HOW TO STUDY FOR A DISTRICT, COUNTY, REGION or STATE SPELLING BEE
District and County Bees usually start with a combination of the Scripps' Spelling Bee Study List and the Scripps' Spell It! list. Region and State Spelling Bees generally start with Spell It words and then go off-list after several rounds.
So, first and foremost master these two lists and be familiar with their definitions.
In 2013, the National Spelling Bee introduced a vocabulary element at the National level which required students to be able to identify definitions that were asked in a written, multiple-choice format. Since then, all bees, from classroom bees all the way to state spelling bees, have the option to include a vocabulary section; if included, the vocabulary sections would likely be in a multiple-choice format. The only way to know whether your bee will include a vocabulary section is to ask your spelling bee coordinator if they plan on having a vocabulary element in their bee. Hopefully, they will share this information with you, but regardless, there is no reason not to familiarize yourself with the definitions of the words because definition-based questions are very likely to appear in the National Spelling Bee. Additionally, learning word meanings creates the foundation to start recognizing etymological patterns that will later be helpful in 'figuring out' the spelling of words based on their meanings and language of origin and vice versa.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I STUDY?
We get many calls from parents and spellers who ask where the "other words" come from, or "What else should I study?" These "other words" are also known as "off-list" words, or "surprise words" and are used to determine a winner. These words go unpublished because without these secret words, many bees would end up with a 3- or 4-way tie and the National Spelling Bee would last for weeks or months instead of days. Of course, our company would love this, but it might get a little expensive for the sponsors.
To increase your chances of knowing all of the words you are given at your bee, you have two options. Only you know which will work better for you. The most common and most obvious option is to learn a greater number of words. Or, you could learn more about words -- or both.
Quick links on what to study: