How to recover in the 40s?

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!


Came across this post and wanted to see if there has been any progress/updates from OP since last October.

I’m only level 4 but even with ~90% accuracy and <30 apprentice items I feel like I’m just treading water. In reading the forums, I came across horror stories of users taking a week or two of vacation and forgetting nearly everything upon return and bombing reviews, which makes me question whether SRS is actually working and frankly has me scared for higher levels like where OP is at.

Have you had any luck in getting back into the groove OP?


well he’s still level 43 10 months after making the post so what do you think? :sweat_smile:

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So what’s the solution to this kind of overload and memory fatigue?

Consuming native content as regularly as possible to reinforce learning? How does one avoid getting overwhelmed and losing track of things that they haven’t seen in months?


Yeah judging by his level he simply gave up.

In your case the only thing I can recommend is that you activate vacation mode if you’re going to miss more than 3 days of reviews. I have made the mistake of thinking I would review on 2 holidays and have suffered 10+ times my normal review load upon return. The higher level you are the worse it’ll be, especially if you haven’t burned a lot.

In my experience, avoid taking full breaks from WK where possible. Every time I want to take a break I instead reduce my reviews to once a day and no new lessons for a week. Then I start back up 2-3 times a day and 5 lessons a day, up to 10, back to 20 etc. Then I’m good for a few months before I burn out again and repeat. Cutting out everything is recipe for disaster.

That said I don’t care about how fast I level up, I just want to learn everything well and not feel pressured haha


I didn’t get so far behind as the OP, but what happened was I was just spending too much time per day on WK and neglecting other important things I had to do, so I needed to drastically slow my pace down.

From the beginning I was going at close to full speed, roughly 7 days per level.

What worked for me was to only spend time I could afford to spend on WK, whatever that amount might be. I think other people’s advice to simply do a ‘bare minimum’ of 10 reviews per day is good advice. You can always do more after those first 10, but basically start out your first review session by pushing the Wrap Up button right away.

The advantage of using Wrap Up is that you will force WK to focus only on a small number of review items until you get them all correct. It won’t add any new ones until you get all 10 correct. That way,

  1. You will always be able to make progress, no matter if they are old review items or newer ones, hard to remember or easy. You only have to work through 10 items. Doesn’t matter if you get each one wrong 50 times in the session, it will only count as being wrong once. In the mean time, you’ve gotten to drill on that item 50 times.
  2. You will always be able to succeed and get that positive feedback of a completed review session. This is the psychological piece that you need, in order to maintain motivation. It’s the dopamine kick that will eventually overcome the feeling of dread at looking at your large review pile. Even if you have 1000 items in the review queue, every time you complete 10 items, you can say to yourself, “Hey! I did 10 more items! That wasn’t that hard, actually. And I completed the minimum. Any more I might like to do today will be bonus gravy! Yum! :partying_face:

Now, 10 per day might not sound like a lot, and it’s not, but most importantly: You’re reducing your overall pace, slowing down, calming down, taking things easier, giving yourself the time you need to really learn the items, without stressing yourself out and burning out; and 10 is just the minimum! Once you get your mojo back, you can easily just start doing more and more per day. And this time, you’ll limit yourself to just doing as many as you can still feel comfortable doing, without overloading yourself.

When I slowed down, my review pile did start to build up bigger and bigger. But I knew eventually I’d get through it if I just kept at it. So, instead of looking at the total number of reviews in my queue, I focused more on the number of upcoming reviews. They used to be queuing up like 200+ per day. Now, after slowing down for several weeks, they are down to around 50 or so per day. That’s much more manageable.

Now it’s taking me like 20ish days per level, currently. And that’s okay. The earlier levels were just easier, and now I’m more at a level that’s finally a bit more challenging, and I just need to take my time with it.

Another great thing about slowing down is that it allows your Enlightened items to ripen and you finally start to Burn some! Those ones are gone from your queue for good, and that’s another good way to get a dopamine kick and celebrate some solid progress.

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Don’t give up, man! :blush: Just plug away at them, one day at a time, one Wrap Up 10-item session at a time. Before you know it, you’ll get back into a sustainable groove, and one day your queue will suddenly be 0/0 again, and you’ll be like, “Holy cow! I did it!” :partying_face:

^^ This is a heat map of the new of reviews I’ve done each day since I started Wanikani in 2017. It goes from a few reviews (light green) to hundreds of reviews (dark green). White tile days, I did no reviews.

Over the years (face palm), I’ve taken several long breaks from wanikani for various reasons (work got crazy, I had a kid, I went back to work after having a kid, my father in law passed away) and have dug myself out of several 1000+ and even 2000+ review holes after each one. Here’s what I’ve learned.

  1. Don’t take breaks. This is a new lesson I’ve learned and you can see this philosophy most recently with the couple very very light green days in June. I’ve learned it’s just better to do a few reviews a day then to turn on vacation mode. The problem with vacation mode is you start forgetting things. But the speed that you’ll get new reviews again when you turn vacation mode off, doesn’t factor in your break. So your old reviews which you’ve gotten rusty at start getting down leveled to “apprentice” which means you’re doing them more often but the new reviews come in don’t care so your work load starts piling up. From my review forecast on the WK homepage, over any given week I get 1k+ reviews (I only aim for about a 85% accuracy) so you can see how this would pile up fast.

  2. If you’ve taken a long break, it might just be worthwhile to choose to down level yourself. In September last year after a large break, I was level 21 and looking at a 2k+ review deficit but figured that realistically I wasn’t going to remember the later level kanji anyway. So I intentionally reset myself back to Level 18. #cleanStart

  3. If and only if you’re looking at a huge deficit you feel defeated by, re-arrange your reviews so that they’re by level. You can use the WaniKani Reviews by ID-ish script to do this. With lower level reviews, that you’re arguably more familiar with going first, you can make a good dent in your review pile. And because they’re older and you’re more familiar, if you get the answer right the SRS system kicks in and you won’t see it again for a long while. It’s a very satisfying way to shrink your review pile to something manageable. Note: this is definitely cheating the system. But in the case that I’ve been far behind, it’s been worth it for my mental sanity. I turn the script back off again the next time I hit zero reviews waiting.

That being said, I’ve had my downpoints with Wanikani where it seemed like too much but I’ve always managed to pull through them and am still going! You’ve got this!

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That’s depressing.


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Oh, and another thing I do that really helps is I also use KaniWani for reverse vocabulary (word from definition) as well. This really helps to cement the connections in my head. I’ve noticed that if I miss doing KW for a bit, I have a harder time remembering the new WK items.

Also, there’s KameSame as well, which is in some ways more flexible than KaniWani, but sometimes flexibility can lead to distraction (at least for me). I actually use all three.

Oh! And I also use BunPro for learning Grammar in parallel. It’s really good, too, worth the additional subscription, IMO (the other two are free).

So, in fact, this is part of the reason I needed to slow down on WaniKani, since all of these other tools were also valuable for cementing my learning, so I needed to balance out the time I spent on each one. WK is still the ‘core’ site I use to pace myself with, and I try to keep the others at a reasonably slow pace, too, so that the overall time spent per day is not too much.


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