Is it cheating if I don't get it right first time? Memorisation?

So, sometimes, when I type in the meaning/reading (except the times when it is an obvious typo and I know for a fact it is incorrect as soon as I am pressing enter but can’t stop my finger on time) and I get it wrong, upon seeing the field get coloured in red, I instantly realise and think to myself:

“oh of course it’s not X reading, that’s the reading for Y kanji and the correct reading for this one is Z, I am sure!”

Then, I override (without checking the correct answer anywhere) and once this same item comes up again later within this same review session, I get it right.

Is this cheating, is it likely to impact my memorisation much? If so, I won’t do this on enlightened/master-ed items when I start getting those.

Any thoughts/input would be highly appreciated.


Short answer is: Yes you are cheating yourself.

Long answer: it’s a bit mot complicated than that.

Basically, you’re not helping yourself by completing reviews this way. The whole point of SRS-learning is that you use the reviews as your learning process, rather than focused studytime → then a final test of your knowledge. Meaning, for items you don’t know, you want them to fail, so that you can get more repetitions of reviews of those particular items.

That being said, you can obviously fail items by being a bit quick on the answer, not thinking it through enough, or due to typos - common human errors.

Whether you think you know the items well enough, making your minor mistake inconsequential, is something only you can know, but let’s be honest: it’s easy to just give yourself a second attempt. :eyes:

This is the easy way to curse your whole learning experience on WK - if things progress down that line; you don’t really know anything, even as you’ve “mastered” items.

Let’s be real. WK isn’t a game. It’s a learning platform with you in the driver’s seat. Making the most of it, might be taking things slow enough for you to absorb the knowledge, rather than making a mad dash for the finish line - because there is no trophy for you to collect doing so.


This is true. Though, I’d like to note that there’s also the other side of things where I am looking at an item and I swear I’ve never seen it in my life yet I write what my subconsciousness/gut tells me to and it ends up correct. Those cases also leave me conflicted on whether or not I can consider myself as “knowing” that item.

Hoping to see a few more opinions, although, the consensus will probably be what you’ve outlined above @ekg as it was a pretty balanced point.


I definitely echo the experience of not recognizing something and just “guessing” the answer and getting it right. However, you probably do know it or are getting good enough at viewing it as intuitive rather than forcing a conscious process. I don’t think you should be super worried about that, I’m guessing that’s probably going to be more of a trend as you hit Enlightened items that you haven’t seen for months.


I’ve experienced this myself for sure. The internal conflict about it as well. But, at the end of the day, I’m a pragmatist. I recognize there will be kanji and vocab I’ll simply forget down the line. If my intuition is helpful, it’s helpful. Whether I can “understand” it logically anymore or not.

I just need a deeper connection to the item in question, to remember it more “permanently”. If you think about is, it’s not different from learning any word, including your own language. You have to experience the word and see its uses, to fully comprehend the language use. A simple definition doesn’t cut it. In the end, you need to read books to accomplish this. :thinking:

Just my thoughts on this. I try to take an accepting attitude to language learning. It might be because of age, but I now recognize the futility of forcing things. Better to be flexible at all times, both in the way you learn, how you repeat that knowledge, and in how you seek to reinforce the knowledge down the line. Experiment in finding out what works for you, then stick to it! Be diligent if you have time. Otherwise, create a sensible schedule that you can stick to and be diligent about that!

There are no shortcuts to learning. Only the will to get there! ^^


I assume “override” comes from some script functionality so this item isn’t marked incorrect?

If so, I think that’s a bad idea, but how bad depends on the stage of the item and whether or not you’re doing “extra study” drills

Not everyone thinks this way, but I distinguish between “retention tests” and “new item iterative drills”.

To me, items in SRS stages 1-2 are in the latter category. They aren’t much different than lessons.

You simply can’t have too many “review” iterations for stage 1-2 items. 4-hr and 8-hr gaps between review iterations for those items are FAR too long, imo, so I strongly recommend augmenting formal reviews with extra study sessions for recent lessons (or better, imo, the self-study script for anything in stages 1-2).

Higher stage items that you’ve not seen for days, weeks, or months are different, though.

The SRS needs to know if you’ve memorized things successfully in order to schedule the next review optimally. That’s why I consider higher stage items as “retention tests” more than reviews.

The ONLY way the system knows if you need more frequent reviews if you need more frequent reviews is if you answer incorrectly. Hiding incorrect answers from the system seems particularly foolish to me for higher stage items:

I’m literally paying for a service to give me more reviews for items I find difficult to remember (and fewer for those I don’t). Hiding incorrect answers would prevent the service from functioning.

I wouldn’t worry about correct answers any more than incorrect answers!

You’re unlikely to “guess” correctly eight times in a row unless you really have subconsciously memorized it.

I have had a few occasions where I surprised myself and burned an enlightened item that I wasn’t absolutely sure of, but note that WK also added “extra study” for burned items.


I don’t think it’s necessarily cheating, but it can be depending on your circumstances.

We don’t always have that laser-focus throughout the entire review session. Sometimes we instinctively type an answer without really thinking about it. But if you’re convinced you would have known the answer on the first try if you didn’t get lost in thought, I don’t think overriding the answer is cheating. You knew it, and your memory is keeping up with the SRS. No need to set the item back here.

But if for instance you type in “end” for 未 and you override it, now you know it’s “not yet”. Now you’re clearly cheating yourself, because you’re evidently struggling to distinguish between the two. Using the override button in situations like that would indeed be counterproductive to your studies, the way I see it.


Thanks for this. Being perfectionist by nature, mistakes always feel like such a big blow to me. What you said gives me a new perspective.

