How to recover in the 40s?

I’m at level 43 after 18 months, with an average of 10 days per level, and wkstats accuracy totals around 89%-95% the whole way. I was keeping up with lessons and reviews (getting to 0/0 at the end of most days), not cheating, and not abusing scripts. Around the 30s levels, though, I started getting bogged down: the apprentice count rose into the 200s and then the 300s, with >300 reviews a day, and accuracy percentages dropping.

I tried various things: outside reading (I studied Japanese before), using the self-study script to review levels and leeches, and setting vacation mode and taking a break. I tried moving quickly through review sessions to let SRS do its work (which led to low accuracy levels, and more reviews to do); and I also tried moving more slowly through review sessions to try to study the failures on the spot better for next time (leading to fatigue and errors because of long review sessions.) I also tried going more slowly on lessons and getting apprentices below 100, but I couldn’t get that number to stay there. Things just kept getting worse overall.

Now I’m trapped at level 43, with over 300 apprentices and 600 gurus, 300 lessons and 1000 reviews, with 370 reviews expected daily. I don’t even try to do lessons anymore. I tried turning on vacation mode for a week or two a couple of times recently, just to get some time to figure out how to recover, but now, coming back to reviewing, I don’t see how to get out of this hole. I’m currently trying just to get through the reviews, using the self-study script to go over the failures right afterwards, but this method takes so long that all the piles just keep getting bigger. Accuracy is typically in the 0%-50% range, which adds to the number of reviews and apprentice items. (Also, unless I can get through the entire pile of reviews every day, then I don’t see how the SRS can work, because the time period between reviews gets extended.)

Several levels ago, I starting seeing items that had been pushed above Guru coming back to me for review without my being able to remember them at all. I’d recognize having learned them sometime in the past, but that’s about it. It’s like the SRS time period between reviews is just too long for my brain. Another part of the problem is that the changeover to the new mnemonics took place when I was in the low 20s levels, and since some of the new mnemonics worked better for me I went with the new ones–but stuck with a lot of the old ones. Mixing and matching this way turned out to be a disaster. Now I’m also trying to remember which mnemonics I used for the radicals in a particular kanji (is it fingers or nailbat this time?–the whole story changes), which then adds to the memory load and failure rate.

I see some advice for others in this position (but at lower levels) to just keep pressing forward, but at this high a level, and with this many reviews and lessons piled on, is that even possible? Would resetting be better? I’m not even sure what level to reset to–or if I’d just have the same problems the next time around, and maybe WaniKani just won’t work for me. Also, I’d hate to give up the (flawed) progress I’ve made up to this point. Has anyone else been in a situation like mine? Sorry for the long post. Thanks–


For starters, get to know your leeches. There are a whole bunch of leeches at the bottom of your Apprentice level that deflate your percentages during reviews. You’re not bad at wanikani, it’s just those pesky leeches.

Get to know them with this:

Percentages are garbage nonsense. Wanikani isn’t a test, it’s a way to match an SRS position of a review item on the website, with how well you know that review item in your head. Don’t try to get a perfect score, try to put the puzzle pieces in the place they belong to be. If that means being send all the way back to Apprentice that’s OK. It will get burned at some point. Just keep failing it until you know how that mockerforker eats its beans and wipes its nose. Until you start hallucinating that buttass. Until you freestyle rap the reading and meaning in the morning. Before you know it it will launch itself into Burned status.

I think resetting now will make a profound dent in your motivation. Stop doing lessons now. Do reviews whenever you can, even if it’s just ten reviews. (Use the wrap-up button.) It may seem futile, but in the long run you’ll see your reviews and apprentice items slowly shrink down. You are in a hole, and digging yourself out will not be quick unfortunately. Whenever you apprentice count goes below 100, fill it up again until it is 100 with lessons.

Most importantly, don’t skip lessons. That also means vocab. A reason why people are able to go full speed, is because vocab is the foundation that helps with kanji being remembered more quickly. So don’t level up until you got that sweet sweet 0/0. You don’t have to go full speed, you’ll get there at some point.

However, keep your sanity in check. If you feel yourself getting stressed from wanikani, then a small break won’t hurt here.

Also a very motivational thread: Defeating my stack of ~3500 reviews

Overall, if you feel yourself slipping away, it might still be a good idea to reset, but please try my suggestion first. Maybe get back to the point of the mnemonic reset. That seems to be a pain point.


Just BTW how do you have 300 lessons if you didn’t abuse scripts?

