Is reviewing Kanji shortly before a review cheating?

I tend to find myself reviewing Kanji in upcoming reviews, mainly for newly learnt Kanji (early apprentice level), to try to recall their mnemonics and readings. What do you guys think?

Not really, you’re studying the kanji so you’re learning it. I don’t think the idea should be that you should only see/recall the kanji exclusively through wanikani’s review intervals. Say you’re living in Japan and you’ve learned a kanji that’s set to come up in 2 days time, but you see it half way through that time period out in the wild and it prompts the memory of it and you solidify the reading in your mind a little better. You’re then better equipped to remember it when the kanji comes up in your review, but would you consider this “cheating” compared to not having seen it at all before the next review came up? I actually think this is the most natural way to learn your kanji with wanikani, and it’s why starting to read even simple works with kanji in them once you have a strong enough base of kanji will do absolute wonders for your kanji learning process!

That being said, if your reviews are due and you know a kanji is coming up and you go and look at the readings before hand to “practice” then yes, I feel that would be sabotaging yourself a little.


You’re defeating the purpose of the SRS if you look up the answers beforehand. I would say just do your reviews on time.


“Shortly before” is relative. Reviewing a kanji that is due in 8 hours, 6 hours in advance is probably fine. Reviewing a kanji that could be burned (4 month interval) 6 hours in advance basically renders the review meaningless.


Yes imo.
You should remember the meaning and reading as you see the item. Doing so can harm this in long run.

Short answer: kind of.

I’m assuming you’re doing this to keep up a consistent leveling speed? If that’s the reason, you might find that once you hit higher levels, if you keep doing this, your accuracy drops considerably for items in the guru stages. It isn’t the end of the world, and it doesn’t mean you’re doing wanikani wrong, but if you’re trying to guarantee that you’ll push kanji out of apprentice before your brain really knows them that well, you might run into some issues.


Depends. Early on in the kanji’s review lifespan, I’d say it’s just part of getting them down–though doing it right before every tested review does neuter the point of the SRS to some extent.

Once it’s in Guru or higher, I’d say you really do want to be letting WK do its job of seeing which kanji have really stuck when they come up for review. Obviously that’s different from getting exposure to the kanji through outside reading (which you should totally, 100 percent be doing). I’d probably just avoid doing a specific meaning/reading look-up right before you know it’s going to be checked, because at that point the check isn’t really evaluating anything meaningful, and you’ll wind up burning items that could actually use some more drilling.

Just remember that the goal isn’t to beat your reviews, but to become a fluent reader of the kanji WK teaches you when you encounter them in the wild. If you sense something you’re doing might be hurting that purpose, I just wouldn’t.


I definitely don’t look right before a review, maybe 2-3 hours, and I only do it for apprentice level Kanji.

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These are my thoughts exactly! I’d agree with everyone else above, really. WK is definitely gamified learning, but playing the game isn’t really the goal (at least not for me). The goal is to be able to encounter kanji out in the wild and read/understand them.

So, in my opinion, reviewing only to achieve the goal of getting the kanji right on your WK review defeats the purpose of a SRS, but any time you spend encountering the kanji in their native environment is working at that bigger picture goal of understanding!

On a related note, whenever I get a particularly low % correct on a review session, I’m really thankful, because where before I would have just brute forced past it and never learned those kanji because I was “supposed” to be “moving on” (cough my college Japanese courses cough), here I know that break in new items means I need more time to solidify them in my mind, which is doing me better in the long run.


Deja vu. Seeing this thread again lol.

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WaniKani uses a SRS (Spaced repetition system, more here) that stretches your reviews to just the limit of your memory and then forces you to recall them. It’s not a huge deal, but studying right before a lesson might throw the system out of whack.
Also the Crabigator might get mad at you for using a non-WK service to memorize kanji.

I personally struggle with the built-in intervals, so I do sometimes practice early apprentice items between reviews (not just before a review though). If I fail an item in my self quizzing, I’ll study it again and will naturally fail it in my next review if I still haven’t internalized it. I’m not an SRS purist, it’s a tool for timed exposure and the intervals don’t line up with my memory.

I don’t live in Japan so don’t get the same amount of natural exposure as people who do live there. Vocab reviews aren’t cheating, nor is reading - but they’re not enough for my poor brain. So I adapt!

Mind you, I don’t do this systematically and I don’t self quizz higher level stuff - if I’ve forgotten it after managing to remember it over the course of a few days, it needs to go back to the queue. I’m ok with that…

I did the fewer-but-more-intensive, natural exposure way (no SRS) for a few years before WaniKani, but that was slow and hard going living outside Japan - now I know I need the synthetic exposures to compensate


As long as you don’t specifically study your upcoming master/enlightened/burn reviews, I think it’s perfectly fine. If you don’t have those in long term memory yet, throwing them into short term memory just before a review seems like a bad idea.

But other than that, everytime you see/think about a kanji you strengthen it in your permanent memory, so by all means go and look at stuff. Especially out in the real world (or books/manga/whatever) rather than in some dry study material.

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I think that’s fine. The WK intervals are arbitrary, and personally too long for me in the earlier stages as well.


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