Scaling the review mountain part 4 - half done is well begun

Last year, I raced through Wanikani as fast as possible, reaching level 60, and then stopped after a year. However, I later realized that I had forgotten pretty much everything, so I resubscribed and attempted to start whittling down the pile of thousands of reviews I had accumulated.

I started this challenge on May 12th, 2021. In honor of the anniversary, I decided to start another thread, the fourth in all. You can read about my journey up to now in the previous three threads - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

One Year Older and Wiser

When I started, way back in May, I had 6218 reviews to get through. I naively thought that I’d mostly remember everything and that I could get through all that in just a few weeks. Boy was I in for a rude surprise.

Instead, I could barely remember anything, and doing reviews was like getting slapped in the face over and over and over. In fact, no matter how hard I tried and how long I spent doing reviews, my review count actually kept going up over time, peaking at 6618 before I finally gave in and reset my level. I initially reset my level from 60 to 48, which helped a lot, but still not enough. I ended up resetting again to 47, and finally to level 46.

Even after resetting, I spent months with little visible progress. However, I’ve been making much more rapid progress over the last few months. Here’s a graph of my review count over the last ~310 days:

As you can see, my review count was essentially flat for many months after I started and only started to go down very slowly. However, for the last few months, it has been going down much more rapidly. Partway through, I started tracking the number of reviews due in 7 and 30 days (the red and yellow lines above), and those have also started to decline significantly.

A look at the number of items I had in each SRS level over time also reveals a similar pattern. Below is a graph of my Apprentice, Guru, Master, Enlightened, and Burned counts over time.

First, you can see my resets at the left of the graph. (The review count graph above only starts after I reset to 46 in order to avoid skewing the graph, but this graph includes the entire year.)

Even after resetting, my Apprentice count continued going up for a while, peaking at 3107. Even after it peaked, it declined only very slowly for months.

The horizontal axis of the graph is days since I started, so the six month mark would be around day 180, a little to the left of the 200 line marked on the graph.

However, if you look to the right of the graph, you’ll see that things have been going down much more rapidly of late. Part of that is that I slowly got more familiar words over time, as I kept reviewing and failing them until I started to remember them sometimes. The other part is that items that started at Apprentice 1 (which is most of them) had to be reviewed and passed four times before they could graduate to Guru, so there was a lot of invisible movement at first.

Here is the same graph with the burns on bottom:

This graph also shows another interesting pattern. When I started this challenge a year ago, I had 3120 items already still at Enlightened from when I was doing WK back in 2020. Since it had been so long, I didn’t remember most of them, but I did get some right and managed to guess some.

Over the first several months, I very slowly whittled down the pre-existing Englightened pile. A fraction were burned, the majority, I failed and sent back to Guru (and then to Apprentice). Pass or fail, I gradually worked my way through them, so the blue area narrows significantly.

However, around the eight month mark, you can see that the blue area starts to widen again. That’s when all my successful reviews had accumulated enough to start kicking new items up to Enlightened (and eventually Burned). Since these ones are by definition items I already passed several times, my accuracy rate is now much higher, and I’m finally starting to burn items in significant numbers.


You Can do this :smiley:


I reached half of my peak (post-reset) review count today, hence the title “half done is well begun”.

Thu May 12 2022:
Time spent: 25m
Reviews completed: 135
Reviews remaining: 2667
Reviews in next week: 3160 (+493)
Reviews in next month: 3985 (+825)
Accuracy: 88.15% (119/135)

Current item counts:
Apprentice: 1292
Guru: 1424
Master: 958
Enlightened: 1234
Burned: 2244


money moves


Fri May 13 2022:
Time spent: 24m
Reviews completed: 131
Reviews remaining: 2721
Reviews in next week: 3152 (+431)
Reviews in next month: 3968 (+816)
Accuracy: 77.10% (101/131)

Current item counts:
Apprentice: 1283
Guru: 1412
Master: 966
Enlightened: 1239
Burned: 2252

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Perfect time to start the idea I was thinking about doing on the previous thread, here’s the data in comparison to the previous day :)

Fri May 13 2022:
Time spent: -1
Reviews completed: -4
Reviews remaining: +54
Reviews in next week: -8 (-62)
Reviews in next month: -17 (-9)
Accuracy: -11.05% (-18/-4)

Current item counts:
Apprentice: -9
Guru: -12
Master: +8
Enlightened: +5
Burned: +8

Let me know if you're fine with me doing this :)

I think that posting the differences like that will make it harder to find the daily updates for people who are looking for that. But I appreciate the desire to help!

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A Year of Reviews

Since starting Wanikani (again) a year ago, I’ve done a total of 32550 reviews and spent nearly 154 hours on Wanikani. Of those, I passed 24032 reviews, for an overall average accuracy rate of 73.831%. However, that average conceals important variation.

Here is a graph of my (smoothed average) accuracy rate over time:

As you can see, my accuracy was very poor, back when I first started a year ago. It makes sense since I had tons of high level items awaiting review that I never learned properly in the first place, and I hadn’t touched WK in four months, so I barely remember most of the low level stuff anyway.

39 days in, I was forced to give up and reset from level 60 to 48, leading to an immediate jump in my accuracy rate, since I didn’t have to deal with so many of the high level items I never learned in the first place. Note that this graph is a smoothed average, and thus understates the jump in accuracy.

