Worried about retention

Agree with all of the above. Especially , you need to add reading. Satori reader is a superb site. Also try readin a news article everyday. Use something like SerpentiA Japanese dictionary to check words. But one thing I didn’t see mentioned when I was scrolling through is that forgetting is an important component of the process of learning stuff. It’s actually necessary so that you can reinforce your recall so dont sweat it. If your retaining about 80 % that’s great . Just go at your own pace. Dont make the mistake of comparing yourself to other people. Cramming ability does not necessarily lead real long term retention.

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This is impossible without using the “undo” script and simply blasting through the Kanji without really learning it. Either that or having an eidetic memory which is extremely rare.

Something I’ve come to dislike is that people post about their “1-year journey” and post their 95+% accuracy stats without admitting that they abused the “undo” script relentlessly.


As someone with similar goal like you (in my case, I want to be able to read Japanese novels), I understand the rush. However, there’s no need to compare yourself to others since our memory and retention work differently.

If you have build enough basics on grammar, I really suggest you immerse more on reading. If you think NHK news or other graded readers will bore you, you can choose an easy game (Japanese-wise) that really interest you, play it an hour a day (or up to you how long), and finish it no matter what. That way, you will not get bored, learn some vocabs and kanjis on the way. You will realize at the end of the game that you have improved reading speed and some repeated words on the game are instilled in your brain!

I’m actually reading a novel right now for the first time. I vowed to finish 10 pages a day. I started realllyy slow; I needed 2 hours or more. Then, now on my 20th day, I can read the 10 pages in less than an hour. This is because I got used to the narration and have memorized words the author repeatedly use. Most of these words are not in WK, but uses the kanji introduced by WK, so it helps in reinforcement.

Since you want to be able to play games in Japanese, it’s better to build game core vocabulary early on. It’s okay to get low percentage on reviews, especially since WK incorporates so much vocab that you may not use at all. Don’t worry, I still get wrong answers on political and baseball stuff here, since I don’t really encounter them a lot.


There’s a hint button?

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hey may ask what’s your daily review routine?
Do you review all items (aka make your review count to 0) everyday?

personally I try to do my reviews 3 times /day (I have full time job)
one when I commute to work, maybe small reviews at lunch break
one when I commute back home
last review in the evening after dinner.

I make sure that my reviews count to 0 before I go to bed (or as few as possible)

maybe throw some lessons in those review ss.

my 2 cents: do reviews everyday, have enough sleep (yeah very important for your memory retention), and don't abuse undo script.

lol that code style is god

oh and 80% is goodperfectly fine. I feel like if you know the kanjis in the lesson already could you easily achieve 90 or above (or abuse undo button :D)

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I do reviews a minimum of three times a day, and if work is slow I do more. I clear them before 8 AM when I start work, and some mornings I can knock them out as they come up. If I can’t I try to get to them at noon. I hit them up at 4 PM if I’m unable to say on top of them during the afternoon, and then I clear them at 11 PM before I sleep. I’m getting about 200 a day, but I try to keep the queue less than 50. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. Depends how big of a wave comes at me, and how often I can get on the site.

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Eye shaped button.

That feels like a strange statement :thinking:
I feel it’s much more common for people to abuse the reorder script instead, but usually they are upfront about it. It’s also definitely possible to just have crazy speed and accuracy by spending say 5~6 hours a day studying. Definitely not recommended because of the burn out that would ensue, but there are definitely people out there who did just that. Or simply come to WK with previous knowledge of kanji. For instance, as I mentioned previously in this thread, I came to WK knowing about 1500 kanji already on which I had a virtual 100% accuracy, 95% means exactly 80% accuracy on the rest, so definitely doable considering they are peppered through the levels and thus can get more focus than if I had to learn everything at once :woman_shrugging:

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Do you know about the time it takes for an items to get from Apprentice I > II > III … then gured in each stage separately (that should be beneficial for timing your reviews)?

I personally won’t do review at 11 P.M. cause that hurts memory alot.

Depends how big of a wave comes at me, and how often I can get on the site.

this feels like there would be day you woudn’t do review or do very few reviews. If so, I strongly suggest that you should create a routine (maybe the same as what I said in my first post), and stick to that routine everyday.

edit: a member here has created a very useful guide to properly have better reviews session. I hope it helps.

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Why are radicals your lowest percentage? Are you using or discarding them?
1-20 is arguably the most important/fundamental levels so it’s not for nought for extra time.

If this were me, rather than resetting WK, after getting your aprent/guru count back to something reasonable, I would opt to vacation WK and replace it with a KameSame routine. I personally believe you don’t really know a word unless you can produce it and WK should have probably had an integrated En->Jp system from the start but likely it would have discouraged too many users. However it would prevent alot of people from going too fast along with restarts or some or the reorder shenanigans I read often. If you can get a reasonable level of mastery on KS, I think your WK reviews will look alot easier. Plus you may be inspired by a new format for a change even though it’s the same material, just a different perspective.

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I felt so bad for having a low level of retention for some time. But based on the poll in this post you are not alone. Is really 90+% the norm? 2/3 often have low scores. Yes, you and I are both not going to be able to complete a level in 7 days and remember the vocab and kanji, but is it even necessary. We are trying to learn, and you are more often correct than wrong, you are making progress. Don’t forget that!