I have an interesting situation. I use the “Later Crabigator” script quite liberally. Meaning that when I see an item that I can’t instantly remember, I’d click “later” so that I can move on to an easier item first. Usually after I’ve calmed down a bit, I can eventually remember that difficult item though it may take some time. Would this method be harmful in the long run?


Not in my opinion. What matters is if you recall it correctly, not how long it takes. Letting your subconscious noodle on it for a bit while you answer other items doesn’t seem harmful. I’d still not want to take more than, say, 20-30 seconds at the absolute most to answer any question (typically well under 10 seconds).

Interesting idea for a script. As long as you get back to the item within the same session, I don’t see any harm in delaying your response. Waiting until the next session seems a bad idea though.

Ultimately, I believe all formal reviews are “retention tests” and that all “iterative drills” should be done on your own outside of the formal reviews. I don’t think any “iterative drills” cause harm, but doing an iterative drill for a given item immediately before your formal retention test for that item would be bad (especially if you answered incorrectly during the drill).


I’ll tell you a cautionary tale from the other side.

When I was learning hiragana, I was in much the same boat as you: ま is mo! No wait! ま is ma! I didn’t think it was a problem at the time - I was able to get it right eventually?

Here’s the issue: in my head, it set in wrong. Like a broken bone that you didn’t take to a doctor, it set in wrong and now it’s stuck like that. This is horrifying.

I have to read words written in hiragana two to three times in order to read it right. I have to get the hiragana read back to me because I’ve picked up a dumb accent that no one Japanese will ever understand.

If your first instinct of the reading of something is wrong, you’ve learned it wrong. You need to relearn it 2x maybe even 3x as many times because as soon as it sets in, it’s going to be stuck that way. You’re going to stutter the wrong answer every time you read it or say it.

So totally fine to override. Wanikani is slow and these things set you way more back than they should. The important part is to take some of your own time to renreveiw it and set it in right. Think of it as manual wanikani with just your mistakes.


If you saw the item in a book, would you want to put the book down until you finally remembered the word a few minutes later?

In my opinion, if you can’t remember an item quickly, you should mark it wrong so you can get more practice.


I actually made a thread a long time ago about the “ethics” of cheating. I still take it as a big blow to the ego if I bungle an item that I would’ve burned. Especially if my only mistake was rendaku or forgetting an exceptional reading.

But mistakes are good. They show you where to focus your attention. If you’re not making mistakes, you’ve plateaued and it’s time to make your own study more difficult. Besides, even if the point is to hurry and burn everything (which is a bad idea), you’ll only go as fast as your slowest current item anyway. You won’t gain any appreciable speed by taking an L on something that’s still easier than whatever your current hardest item is. Or whatever lessons you haven’t seen yet.

Personally, for the English part, whenever I’m in doubt, I look the definition up in a Japanese-Japanese dictionary. Then I usually feel totally certain as to whether I was right or wrong.

Something I’ve learned as a mathematician: guessing is a surprisingly useful tool if you do it correctly. Don’t just write down gibberish, but taking an honest stab at an item that you forgot really can be a great way to boost retention. Besides, when one starts doing reading immersion practice, they’ll want to get in the habit of guessing at least a few words from context.

This is really the number-one advice that I have for each and every WaniKani user: do some other kind of reading practice in parallel. I’ve burned over 8000 items so far and the reading practice I do is the reason I don’t see them all as random squiggles.

I have OCD. I totally get it.

Here’s another way to think about it… at the moment, kanji is my biggest strength. If I want to get better at my Japanese goals, I have to do my least favorite kind of practice: speaking practice. I have to talk, in Japanese, and stutter and stumble and look things up that I should’ve known years ago.

I hate speaking practice.

When I think about that, I love it when I have trouble with kanji or vocab. Then I get to do the practice that I find much easier and more pleasant! But if I’m doing well at kanji, then I’m weak at something else. And I probably find that something else way more of a pain. And if I’m not focused on wherever I’m weakest, I’m not getting better.

One of my OCD tics is that when I play JRPGs, I try to keep all my playable characters as close in level as possible.* I’m the same way with my Japanese learning. For me, messing up my vocabulary is like when my favorite characters to use just happen to be the ones I feel like using anyway,

To boil this all down, try to restructure your practice so as to use your perfectionism to your advantage. Or at least get out in front of it.

* I learned this the hard way from Suikoden 1. One of the supporting characters has to fight a battle alone. If you let that character fall behind, the game becomes unwinnable.


That’s a fair point, though for reading, sometimes I can decipher from the context of the sentence or paragraph. Actually I’m surprised that, occasionally, I’m able to understand a passage even though it uses a vocab/kanji or grammar point that I haven’t specifically learned. While in WK, the challenge is seeing the kanji/vocab isolated.

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Thanks everyone for taking the time to share your thoughts on the matter. It was really helpful for me to hear different points of view. Especially some of the stories shared. I will be a bit less lenient with my accuracy going forward.

Main takeaway - it greatly matters what one’s goal is.

I’m far from a perfectionist when it comes to language learning in particular. At the moment, my aim is level 30 and then to stop doing lessons. I will probably go back to WK to get level 60 eventually (for completionism’ sake) but I am not planning to speak Japanese at any one time (my goal is reading/listening).

All I want out of WK is to get myself up to a level where I can understand ~50-60% of the kanji in material I’m reading. (and I fully believe WK is the best tool for learning kanji) At that point, I like to believe I will be able to learn the rest through mass exposure as I have with other languages. So, to me, having truly learned even as “little” as 90% of the kanji/vocab by level 30 would be acceptable. Also, I’m learning grammar on the side + more vocab.

I don’t want to be “perfect” in Japanese, I will leave that to the natives, just as I’ve done with English. :slightly_smiling_face:

Thanks again! Wishing you all the best in learning :crabigator:


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