Level 27 Plateau

Hello Everyone,

Not necessarily looking for advice or sympathy, but I’d be interested in hearing what numbers other
people pay close attention to.

For a long time, I was paying attention to only my Apprentice count. However, I have recently hit a wall where it’s taking me forever to level up. I realized the other day that all the kanji and vocabulary that I am unclear on have been ping-ponging back and forth from Apprentice to Guru and back to Apprentice, so that after a day of reviews I have made almost no progress.

So, now I am looking at Apprentice and Guru every day and trying to get both those numbers to go down.

I don’t use any scripts and don’t really want to. I have no doubt that people are finding them really useful, but I am not trying to do a speed run and everything seemed to be going okay for the first 26 levels.

I think the leeches have accumulated to such a degree that they are just not getting moved to the later stages. My plan is to not do any new lessons for as long as it takes to get Apprentice - currently at 215 - and Guru - currently at 942 - to go way, way down.

According to WaniKani, I “know” 840 kanji and about 80% of the most frequent 1,000 kanji. I think I need to read as much as I can to solidify those kanji, and slow way down on making my way through the next 30+ levels.

It’s taken me about a year exactly to get to level 27.

If you read all this, thanks!


First of all, congrats on reaching Level 27 @Stillman777 san :partying_face:

Take apprentice down to 50 or lower. Your idea is right. Do not do lessons until your apprentice and Guru items are way lower.

It is expected for a Durtle to hit a roadblock as one moves ahead. Take as much time as you need and solidify your learning :grin: Anything that makes you feel overwhelmed is not good. Challenging- Yes, Overwhelming - No.

For me, I faced slump more than a few times till now. What worked for me, stopping lessons and doing reviews (may not be all, but at least a few every day) until I feel ready to move past the slump.

You are doing great :+1:

Good luck my friend :raised_hands:


Woah, yes, that’s a lot of Apprentice items. Is it because they dropped from Guru and Master or did you do new lessons in-between?

I think you have a very good perspective on how things are going :slight_smile: .

When I started WaniKani I paid close attention mostly to the Apprentice item count and would often exceed 100, but not into the 200s, because that’s danger zone to me.

Nowadays, I look also at the Guru count and in general slowed down during the previous level, because more and more Burn reviews started popping up and these sadly drop to Guru and then to Apprentice if you mess up.

My counts look like this right now:

I purposely keep the Apprentice count lower than 100, because even though I could go faster, I feel like this time is better spent on grammar, reading, etc. Also, the Enlightened items will need Burning and I don’t want to mess that up :stuck_out_tongue: .

Last thing - some levels might be harder than others. WaniKani tries to sort kanji by complexity (I guess?), but not necessarily by proficiency level, so you might be familiar with more kanji from later levels through sheer exposition, but there will come a level full of entirely new kanji or just ones that don’t exactly stick. Who knows, maybe that’s level 27 for you. For me that was level 32. Even though I knew all of the kanji from that level before, I royally blew it. Fault is half-half, because knowing kanji in context doesn’t always mean being able to recall them in isolation - both meaning (the WaniKani meaning) and reading.


Thanks so much for the advice! Yes, my high Apprentice level is a combination of doing too many new lessons and also having old words and kanji fall back into Apprentice.

Interesting to hear that some levels are just harder, due to a person’s familiarity. Makes sense.

I 100% agree that spending time on things like reading and grammar is just as important as forging ahead with new kanji!


Thanks for the encouragement and feedback!

I will aim for an Apprentice level of 50. So glad WaniKani has these message boards so we
can all discuss these things - it’s a long road!


Yup, same here. Through the first 14 levels I was only focusing on Apprentice. But I realized that churn through the levels was becoming a problem. And I notice that if my Apprentice + Guru count gets up into the high 400s, things start getting more difficult. So I try to keep it in the low 400s. Where I’m at right now is pretty comfortable. It results in a pretty slow pace, but that’s why I bought lifetime.

Specifically if I manage to get the Guru count below Master I feel I’m doing pretty well.


Very helpful info - thanks! Yes, “churn through the levels” is exactly the problem.

Looking at your stats, you have more items burned than I do - I have a ton in Enlightened.
So, it looks like the problem for me goes beyond just Apprentice and Guru, and is a matter
of some items falling just short of being burned.

Keeping Apprentice + Guru in the low 400s is exactly the kind of measure I was hoping
to hear about, so thanks again.

While general advice is to keep apprentice around 100, I agree with aiming for 50 in this case. When you have leeches jumping back and forth between apprentice and guru, you want that extra leeway.

I’m in a similar position, and I’m trying to keep my apprentice around 50. The exception is when I guru a kanji and unlock vocabulary, I try to get through the vocabulary lessons right away. But I’m avoid kanji lessons if my apprentice gets too high (and otherwise am aiming for about one kanji lesson per day).

I’m currently sitting at 72 apprentice, but that includes a lot of vocabulary that I expect to reach guru in a day or two, then continue on to master and beyond. Thus, I hope to see my apprentice back to the 50 to 60 in a few days.

I also try to keep my guru around 300, but it takes longer for new vocabulary to move through guru, so I have that up to 313 at the moment.

