Why is the coverage for JPLT vocabulary so much worse than for JLPT kanji?

I’m preparing for JLPT N5 in July and I wanted to rely as much as possible on WaniKani for the vocabulary, mostly because… Well, mostly because I absolutely love it, especially compared to Anki and other flashcards apps.

I was pretty confident WaniKani would more or less be enough, because the coverage when it comes to kanji appears to be very high. For example, wkstats.com reports that by the time you finish Level 10 you should know 98.73% of the N5 kanji.

As I like to play with data, I scraped one of the many available (unofficial) list of words by JLPT levels and compared it against WaniKani’s. This time, the results appear much more disheartening: by the time you finish Level 10, you can expect to know only 38.28% of the words for N5.

I know that WaniKani only supports words that have at least one kanji in them (so that これ or きれい are excluded), so I ran a new test, this time excluding all the N5 words that were made entirely of kana. The numbers improved, but not by much. Now, by the time you finish Level 10, you can expect to know 51.20%* of the words for N5.

What’s your take on these results? I only started to use WaniKani a few months ago, so maybe this was a known thing, or maybe I made a mistake in my approach. In case you’re curious, you can find the coverage tables here, altogether with the data I used for the computation, sources, etc.

*The original post reported the incorrect coverage of 48.30%.

WK is a kanji learning website and the vocab is used to reinforce the kanji. The vocab is not taught for the vocab’s sake so there’s no need to look to cover all of JLPT or other lists 251446983644938240


What flashcard apps did you try?




When you removed the kana words from that list, did you remove things like いちばん and ある? Those are words that are taught on WK, but are in kana on the list.

Also I’d be curious to see the list of “words not on WK but on N5”.


Off the top of my head: Anki, Quizlet, Tinycards, Japanese (the dictionary), StudyBlue, FlashCards++. If you have any recommendations, I’m all ears. The ones I tried are either functional but ugly or difficult to use (e.g., Anki), or nice and easy but lacking in functionalities (e.g., Quizlet).

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Oh boy, here it comes!


Oh, wait, I see, you’re just asking why some N5 words aren’t taught in the first 10 levels? Because if you go all the way to level 60, you get much better coverage.

It’s just that on N5, you will never see 眼鏡 or 帽子, even though you need to know めがね and ぼうし.

Since this is a kanji learning site, and those are difficult kanji, you don’t learn the words early on.


Apart from the fact that WK is primarily for learning kanji and the vocab is only for reinforcement, WK also orders kanji in a different way than the JLPT does.
In the JLPT kanji list you have mostly simple kanji that probably overlap pretty well with WK’s ordering, but there’s also lots of “easy N5 words” on your list with more complex kanji, like 冷蔵庫 or 自転車 or 郵便局 (that also include kanji that are not in the “JLPT N5 Kanji” list because they probably appear with furigana in the test, but you’re still expected to know the word). These words will only appear in later WK levels because of the more complex kanji.


Yes, I removed all words made entirely of kana. Though in the process of responding to your other question I realized I didn’t filter words such as コーヒー because ー was not in my original regex. I’ll run a new test and update the coverage tables soon.

Sure, here are some: 上着, 両親, 今晩, 伯母さん, 入口, 八百屋, 初め, 叔母さん, 夕方. If you’re interested I can provide you with the full list.

伯母 and 叔母 are on the site. People can apply さん as necessary.

初めに is also on the site, which effectively teaches 初め.

入口 as well, though it’s the okurigana form, 入り口.

Anyway, not trying to nitpick the whole thing. Others already addressed the main points.


I don’t think these are all N5 in their kanji forms


I posted it here because I wanted my approach to be nitpicked. :+1::relaxed:

I understand how 叔母さん would be covered by 叔母, this is easy to address. What about the 初めに? How’s that the same as 初め? Please, bear with me as I only started to study Japanese a few months ago.


It’s 初め + the particle に. This use of に is usually taught in N5, so I think people would recognize it.

So when you learn 初めに is “in the beginning” and に is usually something like “in” you can work it out.


Understood, thanks for the explanation!



I personally use Kitsun.io. It has the JLPT decks you look for and much more. I tried Houhou, Memrise, Anki, and never got into any of them.

You can see a post of me talking about Kitsun.

There’s also Torii, which a lot of community members seem to enjoy.


Thanks a million for the recommendation. I just registered and it seems exactly what I was searching for. It’s sleek, functional, powerful and intuitive. I need more time to play with it but the first impression has been a very positive one!


Glad you enjoy it :grin: The creator is a level 60 WK user. Feel free to post on that thread I linked you, in case you have questions/suggestions. He’s very willing to help and listen :slight_smile:

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