Not-so-slowly and steadily levelling up

when I first started, I tried to do all of my learning and all of my reviews the moment it became available. this quickly caused me to slam into the motivation wall as the reviews became unmanageable, and so I dropped wanikani for months.

I came up with a new strategy: I ignore the number of pending lessons entirely. The only number I care about is the number of things in “apprentice” status. When I kept it at 20, my learning was ponderously slow. At 30, I could keep it up even with a busy life. Now I keep it around 40, and I’m getting used to the pace. I can do this every day. But a funny thing is happening: my lesson numbers get down to around 30-40 before I level up and a bunch more flood in.

I wonder: Am I approaching the fastest this strategy can move me? Does anyone else do this, and if so, what number of apprentice items gets you close to zero pending lessons sometimes without actually running out?


For me, keeping Apprentice items around 100 and doing 20-25 lessons a day meant I hit 0 lessons once before the radicals hit Guru, and once more before levelling up. So I guess 15-ish lessons a day would get you close to 0 pending without actually running out? :slight_smile:


oh I do this too ! i keep my apprentice ones around 150 and review about three times a day and it’s been working perfectly for me. feels far less intimidating than going by my reviews and having 100+ to do

I did this for a while too, keeping apprentice around 100 and at one point even 150 since I had the time.
But then I started adding other things to my learning process, such as grammar, more vocabulary, reading and listening practice. I now am at a pace of 10 lessons per day with currently 61 apprentice items. This seems to be okay at the moment, but nowhere near 0 lessons yet. I’ll have to puzzle to see where I end up.
Could very well be that I’ll tackle 15 lessons a day in the future.

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I keep my apprentice items at around about 50, sometimes more if I’m finding the vocabulary straightforward / know a lot of it from elsewhere, and this is working great for me. I raced through the first 10 or do levels and almost burnt out in the teens. I’m in no crazy hurry to finish (estimating 3 years or maybe longer to reach level 60) but this new pace gives me a nice amount of progress / sense of achievement while still being manageable in daily life.

Props to you for finding a sweet spot that works for you! 頑張ってね!


I do 15/16 lessons a day and don’t often drop below 30. Though I do use a reorder script to do 5/6 kanji a day when they’re available and just do radicals immediately. So I’m not sure if the default order will still let you drop to 0, but it seems to be 11 days when I’ve tried it vs 9 days my way so I would expect not. Last level was 13 days and I didn’t run dry.

(As for apprentice items, I’ll slow down if they start creeping over 150 and since the burns have been coming in am getting over 200 reviews a day.)

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I’ve been doing one dozen lessons per day and usually almost run out of lessons but not quite once per level. I also do not use the reorder script, so kanji lessons from a new level sit there for a few days while I finish out the previous level’s vocab at one dozen lessons per day.

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I try to keep my apprentice pile under 100. With the exception of new radicals + kanji. I still have some lessons left over, but I should have the opportunity to do those today or tomorrow.

I’ll also say I do check if I have reviews a lot, so if you only have one or two moments a day to go through reviews it doesn’t make a lot of sense to make a big pile of apprentice items. Because your reviews will pile up fast.

On kitsun I try to keep it to 50 new items, I locked the lessons and add new ones when items move to a new class.

For kamesame I’m still figuring out. But seeing I go through burned items first, 50 items per week should work for now.

Bunpro I just add grammar points whenever I feel I got a good grasp on the previous ones.

I keep myself from leveling up too quickly by stopping my kanji lessons before 90% so that I can use the reorder script to learn what vocab I need to do before finishing the kanji in that level and moving on. This prevents any sudden huge lesson counts that can pop up upon leveling, especially when you’ve already worked on the associated vocab of the previous level.


That’s the strategy I adopted too! I think of the pending lessons like a textbook that you are given (or made to buy) at the beginning of a course - no one would be expected to sit down that day and read the whole thing!

While the number of apprentice items does affect the workload, I have stopped focusing on that too (admittedly, I do have good accuracy percentages with few leeches) and I just stick to the same number of lessons at the same time each day, day in day out. I also now always go back over my lessons before I hit the quiz button to make sure I do know the answers - this has helped to raise my accuracy / lower the leech count & workload.

I use the WaniKani Lesson Filter, and do one batch of 11 items, 3 radicals/kanji and 8 vocab, which gives me 40-50 apprentice items - I find the mental workload for the rads and kanji larger than for vocab, so this also gives me a very consistent workload overall. I based the ratio of rads/kanji to vocab on the total ratio of all WK items - we’ll see how it goes!

I hope this helps, and I look forward to keeping pace with a fellow slow-ish user :smiley:


Yeah, managing apprentice items was what I settled on, too.

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Thanks for this post. It struck a chord in me.

Props for returning with a new strategy and not going on indefinite hiatus! Pressuring yourself to tackle all lessons as soon as they’re available will definitely lead to burnout for most people, myself included–I’ve been there. The method should never suck the fun out of what is most likely a personal interest and not something you’re obligated to do. :slight_smile:

I’ve personally never focused on the Apprentice count. I’ve only ever done my reviews whenever I see them available and otherwise try to maintain a personal goal of n lessons per day, where n was usually 10. I say was because I am changing my pace as of this level, but I’ll get to that in a moment. My previous strategy of ~10 lessons per day and all reviews each day for the last 9 levels has turned into a bit of a slog when vocabulary floods in, leaving me without new kanji for longer than I’d like (using the default WaniKani item ordering).

Before I talk about my strategy change, I’ll mention that I find my current approach effective. I have active/passive Japanese input going on in various mediums, and I do catch myself understanding more in the wild as I learn the vocabulary for each level. I find the whole ordeal rather slow, though, and in order to speed things up, the default WaniKani would have me do what we said we didn’t like, which is to tackle a ton of lessons in one sitting to shift content from lessons to reviews.

I recently discovered the AJATT (All Japanese all the Time) philosophy, and it resonates deeply with me. So I’m trying a hybrid approach now. I’ll be using the reorder script to focus exclusively on radicals and kanji meanings and some readings (perhaps picking up some vocabulary here and there when I have no outstanding radicals or kanji). When I reach max level, which is sort of the AJATT equivalent of finishing RTK (Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji), I will start to pick sentences from my Japanese inputs to learn vocabulary in context and to fill the gaps in my missing kanji readings.

This will be an experiment, but if all goes well, I will be “Not-so-slowly and steadily levelling up” too :wink:

I’m glad to hear you’ve hit your stride!

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Sometime this year I tried getting to a certain level, got winded then reset (was cramming as much as possible in a day like 15/ 20 every 2/3 hrs). Now that I’m back to that place, I’m gonna take time and do this properly. Kudos and ganbatte!

(PS try very hard not to get flooded again)

I take it very slowly. Having started using WaniKani only recently, I don’t take on new lessons until I feel comfortable with the things I already have. My pending lesson number is at 50+, and I don’t feel like rushing through any of it. Ignoring those numbers and focusing on doing reviews when available does it for me.

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