Is it normal to get a lot of kanji and vocabulary wrong when they first appear in reviews

After learning a lot of new content in one go usually when I go up a level, I always get a majority wrong the next time they show up in my reviews. Is this normal or is there a way to retain the info better initially. As I always have to go to recent mistakes.


No I don’t think that’s normal or good.

Are you learning all of the new content in one go? There is generally no reason to do more than 20 items a day since 20 items a day comes out to max speed anyways iirc.


If you’re not getting 85%+ right the first review cycle something is wrong.

It’s normal, that’s how the brain works. There are a few options you can use to remedy this. The first is just letting the SRS do its work ofcourse, yes, you might fail it a few times, but eventually with repeated exposure it will stick. This will probably mean sub-optimal levelling up times, but if you aren’t in a hurry, nothing wrong with that. But this will maximize the amount of items retained in as little time spent as possible, so it’s all an act of balancing really :person_shrugging:

The second option is what you are currently doing, that is to expose yourself to extra encounters by doing extra study sessions via the “recent mistakes” tab. Also a good option, you will get your first encounter wrong if you aren’t familiar with it from exposure in the wild, but afterwards things will stick due to the repeated exposure in the short timeframe. This is rote learning and still sub-optimal, but nothing wrong with that (It’s how I personally do stuff that I get wrong, I need to 100% all my recent mistakes, but from a time spent / benefit point of view it definitely isn’t the best investment).

A third option is deeper study of the items before ever getting them in the review queue. This will mean more of an initial time investment with each option, looking up how it is used in vocabulary and the like, example sentences, dictionary definitions, … You name it. Whatever you need to help lock it in before commiting it to SRS. But this means even more time spent per word that you could spent reading / listening / watching / …

And I could go on with other ways, but the main question is, do I want to spend more time to get through WK or do I want to spend that time and energy enjoying the language? (I can’t give you the answer, that’s for you to decide though :stuck_out_tongue: )

All to say, there are limitless ways of dealing with it really, but it’s all a cost-benefit analysis. If you will get it wrong a few times, but only need like 15 seconds per new review and blazing through the levels isn’t your main purpose, nothing wrong with it. It frees you up to spent more time reading or whatever. If you want to maximize your level-up times and get to more kanjis quicker, you might want to spent more time studying them before leveling. But there really isn’t anything wrong with not remembering them in essence, brains ain’t perfect.


I find my first reviews are pretty rough in general (bad memory), but the SRS sorts it out fairly quickly. I don’t see a down side unless you find that the four hour wait between mistakes at apprentice I is slowing you down in a way that bothers you.

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It’s normal for me with kanji and radicals to get about 40% (rough estimate, usually slightly below half) of new radicals and kanji wrong on the first review.

There are a few reasons this may be more true for me than some other people:

  1. I don’t spend enough time memorizing it when I first learn it in lessons. My tendency is to just run through the lessons twice or three times and then do the quiz. A better method to internalize would likely be to spend more time on the mnemonics or draw the kanji out as you’re learning them.
  2. A lot of the WK mnemonics don’t work for me, and it often takes me seeing the kanji a few times, comparing it to other similar-looking kanji, and learning a vocab word or two for it for me to make my own mnemonic that does work, or feel like I know it without needing a mnemonic
  3. I don’t do my reviews on the SRS schedule, so often my first review is not 4 hours later but 8 or 12 hours later or more, which means they have faded more from my memory. I have a variable work schedule and usually can’t find free blocks in my day at 4 hour intervals so this is mostly unavoiable.

None of that really bothers me as I’m not in a hurry to finish WK. It’s just one tool of a number that I’m using to learn Japanese better, so if my level ups average 14 days instead of shorter it’s not a problem.


The most important information we need that you haven’t give us is how many lessons are you doing?

