Overwhelmed with reviews and don't know what to do

I’m not really sure how to say this so hopefully it makes some sense.

I started WK some time ago, and I really like the system - I credit it with helping me learn kanji which is something I didn’t think I’d be able to do nearly as easily. I also really like that it makes you want to study, and learn, and show up every day, so I’ve been saying to myself that it’s okay if I don’t spend say 2-3 hours a day learning as long as I try for about an hour and I’ve been pretty good at sticking to and accomplishing that - at least for a while.

The problem has been that I’ve gotten busier, and it’s been far harder to stick to doing the reviews. At some points I’m genuinely too tired to do anything and (this is bad. I know) I’ve ignored doing them. I had a point where I got to 500 reviews, and decided to power through them and get back on track, only to stop again and now it’s up to 1311 and I don’t really know what to do - obviously I need to get back to doing the reviews, but I worry that it’ll happen again in the future. So my question is twofold:

How do you work through a large and daunting review pile?

How are you supposed to prevent a situation like this from happening if your schedule is inconsistent?

I’d like to learn, still, and got the lifetime subscription during the recent sale, so my passion is there, but I’m really afraid of the amount of time and work to get back to “normal”, especially since I can already tell that several items that I’d been getting to grips with have been forgotten.

Thanks for any help that’s given. I do really appreciate it…


Here’s my suggestions.

It seems to me that you need to fix the amount of time you want to spend on WaniKani rather than the number of reviews. It’s much better to study a little every day than a lot every few days.

Don’t look at the review pile as a bad thing. Be happy that there is something for you to review when you log into WaniKani.

Don’t do any new lessons until your review pile is under control.

Also, if you have access to WaniKani on a mobile device, just do 10 or so at random times during the day. It’ll help.


Tackle it 50 or 100 a time, or if it’s seriously a huge mess and a slog to go through (say you’re getting around 30% accuracy when you finish 100 items) then you might want to reset to a slightly lower level. Doing all of them at once creates a cool review effect and you can do it if you’re capable but it’s also an easy way to burn yourself out when trying to get back into the “groove” of things.

You’re certainly not alone though. Personally I kind of got lazy over the summer and came back to 800 reviews. Did 'em all at once, felt like garbage for those four hours but after those four hours I was free. Finally free. Probably one of the best feelings you can get after a huge review pile.


The first thing to do is to hold off on doing more lessons until you get your reviews back on track. Then start doing reviews. If it feels daunting, just concentrate on doing, say, 50-100 at a time. Every little bit gets you closer to picking through it. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by reviews, I’ll set a goal of doing 50 and usually end up ‘accidentally’ doing 50 or more extra. The important thing is to remember that doing the reviews is genuine progress, even if you’re not doing lessons. Every review cements a little bit more info into your brain.

Once your reviews are stable again, then you can address an action plan for current and future lessons. Since you know your life is busy, going full speed is probably not the best option. But you can pace yourself by 1) only doing a set number of lessons per day (maybe 10 or so) and/or 2) keeping your apprentice items under a threshold by stopping lessons once your apprentice items reaches that threshold (common threshold is 100, but you could even do 75 or whatever keeps you on track). You won’t level as fast, but that’s a good thing for a busy schedule. The goal isn’t to reach level 60 in a year, it’s to set a pace that will allow you to learn while keeping you from burning out.

Finally, when life gets really busy, it’s okay to take a break. When I feel like ignoring reviews, I usually find that it’s significantly better to turn on vacation mode than to just let reviews pile up. This is a ‘use with caution’ as 1) it delays the SRS, potentially hurting recall, particularly for apprentice items and 2) it’s tempting to stay in vacation mode once you’re in it. My personal rule here is to only turn vacation on when I’m on my second day of ignoring reviews and plan to ignore them for the rest of the day or if I know I have something coming up that will interrupt reviews, such as a vacation or exam time at school. And then, when I do turn vacation on, I’ll set a date to turn it back off so that I have a fixed point to get back to. This way, I’ve managed to weather the storm of work and school without turning my back on WK completely.

