How to reduce apprentices, and reduce stress?

Here’s my problem.

I’m currently at level 39, couple of days from 40, and have 222 apprentices and 1245 gurus.

ALso have stress.

There’s a TLDR at the bottom if you don’t wanna read my life story (it’s not really dw lol)

Let’s gooo

Part 1:

So until a while ago, I was aiming for >80% in my reviews, but naturally, over time, my apprentices and reviews piled up. As I will be studying a lot for exams this year, this is not good.

So now I’m reviewing extra outside of WaniKani, with recently failed scripts and writing things down that I notice I’m getting wrong repeatedly! I’m aiming for >90% now

But as you saw, I still have a lot (apprentices were 300+ before).

I don’t really want to stop lessons altogether, because as a high school student my main source of income is pocket money - and WaniKani takes up a lot of my pocket money. So in short, I don’t want to stop because I’m paying for this, and the longer I take with it, the more I need to pay.

So how would you suggest I reduce the apprentices and gurus without doing this?

Something I’ve heard a lot is that you should only do ~20 lessons per day. Do you agree with this?

Which brings me to my next question…

Part 2:

On average, how long would it take me to finish a normal level if I was doing 20 lessons per day? Obviously this would be give or take a couple of days because I’ll probably get things wrong, but ya know what I mean.

(I know I’ll probably (hopefully) still finish in time, but I’m trying to finish WaniKani (burn everything) within 3 years because buying the yearly thing for 3 years is cheaper than buying the lifetime deal, but, if I go for longer than 3 years, I’ve wasted money because I’ll have payed more than I would have for the lifetime deal :smiley:)

Part 3:

Okay this bit is just kinda me complaining about stress, so you can ignore this entirely if you want haha.

I am a perfectionist. If I don’t get that 90% I mentioned earlier, I will get very stressed.

Additionally, paying money makes me stressed (boy am I looking forward to being an adult)

And furthermore, I have been blessed with the joy of

:sparkles: Mental Illness :sparkles:

And you know what, I’ve actually gotten tired now, so I can’t be bothered finishing part 3. I need to sleep. That’s all you’ll be hearing from me today

Just saying, I’m stressed and tired. How to not be stressed and tired? And how to accept that one is not a robot and cannot always succeed? Please help

(Jk that’s my psychologist’s job to help me with that, not yours, don’t worry about it lol)

  1. How long, on average, does it take to complete a level if you do 20 lessons a day?

  2. I used 20 lessons in question 1 because I see that as a suggestion a lot, but how would you suggest reducing apprentices (and gurus) without stopping lessons all together because this thing costs money and I’m not gonna waste it :smiley:

  3. How to deal with stress of failing reviews + paying for WaniKani (a joke question dw that’s my psychologist’s job to help me with that not yours lol)

Alright, thank you ladies, gents, all those in between and outwith those categories for reading my complaints - any comments would be greatly appreciated, and I hope you all have a grand day and/or night, and in fact just a great life, my good people. :slight_smile: :upside_down_face:

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If you do around 15 to 20 lessons per day and do the reviews properly you can rush and finish Wanikani in bit more than a Year. Here is a Guy who reached level 60 in 368 days It`s a good read to understand how Wanikani works. My Journey of 368 days (+ The Ultimate Guide for WK 📖 ).

EDIT: Here are some Maths. According to WK stats Wanikani has 8974 Items including Radical, Kanji and Vocabulary. 3 years have 1095 days, but since it takes around 6 Months to burn an item lets consider 900 hundred days. That would be around 10 lessons per day for 2 and half years and the last six months should be only reviews.


I did 20 lessons a day and it turns out to be 7 day levels or so depending on how quick you do your reviews when they come up.


The way to keep apprentices down is to set a target, like 100 apprentices. When the apprentice count is over target you stop doing lessons. You resume lessons when apprentices are back under target. The idea is the lessons of today are the apprentices of tomorrow. If you throttle you lessons you limit your apprentice count.


Limiting the lesson would reduce your stress as it would also lower the number of reviews you get. I limit my apprentice under 100, and on bad days, I reduce it even further to 90 or 80.

There’s a lot of pressure using WK.

