(Un) acceptable failure rate

Is there a level of errors- failures to recall- that makes learning through wanikani impossible. My success rate is about 85% so far which seems OK.
But today I got the kanji for forest which I hadn’t seen for quite a while and never had problems with. I confidently typed もり more trees and obviously I am completely wrong. Clearly I am muddled with something- don’t know what. (I now remember really liking hitting hayashi before)
But I wonder if this is the start of getting all the early ones wrong. Is there a level of error which is just too high?


Could it just have been a typo? Or you confused it with 林? In any case, as long as you’re unlocking lessons, you’re progressing.


You will get things wrong, some stuff just won’t stick at once, and you will confuse stuff. Once you notice that you are starting to make TOO many mistakes you can do some studying outside the SRS, whether this is through leech training, comparing Kanji you keep mistaking, reading more context sentences, … is up to you. There will be some things that just don’t stick no matter what until you put in a concentrated effort, or until you keep getting them wrong for a long time. Especially between the longer SRS timings you WILL forget some things that you will have considered known before.

One of the other things that you should do to reïnforce readings and vocab is exposure to the language outside of WK, strictly adhering to an SRS system without outside exposure also won’t help with locking these words in permanently.

But in short, no there is no failure rate that is TOO low for Wanikani to work, but at a certain point you might consider learning outside of the SRS too, because otherwise it will possibly take a LONG time.


I think it’s just an indication of it not being burned in your memory yet. This is a feature not a bug of the SRS system. It’s frustrating to get it wrong after you’ve not seen it for a while, but that’s the whole point. I’m trying very hard not to get too hung up on results. My brain is going to learn at its own pace and definitely trip up along the way. That’s what learning is. I just wish more emphasis was put on “it’s ok to try things and get it wrong” rather than “You must get all the answers correct” during my school years and I wouldn’t have this weird anxiety over how much I may or may not be progressing.


Consistently hitting 66% or lower will make it really hard (as items in higher stages drop 2 stages for error and everything goes up 1 stage upon correct answer), but generally the more errors, the slower you will need to proceed (because the amount of returning reviews becomes large).
Sometimes you might get close or even drop below that 66% for a single review session, but consistently doing so is next to impossible. That’s because you still learn by simply seeing the items again / being reminded of them.

(もり) vs (はやし) is three trees vs two trees. I don’t think it’s an uncommon mix-up when you start out.


85% feels like pretty good. I’m fine with anything that is 80%+. As for mori and hayashi, they are very close in meaning. Think about it. If you were given a japanese sentence with a gap and had to choose whether to fill it with mori or hayashi, would you be able to tell 100% which one is the right one? I know I wouldn’t. Besides, I doubt anyone would completely misunderstand you if you used one word instead of the other. It just feels like a thing that only matters on wk, so if you are not planning to get all the 8896 or something burns, I’d really not care about that at all. And if it gets too annoying for whatever reason, your brain will probably remember it to avoid seeing it over and over again.

Unpopular opinion, burning is irrelevant to the learning process. Stats are irrelevant to learning. Burning with 100% accuracy absolutely does not mean you will never forget it in the future. I just use wanikani as an exposure tool. It exposes me to new kanji and reviews them are set periods in time. Then I go into my life and when I see them in the real world, there are some that I instantly know, so the burning worked, and then there are others that I remember seeing but still have to make to guess at, but it’s now an educated guess.

I burn vocab truly by actually using them while reading Japanese. Just burning in wanikani is never going to be enough for me anyway.

Basically I personally wouldn’t worry are all. Every wrong is still exposure.

(FYI, nothing bad about wanikani, it has absolutely been invaluable in learning to comfortably read Japanese. It just isn’t the all or nothing of learning)


mixing up two kanji, in particular related ones (森/林), is just a thing which happens.

80% or higher at the end of a session is acceptable for me, though it tends to indicate that i was tired or distracted. i’m happy with 85%, very rarely i see 90%… …haven’t seen a 100% on a major session since about level 5 or 6…

on my afternoon sessions, which are mostly first reviews, i might drop into the 70ties or even 60ties. but i’m totally okay with that. for me, the first review is mostly about seeing which lessons i’ve actually learned, and which i have to improve the mnemonics for.


exactly, OP should just wait until 糸 is on the let of every other kanji… That’s gonna hit the accuracy score even more…

also, when learning similar kanji, i put a focus on the difference between them: with 森/林, if i think of both of them as “forest”, i will eternally confuse them. instead, while 森 remains “forest”, 林 is “grove”. one is big and brooding and covers entire mountains. the other is small and pretty (possibly even groomed) and a little secret place for girls to share a kiss… (i watch too much yuri) :smiley:

1 Like

Thanks for all the replies. I hadn’t remembered that there was another kanji for forest so I was completely baffled why I got the meaning right but the reading wrong. I found that very unsettling.
Its really helpful to understand why and have some pointers for what do do, if I keep getting muddled. (I know its only going to get more challenging!)

There is as userscript that upon wrong review will show you possible candidates you confused with:

It helps to constantly remind oneself that failing a review is not a bad thing. It is good since you will learn the particular item better. As you progress, there will be more and more examples of the same English meaning represented by 2-3 different kanji, even more if you include vocab into equation, not to mention lots and lots of “visually similar kanji”. Each confusing pair or triple may require extra effort to master. Thankfully forum is full of helper threads where people share their tricks.


Well put. We are supposed to make mistakes, that’s part of life. SRS is made so we can learn over time, not to “beat a game”.


Failing something sucks, but it’s part of the learning process with WK.

If you keep failing something, the time you finally get it, your brain gets that hit of dopamine and says “HEY, I LIKE THIS!” which makes it more likely to stick the next time. After going through the HEY, I LIKE THIS process a few times, almost everything will stick eventually.

The only unacceptabl failure rate is total failure. And that only comes when you give up. Don’t do that; don’t give up. Just keep at it.


This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.