TL;DR - Push through reviews, stabilize, and then pace yourself! And take breaks as needed.

By the way, if you really feel like you’re going through your review pile and just not remembering things, there’s no shame in resetting back a level or two, just to get back on your feet. 1000 reviews is not the worst I’ve seen people push through, though, so give those your best shot before a reset decision!

Good luck! You can push through this and get on track! We believe in you! :muscle:

  1. Never do lessons if you have more than 150 apprentice items

  2. Use the self-study quiz with leech filter to review the apprentice items 4 and guru items 1 that you keep getting wrong.

  3. Do reviews in small batches (use the wrap button).

  4. Do reviews when you wake up, before going to bed, and use your smart phone to do reviews when you have short 20 minute breaks.


Due to personal time commitments, I rarely get to do my reviews “on-time” and they often end up waiting hours and hours. My advice–especially if you’re always super busy and it always seems as if you just don’t have the time to sit down and dedicate a chunk of time to WK (I sympathize…) is to chip away at it 10 at a time on your phone using the “wrap up” button.

Brushing your teeth? Do ten. Walking to your car? Do ten. Using the bathroom? Do ten. Taking a short break between tasks at work or school? Do ten. Eating lunch? Do ten.

You get the drift. In this way, I actually manage to get through dozens of reviews without much extra time–I am taking advantage of time I’d be spending anyway. If you wait too long and don’t remember the kanji, the SRS will take care of that for you by sending it back into queue.

Incidentally, when my reviews are manageable, this is also how I do lessons, but in batches of 3-5.

It’s not the “optimal” path to completion, but it’s what I am able to consistently manage every day.


:point_up: This. So much this. This is my life.


It’s okay to pause reviews if real life becomes too busy. I had a wave of depression hit me really hard this past December, to the point I stayed in bed for a week. Putting your account on vacation mode is a breath of relief and you don’t have to think about all the reviews you have to catch up on.

While it’s paused, you can get back on your feet and spot any open spots in your schedule you might have and work your reviews in there slowly.

Good luck! Sometimes just sitting down and grinding reviews is relaxing in of itself too.


I was busy with classes and burnt out. I took a break and it stacked to over 1400. To help me get through them quickly I installed the script called “The Final Countdown.” If you don’t have it then I highly recommend trying it. What it does is it limit the time you have to answer a question, it defaults at ten seconds and it pauses after you input an answer. So far It has been a few days and now I am almost back on track. I like it so much that I think I am going to keep it on, it really saves me time.
Also, I recommend scripts to be able to mark something right or wrong if you input something incorrectly. However, I don’t remember what they were called.

1 Like

I took a few months off WK recently and came back to a ton of reviews. It helps to come up with a schedule. Say, I’ll sit down and do 30 reviews, 3 times per day at 9am, 1pm, and 9pm for example (and no new lessons). That helped me to get back into the habit (and a good schedule for doing the lessons later). The other thing that helped a lot was the Self Study Quiz - [Userscript] Self-Study Quiz. You can make custom study sets, so I made a few where it felt like I needed to study a bit outside of the reviews, such as “all apprentice items in levels 10 or lower” for example. I wanted to get rid of those since those were items that were hanging around that I really should have known by now.

Another thing a lot of people mention is to watch your Apprentice count, which is definitely good advice. Right now I’m trying to keep mine well below 100, closer to 50 and my reviews have been really manageable. To do that, I’m ending up only doing 10 lessons or less each day. Good luck with catching up again! I hope you can find something that works for you!

1 Like

I’m an idiot and hit delete on my first reply…man it’s been a long day! sleepy durtles…

Thumbs up to doing a little bit here and there. I’m new to WK but when I have a few minutes I sneak in some reviews. I snuck in 10 reviews before my meeting with a client yesterday. Only took a couple of minutes and they were done. I also have a ton of flash cards (about 200) I review on anki everyday. This used to be a huge effort, but now most of them are learned and I have gotten it down to about 20 minutes to review all of them.

