Strategy for not getting overwhelmed?

I’ve just reached level 6 for the second time in a year (restarted in January).

Getting back to level 6 was fairly fun and easy, as I could more clearly see the items that confused me the first time around.

I’ve reached a point where I’m starting to see items that I haven’t seen before. Knowing what it’s like to get buried under heaps of reviews and making mistake after mistake, I’m trying to approach things more strategically.

In addition to using my mobile device to work on reviews when I’m not near a computer (something I never tried on the last go), I’m making more time throughout the day to get to reviews.

That said, my question now is about how to approach lessons.

On my first run, I felt obligated to get through all the new lesson available as quickly as possible. This lead to me mixing up items and getting their meanings or forms confused with one another. Naturally, this made reviews painful.

This time, I’ve been tackling 20-25 lessons every couple of days, allowing myself more time to have reviews of new items in smaller batches, and doing more self-review of mistakes.

My question: Is this a viable strategy for someone who does want to get to level 60 in a year (or a little more)?

Should I just be plowing throught the lessons as quickly as I can and rely on the reviews to whip my brain into shape, or is it better to feel in control of the new material and learn it more slowly?

Ultimately, I don’t mind if it takes significantly more than a year to get through the material, but I’m wondering if I should “trust the tool” or be more conservative about progress.

Caveat: I’m old and my brain isn’t as flexible as a 20-something’s (or 30- or 40-something’s).

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The only possible way to get to level 60 in a year is to go as fast as possible, which means doing all lessons when they are available and getting almost nothing wrong so you aren’t prevented from leveling up.

I don’t recommend this.


I think you can also get there by doing 20 lessons a day, but yeah it’s impossible to finish in a year without feeling overwhelmed. I’m doing about 15 lessons a day, which is a nice pace but my finishing time will be around 1 year and 6 months roughly. 10 lessons a day might be 2 years+.


You’ve realized that you get overwhelmed doing all the new lessons at once. Some (very few) can do all new lessons at once, but those are typically speed-runners who have a strong background in Japanese and/or lots of time to devote to WaniKani.

The question is, what’s a good pace for you…?

For me, I limit my lessons to 3 in a batch, because the default 5 was not good for my learning. 1-3 sets of new lessons (i.e., 3-9 new items) is typically my comfort zone in a day. But occasionally I’ll push it up to 12 new items or so. But on other days I don’t do any new lessons (if I’m not feeling comfortable enough with my review load).

Really, you kinda just have to figure this out through trial-and-error, because everyone’s situation is a little different. But in general, a certain level of “a little push and stretching” is better than “strain and fatigue leading to burnout”, at least for most of us.


I do 12 lessons per day (max, since depending on unlocks it could be less) and my projects put me at reaching level 60 roughly next summer, which will be about 2.5 years total of using wanikani


Be conservative. Trust WK as a tool to get you through a significant amount of kanji but not their marketing on the 1 year. Still, I’m on a Lifetime membership and have switched from the 2-year to the 3-year, to the 4-5 year plan, and I’m pleased with my overall growth in kanji learning.


The trick for me was to pre-learn the Kanji so I could do those lessons as soon as they became available. That way the levelling up continued as fast as possible.

I used a reorder script to all Kanji became available first before the vocab. Then I spread out the vocab lessons over the next few days.

I did reviews as soon as they became available to keep the review pile small.

That way I finished in 368 days. The tempo was very doable except for the last ‘fast levels’. There you unlock all the Kanji at once and you can do those levels in 3.5 days, but in hindsight I should have done those a bit slower - the reviews really pile up at that speed.


As a complete scrub who is taking learning Kanji relaxed i sometimes dont do lessons for 1-2 weeks just so i can cement the new stuff. On the flip side ive sometimes done a lesson or 2 and found that they were either obvious or things i already knew from grammar.

If you feel yourself getting snowed under just stop lessons for a week to let your brain catch up.

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question is: why do you need to finish in one year? Work related? School related?

If not, there is no need for hurry if you take as a hobby. I did just like that and I am here 2,5 years into WK doing reviews and lessons everyday and with estimate to hit lvl 60 in october. But hurry was never in my mind while here.

