Testing new Review Ordering setting

We’re trying out a new setting for ordering reviews. In addition to the current “shuffled” ordering which will be the default, there will be a new “lower levels first” option. This can be tested on WaniKani — Log in under “Review ordering”. Giving some advance notice here since I know there are lots of scripts that interact with reviews. It’s going to be available on preview for about a week, and if it’s stable, will gradually add more users to it on www.wanikani.com.


I wish I saw this before I did my reviews 囧rz

Sounds like you’re finally making “reordering” a feature for reals! :astonished:

As much as I never relied of the script, I do recognize how many uses have done so. I think it makes sense to give some control over to the users for sure. :slight_smile:

I think that if I go through with reviving my subscription as planned this year, I’ll give it a try! (probs 1-3 months and maybe unburning some upper-level items is the plan so far).

Well, this under the assumption that this becomes permanent. I just think you have a solid idea going on. ^>^


Will lesson reordering be supported as well? I rely on that much more than reordering reviews.
(of course I’m going to hit level 60 in like two days so it doesn’t actually impact me I’m just curious)

For what scenarios do you reorder your lessons?

Since we’ve only added a “Lower Levels First” order so far, I think the only impact on lessons (if we applied Lowest Levels First to lessons) would be:

  • After level-up, your prior level vocab lessons would come before your new level’s radicals and kanji. (We still shuffle the queue slightly, so some of your newly unlocked radicals and kanji would still sneak through).
  • Any newly introduced items on lower levels would show up first.
  • If you previously abused a reorder script such that you have a backlog of lower-level vocabulary, that vocabulary would come first.
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You didn’t ask me, but maybe you’d like another opinion as well :wink:

I like to spread out learning the kanji, so I will always filter my lessons queue to give me so many kanji and so many vocab. (in my case, it’s set to 5 kanji and 10 vocab and all radicals - other people use different numbers). There is currently script that does that.

On top of that, I would like the vocab of one level to be randomized, because when going in order, I will always get all vocab that’s related to one kanji in one session, which is a bit boring tbh… also it leads to false results because if I did not know the kanji then I will only fail the first of those vocab in reviews, but the subsequent vocab will likely be ok because I was reminded of the kanji. Therefore if I would get a mix of vocab with different kanji in each lesson, that might be more helpful, I guess.
I previously used the Reorder Ultimate script which did that automatically (on top of other things) but it’s broken outside of compatibility mode, so currently I have no script to achieve that.


There’s a new reorder script which should be able to do that for you. I think you could make a preset with shuffle as the first action and sort by level as the second one to get the behavior of the old reorder script. :grin:


Ah, thanks! Will look into it :blush:

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@WaniKaniJavi / @TofuguRob

Just curious - do the WaniKani staff have any notes on what they feel the pros and cons are of each option?

Is the theory that the “Lower Levels First” option would help out users who don’t always get through their reviews every day, allowing them to still keep items from lower levels progressing, despite having stalled out on their higher level items?

Are there any other perceived benefits/drawbacks that we as end users can use to gauge which option is right for us?

In any case, I definitely appreciate the effort to give your users more options! I know it can be a hard line to draw between staying true to the vision and paradigm of the platform, and letting your users customize their experience - I’ve really appreciated WaniKani’s restrained, baby-steps approach when it comes to configurability, rather than just giving everyone the world, and letting us all make messes of things on our own :sweat_smile:


We analyzed about a dozen sort orders with a few goals in mind:

  • Help people pace their journey on WaniKani without needing a deep understanding of the system.
  • Help people reduce or eliminate large review backlogs.
  • Help people address leeches.
  • Avoid changing the system in ways that can create new traps or temptations that people can fall into.

“Lower Levels First” was the only review order that achieved all of those.

Yes, that is one of the main ways that people end up with a backlog.


“Lower Levels First” statistically favors your prior-level vocabulary before your new-level radicals and kanji. If you are able to keep up with your reviews, that doesn’t affect you much, if at all. But if you spread your reviews out – a dozen here, a dozen there – “Lower Levels First” will automatically ensure that you are able to finish most of your prior-level vocabulary before you level up. So, the system essentially adapts to your pace to prevent you from being overwhelmed with new lessons. (You could simply stop doing those lessons, but some people feel overwhelmed just seeing a growing number of lessons, or they feel like they have to do them as soon as they become available).


There are a few ways that people build up a backlog of reviews:

  • When you leave WaniKani for a while without turning on Vacation Mode, your reviews will accumulate.
  • When life gets tough and your accuracy drops, you will have more items dropping back to Apprentice, which increases workload.
  • Sometimes people misuse reorder scripts in ways that cause accumulation of certain item types.

“Lower Levels First” forces you (statistically) to reduce your backlog before allowing you to do reviews that would trigger level-up.


Here, I am defining leeches as “items that you fail repeatedly at higher SRS levels”.
“Lower Levels First” moves leeches toward the front of your review queue because leeches, by definition, are going to be lower-level items.

Side effects

“Lower Levels First” is a great option for most people. We really tried to eliminate any negatives that we could think of.

“Lower Levels First” affects:

  • Pace control: It can limit how fast you will level up, but only if you aren’t keeping up with reviews, so it won’t affect people who are focused on speed.
  • Interleaving: “Interleaving” is affected slightly, but not in a way that we think is significant. The benefit of interleaving is in seeing the similarities and differences between related things, so it is really only a factor when things are related. There isn’t a strong relationship between things on, for example, Level 10 and Level 40, so reordering by level isn’t changing that very much. In fact, “Lower Levels First” is probably a net benefit for interleaving, because items on neighboring levels are more likely to be related than items on non-neighboring levels.
  • Randomization: Randomness helps eliminate “review hypnosis”, where your learning decreases if your brain’s attention level is reduced due to too much of the same kind of review. Also, randomness helps prevent your brain from inferring relationships between items that aren’t really related, such as a small set of items that always appear together because you happened to get them wrong at the same time. Well, we’ve added a “distance shuffle” algorithm that keeps the general order needed by “Lower Levels First” while shuffling the order slightly to retain some randomness.

Wholeheartedly agree. Sorted by level was always my preferred way to review whenever I was unable to finish all of my reviews


That was a fantastic explanation - thanks a ton for the detailed write-up!

While I usually get my reviews down to 0 each day, I’ve certainly had those occasional build-ups over a busy weekend, and don’t see any downsides to switching over.

I especially appreciate the way this will always push leeches to the front of the queue as well. Given that leeches usually require a bit of extra brain power anyway, having them be the first thing I see in a new review batch will probably increase my chances of retrieving the correct answer.