I’m definitely holding off on kanji lessons for the weekend, at least.


I use the lesson filter to reorder such that I get the vocabulary after a kanji is unlocked also. I won’t always do it all right away, but I found that having 100 vocabulary to churn through for kanji that I had unlocked two weeks ago was not working well for me. I find it helps to solidify the kanji if I get the vocab right away. I think it’s a mistake for WK to feed you all the kanji at once, but I can understand that if they changed that the other half of their user base would complain. So, lesson filter it is.


I agree, the lower the Apprentice level the better.

It sounds like you are using a filter, to be able to choose whether to do kanji or vocabulary lessons?

Thanks for sharing your approach!

I do my lessons via the Flaming Durtles Android app, which indeed does allow me to arrange my lessons.

It’s such a “normal” part of WaniKani for me, that I complete forgot that the actual normal method is to get through all the kanji lessons before starting the vocabulary ones.


If you don’t already, consider running a jisho search or using the wk search box to look up your wrong answers. For jisho you can limit a search to kanji, ex. kou #kanji. Doing something like this (or using the scripts) really helps me find out why I make certain mistakes. Given your pace 200 apprentice items is really high. I like to peg my limit to around 150% or 200% of 4 * Daily Lessons. Either way, with that much churn I’d suspect a lot of the leeches are probably similar words that can be hammered out relatively easily. This might also be a good time to take another look at tricks like tofugu’s guide on rendaku rules and so on. Best of luck moving forward, I’d agree that clearing the apprentice pile and tackling the leeches are a great thing to do.

If you’re open to third party tools and just don’t like the idea of userscripts messing with browser pages Flaming Durtles (probably the other apps as well) has a self-study quiz option that’s really robust and includes leech filter. Alternatively, I think I_I is using his own modified version of BishBashBosh here which I think works with a read-only api key. Worst case you could always add troubled items manually to an Anki deck or physical flash cards to review. Either way, doing a little bit of leech review weekly would probably help to stay on top of things moving forward.

Leeches are serious pitfall with WK. It doesn’t have any tools to deal with it on its own, so it kind of pains me to see such a strong association that scripts = speedrun or scripts = bad mentality on the forums here. If you ever change your mind, check out item inspector. It has a nice leech filter and table view that I think makes it easier to figure out why certain words/kanji are become leeches in the first place. Extra shoutouts to confusion guesser and the niai visually similar kanji scripts for helping with that.


Thank you for the many great suggestions - I will research all the tools you mention.

I don’t have anything against scripts, it’s just that WaniKani has worked so well for me and before I discovered it I was not making any progress with learning kanji. As a result, I am almost superstitious about doing anything to change what has worked so far!


I’d check the app out, but I don’t have an Android device.

The Tsurukame app for Apple has some of the same features in terms of filtering so don’t worry.

Also hello fellow 20-something - the 20s so far have been diabolical and definitely deserve the ‘Hell’ epithet. The best thing for me to really get some of the more boring vocab to stick has been to encounter it in the wild, so NHK Easy News/joining one of the WK book clubs has been very useful.

Here are my stats currently (as has already been mentioned, I go by the no Apprentice items above 100 rule and ignore my burn pile as I’ve been on WK for years):

Soon we’ll reach the 30s I’m sure! :muscle:


I agree totally with encountering vocabulary in the wild - that’s the best way to make it stick, in my experience. Yes, we will reach the 30s!

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In that case, you may want to checkout wk additional filters + self study script on desktop. You access via the drop down on the main page, it doesn’t affect lessons or reviews directly. It’s been a while since I’ve used it, but IIRC you can have it show only leaches or only ones that failed last review. If used wisely it’s a good tool to take a good look at what you’re failing to see if it’s because of visually similar to other words, it just didn’t stick, etc. I think you can also set it to not show words that are coming up for review soon as well to keep from spoofing the SRS. You can always delete if you find you abuse them or just don’t like them.

For visually similar kanji it helps me to add the key visual differences to the mnenonic stories, or at least remember them.

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I don’t pay attention to either


Thanks - it sounds like there are enough advantages to some of these scripts and filters that I should definitely give them a try.

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Um, my only thing to say is that scripts aren’t just for speedrunners. I use scripts and I’m the same level as you right now. I’ve been on this level for 17 days and I was on 26 for almost 35 (I moved so maybe that’s why), but there’s a reason these 10 levels are called hell or whatever the email calls them. I haven’t started a single lesson from this level yet because I’m still learning a ton of 26 items.

Anyway, scripts do more than just enable speed. I can see better mnemonics, better example sentences, correct myself on errors, and learn common readings for radicals. This isn’t making me speedier at all, but I have more insight into radicals and kanji, along with kanjidamage mnemonics which are considerably better (sometimes they overlap, I mostly use them for the really bad, abstract mnemonics).

Also, don’t feel bad about apprentice numbers. I literally never looked at them until now because most of my apprentices are pretty recent, with just a few leeches. I didn’t even know that having apprentice under a certain # was a thing. I always thought that doing 5-10 new items a day was how people did it.

Here’s my list for comparison.

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