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I do think that your accuracy is low enough to be seriously hampering your progress (3 steps forward, 2 steps back). Brace for a disheartening comparison but: With slightly fewer lifetime reviews than you (241k), I’ve recently reached level 60. I don’t consider my memory to be very good either (history and Latin were easily my worst subjects in school).

So I think you are right to be worried, and should consider whether there’s a way to improve your retention. I’m not sure what your learning process is like, but here are some techniques I’ve used to help things stick:

  • When you do lessons, make sure the mnemonics are sticking. After a set of lessons, I go through all the items on the “lesson session complete” screen again and make sure I know the meaning, reading, and mnemonic.
  • For early reviews, again make sure you remember the mnemonic and not just the meaning/reading. Even if you don’t need to lean on it yet, you will later.
  • When you get an item wrong, see if you can remember the mnemonic. If you can’t, go study it again. It might be helpful to go through all incorrect items on the “review session complete” screen and make sure you know them now.

So yeah all of my advice is pretty much the same: Make sure you’re using the mnemonics. :sweat_smile:
Even though WK seems to think that you won’t need them after a while, I still find myself using the mnemonics for burn reviews and I think that’s OK. Remembering is remembering even if it’s slow.

Absolutely true, I am one of these people, six years living in Japan, studied a little at university and studied abroad in Tokyo for about a year. Even after that knowledge before starting WK, after about five moths, I have only been averaging a level up time of around 9/10 days. So I think OP is doing fine tbh. I agree that additional reading or exposure would be beneficial especially if OP isn’t in Japan. Keep the reps going, the SRS needs to do its job as others have said. I left for a month recently as was in Japan for a holiday and my accuracy bombed so badly, proof that everyday is required for SRS to work.


I think there is definitely a correlation in going fast and retention.

  1. People who go fast probably are doing something else in addition to WK and that helps associating words in many different contexts. These people tend to have a bit more time, too.
  2. The faster you go the faster you get to native material and you get to have even more associations with different things you do, be it reading, playing games and listening to podcasts.
  3. If you go fast, by the time you have reached 60 you haven’t even had burn reviews for half of your lessons, and that is probably where people get their worst accuracy reviews. Especially true for the later lessons where the words start to become much more abstract.

All in all I think the worst thing to do is to take it slow and stick with the basics until you master them. You can’t master them until you go further and gain a deeper understanding of the language. I would not worry about numbers or compare yourself to others. That said, most important thing in the end is to have fun and keep a worload that can be a constant habit.

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I think the majority of people who have average stats and don’t make it their goal to power through Wanikani like it is their last chance usually just don’t post how they are doing that often.
You usually see posts from people who are extremely good, extremely bad or feel bad without actually being bad (like you).
Don’t compare yourself to others too much.

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Lots of stuff to think about in here, even the level 60 guy who did 40 more levels than me in the same amount of reviews! If he has a bad memory, maybe I need to get checked for early alzheimer’s or a neurological disorder.

I don’t feel bad about my stats any longer since sub 95 or sub 90% is a lot more common than I realized. I try to keep a routine but for those of you with a full time job and family, I’m sure you know that things can and do come up all the time that interrupt that routine. We do the best we can I suppose.

I did hit up NHK News easy and read the first paragraph of an article today. It’s really a lot of effort! I hope that with consistent practice that gets easier.

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Haha, I definitely don’t think you have worse memory. My point was really that investing time in techniques to improve retention might save you effort in the long run. If mnemonics aren’t doing it for you, maybe practicing writing would? Or perhaps reading more as other folks have recommended is the ticket. You’ll have to figure out what works for you. Shoot for 75% - 80% scores on reviews.

I got a lot more responses than I thought I would, so I’m trying to digest them all and think through how I can apply them to my situation. My reviews are definitely around the 75% or higher range, with an occasional one dipping down under that. Last week I had a busy day at work and was just burned out and didn’t feel like doing reviews in the evening but then felt guilty and decided to clear them out before bed. I was so tired but I powered through 80 or something like that and ended up with a 45%. Thankfully those days aren’t the norm.

I think the reason my lifetime stats are low are really from those 2000 review queues. I’ve had a few people suggest that I reset, and the first time I ever had a massive queue and wanted to come back I actually went as far as starting. I got a message from the site (or maybe an email, I don’t remember exactly) saying I could reset, but that stuff is probably still in my head somewhere. It seemed to be dissuading me from doing it, so I decided to just power through. I don’t know if that still happens when you reset now or not. Clearing a pile of 2000 reviews that you haven’t seen in 6 to 12 months really crushes your numbers :upside_down_face: and I did it three times, maybe four!

I’ve posted in Level 60 in 1721 days aka doing WaniKani the slacker way a few times so it seems much more likely that this is going to be me!

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Yeah I think you’re right that it’s the long breaks that have killed your overall accuracy. Sounds like you’re at a good pace now and generally getting enough accuracy so I think you’re on track if you keep it up.

I only did vacation mode once for 10 days or so and even that murdered my accuracy for a while so I know a bit about what that’s like. Good luck!


I thought an 80% accuracy was really good! Also you deserve props for destroying a 2 thousand strong view pile, your dedication can’t be questioned at all wow!