Congrats Zaila!!!

Congrats to everyone who participated today in the Finals of the national Hexco-Kaplan Bee, and to all my students who participated in the competition. Special congratulations to my student Zaila Avant-garde of Harvey, Louisiana for being crowned the champion.

With this win, Zaila wins $10,000, free access to Kaplan’s pre-college programs (such as ACT, SAT, or PSAT prep), and an enormous 26-inch trophy, provided by the fantastic bee organizers over at Hexco and Kaplan. I am elated for Zaila — this success is a testament to her incredible hard work and perseverance over the last several months that I have been working with her.

This competition contained

  • 88 of some of the nations best spellers, including 10 who were students or alumni of my coaching program
  • A Grand Finals stage containing the Top 21 spellers in the Bee, of which 6 were students/alumni of the program. 4 of my students placed in the Top 5 or better.

I’d like to congratulate

  • Michael Kolagani and Vayun Krishna, who placed 13th
  • Dean Alkhairy and Nitya Kathiravan, who placed 5th
  • One more current student who will remain anonymous for now, who placed somewhere within the Top 3
  • And Zaila Avant-garde, who won 1st place

These spellers have set a very elite standard, and credit goes to them for their outstanding hard work and diligence.

Now, the focus shifts to the next competition. It’s time to correct any issues, stave off complacency, and start improving for the next one!

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Zaila spelling Maryknoller (a priest of a Catholic congregation of New York) correctly in Round 21.

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Zaila being declared the champion after spelling Qashqai (referring to a Turkic-speaking people) correctly in Round 30.

Congrats to Students of the Coaching Program!

Congrats to the students and alumni of my coaching program who participated in the National Hexco-Kaplan Bee, especially those reaching the Grand Finals! Of my ten participating students/alumni, eight qualified for the Semifinals (Top 48). Congrats to Akshita Balaji for her 35th place finish, and Jayden Lee for coming in 27th. We’ll continue working hard to elevate to even higher levels. Six of my ten students/alumni — including Nitya Kathiravan, Michael Kolagani, Vayun Krishna, Zaila Avant-garde, Dean Alkhairy, and one more — have qualified for the Grand Finals! To watch, go to https://onlinespellingbee.com/live/ at 10am CST tomorrow. Best of luck to everyone competing, and thank you to Hexco and Kaplan for organizing this event!

Good Luck to my Students in the Mission Spelling Bee!

Good luck to my students Zaila Avant-garde and Dean Alkhairy who’ve qualified for the Top 7 in the Championship Finals of tonight’s national Mission Spelling Bee! The Finals begin tonight at 6pm CST and will be streamed live on YouTube.

Dean Alkhairy 2019

Dean Alkhairy competes in the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee. (Mark Bowen / Scripps National Spelling Bee)

Zaila Avant-garde 2019

Zaila Avant-garde competes in the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee. (@Basketballasart / Twitter)

Good Luck to Students of my Program in the Grand Finals of the 2020 Spell Pundit Online National Spelling Bee!

Since the 2020 Scripps National Spelling Bee’s cancellation, the Spell Pundit Online National Spelling Bee has stepped up to serve as the de facto replacement. Beginning on Saturday, May 23, the Spell Pundit Online National Spelling Bee started with over 250 participants, including many past Scripps Finalists and the most elite spellers in the world.

After the Semifinals yesterday, that field of over 250 was whittled down to the Top 16 in the world, who will participate in the Grand Finals tonight at 6pm CST. Four of those 16 have been trained in my program (seven of my students from my program sign up to participate, so over half of them remain in the competition!) That includes eighth grader Dean Alkhairy, seventh grader Akshita Balaji, seventh grader Aritra Banerjee, and sixth grader Vayun Krishna.

Here’s the link to watch.

Good luck to them tonight!!!

Important Announcement!

Hey everyone!

Big news! I’ve been working tirelessly for the past few months, and I finally have something to show for it. My first list, The School Spelling Bee Supplemental, will release within 24 hours.

I synthesized this list to be the end-all solution for the “Additional Words” that come after the study list in the Classroom and School Bees. After perusing decades of old additional words from years past and uncovering specific patterns, I carefully handpicked exactly 1,200 words from an assortment of older lists and from my own discovery.

When I was done with my selections and revisions, I put my algorithm to trial by fire and found that a whopping 44% of the words on the list were used as Additional Words in Classroom or School Bees since 2009. This means that 4 of every 9 words are former Additional Words.

To give you an idea of how revolutionary this is, let’s take the next-best list for Classroom and School Bee Additional Words, the Consolidated Word List. Only about 5% of the words on the CWL have been used as Additional Words, and on average you’d have to study about 19 words before coming across Additional Word. That isn’t terrible, but doesn’t really compare to the list I’ve created.

In addition, the guide has an in-depth description on how the Classroom and School Bees work, the formula for winning your school bee, tips for Bee Day preparation, must-know rules, and proven strategies on how to handle your words during the bee.

