Pace too Slow for Intermediate Learners (?)

As a lower intermediate learner, I have studied a fair number of radicals, kanji and vocab already over the past 3ish years. I tried picking up WaniKani before at a friend’s recommendation but quickly dropped it because it didn’t seem to give me any new kanji and I felt like it just wasn’t progressing.

Upon returning recently, primarily to use WK as a revision aid I’ve sort of worked out how WK works - get the radicals right 5 times to get them to guru and it will give you the kanji - level the kanji the same to get it to guru and when you’ve completed the kanji for that WK level you’ll progress up the levels.

I’m due to go to Japan to study at a partner university in August/September and I’m hoping to be placed in their intermediate class (its a little more advanced than my current level but the beginners class would be way too easy for me as I’ve already studied like 80% of the course’s content). Due to this I’m hoping to score around N3 level on their placement test on my arrival and so have been using WK in hopes to polish up my kanji (I’m a little rusty and its always been a little bit of a weak point for me, as it is something I frequently push to one side when doing other university work).

I thought if I could get to WK Lvl 20 in around 3 months I should be doing pretty ok. I think all N5, N4 (save for 質 and 貸, which are at Lvl 24 and 27 respectively) and 243/367 N3 kanji are covered by this point - only really leaving me around 120 kanji to self study in the meantime.

I thought it was a pretty reasonable speed especially as I’m not really doing anything else at the moment due to covid, border closures etc. leaving me out of uni and work for the time being. Alas, WaniKani’s review speed is so painfully slow I’m realising that there’s no way I’m going to cover that many levels in that time :roll_eyes: My plan to do a level every 4 days was pushed to every 5 days but then Lvl 3 is taking more than 8 days to finish (?!). Some of the kanji only need one more review but it says they won’t make it back into my reviews for another 2 days! I understand they don’t want beginners to burn out but I hardly have any reviews coming through. I’m finding it painfully slow and super frustrating especially for the kanji I know very well. I did see on another thread someone saying the fastest speed WK will let you progress at is around 6ish days (?) although WK doesn’t seem to be letting me go even that fast so idk :confused: The speed makes sense for beginner learners and I totally understand why it’s meant to be more effective but for people with previous study under their belt the speed feels really off and it seems strange to me that it doesn’t seem adaptive/there’s no way to adjust the speed for intermediate and above learners in the way you would adjust on Anki the number of reviews per day :confused:

It’s annoying because I really love WaniKani otherwise and I’m appreciating some of the vocab that I’m coming across that I haven’t come across/haven’t paid much attention to before. I know I gave up on WaniKani a couple of years ago for the same issue and I really don’t want to drop it this time but I find the speed of progressing so unmotivating. Am just about to upgrade to the premium but feel sore at the price considering the speed is so slow however nice the site is.

How do you other intermediate learners cope with the extremely painful slow speed?

So, sorry - Rant over :sweat_smile:


As a level 7 for three-some years and running, I don’t know if I count as “intermediate” anymore–or if I ever did, thinking about it–so this reply might need a grain of salt, so to speak.

The way I cope with WK’s speed is (or more-like was, when I studied WK with more intention) to match with the pace of the program. In other words, I don’t have a problem with WK’s speed. Which doesn’t resolve your particular concern, I know :sweat_smile: I don’t have much internal/external demand to level in WK at this point in my life, and see redundant learning of the (tiny) amount of items I already know as a chance to reinforce those concepts “one more time.”

That all probably doesn’t help you, though. What you might find handy, if any exist, are scripts or other community-created programs that alter the speed of WaniKani for you. I don’t dabble in scripts myself, but know that plenty Crabigator “worshippers” do. Maybe check out those sections of the forums for something to alleviate your issue?

Hope this helps.


The pace is pretty much set to help users avoid burnout at later stages. In the early levels you don’t have items from months ago coming back for review on top of the more recent ones. There are fast levels (around 3 1/2 days at max speed) and normal levels (around 7 days at max speed). Levels 1-2 are fast levels but you won’t see another fast level until you reach 43. So you can expect to only level up once per week at best.

