Question for upper levels 40+

I would like to ask upper levels if they had success overcoming a crash and burn like issue in your progress where you maybe started having retention issues, falling accuracy, lost motivation and any novel ways you maybe overcame them?

For my situation. I burned out hard after level 21. My accuracy tanked, which snowballed the time requirement and made me dread reviews. At about 3 weeks, no new lessons. Holding around 75% accuracy. Many items are in the spin cycle from Guru to Enlightened and not burning. I pick out a handful of words and knock out a few here and there by learning them, but I need to rethink going forward so this doesn’t happen again. 15-20mins per day is about all the flashcards I can take and also I need to save time for reading, studying etc. Goal is 10-15 levels per year. I learn a lot outside of wanikani, so slow mode is fine.

Thanks for reading. Would love to hear how you overcame a wanikani tough spot.


I don’t have the answer, but I’m in the same position as you so I’m glad you asked the question. I am dreading reviews. Have forgotten all those hard earned kanji. Accuracy is worse than yours. I have stopped doing lessons and now I have under 100 apprentice items, trying to do extra lessons for leeches, but it seems that everything is forgotten. Wondering what went wrong. :eyes:

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@alpha-WK @shabushabu While everyone goes about learning different, for me, I just generally didn’t worry about leeches. If you don’t remember it, you’ll get it wrong and it’ll come back quickly. I just made sure when it did come back, I read the mnemonic carefully or made my own. I didn’t think it’s worth worrying so much about, don’t do WaniKani with the expectation you will memorize every single item here, if you don’t learn it here, you will through reading or listening. And if you never encounter it, maybe it’s not that relevant to you.

Of course it’s fine to hold off on lessons if you’re forgetting everything, in that case you should look at how much time you’re spending on WaniKani, maybe you need to spend more time, maybe you’re doing your reviews several hours after they come. I’ve found the first two initial reviews to be the most important for my retention (4 hours, 8 hours).


Never really got into that situation, just did them, just found a way.

Doing them 8 times a day is easier than 1. Leeches doesn’t matter, in the end all you will get is leeches and easier to sort through.

If accuracy is bad and you don’t want to do more review, just do fewer lessons.


This is so true.


It really depends on how motivated you are. Personally my motivation waxes and wanes. Some days I feel like I can’t be bothered and others I can jam through a 200 review stack no problem. Taking breaks and supplementing your learning with shows and books will help in the long run, I think.


This happened to me around level 25ish, but I kept pushing until the upper 30s, where things really snowballed and came crashing down. Right when I got to level 40, I ended up resetting to level 37 because it just wasn’t sticking. Going back through really solidified the things I had trouble with. I absolutely wouldn’t recommend resetting all the way back to level 1, but maybe a couple levels back. Like level 19 or 20.

Some other things that helped:

  • Taking a long break with lessons. This was kind of unintentional, but it was actually super helpful in the long run. I still did reviews and did not turn on vacation mode. You said you’re fine with going slow, so I’d recommend doing that (and it seems like you’ve been doing that already).
  • I made a study log where I only update it when I level up. This has been very motivating since I really want to post on my study log but I can’t until I do enough reviews to level up. There’s been a few exceptions but I’ve mostly stuck to my level up posting schedule. A study log also lets me talk through my plans for studying and what has/hasn’t been working for me.

I don’t study most leeches, except once in a while I’ll study my vocab leeches specifically from levels 1-15. I picked these levels because:

  • they’re early levels for me, so I feel like I should know these by now
  • these are the levels where collocations (common word combinations) have been added to the lessons

So what I do is use Item Inspector to find vocab leeches from levels 1-15 and go through my worst 3 leeches, handwrite all the collocations + meanings, and say those collocations out loud. Handwriting is something that really helps me learn (although it’s not for everyone), and doing this also lets me see these words in context.

Other than that I don’t study leeches at all anymore unless they’re really annoying me. tbh with a lot of my leeches I finally learned them when I started reading native material.



This is true. I’ve wondered if I should do tons of lessons on the days I feel like it and review the other days while still roughly keeping my previous pace of roughly 6-9 lessons a day. Maybe my brain would like that more than lessons EVERY DAY FOREVER!


Never really experienced burnout but the weeks where my accuracy took a hit were the ones where I did reviews less often. Like if a friend was visiting in town, or something unusual was going on in my life, where I’d only do reviews once a day, or even miss a day or two, that week I’d feel a lot of stuff slipping. I can imagine how that could be discouraging, and create a vicious cycle of sorts, if being discouraged makes you want to do reviews less.

Sorry if it’s kind of unhelpful but I guess my advice would just be to power through it. It’s unpleasant now but it’ll save you from a lot more unpleasantness down the line. Especially with new material, just making sure you’re getting it in front of your eyes twice on the first day, and for the old material, trying to keep the reviews at 0 will make sure you’re seeing the material right when you need to.


Thank you all for your comments. So far taking the break and not worrying about it too much seems like a good plan. Soon my brain’s little tantrum will likely end and I can resume the lessons.


I don’t really trust SRS for memory; nor feel that a single mnemonic is enough. So, I try to remember the best when a new level begins. Also, I learnt to create and revise mnemonics if I feel I can’t remember. Nonetheless, if possible, I try to make example sentences the root of my memory, or find more examples. (If I don’t already somewhat knew or felt accustomed to the word.)

Also, I don’t really study leeches; though I occasionally notice them. Then, it’s not trusting SRS, nor dogged perseverance; but rather revising and rethinking whether memory will work. The point of revising is based on SRS.

I don’t always try to crush all Reviews at once; and make use of reorder (ultimate) and wrap-up. Nonetheless, I usually do multiple sessions a day, with each sessions like at least 50. I don’t do like 10 Reviews or lower. Either time wrapping or count wrapping, is the endurance trick.

I don’t intend to finish all Lessons at once, but I usually finish them quickly anyway; by multiple sessions in a day.

I don’t feel like 0/0 is necessary, but did that anyway; particularly for Lessons, less often for Reviews.


Motivation can fade and regain strenght in a cyclical manner. Sometimes I don’t even know why I’m studying Japanese anymore, and at other times I feel very empowered by this activity.

When I reached level 30-ish I slowed down sharply. I realized I didn’t want to spend 1, 2 or more hours every day of my present life doing hundreds and hundreds of reviews. I have a life outside of this hobby after all.
I started burning my first items somewhere in the 20s, and at the midpoint of WK the failed burns started to pile up and, overall, the number of items in the review queue was getting too overwhelming. Currently I do no more than 10 lessons a day with no more than 3 kanji per lesson, and this has been helping me get the daily reviews number down.

I don’t really care about accuracy; I guess according to WKStats mine is of 90% overall. Who knows what that means? Personally I allow myself to cut myself some slack as English is not my mother language and so many mistakes I commit come from misinterpreted English translations (i.e. I know what the word means but I have no clue what type of translation WK chose to accept as correct) or typos.

I’ve been doing WK for almost 2 years now and at this point I keep doing it as part of routine, and pay little attention to how much or little I have to redo this or that item that will probably forever be a leech. I guess I embrace the leech.

I’ve found a reasonably comfortable pace that allows me to level up every 2 weeks. I’m also not worried at all about pausing my progress if I need some time to recharge, having done so twice before.

I feel like I take WK in a very laidback manner, contrary to a lot of users who are truly learning monsters and pay a lot of attention to every aspect of this.
I follow the standpoint of doing it in whatever way one is comfortable with. Everyone is different. Take it easy and don’t forget that having lower accuracy than expected, feeling like taking a break or slowing down is not the end of the world.


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