With Anki I get bored (as most people do)…so I break it up into little 5 minute increments throughout the day. Today I did 192 cards in 17 minutes. This used to take me over an hour! Even still, I cannot do all these reviews at once. I find that breaking it up into about 5 min blocks each, some during lunch, sneak some in here and there it’s less painful.

I’m dreading when I have to start on the next batch 2k or so of vocab with Anki…but in some ways it has helped with WK knowing some of these words in Hiragana already. I digress…

If you are seriously bored and don’t want to study, then consider taking a little break. Drop it into vacation mode (not sure what that will do to your reviews) and take a mental reset. Then go back and work on knocking them down. Do a few at a time like everyone suggests and when you get tired stop! Someone else mentioned that if you are missing too many reset a level. I would say maybe, but first just work them off.

When I feel overwhelmed with any of my studies…I stop and go back and see where I came from and go back to doing a little bit everyday. To quote a durtle fish…“just keep swimming!” You don’t need to overwork yourself and push through at the risk of burning out. Sometimes it’s worth taking a mental break so that you don’t lose your desire to enjoy the journey, trek…pain…whatever it is of learning 日本語.

Think back to what you know now vs what you didn’t know x years ago. Then look at how much farther you have to go, it may be depressing, but it’s reality. It’s a lot easier to be honest with yourself about the workload and that may also put into perspective. Break it up into smaller chunks and be realistic about how fast you can make them go away along with what new will come up along the day. Yes you can sit down and grind through, but that’s just going to discourage you. Maybe do 20 in the morning, 10 at lunch, another 20-30 at night. It may take a few weeks, but you shouldn’t burn out as quickly and hopefully by then some motivation should return!

Don’t beat yourself up…Languages are hard! (at least I think so)


For your 1300 pile, just jam it out. Even if you get a lot wrong, that is ok. SRS has a way of reminding you what you get wrong and testing again :wink:

I would add to keep an eye on your Guru pile as well. I’ve been in the 700-800 range lately and its like a sleeping dragon that is starting to wake up. Undoubtedly, you will probably create this once you jam through your pile guru up. Though I’m ready to start a new level and an have a ~140 apprentice…I can’t move forward till probably the weekend. Bottomline, review the timeline and check your personal schedule before moving forward. Certainly study outside the SRS system or even reset your level as many people do.

1 Like

I know how you feel. I get a little overwhelmed by reviews every so often. What I do when my reviews get on top of me is just do 500 everyday. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less. It doesn’t even need to be 500. It could be as low as you want or as high as you want. Don’t do any new lessons until you’re caught up and don’t worry about getting them all correct. Just get thought them. That’s the important thing. That you’re back down to zero reviews. And also as a heads up if you do this method it might take a couple of weeks to catch up and for your review load to stabilize.

Alternatively you could just brute force your way through them, but considering your post here, you’re probably already burnt out and doing 1300 reviews in one sitting would probably be the final nail in the coffin for your motivation.

Hopefully this might help a bit, Sorry you got behind on your reviews. I know how frustrating it can be.

Not like I’ve ever had about 3000 reviews I’ve had to catch up from.
Oh wait I have.


I was about to make this exact same thread lol so I think I’ll just post here. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone.

I took a long holiday and forgot to put on vacation mode so came back to a lot of reviews and now it seems incredibly daunting. That made me take even longer off so its now been quite a few months since I’ve looked at WK :frowning:

Then there was the radical reset, I chose today to relearn the urgent ones but I’m not sure how that will affect my review pile.

Anyway sorry for rambling just wanted to say you are not alone! We will both get through this and back on track, I believe in us. To everyone else, thank you for the ideas, I think I will install the self study quiz and see if that helps. I really dont want to drop a level but I might consider that if things get too hard…


This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.