In my Kanji class, over the course of the semester, we have four kanji review tests. Each of these tests makes up 10% of our overall grade. Each test covers about 60-70 kanji that we have learned recently along with a couple hundred compounds, about 10-15 radicals and some stroke order questions. The few days before these tests are kanji hell, grinding and memorizing kanji every free second for several days.
I just got my first kanji review test of the semester back today. I got 97% (applause, applause) and needless to say, I was feeling pretty damn good about it.
As I was on my commute home, I was checking out various signs and advertisements picking out words in kanji that I have learned over the last few years. I start thinking about the number of kanji I know. I can recognize and read about 300 hundred kanji, and I can consistently write about 100 of them correctly. Impressive, right? Only for a third grader.
I have been studying kanji for about 5 years and I can recognize about 300. There are about 3,000 kanji in common use. What this means is that I know about 10% of the kanji necessary to read a newspaper. Sometimes it does not pay to have a sense of perspective.