You are going to the National Spelling Bee. Now what?

You are going to the National Spelling Bee. Now what?

Published by Beth Mader on 12th Mar 2020

Whether you've won your bee or received an RSVBee invitation, advancing to D.C. is something to be proud of. If this is the first time you are attending the National Bee, you might be wondering how to prepare for the big leagues. Even if you've made it to the final rounds, below are some tips for getting one step closer to taking home the trophy.

Make sure you learn the off-list words provided by Scripps to spellers attending the National Bee. You can download these words when you register with Scripps on the National Spelling Bee website about the 2nd week of April. This list contains approximately 600 of the off-list words given at various Regional or State bees.

Download our After-a-Spell for a Round-by-Round report of the last spelling bee in Washington so you can better understand where the words in each round come from and how Hexco products fared.

To compete at the national level, your word foundation should be around 30,000+ words, and may at the higher rungs have closer to 100,000.

Learn the meaning of all words that you study! The written vocabulary test primarily determines who advances to the semifinal rounds. Without a very good score on the vocabulary round, a speller can't advance.

Top Hexco word lists ranked from beginner to advanced: 

  • Verbomania – 13,398 words total - random sequence with index or alpha sequence - primarily vocabulary enriching words 
  • Paideia – 11,818 words total - organized by Beginning, Intermediate & Advanced levels - words from beginning, intermediate and advanced levels
  • New Nat's Notes – 18,067 words total - random sequence with index or alpha sequence - difficult words used at National and Regional Bee from most of the last 40 years plus similar words
  • Blitz List – 9,000 words total - random sequence (New! Blitz 4!) - difficult words not used at prior bees or in published lists, at least until these were published - some have been used in last 5 years
  • Webster Detector – 2,506 words total - random sequence - difficult words that were NOT in the printed Webster's Third New International, but are not in the Online Merriam Webster

Improve your performance by mastering spelling rules, etymology, and vocabulary. For building word foundation, check out The Spelling Rules Book and Etyma Notes.

If you are interested in coaching for the bee, check out our Crash Course! Hexco's annual five-week course commences starting the week of April 5. Learn how to optimize your study time while developing spelling skills, and you will also be guided on techniques for fielding unknown words.

Good luck in Washington!