I found that what is causing me a lot of stress are

  1. WK punishes the wrong items. I really hope it has more SRS stages. I like iKnow SRS stages that use percentage.
  2. Community pressure, like you need to level up every x days
  3. Leveling pressure. No level up? no new kanji for you
  4. Money pressure? It’s quite costly. I became a lifetime user and the pressure was gone :sweat_smile:

So now I take it slow, about 5-10 lessons/day only, and increase my lessons outside WK instead. For example, I add 20 items on iKnow, 20 on Clozemaster, and 10 on Anki for reading immersion. I never got stressed doing iKnow, maybe because it doesn’t have levels, so when I got an item wrong, I never feel guilty because I don’t feel pressured to level up in x number of days. On the other hand, missing SRS stages on WK is really taxing on the nerves. Although on Clozemaster there is leveling, apparently, it is just a gimmick without consequences, unlike WK, which determined what kanji you will learn.

I also don’t mind getting accuracy down on WK. If it only means I would finish a lot longer, then so be it. To reduce stress further, I use FlamingDurtles and disable toast up/down and hide the SRS stage to avoid getting stressed about not burning items.

Your 90% accuracy target will burn you out, it’s good to have a target, but accuracy is sometimes out of your control. I realize WK is not perfect. There’s a lot that needs to be improved than adding more pressure to users and marketing 1-year finish line.


I feel you could reduce your stress a lot by:

  • keeping Apprentice items under 100

  • only take 20 new lessons a day (less if it would push you over 100)

At your level you still should be able to finish WK in a year. Limiting your apprentice items should greatly help your accuracy. Giving your brain the room it needs to learn the new items. Going a bit slower by throttling at Apprentice should provide a nice balance.

Also - just want to say pat yourself on the back for how far you’ve already gotten. Seriously, it’s impressive! Hopefully, easing the workload a bit will improve retention and ease stress which seems like a win / win.


My sympathies, you sound tired and stressed!

But as the old cliche goes, “You can do this fast, cheap, or easy. Pick one. (If you’re really lucky, pick two)”.*

There’s trade-offs here, it might help to think about choosing a workable enough path forward among competing priorities rather than engaging any perfectionistic parts your brain trying to aim for a ‘perfect solution’.

If you really want speed, there’s ways to streamline your review schedules and drill your mistakes to get your accuracy up, without slowing down. Depending on how efficient your routine is already, they require some extra work. Caution- I don’t know how your brain works, but all the extra work might affect your mental health. This is a bad idea, probably best to keep mental health as your absolute top of all your priorities :slight_smile:

If you want a lower effort route through the rest of wanikani, slowing down is an excellent idea. Keep your apprentices under 100, keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll move forward steadily. You’ve got 20 levels left, you can make it to level 60 in about 200 days or less at a steady clip and then there’s no more lessons, so the workload drops heaps.

If the money is really stressing you out, there are less beautiful options than wanikani to learn kanji. Nothing is technically stopping you from loading all your unlearned kanji into a free anki deck and going from there, without giving the almighty crabigator another cent of your scarce dosh.

What I’m not seeing anywhere in your post, and it makes me sad not to see it, is any sense of enjoyment or achievement. You’re level 40! You know thousands of kanji! That’s awesome. Sincere congrats. What are you doing with that knowledge? Why are you learning kanji, how is your life already better now with this knowledge and why will it be better when you’ve burned everything? What are you enjoying about the process of learning through wanikani and what’s stressing you out more than it’s helping you? If you quit wanikani today, how would it have already helped you? I think really getting comfy with the answers to these questions should help you chart a path forward. Best of luck, I’m cheering for you.

*ok, so the cliche usually uses ‘well’ instead of easy, don’t sue me!


The review forecast is actually very useful for this. I always aim to have around 300 to 400 reviews for this week. That number is not 100% accurate, of course, because it doesn’t take into account a lot of your apprentice items, but it’s a good rule of thumb.


Slowing down your lessons may actually be a way to speed up in the long run. It is certainly a good way to reduce the stress.

