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How to Study for a Spelling Test

Updated on September 25, 2014
Ace spelling tests with these practice tips!
Ace spelling tests with these practice tips! | Source

During the school year, on every Friday afternoon, my daughter brings home a spelling list. She gets a week to prepare for the spelling test that will be given on the following Friday. It's been this way since she was in first grade.

Over the years, the words have gotten more difficult and some weeks are tougher than others. Let's face it, studying for a spelling test is not everyone's idea of a good time. All children have strengths and weaknesses and spelling can be tough for some.

To help her study, we have used a number of different methods over the years, and she usually does well on her spelling tests. These methods make things more interesting for her.

Hopefully they will help your child out too.

Spelling activities

As almost any parent can tell you, it's not always easy practicing for a spelling test. Children are not always enthusiastic about it, and practicing the same way everyday gets old quickly.

We always try to alternate our study methods and the ideas listed seem to work best for us.

Mix up the word list
Instead of always going over the words in the order on the practice sheet, mix them up. Sometimes children memorize things in order and mixing them up makes them think about it a little bit more.
Switch between writing the words and saying them
Sometimes we will have our daughter write them down and sometimes she just says them. It makes her think about the words in different ways.
Use in a sentence
Either give them the word in a sentence, or have your child write a sentence using the word.
Use in a song
We use this technique when my daughter really doesn't want to study. It usually makes her laugh and because she is mortified at our singing, it gets her to spell a word. Try to think of song lyrics with the spelling word in it and then have your child spell the word.
Type the words
Use a typewriter or a computer to type the words. Don't forget to turn off spell check if they are using a computer.
Study in a different area
When the weather is warm, my daughter loves to go over her spelling outside. If you are running around to various after school programs, run through them in the car.
There are many different thoughts on this and many do not agree with it, but sometimes I'll give my daughter a penny for every word spelled correctly or even a piece of candy for doing a good job on a particularly tough list. Sticker charts work well with younger children.
The dreaded weekly spelling test list, complete with checkmarks from practicing.
The dreaded weekly spelling test list, complete with checkmarks from practicing. | Source

Spelling test games

Games worked better when my daughter was in the earlier grades like first and second. Now that she is older, she prefers other methods, but every once in a while, a quick spelling game still helps during study time.

Spelling Bingo
Have a supply of blank bingo cards handy. When you get the spelling list, fill out a few with the words and play a couple of rounds.
Alphabetical Order
Have the child write down the words in alphabetical order. If they need more incentive, time them and keep a record to see if they can beat their previous time.
Design a weekly wordsearch game.
Bath time spelling
Using washable crayons, do spelling during bath time. They can write the words on the wall and then wash them off.
Hangman (If you are not comfortable playing hangman, use a stickman or some other figure instead)
This is a favorite for all ages. Draw lines representing the letters in a word and have children guess letters. If they choose a letter that is not in the word, draw a heard, arm, leg etc... The object is to guess the word before the stick figure is completed.
Online games
There are loads of online programs with all sorts of fun games available.

Spelling practice tips

Sometimes studying for a spelling test is a real struggle. Either the child is having problems spelling the words, or they just don't want to practice.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you hit a road block during study time.

  • Take a step back and revisit the list later in the day. Sometimes an hour or two makes all the difference.
  • Don't study too late at night. If your child is anything like mine, any time after 8:00pm is off limits for studying. She just doesn't retain what she learns, and she is not in a great mood.
  • If your child is ill, skip a day of practice.

Make spelling test practice fun

For the last four years we have been trying to make our spelling test practice fun.

Although I substitute teach, I am not a professional educator, so I don't have any special insights. However, I do know that these methods have worked well for our family and I think they can help you too.

Good luck on that next spelling test!

© 2013 Claudia Mitchell


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    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      4 years ago

      Hope your students all get "A"s across the board! Thanks so much for stopping by and reading.

    • melissae1963 profile image

      Melissa Reese Etheridge 

      4 years ago from Tennessee, United States

      As a middle school English teacher, I'll definitely be sharing these tips with my students. Thanks for such a practical post.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      Thanks so much Sunshine - I am in the midst of a summer writing slump and have been busy running around so I have been bad about responding to comments. I hope your granddaughters get some benefit from these tips. It's hard to believe that school will be starting in about 6 weeks here.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Excellent tips Glimmer! I'll use them with my granddaughters and I'm sure they will appreciate them.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      Hi rajan - I always loved spelling too, but sometimes it's not so easy for people. Glad you enjoyed the hub.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      6 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Really interesting ideas, GTF! Luckily, I have always been very good at spellings and languages right through school! Great hub!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      Thanks so much ps. My daughter gets so tired of doing spelling and by the end of the school year I'll try any trick. Glad you enjoyed the hub.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      6 years ago from sunny Florida

      Great suggestions, Glimmer Twin Fan. As a school teacher I gave the children a list of many ways (about 20) some of them just like these to choose from to help them study for their spelling test. It made the homework fun and for most it made the spelling of the word 'stick' longer than just for the test which is after all what we sought.

      thank you for sharing this....I know parents will find it is helpful.

      Angels are on the way today ps

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      I bet it's more fun studying with your grandchildren! Nice to see you again and thanks for commenting. Hope you are doing well.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Hey Glimmer....this is excellent. I was silly enough to think my days of "helping with homework" were well behind me. What was I thinking??! I have an entire herd of grandchildren......"Spelling" is an easy one for Gram!...LOL.............UP+++

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      My daughter absolutely loves word searches so that it one we go to often. Glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate the nice remarks ChristyWrites.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      Hi Michelle - I love the music method too, but my daughter not so much, probably because of my voice. Thanks for the comments!

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Very inventive ideas here! I like the idea of creating my own WordSearch puzzle. Wish I had done that when I was in school :)

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      As a music and EL teacher, I love teaching words in song. It really helps kids remember! Thanks for sharing, Glim!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      Thanks sam.azgor. Glad you enjoyed the hub.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      Thanks so much for the nice comments Paul. I think games are a more fun way of learning than drills, but I remember having those drills too.

    • sam.azgor profile image

      Sam Azgor 

      6 years ago from Bangladesh

      very useful advice, thanks man.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      6 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand


      These are all very useful tips in helping a child prepare for a spelling test. When I was in grade school, I remember having weekly spelling tests. The night before the test, my mother would drill me on the words which I would spell out aloud. I also remember writing the words a lot and using them in sentences. My ESL and EFL students enjoy playing competitive games while learning words to spell. Voted up as useful and sharing with followers.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      Thanks breakfastpop. I think I am still practicing my spelling, even after all of these years. Hope they enjoy the hub.

    • breakfastpop profile image


      6 years ago

      Wise advice. I will pass this along to my daughters.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      Hi Bill - I would love it if millions of kids would read this, but not sure if they will. Thanks for all of the support. My daughter decided to study her list on the swings tonight. That was a new one for me.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      I really appreciate the support. Your girls will be taking spelling tests before you know it! Thanks for reading.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Glimmer twin. Wish I had these tips when I was younger. I always dreaded the spelling test. Millions of kids out there should be reading this. Great job. Voted up and shared.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      6 years ago from New York, New York

      This is great and truly so much great ideas and tips for studying for spelling tests. I am so pinning this to refer back to for my kids when they get to this stage. Thanks and have also voted and shared, too!!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      Wow! I bet you did learn your spelling. I don't have that as one of my tips, but then again, I'm not a nun. I went to a super liberal middle school (it was the age of alternative school options back then) and we did not even need to study if we did not want to. Thanks for the comments.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      The dreaded spelling tests. Back in the day, if we missed a word the nuns would make us write that word fifty times and then retake the test the next day. If we missed it again we wrote it 100 times on the blackboard after school. True story and yes, I have learned to spell well. LOL


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