If that time frame isn’t going to work for you then It might be best to use another method (or supplement WaniKani with the items you aren’t going to learn in time). I’ve personally found WaniKani to be the best method for long term retention I’ve used, so I recommend sticking with it if possible.

You can find a more in depth explanation on how leveling works (and lots of other useful information) in jprspereira’s Guide


Trust me, after the pace picks up and the reviews start piling up, it’s not feeling too slow. “The beginning is so slow” is a classic newbie (new to WaniKani) comment that is usually regretted after getting the burned punch in the face, it’s definitely become a meme in the community.

I’m currently leveling up at a pace ~8 days per level. I “cope” (don’t think it’s too slow) by knowing that WaniKani is made for the marathon and its review intervals is made for maximum retention efficiency (i.e reviews pop up just before you forget them).


I had a similar reaction during the first three levels, especially at level three when the normal review times start to apply rather than the accelerated times of the first two levels.

At the end of level three, I took some extra time to decide whether WaniKani was the right sort of thing for me to invest time and money in.

And I decided it was. :slight_smile: I found during levels 6-10 that there were several kanji I had trouble remembering. And when the Master–>Enlightened review came up at a month, there were things I had forgotten. Right back into the Guru pile they went, including some items I had never previously gotten wrong!

Now I am near the end of level 12 after four months. I delight when I find kanji and vocab I already knew before starting WK. I have slowed my pace of new material by leaving lessons in the pile until my Apprentice count is below a certain level. You can go pretty quickly if you want to. Maybe you can treat the first few levels as your training ground, where you get used to the pace of reviews and the interface.

I think you might get a lot of similar replies: WK is what it is, and maybe it’s not for you. For me, although I’m not in a hurry, I don’t think I want to spend a decade getting to level 60, so I don’t plan to dawdle. But I also know that my brain gets temporarily full, and I don’t want to get overwhelmed and give up.

I hope you figure out that WK is the right learning tool for you. It’s great for me. I have 1146 items in Enlightened, and I’m excited that in two months or so, the first of them will be giving me a chance to burn them.

One of the things I consider an exciting accomplishment is that when I tell folks about this project I’ve taken on, I can tell them I’ve learned over 400 kanji already, admittedly I knew some of them before I started WK.

In sum, I think I’d like to have considered myself an advanced beginner when I started. I reckon I came in with a little less knowledge than you have. The beginning levels were pretty easy. Now they’re generally tough. I’m learning more complicated kanji, and sometimes radicals with names that are hard to remember. I suspect you are also within months of learning a bunch of new (to you) kanji and vocab, and you won’t find the pace annoying at that point.

Good luck in your quest.


You also might want to check out this thread -


The minimum time per level 7 days and change. A lot of people have done that. If it’s taking you 8 or 9+ days per level, then quite frankly you are not going at maximum pace.

If you’ve already mastered the lower level material then your reviews should be blazingly quick and easy and it should take very little time out of your day, so I don’t see what there is to complain about. If not, then you haven’t mastered them.

Even if the WK stuff is pretty easy in the early going, there’s so much more studying you can be doing with your time. Grammar, listening practice, speaking, writing… enjoy the time while it’s low workload :slight_smile:


It sounds like

  1. you have a lot of free time
  2. you have a hard deadline (~3 months)
  3. you appreciate WK for what it is, just not how it fits in your current situation

In that case I would probably stick with WK as a supplementary source and revision aid with long term goals in mind, but probably look into cramming using other methods like this or this to make use of that free time. If you’re the programmer type you could also do something like use the api/scrape items and use that to go through the content at an accelerated pace (but that’s kind of a dick move yo). Alternatively, since you’re around the N4+ level you could always try reading a lot. There are options like satori reader, japanese io, or kitsun that can do a good job of integrating readers with an SRS platform (or use anki, whatever). I think that would be a more organic and useful approach in the long term, but kind of bad for testing purposes.

