What happens when you get a word wrong? This is so hard

If it’s like guru or master, it goes right down to the same as if you’d just learned it?

I’ve somehow climbed to level seven, but I feel like I’m cheating… half the words, I just keep adding the red pronunciations together (if there’s two kanji), or try some dumb wordplay to remember the weird pronunciation if it’s followed by hiragana. And I know a bunch because I watch anime, but that’s not going to last at higher levels I assume…

Can regular people (ie. non-language specialists, single language people) actually get to level 60?


It doesn’t reset to Apprentice 1 when you fail a Guru or higher word. There’s a useful script for keeping track of the sub-levels in WaniKani, so that you can know if a word is Apprentice 1-4 or Guru1-2.

You’ve just started, but I don’t follow as to why you think you’re cheating. Are you not remembering the readings and meanings on your own?

Plenty of “regular people” have reached level 60, but that doesn’t mean much outside of “having completed” WaniKani. This is a tool for Kanji and Vocabulary memorization. You want them memorized so that you can actually use that information when consuming Japanese (written) content.


No. Specifically (from the Wanikani guide):

How does it work?#

How are the SRS stage decrement calculated? The following formula is used:

new_srs_stage = current_srs_stage - (incorrect_adjustment_count * srs_penalty_factor)

incorrect_adjustment_count is the number of incorrect times you have answered divided by two and rounded up. srs_penalty_factor is 2 if the current_srs_stage is at or above 5. Otherwise it is 1.

Let’s pretend you are trying to get the kanji 大 to guru, and you’ve already learned 大 during lessons. Here are your answers:

  1. Correct (+1 stage, so it’s now at SRS stage 2)
  2. Correct (+1 stage, SRS stage 3)
  3. Correct (+1 stage, SRS stage 4)
  4. Incorrect once before getting it correct (-1 stage, SRS stage 3)
  5. Correct (+1 stage, SRS stage 4)
  6. Correct (+1 stage, SRS stage 5 GURU )
  7. Correct (+1 stage, SRS stage 6)
  8. Incorrect three times before getting it correct (-4 stage, SRS stage 2)


So, if you get a Guru+ item wrong once, it drops 2 lvls - keep getting it wrong in the same review session, it will drop futher


I’ve never paid attention to the actual system for that happens when you get something wrong. I just let WaniKani hammer it into my brain until I finally burn it.
But for the rest of the post, most people think learning kanji is hard, but many still manage to learn it. I used to think “I’ll never be able to remember all of this” but I do because of constant application. You need to read Japanese outside of WaniKani. You can start now even at your level. Do you follow Japanese people on social media? That helped me a lot to read Japanese everyday and the posts are usually short so they’re not overwhelming.


So, I am level one and thereby my opinion can be taken with that in mind. Yes, learning Japanese is very very hard. I barely have a grasp on hiragana and katakana. I am very bad at languages- of all the subjects in school that I took, foreign language was the only thing I didn’t naturally remember.

However, in my totally noob level of experience, this seems to be working well to help commit kanji to memory. It took me months to learn hiragana and a few weeks to learn katakana (my excuse is I have a demanding job and 3 young children so I only can study ~30 minutes a day a few days per week). This system presents things in a way that I seem to be remembering much faster. Lowering the level of the item and increasing its frequency in the spaced recognition system is how this learning system assists you in actually committing this ridiculously obtuse and difficult stuff to memory. So when you get it wrong the way that it puts it in front of you again faster should not be taken as a frustration but as a helpful feature. Also, pulling this up in a browser at work for 10 minutes in the middle of the day is WAY faster and easier than pulling out a book and a bunch of flashcards and writing out vocab, so I think this tool adds to my study time due to the short lesson interval and convenience of use.

Maybe if you are straight up guessing then you are kind of doing it a little wrong? If you try to use mnemonics at all and try to consider the items then you are building the blocks of memory in your mind. When I have been partly distracted and unfocused, then I forget the items and don’t recall them the next time they come up. When I take the time to re-review the explanations and mnemonics after getting it wrong, stop for a moment and consider the item carefully, I tend to do a better job when it comes up the next time. Again, I have been using this for about 5 days and have not got out of level one, so what do I know. Some of the more complex vocab has taken a lot more time than the initial radicals for me to commit to memory.

More important than the usefulness of the advice I can offer, at least I can offer encouragement and sympathy - Yep it’s really rough, but if you commit your attention and energy towards learning this stuff using this system, you can likely find success!

Good luck!


You cannot keep guessing. You need to READ and LEARN the mnemonics. If they are not clicking with you, you need to make up your own.

Also, I moved from around 85% accuracy to around 96% by doing the following:

  • Actually re-reading the Kanji meaning and reading before taking the quiz (Not just clicking next next next, pausing and re-reading the 5 new items of the lesson)
  • Reminding myself the 2 (or more prounciations) per each kanji
  • Reviewing early in the morning, before lunch, and late at night.

But that’s the whole point - using mnemonics to help us memorize the items! And in many cases the pronunciation of jukugo words (words consisting of several kanji) is actually a mere combination of the on’yomi readings of each of the kanji it consists of. There are exceptions, but this rule still works in many cases. So, there is nothing wrong with your approach!

Well, I know quite a lot of people who have reached level 60 and who are not language specialists, so - yes.
So, let’s continue our journey to level 60!

P. S.

What happens when you get a word wrong?



yeah, that’s how you remember stuff. using associations or relations while extensively practicing over time. this is probably the fastest way. but it will still take you at least 1-3 to know it correctly. the system makes sure that you manage to remember overtime. if you aren’t, then that means you require more practice. after 3 times of getting the word wrong and going back (in a span of a month or two) you should have it burned. it’s really useful that the site takes that to consideration and forces you to remember things instead of just practicing.

however, just knowing how to recognize is not enough as well. you need to practice your vocabulary properly. you should also know how to write as well as how to read, and that requires deeper knowledge. again, although it’s useful, knowing the kana doesn’t mean you know the language.

eventually being able to read and understand the language after 1-3, and being able to fluently speak the language after 6 years is my goal. I’m not sure what you expect. reaching the highest level or reaching nlp1-2 is not something you do on a weekend.

english is my second language. I started learning it young and managed to learn enough to say I know it when I was 16, so I don’t think 6 years is that unrealistic. however, I kept on learning as I do now, daily. it’s not easy to know a language. even 6 years might not be enough. especially if you’re not practicing correctly.


I think 6 years is just too long, and I encourage you to halve it.

English is also my second language, but we cant compare apples to apples here: We did not have SRS systems in our laptops and smartphones, plus multiple grammar sources when we were kids-younger (15-25 years ago, I’m 35)

We need to take advantage of the systems and methodologies available now, they are not only faster but much more effective. I’m setting 2 years as my milestone(started in July 2019). 3 at most, as grammar has been a lot more complicated after reaching the N4 material so I’m considering an extra 6-8 months of heavy grammar-practice.

This one?

For me, I find it helps if I think of the review sessions just like flipping through paper flashcards - it’s not a test, so it’s ok to get it wrong. If I can’t think of the right answer quickly, it just means that I need to study that item more, so it makes sense for it to drop to a lower SRS level.

I’d really encourage you to read through some of the posts made by people who reached level 60, if you haven’t done so already. All kinds of people make it to level 60 in all kinds of different ways. There’s a collection of their posts linked from this thread:


You’re doing great friend, keep it up!


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