Soon afterwards, I reset to level 47, and then 46, which helped a bit more. However, even ignoring the resets in the first two months, my accuracy has since very slowly climbed over time. It makes sense, since when I keep missing reviews over and over, I’ll eventually start remembering them sometimes, and so I’ve gotten a lot more familiar with the items on WK over the last year. (And getting better at Japanese in general probably helps slightly as well.)

Accuracy wasn’t the only major improvement over the last year either. Here’s a graph of my (smoothed) average review speed:

As you can see, when I first started out, reviews took forever because I couldn’t remember anything. I was only managing 1.5-2 reviews per minute. Even after resetting, I was lucky to even hit 2.5 reviews per minute. Since then however, my average review speed has slowly improved, and I’m now hovering around 5 reviews per minute, and often even better than that.

These two improvements are of course closely related. The biggest thing that slows me down when doing reviews is missing reviews, especially when I check the correct answer or look up related words so I’ll hopefully remember it next time. Familiarity with the words in general helps a lot as well - having more words I know instantly and fewer that I have to agonize about helps me go through reviews more quickly.

Meanwhile, here’s a graph of my (smoothed average) review time spent over the last year:

Counterintuitively, this shows the opposite pattern. In the early months, I spent a lot more time each day doing reviews. (The big dip at the start was when I was on vacation, as are most of the other big dips).

Part of it might have been the initial enthusiasm wearing off, but I think that increasing review speed also counterintuitively decreased the time I spent on reviews each day. When I go through reviews faster, I get mentally tired faster and have to stop sooner. Additionally, going through a higher number of reviews makes me feel accomplished so there is less incentive to keep pushing myself to try to spend an insane amount of time each day doing reviews.

Lastly, here’s a graph of the (smoothed average) number of reviews per day:

As you can see, the number of reviews per day has generally gone up slightly, even though I’m spending generally less time on them, thanks to the greatly increased average review speed.


畏まりました :)

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Sat May 14 2022:
Time spent: 3m
Reviews completed: 11
Reviews remaining: 2794
Reviews in next week: 3185 (+391)
Reviews in next month: 3976 (+791)
Accuracy: 72.73% (8/11)

Current item counts:
Apprentice: 1284
Guru: 1410
Master: 967
Enlightened: 1239
Burned: 2252


Sun May 15 2022:
Time spent: 18m
Reviews completed: 100
Reviews remaining: 2783
Reviews in next week: 3163 (+380)
Reviews in next month: 3960 (+797)
Accuracy: 85.00% (85/100)

Current item counts:
Apprentice: 1281
Guru: 1397
Master: 967
Enlightened: 1254
Burned: 2253

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Today was pretty disappointing, but at least I’m still making some progress.

Mon May 16 2022:
Time spent: 23m
Reviews completed: 116
Reviews remaining: 2780
Reviews in next week: 3191 (+411)
Reviews in next month: 3950 (+759)
Accuracy: 74.14% (86/116)

Current item counts:
Apprentice: 1269
Guru: 1396
Master: 970
Enlightened: 1256
Burned: 2261

1 Like

Another disappointment

Tue May 17 2022:
Time spent: 9m
Reviews completed: 37
Reviews remaining: 2834
Reviews in next week: 3221 (+387)
Reviews in next month: 3945 (+724)
Accuracy: 78.38% (29/37)

Current item counts:
Apprentice: 1267
Guru: 1392
Master: 972
Enlightened: 1258
Burned: 2263


For the last three days, all of my attempts at WK were disappointments, but this afternoon after work, I finally broke the curse and made up for lost time with one of my longest review sessions ever, where I did 180 reviews in 34 minutes (5.3 reviews per minute) at 86% accuracy.


16 kanji to go until I level up

Wed May 18 2022:
Time spent: 47m
Reviews completed: 236
Reviews remaining: 2669
Reviews in next week: 3165 (+496)
Reviews in next month: 3914 (+749)
Accuracy: 83.47% (197/236)

Current item counts:
Apprentice: 1249
Guru: 1371
Master: 983
Enlightened: 1282
Burned: 2270

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I’m pretty lucky, I work from home full time so I always have WaniKani open and I do the reviews on the hour as they come up so it doesn’t get to be too much. That said, I am only on level 3. Early on I saw posts of people who went a long time without doing reviews so thought it worth to keep on top of it. I can’t imagine hitting level 60 though, an amazing achievement, your Japanese must be great!


Same. I make sure to do them the second they’re available to make sure they don’t pile up… maybe a bit excessively but still. So far it’s worked to keep the review count low.


I think if I didn’t always have easy access e.g. if I was a builder, cashier etc, then I would do them once a day, but for now, I think it best if I just keep on top of them. I’m thinking the sooner you do the review the faster it’ll come around again meaning it should result in levelling up faster


That said, I am only on level 3.

You haven’t seen anything yet, then. I remember back when I started Wanikani in January 2020, I was pretty bored and overconfident since the early levels are so slow. But don’t worry, it gets a lot harder later on. Especially if you brute-force speedrun it like an idiot like I did. There was one point near the end where I was doing reviews for over two hours a day on average.


I guru’d two lvl46 kanji this afternoon, plus another this morning, leaving 13 to go until level up. It’s rare to even guru one, so three in one day was an astonishing coincidence. For comparison, I’d only guru’d eight in total since April 21st, including the three today.

Thu May 19 2022:
Time spent: 46m
Reviews completed: 242
Reviews remaining: 2530
Reviews in next week: 3109 (+579)
Reviews in next month: 3900 (+791)
Accuracy: 83.06% (201/242)

Current item counts:
Apprentice: 1238
Guru: 1350
Master: 994
Enlightened: 1308
Burned: 2274