Slowing down means that you can spend more time with less items. Hopefully this also means a better retention rate, which means less reviews at once (because they’ll be progressing through the SRS stages). In the long run this may actually be faster. Instead of failing a lot of reviews and spending more time with them, you free up room for new lessons.

All of this will also reduce stress. Higher retention rate = better accuracy = less stress. Less reviews in a day = less (time) pressure = less stress.

My advice: stop doing lessons and focus on getting your apprentice count down. Once your apprentice count and daily reviews reach a manageable level (and your desired accuracy) slowly start adding lessons again. Spreading you lessons also means spreading their subsequent unlocks. Meaning you will still be learning new items and get a sense of progression, even without levelling up.

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There are enough items in a level such that just by doing 20 lessons a day you can still level up in the least time possible.

There is a trick though, you do need to do all radical lessons as soon as you level up (sometimes it’s slightly more than 20), and all kanji lessons that unlock once you guru the current level radicals.

So what the routine would be after leveling up: first day do all radical lessons, and review them when they come up. Every day after that you do 20 kanji lessons (until the radicals are guru’d). Once the radicals are guru’d do all remaining kanji lessons in one session, and review them when they come up. These are the level-up critical items.

After that do max 20 vocab lessons a day until level up. Adjust this number lower if you have too many apprentice items. Vocab lessons aren’t a priority, they will clear up eventually by doing them like this.

Doing this will require you use a mobile app that allows sorting your lessons to prioritize radicals > kanji > vocab, or a userscript. You can find out more about this in the ultimate guide (My Journey of 368 days (+ The Ultimate Guide for WK 📖 ))


Not to rain on the parade, but burning everything takes way longer than that. If you want a decent chance at burning 95% of all items, the lessoning part is no more than the halfway point. For 1095 days total, the aim would be to reach 60 and finish all the lessons in 548 days.

While I understand your reasoning, I would highly recommend to drop lessons for at least a week until you get on top of your apprentice (it will affect guru in the weeks after). The larger those batches are, the harder it is to learn all of them (it’s too much at once). You’ll probably find you can go faster in the long run by reducing those stacks now.

And, as others have mentioned. 20 lessons a day can still keep you going at max speed. At your level, the number of items per level is already averaging below 150, and that will only drop further. Maybe also a good time to realize you are currently in the levels that IMHO explain why that section is called hell.

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I only take 20 new lessons a day and level up at about 8 days and some hours. I do some self study quizzes on my leeches and quite patient with myself.

I try not to aim for perfection and instead focus more on enjoyment. For example, if I do the grind of WaniKani, the more Japanese news articles, books, and manga that I can read. As I get each “aha” moment whenever I understand a story from a manga or article, or can understand a Japanese song, the more enjoyment I get which will urge me to learn more Kanji from WK to understand more. In other words, I created a positive feedback loop for myself.

About stress, what works for me is physical exercise. Whether it’s weight lifting or cardio nothing beats the feeling of being able to complete a day’s set, be exhausted at the end, and gradually feel the improvement of your body. You’ll also experience a “runner’s high” which really helps with stress and depression.

If you don’t have time for exercise, just find a hobby that will give you a sense of accomplishment, no matter how small. Being able to achieve things will give you the confidence boost that you need.

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Sorry for not responding sooner everyone - was very tired the past few days! I currently have a B12 deficiency, which has been exhausting me (another reason perhaps why I was starting to stress about the numbers haha)

But all of your responses were really helpful, so thank you so much all!

This really comforted me, knowing that it’s very likely I’ll be able to reach my goal in my desired time, especially since I’ve done 10+ lessons most days up until now ^^

I think I might do something like this, though perhaps not completely stop lessons, because that would stress me out - instead I might just limit the lessons if it’s beyond the cut-off

I think I might limit my lessons to 5-10 per day when I’m above my apprentice limit, because although it is slow progress as you said, it’s still progress. And I also have Anki and Clozemaster (though I haven’t gotten around to using the latter consistently), but have never heard of iKnow. I might check it out though at some point!

Though I’m afraid WaniKani will still be my priority for now, cuz it’s the most expensive haha

(P.S. your whole comment/post was really helpful actually, but I couldn’t quote it all haha. Thank you very much for the response!)