Actually now I am in search what SRS I will take after that. :sweat_smile:




Hey there. I’m also someone who has restarted, and I’m also in the “older crowd” from what I can gather. Never made it past 10.

I definitely relate to the overwhelm of too many reviews as well as the confusion/mixing of similar kanji meanings. I had to come to terms with the fact that I simply do not have the resources to hit 60 in year (whether that be time, brain power, etc etc). When taking in new kanji, I will do about 5 per day. It’s seriously hard to stare at the lesson pile with a stack of 40+ items, because I want to to as fast as possible. Doubly so for a day with light reviews. However, the next day usually reminds me why I specifically DON’T try to speed through my lessons. As long as I get through my review stack, every day, and then get at least 5-10 new items done, I am happy. Sometimes I’ll even skip new items if it’s later in the day. It depends on how capable I’m feeling. Sometimes you can go faster on the purple vocab items, since they kind of “make sense” and IMO are a little lighter cognitively.

Ultimately, I had to be honest with myself. Everyone says this, but it’s true… WK is a marathon. You are winning every day you show up and move further along. I installed the Overall Progress Bar to help remind myself of this. Maybe it takes me 1000 days, but that means that I have a lot of days of showing up if I want to fill in all those colors!

Screenshot attached :slight_smile:

My last piece of advice would be to consider how you’re feeling about the workload of new items VS. reviews. If you need to do more or less, just be honest with yourself. If it’s too easy, push yourself. If you’re overwhelmed and all the kanji is blending together, step back a few. Press that “Wrap Up” button to end your reviews earlier. Leave some unfinished. There will always be more tomorrow.

It might also be more advantageous to try doing an even smaller number of reviews, but doing them every day.

In short, do what you are comfortable with. There is no award for finishing ASAP. (Besides maybe only paying for a year, but … I don’t know if it’s good to think of that as a reward.)


I just got overwhelmed and did it anyway.

Living in Japan, and being able to read/speak the language would be a huge help.

Thanks for all the replies. It’s good to know that I’m not missing out on some benefit of SRS by going at a pace that feels more comfortable.

I do find myself seeing more and more kanji I recognize on things like highway signs, (e.g. 北九州) which is a huge boost to morale and keeps me coming back multiple times a day.


I do at most 5 kanji, or 10 vocab items per day. 80 total items including reviews. If I have more than 80 reviews in my queue, I don’t do any lessons that day. I use the Review Summary script to see how many I’ve done, and get a sense how I’m doing.

I sped through to level 54 with the “all lessons right away” strategy on my first attempt, and that spiraled out of control. I ended up in vacation mode for several years after that. A year and a half ago, I essentially declared bankruptcy and reset to level 30, adopting my current strategy, and it’s been pretty much smooth sailing ever since. Most of the kanji I ran into since the reset felt new to me, which is an indicator of just how much the old strategy wasn’t working.

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Same here, old brain, have restarted a few times already.
I changed my strategy around level 10.
Daily lesson includes 8 kanjis and 16 vocabs — if available. I set the batch size to 8 in the app. I do use the Reorder Omega user script so I can do my 16 vocabs even when kanjis are still available.

It takes a bit longer than doing all lessons as they appear, but the workload becomes very regular. Here is what it looks like:

  • Left half: lessons as they appear.
  • Right half 8 kanjis / 16 vocabs / day

Level duration has been around 8 days since level 3, with all levels between 7d and 9d. These are still somewhat « easy » levels, though. I’m not sure I can keep this pace for the Hell levels…


Kanji knowledge will only get you so far, especially finishing WK in a year. You will have a much looser grasp on Kanji than if you go at a pace that works for you. The first year I did WK, I “knew” all these kanji, but never used them for reading or speaking so while I could pass my reviews, I was still completely useless in Japanese at level 32. It was when I started reading, and having conversations regularly that my Japanese ability improved. So I recommend getting a tutor and not depending on WK so heavily. Focus on building your vocabulary and grammar, and go through it with a iTalki instructor on a regular schedule. That will at least show you where you are actually.


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