Either way, the responses here are too busy extolling WK’s virtues to point out that at a level a week max, you can’t hit your goals with WK alone or by trying to be efficient in your learning path. Since WK is too slow for you right now, do other things to use your energy. You can always back off or cut out what you don’t need to spend time on later.


The first levels are slow but you can use the time between two reviews to self study! I feel like WK reviews are a great way to put you in a “learning mood” :books:

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It doesn’t sound like WK fits your current needs, so I suggest you go with Anki or another alternative. In 3 Months, you’ll only reach a minimum of level 14, If I were to guess.

I don’t normally recommend this, but it might do it for you. There’s a script that allows you to skip vocabulary, and just do the Kanji (and Radicals, obviously). Try it out, if you don’t care about Vocab.


Hello, I also started WaniKani as a lower intermediate learner, so I know where you’re coming from.
If you go at a good (but not crazy fast) pace you should be around level 12/13 by the end of August. That means you will know most of N5/N4 Kanji and 1/3 of N3 Kanji, in addition to some N1 and N2 Kanji. If you’re already lower intermediate then you will know all these Kanji really well by that time and it will definitely help you in the placement test.

Before, I felt like I knew most of the Kanji, but after doing the first levels of WK I finally feel those basic 400ish Kanji are really burned in my mind. At around level 14-15 things will start ramping up really fast and you start wishing that things were actually slower :slight_smile: And by this time, it will actually aid you in your university studies.

Also remember that you will be acquiring some vocabulary along the way, so even in the earlier levels I felt like I was learning something, even though I knew 90% of the content.

Since you are on a tight timeline, it may be beneficial to use other methods to reinforce what you’re learning, but if you just cram everything it probably won’t be good for long-term learning. That’s why I would still recommend you sticking to WK so you can continue learning for the long term.

Now that I’m at level 35 after about 9 months, I can start reading more advanced books and materials and I don’t feel overwhelmed when I pick up a random book or I look at a news article. There’s still a ton to learn, but I feel like I covered most of what is needed to be functional without being overwhelmed and that’s probably a quicker learning than you’d get in 8-9 months at any course.

Hope this helps!

EDIT: I am assuming from your post that you’re hoping to be placed at a N3 class. As in, a class that you’re learning the N3 contents… and not to have passed N3… If that’s the case, WK will still be helpful, if you need to know all of N3 contents, then you will be far from that goal.


Read through the guide that @Rihn posted: My Journey of 368 days (+ The Ultimate Guide for WK 📖 )

It’ll show you how to achieve max speed.

The key is the 3 per day review split in order to catch the first two apprentice reviews on the same day.

Honestly though, if you have a set date that you need to hit, it would probably be better to keep to an 8 or 9 day per level pace and spend time on other studies.


I’ll deffo look into the scripts and see if they’re something I can wrap my head around. Coding has always been a bit beyond me and I actually dropped out of uni the first time I went after basically failing my class in AI coding :sweat_smile: (though that had a lot to do with our programme leader forgetting to actually put us in for our basic coding class that was supposed to go alongside it). If it just requires me to be a bit of a copy-paste code monkey I should be ok :joy:

Obviously we all have our different experiences with WK but its still nice to hear from others. Long term its my hope that my WK account will be in that position where I’ve covered the kanji that I have in real life (like you) and can just flick through it over my coffee as a refresher and use it as that sort of revision aid. My problem is just getting there. Thanks for the advice ^^

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I totally agree with with WaniKani being one of those methods that are just the best for long term retention. I can feel a difference when I’m reviewing the kanji with WaniKani in comparison to me flicking through my little handmade paper flashcards, and I really love the interaction of typing the answers in the reviews. It’s just frustrating to only get to do that for 5-10 mins a day. :sweat_smile:

I think the time frame doesn’t work for my short term goals but I don’t think that means WaniKani won’t work for me in the long term. Officially, I’ve covered about 630 kanji on my degree (although I won’t claim that I’m really confident with remembering all of those) so given that WaniKani has plenty more kanji than that, when I get a bit further along I will definitely be covering plenty of new kanji and it won’t feel so frustrating. In the meantime, I’m loving using it as a revision aid to refresh some of the kanji I’ve already studied but it would just be great if WK would allow me to go faster so I could hit that point where I have enough reviews.

