Is speed your goal or learning and understanding? The argument for a RESET

G’day All,
Recently I have been reviewing the discussions around levelling up and more specifically, levelling up at top speed…racing to the end…how do some do it etc. etc…

I was one of those people, I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands and thought, “I should do this!” Getting up at all hours, doing reviews with one eye open, refusing to go to social events so I could keep to my militant review schedule…But life got in the way. I sold my house and suddenly I got behind…my reviews piled up, I couldn’t remember things, the SRS was out of whack…further and further behind I fell until I just stopped. It was simply depressing and I walked away from Wanikani for 90 days.

Around the 90 day mark I reminded myself how far I had come and the true value of what I was trying to achieve. I opened Wanikani again…#%!!! Too many reviews, ultra low score, how can I do this??? Again, walked away for a few days, but with vacation mode this time (maybe this will stop the craziness I thought). A few days later I mustered all my will power (力いっぱい) but inevitably the same result…too many reviews, unable to remember things I should remember; distress, distress, distress.

I needed a plan otherwise I am never going to crawl out of this hole. RESET? Such a taboo word (禁句) surely not! I don’t want to even consider this… what about all my effort, my middle of the night reviews…forget it!!!

A few days later… RESET? NO!!! A few days later… RESET? NEVER!!!
Again, a few days later… RESET? I will consider… but to what level? What is my sacrifice?
A week later… I am doing a RESET; I am going all the way back to where I can remember something.
I sacrificed 7 levels, it felt like a kick in the you know what; and, I was still performing poorly with the reviews. But, with a new found drive I persisted; I took the low scores on the chin and did away with speed for knowledge and understanding. If I got something wrong, I redid the lesson; I looked up the kanji from the vocab, I followed the rabbit hole until I understood. Very quickly my accuracy returned.

My great RESET was the best thing I ever did! I now understand each radical, kanji and vocab item far, far better than I did the first time round. I am not trying to go fast at all, there are no middle of the night reviews, I get to them when I have time and never before. Ironically, I have passed where I was and still finish a level in under 8 days.

If your goal is learning and understanding and your reviews are out of control and you can’t get on top; consider a RESET.

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Just to present an alternative perspective. I also did a reset for similar reasons. I ended up mostly regretting it. While I certainly had a lot of leeches and too many reviews, I significantly underestimated the amount of stuff that I had learned just fine the first time around, and that I now had to painstakingly, slowly go back through again. If I could go back and do it again I would’ve just stopped lessons for a month and focused on only reviews until my Apprentice items fell below 100, then moved on from there.

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I am sorry to hear you regret your reset. I did feel like that at times; particularly when I had to go over things I already knew.
The key is to try and reset to a level where you will get the most benefit. I spent at least a couple of weeks considering my reset point. As I said, in my initial comments, I really feel it was the best thing I did.
Cheers!

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I reset at level …13/14 and it’s really helped me solidify what I learned the first time round. Reset is definitely a big time investment, but you should ask yourself what you want to achieve with your Japanese studies. I’m currently doing N4 studies, so I don’t need advanced kanji, and it’s better for me to spend as little time on Wanikani as possible so that I can spend more time on grammar and revision.
The reset helped me solidify my kanji and vocab and learning everything again the second time round has been MUCH easier, it takes very little effort to get +90% in reviews.

There’s no point racing to level 60 is you’re just going to forget most of the readings/vocab/meanings because you’re not using them in daily conversation. Even after doing SRS the kanji I never used in my studies were mostly forgotten by the time I got to learning them a second time. Wanikani is not going to make your Japanese great if you don’t use the things you’ve learned in other places.

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For anyone reading this and seemingly in the same position as OP was, do yourself a favor and go read the ultimate guide. WK is going to take around a year or more to finish, spending thirty minutes or so reading this to make things easier is worth it. Here’s an except that was accompanied with examples for scheduling reviews lessons:

Forget about trying to be here every single waking hour. You don’t need to. Waking up in the middle of the night is also complete nonsense. Your sleep is way more important than WK and the cool thing is that you can get both right.

Or this nice bit regarding finding the right number of lessons to tackle each day:

The best way to know the ideal speed for you to level up is by figuring out the number of lessons that you’re able to learn efficiently every day. By efficiently, I mean being able to actually learn them and maintain a good accuracy during reviews. For some people, that will be 5 items a day, for others 20.

Or the line that helps me tell when people treat the guide as dangerous speedrunning material despite failing to comprehend (ok, let’s be real, they probably didn’t read) it.

Chapter 6 is just me telling you not to go full speed (read it also).


Resets are not a magic tool for learning things better. It shouldn’t be a surprise that going through the learning process again on materials you probably knew at some point resulted in higher accuracy, a big new swing of confidence, and a happy spouse convenient way of getting back into the groove. If that’s what makes the learning experience great then victory.

