If you revise immediately before doing reviews is this cheating the system?

Hi all,

If I do a bit of revision just before a review session will this invalidate the whole idea of the SRS system? I can get much higher scores if I do this and as I do my reviews around 3 times a day I can’t always avoid studying kanji near to a review session. However if you don’t study in between reviews you’ll never get rid of leeches etc. It seems to me though the SRS system will mistakenly think I know a kanji/reading better than I actually do.

What do others think?

Well, you shouldn’t be revising the upcoming items immediately before doing reviews just so you get a higher score. That does defeat the purpose of the SRS.

However, it’s obviously not possible to avoid all contact with the items in your review queue until you do your reviews. Obviously you will always be revising words and kanji “accidentally” by studying other parts of Japanese like Grammar or doing homework for your Japanese course or whatever.

Regarding the leeches, you should do what you think is best. If you really can’t get them into your head by just using the SRS and failing them over and over again you should probably do some extra studying about them separately from WaniKani. But again, don’t look at them shortly before they come up in reviews just so you don’t feel bad about failing them. Failing to answer is just another part of the SRS.


I don’t do plain revisions where I just read through the kanji/vocab, no. I do sometimes, in between the SRS intervals, do a little self-quiz to see if I can recall the reading and meaning. But if I get some of them wrong and I was really floundering with no idea whatsoever on reading/meaning/both, I will fail an item on purpose during review

I also worry at that point that I’m cheating myself out of learning properly by advancing a SRS level on an item I would have never remembered if I hadn’t revised in between.

As @vzwGrey said: it’s not about score - it’s about learning. Though you also know how you learn best. If you still can remember the items off the top of your head when they come up for Master and Enlightened SRS advances: the words clearly stuck.

If you revise everything in your review queue before reviews: maybe you need that “ACK!” moment of getting words wrong a few times for things to stick. I know some of my strongest words now are the words that made me swear out loud at my computer screen for getting them wrong AGAIN.


In my opinion is totally fine. Even if you guru or master an item just because of the revision, next time it shows up it will be usually when you are at more advanced levels and outside of your revision list, so if you get it wrong the SRS will adjust itself again.

Also SRS is not a magic theory of the brain, it is just a crude approximation to help retention.

In terms of leeches, I just work on them directly after a review session. I know it’s a problem item, because I just got it wrong (for the umpteenth time).

If it’s a group of items giving me trouble, I’ll still target it after a review session where I got one of them wrong, prompting me to realise the set is giving me trouble. Say I get a word wrong meaning ‘lesson’, I might look at all the words meaning ‘lesson’, ‘teaching’, etc. Sure, maybe one or two of those other words might then come up not long after and I’ll be more likely to get them right, but if I really don’t know them still then the next time I see them I’ll get them wrong anyway.

Otherwise, you definitely shouldn’t be reviewing items purposefully just before you see them in WK.

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Any SRS will always think that you know a kanji better than you actually do*, that’s why a SRS is not the only thing you should focus on. That’s why a lot of people reset their level when they’re finished and that’s also why you can and should “unbury” burnt items. If you only use WK for your studies I guess that you will forget more then half of the kanji after a half a year. So, immerse yourself, read and try to recognize your kanji out of context (i.e. without a purple/pink background). Read books, do your reviews, try to write and don’t lose yourself in pointless calculations of efficiency.

*) I think, that’s because it gives you way too much time to think about. If you don’t get your basic meaning and sound right about 0.1 seconds after seeing the kanji, you don’t really know it and the SRS should fail you (on levels above guru at least) - but since you can’t type this fast, this level of precision can’t be implemented. But if you yourself notice that you haven’t remembered a kanji fast enough, you could purposefully type something wrong, to let the SRS help you. Learning a language shouldn’t be a race, anyway.


Hi Radish - I wouldn’t say I purposely revise anything immediately before a review pile but sometimes it’s within an hour or so when I’ve got free time. I look at the list of apprentice kanji left for example and look at my percentage answers - obviously when you hover over them it shows the readings and meanings. It then struck me that ‘uh oh’ I’ve accidentally revised. However I also read every single day in Japanese, novels and so on. Which you are supposed to do to reinforce and consolidate the kanji and vocabulary. I can’t decide when it is a bad idea and when it is not although I’m now going to absolutely avoid seeing any information immediately before reviews.

If you revise something that you don’t even remember seeing before and then burn it you are cheating the system :slight_smile: Revising exactly the items you will review and then advancing the SRS stage of everything will cause you trouble.

If you just revise randomly or “see kanji in the wild” it’s no problem, the goal of SRS is to minimize the number of reviews you need adaptively. It makes little steps in the beginning where you are unfamiliar with a new item, and increases the interval to avoid unneeded reviews. More reviews just mean in theory that you saw the item too many times. However, if you skip intervals you will have an even harder time to remember the items you might have skipped.

That being said, it is good to read and revise as much as possible (in an uncorrelated fashion).


Does revise mean reviewing/studying the material? Google says this is a British meaning and I’ve never heard it before, so I wanted to check.

reread work done previously to improve one’s knowledge of a subject, typically to prepare for an examination.

Yep. :slight_smile: Revisions are going over studied material before tests.

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Okay, thanks for confirming. :slight_smile:

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I was just writing something similar (re: “revise”).
It seems the usage has become broader in British English.

In American English, it still retains the implication of the revision including ‘corrections’ or ‘changes’.

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Revise in the UK simply means to go back and study something that has already been studied in the past. IN THIS CONTEXT. It can also mean to make corrections to something, "I revised the draft document due to spelling mistakes,’ for example.

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OK then, so as suspected, it is bad for my kanji retention if I study the kanji currently up for review at any point in between reviews.

Which is fine by me because that seems like less pressure to me. I’m not concerned about completing up to Level 60 in less time than it takes Donald Trump to insult someone :joy: I am happy to go at the best speed for me whatever that may be.

Which also means I can spend more time reading Japanese novels and news articles which is by far more interesting! Thanks everyone.


I wholeheartedly second this. If I don’t know the answer right away and need considerable brain efforts to recall it, then I purposefully fail the answer even if I do remember the correct one after all, to let the SRS show me this item again sooner. I believe it’s best this way. If you really know a word or kanji, you don’t need any time to recall the answer.

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in the long run, i believe it won’t hurt you. what if that particular shaky kanji or word popped up just 5 min ago in a book, would that be cheating as well?
this assumes you’re in for the long haul.

If I encounter a kanji which popped up in a book recently and I remember that I had to look it up, I just fail the answer on purpose. What’s the point of answering it correctly? It won’t be shown again for a longer time (or never if it becomes burned) and you’ll forget it in a couple of days. I fail to see how it’s not hurting me.

you’ll see the word/kanji again, look it up and remember it better, or it never comes up again and you won’t lose anything by not knowing it.

out of the jouyou, the kyouiku appear so often, you will see them left and right, whether you want or not.
for the rest, seeing something “only” once in a while is still fine, since you learned it once.

keep in mind that a once learned kanji is still easier to re-learn than a completely new one, and wk lacks a bunch of pretty useful ones.

trust me, you will see them again. hopefully in a context that’s meaningful enough for you to make em stick.

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