Thank you, this really helped ^^

Having thought about it, I think that 20 lessons daily may push me over 100, so it may be that I’ll do 20 when it’s below 100, and 10 when above 100. Thank you again for the encouragement!

I have been doing this, and it has actually helped quite a bit (just not quite enough sadly haha). Thank you for suggesting it!

Even faster than 200 days too hopefully, because of the fast levels! :wink:

And I don’t think my brain had quite properly registered how much the workload would drop when I reach level 60, so thank you very much for the reminder. That did relax me quite a bit. Hopefully I’ll be able to reach 60 before the exams, so the workload will have lessened when it’s time for the all-day-every-day-panic-studying haha

Furthermore @Spelchek (also just got the joke of your name and it made me actually laugh out loud so thanks for the laugh haha!), your whole response was very comforting and kind. You really helped me take a step back and destress for a bit. And a special thank you for that last paragraph - that was very very kind of you, and I think my life is much better with my knowledge of Japanese. It makes me happy, gives me a passion and allows me to enjoy the culture of my favourite country. It also gives me hope that one day I can be there in the flesh and feel like a part of things

P.S. On another note, I’d never even heard that phrase, so don’t worry, no critiques coming from me haha!

Wow, I absolutely wish I had your power of limiting your reviews. I do 300-400 reviews per day lmao. Good for you though, keep going! It seems like you’ve found a very effective way of doing WaniKani for you ^^

I hadn’t really thought about this, so this realisation was quite a comfort to me, so thank you for that! I hope it does make it a little faster in the long run that it would have been

That’s quite good to know. Thank you! I’ve decided that I’ll be doing less than 20 per day (most days probably), but at least I know I probably won’t be slowing down too much :slight_smile:

Exercise, oh god.

Just kidding, just kidding (partly). I have been told many times that exercise works with stress and with keeping yourself from getting tired, but I can never quite get myself to do it consistently haha.

I will keep trying though, thank you for the suggestion! ^^


As was suggested by @jneapan I will do all radical lessons right away (which I have actually been doing already), and then reviews will go like this:

If my apprentices are >100: 5-10 kanji per day (depending on how busy I am), 10 vocab per day - so at most 10 lessons per day

If my apprentices are <100: 10 kanji per day, 15-20 vocab per day (again depending on how busy I am)

I’m going to write down things I find myself getting wrong consistently, and sometimes use BishBashBosh to review recently incorrect answers, depending on if I feel I have the time, and if I feel it would really benefit that particular batch of incorrect answers.

I’m hoping with this I can lessen my apprentices and still level up at a relatively consistent and not too slow pace. Do you guys think it’s a good plan? (Don’t worry if you don’t want to respond to the same post again haha)

Anyway, thank you all again for the responses! They were all very helpful and allowed me to step back and relax a little. I appreciate you all greatly! ^^

If you keep at most 10 lessons per day your apprentice won’t go over 100. I have done that for months now and my apprentices are stalled below 50.

My superpower is laziness.

Just start slow and consistent. Try some basic warm up exercises first and focus on being able to do them regularly (like WK reviews). Once you feel more confident, you can then add more to your routine.

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iKnow is an unpopular tool for building vocabulary. People here tend to recommend the competitor Kitsun as iKnow has closed the lifetime subscription for quite some time ago. I never like Kitsun, though. You can sync your WK level with iKnow:

To my surprise, I checked my wkstats and found that WK is very inefficient for building vocabulary.

For less time, I was able to get more than double vocabulary acquisition through iKnow, with less than 200 reviews per day. That’s only with rote memorization (repetition), no fancy mnemonics or silly stories. I never got overwhelmed, unlike WK, which I must constantly battle my procrastination.

So I reevaluated my goal that reading, speaking, or listening is vocabulary, not kanji. You don’t write kanji when you are listening or speaking. You only hear the hiragana. Even writing and reading can be assisted by many tools now like furigana or even google translate for writing (even lousy). That is why I made iKnow as my main tool now, not WK as it used to. I consider my day done when getting reviews in iKnow to zero.

If money is an issue here, sticking your focus to WK might be best, even you have to slow down to get there.