Should I clear all my Vocab lessons before leveling up?

So ever since I started using the reorder script leveling has become MUCH easier, but I’m noticing that my lesson pile for Vocabs doesn’t really shrink. I’m still doing them, but each level adds more and more Vocab words and I’m getting to the point where I’m wondering if I should stop leveling for a bit and just finish them all up before getting to the next level.

I do like learning the Vocab since it helps reinforce my memory of the various Kanji and Radicals, but I’m wondering how important they are in the long run for the SRS. Will slacking on my Vocab screw me over at some point or are they not really as important?


I did 7 day levels for the majority of WK, and I never skipped vocab. So depending on how much time and patience you have for daily reviews, it can all be done.

I wouldn’t wonder how important they are to the SRS, but how important they are to your Japanese.

Knowing kanji is great, but WK teaches on’yomi for the vast majority of kanji. That means you can work out at least the reading of a lot of jukugo words. Not even necessarily the meaning. And you’d not have the benefit of all the actual vocab that WK teaches you. Basically all verbs use kun’yomi, so you’d have so much to learn at a later point that you can learn right now.

With just WK vocab, reading already opens up quite a bit at the higher levels. If you skip WK vocab and don’t do vocab in any different sources, you still can’t use your Japanese by level 60, even if you went hard on grammar.

I personally never advocate for skipping it. They reinforce the kanji you learn, and you need vocab to use Japanese in any fashion. If you’re adamant on skipping it, I think that should only be done if you’re already heavily using other sources to actively learn vocab.


Reasons for clearing all vocab lessons before leveling up:

  • You feel anxious when you see more than 0 lessons remaining.
  • You believe that WaniKani vocabulary words are the only Japanese words you’ll ever need, and thus if you learn them all well, you’ll be set. (Spoiler alert: This is false.)

Reasons against clearing all vocab lessons before leveling up:

  • You want to level up faster.
  • You believe that WaniKani’s leveling up is too slow, compared to how fast you want to learn kanji.
  • You want to cover a certain percentage of kanji to prepare for a certain Japanese test level.
  • You know how to effectively use [Userscript]: Reorder Ultimate 2 [newest]

I’m wondering how important they are in the long run for the SRS.

The SRS leveling is based on having all radicals and kanji being reviewed to the “Guru” level. See How Do I Level Up? | WaniKani Knowledge

Vocabulary review status has no effect on the SRS level.

Will slacking on my Vocab screw me over at some point or are they not really as important?

Nothing will really “screw you over”.

As long as you continue studying bit by bit, over the long run, you’ll learn more and more.

I personally decided to not clear vocab lessons before leveling up, and I’ve ended up with a pretty big backlog of both vocab reviews and vocab lessons:

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This backlog doesn’t bother nor worry me because I study a lot of vocab using other apps outside of WaniKani such as


This characterisation makes no sense to me. :thinking: You’re saying the only people that do WK vocab lessons are those that somehow labour under the impression that WK is an exhaustive and comprehensive vocab package?

I’d say the majority uses it exactly as it is meant:

reinforcement of the kanji, while also allowing them to learn a few hundred, if not a few thousand common and useful vocab with the benefit of having full mnemonics written for them.

Of course there are those that don’t care about the radicals and mnemonics and that’s perfectly fine. But for many, it’s an easier way to learn words than to just stare at new vocab on anki cards.

The way you say it made it sound to me like you’re implying only people that are misinformed about the depth and breadth of vocab would ever bother with the WK ones.

And I agree with this. ^^ People definitely don’t have to use WK vocab - as long as they are doing vocab somewhere.


I think they’re important to retention of the kanji readings. Ignore at your own peril. For what it’s worth, there are threads here from time to time from people lamenting their abuse of the reorder scripts to avoid vocabulary. Matter of opinion, I guess. And there’s some sample bias there, people who do fine don’t run to the message boards to complain about it. I’d say it’s definitely possible though (and IMO likely) you will regret doing that.


You would make a great White House press secretary


I often remember kanji as used in vocab. And I strongly associate readings with vocab. I can’t imagine remembering the kanji without doing the vocab lessons and reviews.

There’s no point chasing higher levels in WK. It’s just a game token after all that roughly corresponds to how well you know kanji on WK.


Personally I think the vocab are more important than the kanji. I usually remember the readings through the vocab or at least enforce it through them. Also, when you are reading Japanese you are reading WORDS, not individual kanji. Only knowing the kanji won’t get you very far. You also miss out on the alternative readings for example for the verbs, which are quite important.


