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How to Train for a Spelling Bee

There's more to winning a spelling bee than memorizing words. Here's how the champions train.


  • Step 1: Read Read as many books and news articles as you can. Good spellers are almost always avid readers.
  • Step 2: Get the bee list Study the official word lists that are used in district, county, city, regional, and state spelling bees. They change annually, and are provided to participating schools.
  • Step 3: Learn hard-to-spell words Study words that are frequently misspelled. Find collections of them online or in bookstores.
  • TIP: Look for word lists put together by the E.W. Scripps Company, which sponsors the National Spelling Bee.
  • Step 4: Study Latin and Greek roots Learn Latin, Greek, and other roots as part of your training. Asking for a word's language of origin is allowed at spelling bees, so having this knowledge can help you figure out how to spell words you've never heard before.
  • Step 5: Memorize spelling rules Memorize spelling rules such as "I before E except after C." Knowing these spelling principles is a great way to train for a bee.
  • TIP: Don't think you can just "memorize the dictionary." The one they use at the national bee has more than 472,000 words.
  • Step 6: Study Study as much as you can. Most competitive spellers train every single day. Remember, just like getting to Carnegie Hall, getting to the National Spelling Bee finals in Washington, D.C. takes practice, practice, practice!
  • FACT: Up to 10 percent of the kids who make it to the National Spelling Bee championships each year have older siblings who also got that far.

You Will Need

  • Reading
  • Word lists
  • Knowledge of word roots
  • Spelling rules
  • Study

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