Scripps National Spelling Bee: 5 tips and tricks to spell better

Posted at 10:34 AM, May 29, 2013
and last updated 2014-05-22 15:06:32-04

Can you spell “fibrinogen?” How about “hexamethonium?”

Robin Roper can. The Severn River Middle School student is ready to face-off in this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee.

“I gradually got better at the school bee cause I could compete for 3 years, and then I won and then I won the regional bee and now I’m going to nationals,” said Robin.

As for mom, she’s a little nervous.

“The excitement, the blood pressure," said Janice Roper-Graham. "I mean it’s a sport, back and forth. Every time she makes it, oh!”

Robin’s mom is used to the pressure. Robin’s sister, Selena competed in the 2007 Bee.

“I tell you, I’m like a stage mom for spellers, ha ha. I'm incredibly proud, it's a mom's dream,” Janice smiled.

Robin says she’s in it to win it, and has a couple tips to help...

“The ‘schwa’ sound is the most terrifying sound in any word, because it can be any vowel and depending the origin and etymology it varies,” Robin said.

You’ll also want to bone up on roots words, spelling patterns and read everything you can get your hands on.

Here are five tips and tricks to spelling better from the University of Vermont’s Dr. Jacques Bailey.


5 Spelling Bee Tips and Tricks

  1. Start with a word list to test your spelling (grade) level
  2. Read frequently and look up words you don’t recognize
  3. Practice speaking in front of large groups
  4. Study “roots” or “word history” or “etymology”
  5. Practice phonics and listen for spelling patterns

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