab towards the end, of course, but it seems correct to me.

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Sure no problem:
You’ve got it almost right.
Important to know: Do you want to do your first Kanji lessons on your first day (together with all the radicals) or on the second? Assuming on the second: You have to account for 3 days for guruing the Kanji and one day for “Radical day”. So in total it’s four days, as well, but the reason for them being is slightly different.

As Saida has said, 34 Kanji would be 89% of all Kanji, so you need 35.

You did a switcheroo at the end. It takes 11 days in total, so you need (on average) 12 Vocab a day. +5 Kanii, that’d be 17 lessons a day.
BUT, that’s not quite true:

Day 1: all Radicals
Day 2 - 8: 5 Kanji and 12 Vocab
Day 9: 3 Kanji and 14 Vocab
Day 10 - 11: 18 Vocab

As you can see here, there aren’t any Vocab lessons planned for day 1 - Radical day. So I recommend either taking one more day in total to reduce the daily vocab lessons or do some on day 1.
If you’re ok with 16 total daily lessons from day 2 on, then do all radicals and 10 vocab lessons on day 1.
If you got anymore questions, please don’t be afraid to ask. I’ll happily explain it again. Also, thanks for your feedback!

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Ah, yes that’s my fault. When I first level-up I do all radicals paired with at least 10 Vocab lessons (ones from the previous level), and then on the following day I’ll do my first set of 5 - 10 Kanji lessons with 10 - 20 Vocab lessons to help reduce my lesson count, so that by the time I have guru’d my first or second set of Kanji my Vocab lessons are close to 0.

So, just to double check. So long as I’m obtaining at least 12 Vocab, plus 5 Kanji lessons I should be able to complete level 11 within 11 days. Whilst, still having left over Vocab from my final set of 5 Kanji lessons to keep me busy whilst waiting for my Radicals (and first set of Kanji) to reach Guru in level 12 (I’ll also be using your list of immediately unlocked Vocab to help account for extra Vocab lessons, so shout out to you again for that). Thank you to both yourself and @Saida for all the help, best of luck on your Japanese learning journeys!

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Thank you! Yes, that sounds correct. 5 Kanji and 12 Vocab, and you’re fine. Level 11 is one of the bigger ones, so 11 days is already taking it fast imo, but I did it as well, so good luck!

I’m actually planning on rewriting the guide, 1. for better comprehension (it’s a bit text heavy) and 2. because I gained some new insight and I wanted to be able to reach 0/0, which is currently not possible.
I’m also planning a study log, where I share my lesson plans for each level, so that way you hardly have to calculate anything anymore.

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I look forward to it mate, honestly this here guide has helped me out a bunch already, and I agree reaching 0/0 would be nice, as it means you can spend more time getting your first batch of Kanji outta the way without the need to complete the previous levels vocab. Good luck to you also!

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I also found this incredibly helpful! Thanks a lot! :star2:

I’m still conflicted over going at full speed or just establishing a routine I can keep up with on the long run, but with that I’m just taking it on a level to level basis considering the amount of totally new material. (Basically if I already know some of the vocab or not)
At the moment I’m leveling up on fridays, doing all radicals and kanji available on the first day and dividing the remaining lessons into the days I have left. If the vocabulary words are new, then I take a bit more, always maintaining my apprentice items at no more than 120.

Again, I fear/ secretly excited about higher levels when I have to pace myself differently.

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Thank you!
I see, this sounds like a sensible approach for you. I’ve read your introduction post and therefore I wouldn’t worry that you’re in danger of burning out while you still already know most of the content. I think this post was already recommended to you, but in case it wasn’t:

And when you start hitting the wall, 15+ lessons still should be manageable for you. That’s what I’m averaging right now as well.

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Oops, are we the same person? I came to the exact same conclusion this morning a made a guide thinking I was the smartest person in the world. LOL.

Great guide. Totally agree. This is the way to do it.

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Lol, funny XD

I have gained some more insight since this guide and will soon rewrite it, adding the last tweaks. Another thing I was working on was jow to most efficiently reach 0/0 (because it’s never the most efficient solution, no matter how you look at it). So that will go in as well.

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I’ve concluded that WK is a great concept but will forever be a less user-friendly and optimized experience than it should/could be, even with user scripts. So much time is spent learning how to get the system to work optimally for you, and then trying not to go nuts with the fact that you’ve avalanched into having too many available lessons, which you could theoretically do right now, all of them, but you shouldn’t, because learning doesn’t work that way. The program doesn’t even give you suggestions of how many new items you should do per day to follow a certain pace, for example, or have an option to let it unroll X-amount of new lessons at you per day.

Studying often feels like you’re punished for your progress by seeing the numbers go up instead of down (as reviews unlock new lessons constantly), and the overwhelmed crabigator illustrations make this feel even worse. It’s a design choice I could just do without. There will always be a theoretical number of Japanese vocab you don’t know, including thousands that aren’t even in WK. Seeing that number is just intimidating. I’d rather things were more curated and forced in their proper time, rather than the system allowing you to grow a huge gap between learning new kanji and leaving untouched old vocab related to kanji you learned many levels ago. I get it. I need to stop learning the new kanji and take care of that massive avalanche of vocab before moving on. But I just wish the system hadn’t let me do that to begin with. It’s like… shaming me for wanting to advance toward level up dopamine hits instead of slog through the mire of forgotten vocab lessons. I mean duh. And instead, here I am having to sift through forum posts for advice on how to fix the conundrums the UI gets me into. That’s time I should/could be studying.

It’s still better than most of what is out there, and it’ll do for now, but sometimes I just feel stressed by the design and wish it was a bit more minimalist and on a more predetermined path (where you have to learn everything in order before moving on). I hate having to babysit the experience rather than just go along for it.

In any case, thanks for the helpful post.

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