I done the same thing for a couple of months. Skipping vocab in favour of kanji and radicals. The vocab backlog just kept steadily growing and in the end I still had vocab lessons from 2 levels back giving me the evil eye from the bottom of the lesson pile. :imp:

Granted that’s totally on me but,

More importantly, I did find it really negatively impacted my ability to remember the kanji if I hadn’t done the associated vocab. Even now, kanji from back then are far more shaky in my memory.

Now I clear all vocab before levelling up, can definitely confirm it helps with retention. :slight_smile:


I’m going to suggest trying my Lesson Filter script instead of the reorder script. While it’s still possible to neglect your vocab lessons if you use it irresponsibly, it’s easier to learn all of the content because it allows you to learn kanji and vocab together. Basically, every time you go to do lessons, you get to pick how many radical, kanji, and vocab items you want to learn. As long as you always do 2-3 times as many vocab as kanji (when available obviously) you’ll never end up with a backlog of vocab items. (This only applies after you clear your current lesson backlog of course.)


Seems I’m using reorder script backwards. I always do all vocab lessons first. Then radicals and kanji. Anytime I unlock more vocab, I do those before continuing with the kanji. Making my leveling take longer I guess, but I feel this way is ideal. Reinforce the kanji I’ve seen, before seeing new.


This is exactly what I’m doing.

I’ve reset twice now. The first time through I was all about the levelling, so I would reorder vocab last. I started pretty diligently but after level 20 things started to get hairy and I was a few levels behind in vocab. It was also pretty depressing to see so many lessons in the queue.

This time (and last time), I’m making sure I do all vocab on the lower level, before even attempting any radicals or kanji on the new level. It takes some self-restraint because I love learning new radicals (and they’re often the easiest). It means I level a bit slower, as I take a few days to get through the vocab, but I’ve found it gives me some space to breathe and it’s so nice having no lessons or reviews every now and then. I feel like I might actually have time to finally dust off Genki now and finally get up to speed on grammar.

I hated vocab the first time through. After a while I realised how much easier it was to remember readings if you know a few words that use the kanji. When they did the radical (and audio!) overhaul I figured it was a good time to reset again. This time, I’ve got a real focus on pronunciation and pitch accent, so vocab is now fun. I have an extra level of things to remember (do I remember the pitch accent pattern and can I pronounce the word correctly).

I don’t think it really matters how you study - as long as that method is sustainable. It’s when things get too overwhelming (too many reviews) that you start to slack off and before you know it it’s been months and you’ve lost motivation. I honestly don’t care about the levels any more, only that I’m improving and that I’m sticking with it. If I have to go a bit slower to do that, then that’s fine.


I clear previous level vocab before advancing (now I’m done with lvl 6 vocab, and start V7 while waiting for last K7 to bake). Even the simplest common words (teacher, weather) are presented by kanji combo that is hard to guess correctly, and I’m sure it will go worse at more advanced levels. Another example - would you ever guess that “lively task” means “conjugation” (makes it’s easy to remember though since learning conjugation is not gonna be a lively task for me :slight_smile: )

I use Lesson Filter for that instead of reorder, and mix kanji and vocab (1:2 approx) each day. Still much faster level-up than default WK way.


I envy that. Every time I say I’m going to start holding myself to pitch accent rules, I… don’t do that. I’m not good at the honor system thing, which is why I can’t have the reorder script at all.


Feels like you don’t need to reorder lessons at all.

If he doesn’t use it he’ll keep getting kanji lessons even after he gurus some kanji from the current level. If he goes slowly it could be several days before he gets vocab lessons to reinforce the gurud kanji.


Thanks for all the quick replies, everyone. I really appreciate the advice given so far.

Yeah, I wasn’t planning on skipping Vocab but I noticed I was slacking on it so I got a bit worried. Although it does seem my worries were well-founded so I’ll try to focus a bit more on my Vocab.

I’ve read about this a lot from skimming through the various threads on the forums and avoiding the “gamey” mindset has really helped me focus more on learning overall vs inflating my level.

I forgot you learn the alternate readings in the Vocab lessons. That’s a good catch and I would have been pretty screwed later on without those learned.

Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll probably switch to this script and see how it goes.

See I’m not actually trying to focus on leveling, but since I’ve set up Reorder Script to go Radical>Kanji>Vocab and I do it this way because I find Radicals easiest to learn and then the Kanji since it also unlocks more Vocab, but I find myself leveling up before I manage to even finish learning all the new Vocab which is annoying.


You don’t need a script for this.


I always do vocab as soon as it’s available. There’s no pressure for me to finish the course, so level up speed doesn’t concern me. You can configure Reorder to always show vocab first, so that’s what I’ve been doing.

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Of course it’s false. It’s a total strawman. I do all the vocab and have never believed this.

As a counterpoint, nearly every word I’ve learned on WK has come up while reading all sorts of materials.