How to kill a giant review backlog

Or should I say, one way to do it, but it worked for me. Maybe it will help someone else.

Background: So I took a trip to Japan, in which I took the JLPT N5 exam. I had studied quite a bit for it, and after it was over, I felt a little burnt out. I decided to take a couple of weeks off studying as a reward. Then, life happened, and a couple of weeks turned into longer than that. I lost the habit. At some point, I just avoided it because I knew my review count was not going to be pretty. In any case, 7 months later:

Ouch. Well, best thing to do is just buckle down and do it, right? Well I did about 50 reviews the first day and my accuracy was so terrible it was taking forever. I did about 80 more the next day, same thing. So I came up with a new plan. Here it is.

Step 0: should go without saying. Do not do any more lessons.

Step 1: Enable vacation mode immediately. I didn’t actually do this because in my case after 7 months, every single review in the system was what we call at work, Riding On Time Now (ROTN, pronounced “rotten”). But if that’s not the case, the first thing you want to do is stop more things from going into that stack. The next step is going to take a while, so in the meantime, make it stop getting worse.

Step 2: Don’t just start going through the reviews. You can’t anyway if you’re in vacation mode, but even if you could, that’s the VERY slow way. You’re going to do the slow way, which is faster than the very slow way. DO get the Self Study script, you’re going to need it.

Step 3: Configure the self study script to only quiz you on level 1 items. It’s probably going to be very easy. Do it anyway. When you can get a high accuracy on that, change it to level 2 items and repeat. The first many levels go fast; I got through level 10 the first day. It will slow down as you approach your actual level. I was doing a level a day toward the end. Note: the higher the accuracy you demand of yourself before moving on, the more time it’s going to save you later. Spend the time now to make it good.

Step 4: Once you’ve done your actual level with high accuracy on the self-study script, NOW take it off vacation mode and start powering through the reviews. You’ll actually have a chance of passing most of the reviews that way. Get that stack to zero. It will take a while, maybe several days.


Step 5: You’re not done yet. STILL don’t do new lessons. You need to wait and let this number
get down to a reasonable number before you start adding more, or you’ll just get right back into trouble again. Most people say less than 100; I’m using 20 just to make sure I’m really out of the hole with not too many leeches.

Step 6: Ok NOW start lessons again. But ALSO, use that self-study script to go over your burned items, because you kind of cheated by reviewing some of those recently before the burn review. That’s ok, you had to do it. But go back and make sure you know them when you have a chance.

Hope that helps someone. It’s slow, but way faster than just beating your head against a stack of things you don’t know, and WAY faster than doing an account reset. It took me about 2.5 weeks, with only 2 days of that being actual official reviews.



I’m fricking loving the surge of massive review pile posts on this forum. It’s like seeing someone finishing a marathon. :heart_eyes:

Definitely check those burns though, maybe in like a few weeks. I can imagine that some of those aren’t as burned as you think they are…


Indeed, and if that’s a big concern, you can configure the self study script to further filter on SRS level, so it won’t review any that are in Enlightened level. That would keep you from “cheating” before the burn review.

I went ahead and took the risk, but while I was at it, I didn’t filter out the already burned ones. I just did every item in every level, and now I run random self-study quizzes on burned items once in a while. It’s actually kind of fun, since I get a really high score. :slight_smile:


I didn’t know that functionality existed before, so I’ll give that a go as well.

Follow up: it’s a couple of months later and things are still going well, I’m able to keep up with reviews daily. One thing I wanted to add:

Even when you’ve gotten the apprentice count down, you need to take it slow with the lessons. You will probably also notice a very large guru count. A lot of those are failed leeches and you’re going to fail some of those again, right back into apprentice. I had over 500 guru, and rough math, if I averaged 80% on those, I’d have 100 go back into apprentice. That turned out to be pretty accurate, so don’t go crazy adding lessons at the same time.

It took about 6 weeks before I was fully ramped up to full speed again.


Riding On Time Now (ROTN, pronounced “rotten”)


Also :high_touch: on clearing the review pile. Mine wasn’t quite as large, but just as satisfying to see that zero.


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