I agree that stopping lessons and just focusing on reviews for a few weeks (or even longer) is a good idea. I would hate to reset my progress; just let the SRS fix it.


Lots of very helpful advice and resources–thank you!


Good question. True, I started using reorder script for lessons towards the end–I don’t remember why; desperation, I guess. I was leveling up the normal way until just a couple levels ago, if I remember correctly and the numbers make sense. Thanks for the advice you gave!


In my opinion, this is a sign that the kanji you’ve learned previously weren’t learned that well previously. I’d take some times to ensure you truly have those kanji down pat, and that you can distinguish between the kanji you’ve learned already.

I’d investigate outside of Wanikani to learn how to use some of these words. For example, it took me the longest time to distinguish between 調査、捜査、検索、etc. But these words are used a lot, and if you travel in Japan, or read a few things, the different meanings become apparent. After doing that, I don’t miss these vocabulary words frequently anymore.

I’ve found that learning to write the kanji revealed deep holes in my understanding of kanji, as I only had “superficially” learned the kanji. Taking some time and going back to learn how to write them taught me that I hadn’t “learned” to properly distinguish some of the of the kanji as well as I could have.

As an example, I thought I had learned 相 and 想 pretty well, but it turns out, I hadn’t. I was just using my ability to read vocabulary- 感想 and 相談 to “float” myself through, even though I hadn’t learned the fundamental difference between them. When I was =forced to write vocab words from scratch-- especially the mid-level ones that get used in a variety of pretty abstract words, your understanding of the differences between easily confused kanji, and their connection in words increases greatly.


Agreeing with others. Stop doing lessons, uninstall the reorder script (it’s too tempting), and try to do at least a couple of 10 item review sessions a day to keep yourself in the habit.

You can install this script if you want, but make sure you disable it once your review queue hits 0 the first time:

The most important thing though, is to Just Show Up once a day and do the absolute minimum of 10 reviews a day (use the wrap up button liberally). You can do more if you’d like, and yes, your review queue will explode for a couple of months, but it’s ok and temporary.

(Confession: I haven’t done any lessons in like 2.5 months, and I’m enjoying the experience of having to do very little. I know I’ll pick the pace up a little when I feel like it, and until then I’m doing the absolute minimum)

Goid luck, and keep us updated!


Out of curiosity - what happens if you only bump yourself down a level or 2? Does it remember where you were, or where that generic level person would be?

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The reason you are having trouble is (mainly) that the srs is missing the mark, as you already recognized. You are reviewing too late. Use the self-study script BEFORE the review sessions and rely less on mnemonics and more on reflex memory. I almost never even read the mnemonics, I only come up with something simple for the short term, like for example a bunch of kanji reads kou, so I think “that’s cool (kou)”. What is the main issue? Kanji, vocab, meanings, readings? Use the self-study script to review chuncks (like the meanings of apprentice 1 and 2 kanji) until you can quickly get through the list with zero errors. Then do another chunck, like only the readings of apprentice 1 and 2 kanji. Then do both together. Even when you get to the hundreds, reviews do not take long at all if you actually know the material you are reviewing. Mnemonics are not useless but think about it, could you read anything if you had to spend time remembering the story behind why apple is written “apple”? No, you could not, it has to be internalized as a reflex. The mnemonic is just a crutch, very helpful at first, but you can’t run with it. At level 43, you should not rely that much on them.


I suck at this stuff, so I hit a similar situation around level 10 (!). 250 reviews a day with limited time and naturally very slow recall was killing me. I did reset a couple of levels and in retrospect that was the wrong thing to do. What I’d do now is sort my reviews by SRS level, highest first - then if I couldn’t manage all the reviews every day I’d only be skipping apprentice ones I don’t care about, and consolidating knowledge of the stuff I’d already heavily invested in. Only do enough lessons to finish the current level’s vocab (because it helps with the kanji). Keep doing until apprentice count is <100, then continue WK slowly! Might take a month.

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This is the only solution, no lessons, reorder reviews from old to new, and work your way through it


It’s probably a good idea to keep doing vocab lessons to (slowly) catch up on those that were skipped before. After all, those should at least partly help reinforce kanji that OP might be struggling with. Otherwise I agree that pausing kanji lessons to stop leveling up for the time being is a good idea.


I almost fell in this kind of hole around your level, in my case it was the fast levels that almost got me. The solution was to stop completely doing new lessons, but still doing review everyday, for about 2 months.