In short I do think WK is a great product but I feel like it could be improved (and would be more valuable to many) with more reviews/day for faster/more advanced learners to bypass/level up kanji they get correct first time around faster.

I think it will still help, and I only lose like 5-10 mins a day - so its not like I’m losing so much by keeping up with it. Its just a shame that I can’t choose to invest more time into WK to progress faster (as I will still be spending the time on kanji just elsewhere).

Will check out your link to see if there’s anything new to learn about the levelling system though I think I get it now in a way I didn’t last year when I first tried WK :slight_smile:


Genuinely feeling very jealous of those who are ‘drowning’ in kanji later on :joy: Just feel like if there are so many complaints at the earlier stages even amongst those new to kanji, it feels like something is a little unbalanced in the algorithm. I just really wish there was some way for learners to bypass the kanji they already knew meanings and readings of/move them to the later proficiency levels manually/there was a placement test to quickly sort through the kanji you have already covered through prior study etc.

I guess what I was trying to ask was how do intermediate learners who have already learnt a fair number of kanji, who are new to WK maintain their motivation through the slow slog until they reach the point where they’re getting enough/preferably “too many” reviews :sweat_smile:


Dude, I feel you. I started out the same way. Personally, I get by for now with using KameSame alongside WK to study things that I want and zip past the content in KS that is below me. Also, there are a LOT of helpful WK extensions available if you don’t mind installing the Greasemonkey scripts that can fine-tune WK to your liking.

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I genuinely believe it is an amazing learning tool and when I get to that later point you’re talking about, an invaluable one. I suspect my experience will be very similar to yours in that respect ^^ Its just that painful slog getting to that point that’s bothering me :sweat_smile: I’ve officially covered 630 kanji on my degree (though many are in great need of revising), but obviously they aren’t in the same order as WaniKani’s so I will cover some ones I haven’t seen before, before I do cover all those that I have. There will be plenty of kanji that will be totally new to me throughout my WK journey just perhaps not many anytime soon :sweat_smile: I really look forward to my WK level catching up to my actual level ^^ In the long run I’m sure I won’t regret working through the slog, it’s just the short term I’m struggling through and was hoping others had some advice for maintaining their motivation through that period. I guess just holding on to the knowledge it will help in the long run.

Thank you very much for the well wishes ^^ I wish you the best of luck on your WK quest too~

Thanks, I will check it out ^^ Looks relevant :grin:


Just a moment ago I got this idea, and I think you can improve this method to fit your need. As a note: this is beyond the WK SRS, you can utilize self-quiz.

  1. Schedule your learning time & item
  2. Do quiz
  3. Schedule your next review based on your preference

And you have a lot of option on how you can divide the quiz pile, my example is by level and item type. But again, because it’s outside of WK SRS, you need to discipline with your own review time.


Just a B.T.Dubbs… I used to consider myself intermediate level. I had self studied (rushed) wanikani and studied up to textbooks as Tobira and 上級読解 and found my speaking and listening ability abysmal to my reading ability. A year or two ago I “restarted” and started going through Genki in a small class room environment, while still studying all of my other avenues, anki, iknow, wanikani (restarted), duolingo, and I realized at the end of my small class, how non intermediate I was after doing exercises at the end of Genki 2. My listening is laughable, and speaking is the same. My class made it better for sure. I am probably pretty dumb though. Probably air on that and not worry. Enjoy this slapper, while you bask in the meaning of existence

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