One lonnng level. AKA How to come back from ~6 months and 3k+ reviews

Seems like there have been a number of posts lately with a common theme.

“I took a week off and have 500 reviews. What do I do? Should I reset?”

“I took two weeks off and have 1000 reviews. What do I do? Should I reset?”

“I took two months off and have 2000 reviews. What do I do? Should I reset?”

Rather than comment the same thing over and over, I’ll just put it here - some thoughts from my recent experience. The experience of logging into WK for the first time in ages, back in mid-December, and finding over 3100 reviews waiting for me.

:grinning: :slightly_smiling_face: :thinking: :neutral_face: :confused: :sob:

Sure pulled the wind out of my sails. I’d told myself there would probably be times that would be daunting and I’d want to just give up. This was one of them. But yet here we are now, about two months later, and it’s business as usual. In fact I just had my fastest level since all the way back on Level 3.

To take a step back and see how I got into this predicament… L23 below is when I took a trip to Japan. 10 days over there, and took a while to finish that level off. When I got back, I just lost motivation. Trip to Japan had been my primary objective for studying - to be able to get around there as best I could, talk to people, etc. When the trip was over, it was kind of a “Okay… now what?” feeling. I kept at it, but slipped and slipped and eventually after taking another trip somewhere in the middle of summer I just stopped. For almost six months. Came back with more motivation having booked myself another Japan trip later this year.

So. Some thoughts for those who find themselves in a similar situation:

Yes, You Will Get A Lot Wrong. That’s Fine

When I first started digging through my review pile, I was getting maybe 30-40% right. That’s pretty discouraging after usually having been in the 80-90% range. Feels like you’re getting practically everything wrong. But on the other hand, you’re also getting a lot right! I think I had ~2500 burn reviews, and a 40% success rate means that even after 6 months away you can come back and know 1000 cards so well that you burn them for good.

No, You Shouldn’t Reset

Obviously opinions will vary here, but the more I think about it IMO it doesn’t make much sense to reset here. Does more harm and good.

Looking at my level times there, I clicked over into L32 relatively quickly (only had a few kanji left to clear), and it took me ~26 days instead of my typical ~8. So that set me back 18 days. If I’d reset… how far would I have gone? Back to the early 20s, around my Japan trip time? 9 levels to re-do would easily have been at least two months rather than 2-3 weeks, and would have thrown away a lot of hard work and progress.

Set Realistic Goals: Decrease The Review Pile By “X” Per Day

3000 reviews really isn’t that much. If you’re accustomed to doing ~200 a day, that’s only 15 days worth. It’s surprisingly manageable if you’re realistic about it. I started back up on December 13th, I wanted to be down to 0 reviews by January 1st. It wound up being about 170 cards a day. That’s not bad at all! And at first it’s actually… easy. If they’re burn reviews anyway, either (a) you get them right and you’re done for good, or (b) they drop down to Guru and you won’t see them for a bit.

At the end of every day, have a number to hit. 3050. 2880. 2710. 2540. You’ll feel like you’re making progress, because you are!

There’s A Calm Before The Storm

I mentioned that at first, making your review number go down will be relatively easy because cards are either getting burned or dropping to Guru. But eventually you’ll get to the lower level cards, Gurus come back around, failed Gurus drop to Apprentice, etc.

By the time I got to 0 reviews I had like 450 Apprentice and 1200 Guru or something like that. It’s a lot of reviews every day. But if you’ve gotten this far you just need to hunker down and ride it out. It’ll probably take a couple weeks, but eventually those will clear out and you’ll get down to a manageable level.

Wait For Clear Skies

The question then becomes at what point do you start taking lessons again? (Of course through this whole period you shouldn’t be taking on new material!). I think it’s best to really clear that Apprentice count down to < 50. Get the daily reviews down to a very small number. Let yourself get a clear run at new material without a lot of stuff lingering. When you do, 7 days and 10 hours later you might find that you’ve already moved forward one level more!

Hopefully that’s insight worth something for someone at some time they run into this. It’s really not as bad to recover from as you might think!

35 Likes

Wow, good job on catching back up. That’s a lot of work you had to put into that, but you did it.

As someone who’s reset to 0 a couple times, I never recommend doing that, but I do recommend resetting down 2-3 levels after a long break. The reason is, it takes out most of your apprentice queue and allows you to focus on items you’re more likely to have remembered. I’ve always it’s much easier to burn through your review queue that way.

I also like the Review Order script for these cases, because I usually sort by level and you can catch up on the easier items first and move them out of the way to focus on the newer ones.

The most important thing is to get back up and keep going, which you did. Now you just have to keep sticking with it again.

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I’m going to Japan in March for about the same time you did, should I get reviews down and set vacation mode or no??

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With studying in general, be it kanji, Wanikani, whatever you’re studying, if you know you’re going to take a break it’s best to cut off new items some time prior, so by the time you take a break, everything in your queue is safe for a few days/weeks; if a new item is going to be due for review when you’re not doing reviews for two weeks, you’re simply going to forget learning it.

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Fully agree with all you’ve said, some great tips! here’s a pic of my very sporadic WK progress over the years. Even after that break of 800 days, the amount remembered surprised me, I hadn’t forgotten enough to justify resetting completely. I just browsed through my burned items and anything completely forgotten, I unburned. Best of luck continuing on with your WK studies :+1:

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Good question. I’ve never tried out vacation mode.

I don’t think it kills you if you don’t. When I got back I had the ability to catch up and continue on at nearly the same pace as I’d had. I just started losing motivation.

It wasn’t a backlog of reviews or anything that did me in for motivation. It’s just that using Japanese while traveling in Japan had been my primary objective and motivation while studying. So when I’d gotten home and that objective was complete it felt like… okay, why am I still focused on this? What’s the goal now? Without a clear picture of that, I got lazy.

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Whether you do or don’t activate vacation mode, I recommend not doing any new lessons for a couple of weeks and focusing solely on reviews.

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yeah I second OP’s opinion.
I was coming back from not 6 months but fuc##ng 1 year and xx months hiatus. More than 2000 reivews waiting back then. Took me like 3 weeks to properly come back.

If you are at like 3000 reviews maybe you could reset about 5 levels or so (that would reduce the number of reviews as well as help you learn better cause probably you won’t remember many items from recent levels)

I’m so happy that I didn’t reset back to 1 or even 20 tbh. If you decide to comeback, then just slowly digest those reviews until they become 0 (for me 2000 reviews is like ~3weeks or so, that’s literally just the time it takes for 3 or 4 level if you go full speed). If you reset back to zero when you’re at level, let’s say mine is 40, would just cost about 40x7 = 280 days / 20x7 = 140 days (~9 or 4.5 months just back to where I was, that’s said I’m going full speed) (forget these words it’s just me murmuring)

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I see that now you have forward progress being above L40 again. Welcome back to the 漢字所

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