Because if you went all the way to level 43, I think resetting to lower levels, or activating vacation mode will kill your motivation and there is fairly high chance to fell off the bandwagon for good… :confused:

But actually the review pressure fall quite sharply if you stop doing lesson and focus on review only. If you can push through > 300 review everyday for a week (admittedly really grueling…) then things will get much more manageable quickly. Keep doing pure review for a month or two to digest the huge pile of apprentice and guru and you will probably be surprised to be back in the blessed land of 50 to 100 review per day.


I’ve not really used reorder scripts but I am aware how much vocab helps to reinforce Kanji. If there are levels where you have learned the kanji but not learned all the vocab I would be tempted to reset to that level, then do the reviews and slowly learn the all the vocab for that level and try again to get on top of your review and apprentice pile


I’ve been through several patches where I’ve gotten behind and been bogged down. I just recently dug myself out of a review stack that was nearly at 3000. That said, I will have maybe slightly different advice to others for how to get out of this successfully. I agree that you should just keep doing reviews every day, even if it’s just a few. 1k seems like a lot, but it really is manageable if you can make it through around 100-200 per day.

Contrary to what others have said though, I would recommend doing some lessons in moderation, even while you still have a large review pile and apprentice stack. Don’t go wild with it, just one batch of 5 per day or so, and only vocab lessons. While I don’t have anything to cite for this, in my experience, learning new material triggers your brain to go into a sort of “learning mode”, which helps with overall retention. Learning vocab provides more repetition of the included kanji, reinforcing what you’ve already learned.

Slow and steady will get you out of this. Just keep plugging away. Don’t try to do a ton of lessons, mostly focus on reviews. Once you get your apprentice items down under 100, then increase your lesson count. But keep pacing yourself until both your apprentice and guru item counts are more manageable. Then you can accelerate back to a faster pace. You’ll get there!


Oh I agree! In this case I agree. Though since OP said they started reordering a few levels ago, I would finish all reviews before those levels first and start lessons again once I solidified the kanji of the reordered levels.

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I had to take several lesson breaks on the way to 60. There are people out there that can go full speed the whole time, but it’s not everyone. It took me 2 years to hit 60 but I don’t think I could have done it any faster.


If you reset at all, I wouldn’t reset any more than about 5 levels. Don’t make the jump all the way to the lower levels, because you’ve already come so far! You’re doing better than you think! Resetting just a few levels won’t hurt though, imo. It’ll lower a bit of your immediate burden.

I’ve used this script in the past when I’ve been in a hole to focus on bumping up as many of my apprentice items as possible (and trusting the srs that my higher level items will hold out a little longer), but I also wouldn’t use it exclusively. If I sat down for a twenty minute review, I’d use the script for fifteen minutes and turn it back off to randomize everything again for the last five minutes so it wasn’t just a whole review of apprentice item hell. I uninstalled it once I’d cleared all my backlogged guru items.

I’m also on team do-five-lessons-a-day-anyway. Chipping away at lessons will help reinforce things (and when you’re already at 300 apprentice, what’s five more at this point honestly?). It’s a good habit to get back into, and it reinforces kanji. Win win.



I don’t have an answer for you, but I recently reset all the way back to level 1 from 37. I’ve also dug myself out from piles of 2000-3000 reviews/breaks of a number of months a few times before. Either one is totally fine depending on how you’re feeling. This past time, I really took a long break from Japanese because I’d been pretty burned out on it, and now that I’m back again I really just wanted a clean slate (although of course, not really totally clean because I do actually remember almost everything, and these beginning levels have been super, satisfyingly easy the second time around). I’m also discovering that I had a number of leeches from these beginning levels (like all the way back to levels 1 and 2… yikes…) that just make a lot more sense to me now, so just for that alone I’m glad I’m doing this.

From what you said in your initial post, I’d just try resetting 5-10 levels. That’ll probably feel really easy for you, which should be super encouraging. If it is easy for you, you’ll probably be going 7-8 days/level and that’s really only a 1-2 month investment (probably not much more than digging out of the review pile anyway) that would also give your brain clarity (which I think is the point of doing all this anyway?). Just my two cents, but I don’t think there’s really a wrong way to go, except continuing on with something that’s not working for you after you’ve given it a fair chance. Good luck! You’re definitely not alone!


Thanks very much to everyone for all this helpful advice and encouragement. I’m going to hold off resetting for now and try these techniques; hope to have good news eventually. Thanks again!