I want to believe

I really need to know if this is normal. I have been at Level 5 for EIGHT consecutive days. In all that time, except for sleeping at night, I have done each review within minutes of its becoming available, and whatever shows up overnight is the very first thing I do when the alarm rings in the morning. In those eight days, I have gotten perhaps one kanji wrong (maybe two at the most) out of all of those reviews. I have been working very hard. But according to the information I’ve been given, there’s no way I should be stuck here for eight freaking days.

This information is precisely correct, so please don’t respond defensively as if I’m criticizing the site. I really need to know if this is a normal pattern. If it is, I will have to live with it. But it seems to contradict the replies I get, both official and unofficial.

I’ve paid my subscription and am counting on Wanikani to lead me to the Promised Land. But I really need to know what to expect when I do the reviews faithfully and get the kanji right 99% of the time. What am I doing wrong?

Thank you…

8 days is fast. (i.e. it’s definitely not “team slow”)

You said you’re sleeping normally, so it’s easy to see 6 hours of waiting here and 6 hours there. The fastest you can do level 5 is just under 7 days. But you’d have to wake up in the middle of the night at least once, I’d think.

The main thing I would ask is how do you do your lessons? Are they kind of random and spread out or all at once? The radicals make the biggest impact to leveling speed. Waiting to do them right from the start will result in lost time from that max speed.

The typical ways people handle that is to do all lessons within an hour of them appearing, or use the reorder script to put the radicals first in the queue.


I would suggest to install Dashboard Progress Plus.

You can easily see which items are still locked that you need to level up.



Thank you. It’s consoling to know that this is a normal pattern, or at least within the normal range.

I pretty much do whatever becomes available as soon as it does: kanji, radicals, vocabulary. I had assumed that doing reviews promptly was the fastest way to proceed (I understand about the sleep hours). I find radicals easy for some reason, and get them 100% correct in every review. Kanji nearly the same. I mess up an occasional vocabulary item. So I had assumed that simply doing reviews instantly and getting them right was the fastest method. Are you saying that that’s not true? I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand.

Just to clarify, I am only as random as the Wanikani notifications are. If it says 3 hours to the next review, I check in right on time and do it.

Please read this and let us know if you have any questions. I didn’t write this for beginners, so it might not be that much straightforward.


Well, it’s necessary, but not sufficient. I said “you just have to do reviews as they appear” in another thread because I was making the point that you don’t need to do anything special to hit that speed, but it also kinda goes without saying that if lessons have also waited then time is lost there too.

Beginners might not be aware that the only time critical items in the first 3 and a half days are the radicals. So you can strategically time your reviews to prioritize those, but then the reorder script is a must. Just brute forcing all your reviews all the time is possible (which is what I meant, it doesn’t require any special attention except being at the computer at the right time), but hard to maintain.

This is gonna hurt when you get into painful. Good luck though!

Thanks, that looks interesting. I will do that.

I’m not sure it will make a difference; I do reviews instantly and rarely make an error. So all I can do are the ones given me in the reviews, and I would have expected to level up faster. But maybe I still just don’t get the system.

Well, I would say that if you are sleeping normally you cannot hope to break about 8 and a half days on average. Sometimes it’ll work out nicely and you’ll get a timing that allows for close to 8 days, and sometimes it’ll be just perfectly aligned to waste maximum time during sleep.

Using the reorder script and ultimate timeline script will allow you to plan it out better, but under 7 days requires a strange sleep schedule (at least once per week).


There is no magic in the level up system, you do all the radical correctly until guru, then complete 90% of the kanji, level up. If you do that directly when the reviews come up, you will take less than seven days.

If you need longer there must have been mistakes on item in the critical path, either late radicals → late second wave of kanji, or more than ~3 kanji wrong which block the 90% rule. You only need to get a few items wrong to get a delay if they are critical items.

[Vocab doesn’t count for leveling, you can relax there.]

With the script you can see what causes the delay, and on the next level you can work to get all critical items right after you know what is critical in the first place.

With my full-time job and sleeping normally, and maybe missing an opportunity or two, still I find myself leveling up a bit faster than I expected to.
Everything here is a matter of time, and people get overwhelmed moving into the 10-20 levels from what I hear.

Indeed: “Vocabulary doesn’t mean anything for your level.”

Like others are suggesting, just prioritize Radicals and Kanji, and then learn the vocabulary on almost a completely separate timer and urgency.

I like to take my time with Vocabulary because they often have completely new readings and strange nearly unrelated meanings to them, not to mention I don’t want them to replace my knowledge of the kanji itself.

In fact, I get Vocab wrong all the time, at least two per set of reviews :open_mouth: and I just shrug because I’m happy to review them and their sentences more often than Kanji.


Thanks for your help.

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I understand about the vocabulary; I do find them the most difficult.

Through these early levels, I find mastery of the radicals and kanji to be pretty much ho-hum easy, and review them at 99% accuracy (I realize that this won’t always be true). Hence my bewilderment when my level doesn’t move, and my impatience at not being able to get on with it.

Obviously I’m not doing something right, but I can’t figure out what it is. Really my pattern is simple: do the reviews fast, get them all right. It does seem like there’s some magical incantation involved that I don’t know.

I still don’t really see much evidence that you should be achieving faster times, given what we know. It wasn’t my intent to make the max level speed sound easy. It’s simple, but not easy.

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That’s because you chose to ignore my first post here ^^

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I get it. Thanks. I’m not bewildered by the time factor, but by the fact that I’ve clearly (and I keep careful records of my own) met the benchmarks and still see no movement.

But I appreciate your help. You’ve given me stuff to think about.

Sorry, not on purpose. I can’t seem to find it.

All magical incantations welcome.

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Can you put a screenshot of your progress with the script, like this:

In an unfortunate worst case a single wrong radical at Apprentice 4 might cost you several days, if it happens to unlock several kanji.

Also, did you by chance not do the second set of kanji that became available in your lesson queue asap?

Max speed requires 3 things.

  1. Doing kanji and radical reviews as soon as they come up. If they come up when you’re sleeping and you do them when you wake up, you lost time.

  2. Doing all kanji and radical lessons as soon as they come up. You dont have to do the second set asap for some later levels, but dont worry about that now.

  3. You never get a radical review wrong, and you can only get a couple kanji wrong, but it has to be in the first set of kanji on that level and (usually) before you start working on the second set of kanji.

You positive you did all 3?


EDIT: Like Leebo well said, leveling up every 7 to 8 days is not necessarily the best choice for everyone.