However, there are other ways to tackle the issue. I’m not a fan of these, but KaniWani/Kamesame are fairly popular and will give a bit of extra output practice. Kitsun (Neicudi sponsor me please) and Anki have plenty of decks that can be customized to give similar functionality on top of being general purpose SRS utilities. There are more scripts than I can be bothered to look through, but I’d like to push Self-Study Quiz + Additional Filters/Item Inspector which make it super easy to do things like drill recently learned items, recently failed items, leeches, ect…

Which brings me to the next thing, there are a lot of scripts here to tackle the issue of coming back to a stack of reviews (also discussed in the guide). Personally, I like to start with a good old reorder script and just tackle them in order of level. There are countless threads about getting reviews under control on the forums, I’d highly suggest anyone having this issue to either read those or ask for help especially when considering a reset (there are a few tricks/scripts to reduce the guesswork).


I don’t understand why there’s this persistent misguided notion that speed is incompatible with learning, or to refer to the other thread that reordering = skipping vocab. It’s mostly new users who aren’t as involved in the forums that make these kinds of mistakes, then chime in every time about how scripts and speedrunning are bad.

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I’m personally not racing in levels, genuinely love doing reviews on wanikani. It’s a fun experience and it gives a real feel of progression when every day you get better accuracy score on things you didn’t even know a few days prior. I think some people tend to forget why they started this in the first place and their priorities shift, their aim becomes to reach a specific level on wanikani and not to reach a specific level of proficiency.

I will admit though, while i am not racing through the levels, wanikani does feel pretty slow on the early levels. I guess it’s going to change soon, as the higher level you go the more kanji/vocab you have in “circulation”.

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That goes for any language, i’m forgetting words in my native language because i barely use it anymore. But those things never just disappear from your brain, the second time you learn it is more of a refresh and not a process of learning.

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Yup. WK is a great tool but it’s in service to the goal.

I already finished WK and I’m considering a reset myself sometime later to go through WK again with the aim of practicing writing.

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I reset 2 levels once when I forgot vacation mode existed and had to stop due to schools in lockdown. I never regretted it. I took it slower the second time around and I lost a lot of reviews that had piled up. I think I also remember the kanji better the second time around.

When I get to 60, I’ll probably eventually reset back to 10 or so to do it all again. No, not to 1, because the first 10 are too easy at this point. Maybe I’ll even do 15… idk, I’m barely halfway to 60.

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for the first 10 levels, I was a speed goal type of student

then I realized the kanji became really complex, now I am like ok, I need to go slow, otherwise I keep failing a lot in reviews. I even had to reduce the below 100 apprentice to below 90 to see some improvement.

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i started out just wanting to learn, then slipped into speed-running, and reached level 23 before i had my first burns.

then life happened, health-stuff happened, and i returned to a review pile of about 1500 items (and growing). and of course the srs was all out of whack. early attempts at brute-forcing were futile, so i needed a new strategy. i reset 2 levels (should probably have done 3) because those items were all still in apprentice or guru, and not yet in my long-term memory. and i installed a script to sort items by srs level.

since then i’ve been slowly working through my pile, doing maybe half the reviews per day i did before. in the extra time, i’ve been reading, doing listening exercises, revising grammar, playing games even. and i think that’s done much more to improve my learning than a reset would have done.

as such, i would probably argue against a reset. of course by going over all those items again one learns them much better. but i think seeing and recognising kanji in context, in text, does much more to help learn than repeating them on WK.

our goal, after all, isn’t to be good at WK. our goal is to be able to read japanese. WK is a very useful ladder for that, but in the end, only a ladder. and by resetting, i’m just going up and down the ladder…

that said, i do agree that it’s not about speed ^^

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My goal has changed from reaching N5 to N4 (which three years of high school Japanese will only get you up to unless you do outside study, which you will reach N3 at best). However I’m building my Pleasant Decks and trying the N5 out first though.

Thing is, once you reach level 10, there’s only one Kanji from the N5 that isn’t taught to you until level 14. Honestly it would be nice to change that so that said Kanji (which is Writing, I believe) shows up at Level 10 instead. I feel like it would have set the tone for more lessons to come and encourage those who complete the Pleasant levels to try their hand at speaking basic Japanese. Like, make them believe in themselves, or something, I dunno. I sort of feel that inspiration knowing how close I am to knowing all of the N5 which is why I’m rebuilding my WaniKani decks and coordinating my Bunpro N5 studies with my Genki I and II textbook workflow. Much of this is due to me having gone back to college and now working again, so in turn I relearned some discipline that I had difficulty maintaining from my last job working at home. So for me, I guess this is my “reset”.

I didn’t like making double the amount of cards for vocabulary meanings and readings, but my mind is capable of studying 164 surgical instruments, and 5x the amount of that for vocabulary, so I’ve no reason to not take another giant leap back into Japanese. What I’m doing different this time is that I’m having separate 意味 and 読み decks, so that I have decks for 10 levels that solely test for meanings, then another set of 10 decks for readings. I’m going to try learning the meanings in English first, then do the reading. I have built radical decks but only for the sake of having a collection of radical decks; I intend to cheat with the radicals on WaniKani, but I will use my Radicals decks anyway to make speeding through them easier so I don’t have to scroll through WaniKani’s glossary as often.