You can defo go through all the available lessons you get when you level up. Most people don’t, but it’s possible. But the more content you learn, the more initial mistakes you should expect to make. Since the SRS makes sure you’ll have to see those items more often, you’re basically extending the “lesson”-stage of learning into the first 1-2 SRS stages (4 hours, 8 hours) where I would look up failed item pages again, and see if they stick next review.

While it can be argued that spending more devoted time during the lessons is best, you can defo do it this way. In fact, that’s how I made it to lv 60. From this, my experience is that there’s usually 2 breaking points (where you can expect many items to fail): the first and second apprentice stage (extended learning period) + guru 1 (did you learn the items well enough?), which can again send items back down to apprentice.

In the larger scale of things, it’s not an issue. SRS is a time efficient way of learning, that focus less on cramming and more on spending a few seconds per items during reviews. Eventually, enough repetition makes them stick.

But, if you feel unsatisfied with your current method, simply change. Set a cap on how many lessons to do at once and put more effort into reading about each item. That should increase your initial accuracy. :slight_smile:

Good luck with your studies! :durtle_cat:


I’ve had the same issue, no matter how many items I tried to learn in one go. What fixed it for me - learning them in intervals.
I would read the and try my best to memorize the readings and meanings I want to learn, then close the tab, wait for 10 minutes, and only then open the tab again and try to pass the test to put the items into the review section.
That way I make all the mistakes I would’ve made in reviews later and learn mistakes as well. It helps me quite a lot, maybe will work for you as well.

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personally I find everything below 90% - 85% accuracy unacceptable.

it’s a sure sign I either didn’t make use of the mnemonics or did too many lessons at once.

I mean sure, the first review won’t set you back that many hours, but I try to get through WK fairly quickly. Also probably not a good sign if you struggle with items this early on in the SRS, I’d go back and read the meaning/reading explanations again, otherwise it’s just Rote Memory again and kind of defeats the purpose of WK/SRS.

I did 80 new items in one hit so i could get my apprentice to around 100 items, i do it that way so i can progress through the radicals and kanji faster to try to get to next level quicker. Although Im thinking it might be beneficial to slow down a bit.

I get around 50% of them right on the first review cycle, I think it might be because I do too many lessons in a short period of time.

Well then your original story makes total sense because your looking at 80+ new words when your brain is only gonna really retain half of those if even that.

I did about 80 new lessons in the span of an hour or 2

I see, what is the max number of new lessons you would suggest doing per day?

there’s the WaniKani Beginners Guide, but just from personal experience, you shouldn’t do more than 20 new words a day. I do 10-15 as my personal max because the reviews stack up really quick and will eat you alive later. The real deciding factor is how many Apprentice items I have which I try to maintain at about 75. If there is more than that I don’t do more and if there is less I only do 15 lessons max, but never exceeding that 75 Apprentice Item number.

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Yeah there’s your issue. Spread your lessons out is my suggestion. Your level is based on kanji and radicals, so if you use a reorder script to do those first, you can do 7 day levels at 20 items a day. So realistically, your daily load should never exceed 20 per day since there’s no additional benefit until you get to the fast levels. If you want 14 day levels, then 10 items a day. I’m sure you get the idea


I tend to do all the radicals first upon unlocking a new level, then vocab 10-15 lessons per day until I’ve finished all the vocab of the previous level. Then I do all the kanji of the new level at once. I spend a decent amount of time on the mnemonics (doing all lessons takes me over an hour) and usually don’t make mistakes on more than 1-3 kanji before guru-ing them.

In general vocab gives me a lot more trouble, since I don’t spend nearly as much time of the lessons.

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It’s normal. I used to get it like that all the time, until i installed the self study script. I usually drill the ones i’ve learned three times using the script straight afterword’s and that usually cements them into my head.

Edit; I just noticed your comments in the thread, yeah 80 a day is just too much for most people. I’d suggest slowing that down a bit and spreading them out during the week.

I actually write everything down to retain it better. Maybe that would be helpful to you too.

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