As I predicted, exams caused a noticable slowdown. Which would've even been more severe had I not tweaked my learning routine a bit.
To save time I decided to stop writing out readings for recognition cards while continuing to write kanji + furigana for recall cards. Curious side effect: I have the feeling this helps me paying more attention to the correct pronunciation of words, since I have to verbalize the word in my head precisely in order to be able to compare my answer to the written solution in Anki. I guess coming up with an answer in a "verbalizing context" is somehow different to writing it down.
As for recall cards I started trying to always think of the pronunciation of a word first instead of the kanji. Reason: in conversations I need the pronunciation of a word immediately. When writing it is no problem to halt for a few seconds.
Two more weeks of exams to go. Won't manage to get to 1800 in 30 days I guess, but less than 45 should be doable. :)
Pun intended. Semi interesting kanji related observation:
I learn kanji by breaking them down into their parts and building mnemonics out of those. Since not all kanji are either simple — in which case it's reasonable to remember the single strokes — or composed only of other kanji, I necessarily have to carry some additional baggage along the way.
I wondered how this turned out for me up until now and created a plot. For learning my first 800 kanji I memorized 97 additional non-kanji characters (12% overhead). For the next 800 it was only 13 (1.6% overhead, 6.8% overall).
A minor slowdown. And exams are coming up, so I guess the next 100 will take a bit longer again.
It appears to be getting harder to find kanji that seem definitively rewarding to learn (i.e. are part of a lot of useful/frequently used words), but I've had such phases a few times before and my feeling always turned out to be incorrect. Given that there are sill 500+ 常用漢字 ahead I really hope there's still a bunch of non-obscure ones awaiting me.