The School Spelling Bee Supplemental is easily the best resource for the Classroom and School Bees, and is all-but certain to contain some of the elusive Additional Words in your bee.

How can I be so sure? Because Numbers Never Lie.

Stay tuned, and thanks for your continued support!

2017-2018 School Study List Analysis

The 2017-2018 School Spelling Bee Study List released a few days ago.

For the most part, Scripps hasn’t changed much from previous years.

They’ve opted to keep words with spaces, hyphenated words, and words with alternate spellings, and it doesn’t seem like they will stop in the foreseeable future.

Perhaps what stands out most is the massive amount of plurals and adverbs.  This is probably because of the fact that the words on this list are taken directly from a specific set of novels, and the syntax of some sentences requires the use of plurals and adverbs in place of their unconjugated forms.

Still, with words like brachiopods and dauntlessly in the 2017 National Preliminaries, Scripps has sent a clear message that they will continue to increase their usage of plurals and adverbs at all levels of competition.  Make sure you understand the rules and know the suffixes involved in pluralization.  This extends further than just adding -s at the end of a noun or changing -y to -ies.  Take a look at the word on the new study list, crematoria, for example.

Most of the words are in common study lists, such as the Consolidated Word List, among others, with some exceptions in lichenous, BollywoodKilimanjaro, and pièce de résistance.

Overall, the words are of similar difficulty, if not slightly harder than those in previous years’ lists.  Either way, you’ll need to memorize all 450 words to have a legitimate chance in most school bees.  Good luck and happy studying!

Special thanks to Jake Lance for finding this list!

North America Spelling Champion Challenge 2K17!

A couple days ago I returned home from a week long exploit in Riverside, California, where I helped run the North America Spelling Champion Challenge (NASCC).  This program is set up like a summer camp, and encourages cultural exchange between Chinese and American spellers.

From China, the top 70 spellers are categorized into three different age groups (third and fourth grade, fifth and sixth grade, seventh and eighth).  From the US, there were ~70 spellers who were mostly from the local area.  All week, the students participated in classes and fun activities.  Kate Miller (8th-place finisher in Scripps National Spelling Bee, 2014) and I were the hosts;  meaning we ran the ceremonies to hype the spellers up, ran the activities, and were in charge of the social media accounts.  I also helped out with some of the behind-the-scenes workings.

On Friday night, some of the most elite spellers in the world arrived for the competition. Come the start of the competition on Saturday morning, we had a total of 11 finalists* from the 2016 and 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bees.  You can only imagine how fierce the competition was.  The 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion Ananya Vinay also came to give her words of advice to the competitors, but she could not compete herself.

It was quite the experience to meet both the present and future of elite spelling, and I’d recommend it to anyone seeking experience with competing at a high level.

Shourav Dasari of Houston, Texas (4th at 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee) ended up taking the gold.  He won $2,500 and a trip to Beijing for the Global Spelling Champion Challenge of China.  Shruthika Padhy (T-7th, 2017 SNSB) took second, and Cameron Keith (T-18th, 2016 SNSB) bagged third.

The bee was originally split up into three age groups: Intermediate (3rd and 4th grade), Advanced (5th and 6th grade), and Middle School (7th and 8th grade).  The top 3 from the Intermediate and Advanced groups and the top 5 from the Middle School group advanced to the Championship Finals.  The results of the Championship Finals were:

Yo-yo of Tianjin, China – 11th

Johnny of Shenzhen, China – 10th

Marlene Schaff – 9th

Zoe Keith – 8th

Rishik Gandhasri – 7th

Rutvik Gandhasri – T-4th

Alex Iyer – T-4th

Rohan Rajeev – T-4th

Cameron Keith – 3rd

Shruthika Padhy – 2nd

Shourav Dasari – 1st

I also made a list of all the words asked at the bee, including each groups’ Semifinals and Finals, and the Championship Finals with the representatives from each group (there were no ‘Preliminaries’.)  Here they are, in order:

Intermediate Semifinals

Advanced Semifinals

Middle School Semifinals

Intermediate Finals

Advanced Finals

Middle School Finals

Championship Finals

*Past Scripps National Spelling Bee finalists competing:

Rohan Rajeev (2nd, 2017)

Shourav Dasari (4th, 2017)

Alex Iyer (T-7th, 2017)

Shrinidhi Gopal (T-7th, 2017)

Shruthika Padhy (T-7th, 2017)

Rutvik Gandhasri (T-6th, 2016, T-35th, 2017)

Marlene Schaff (T-23rd, 2017)

Paul Hamrick (T-35th, 2017)

Aisha Randhawa (T-35th, 2017)

Cameron Keith (T-18th, 2017)

Jiming Chen, Jr. (T-22nd, 2016)

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Bee Technicalities

Death, taxes, and annual major changes to the Scripps National Spelling Bee format – these are the only things truly certain in life.  Chances are, in about nine months time this post will have to be taken down and replaced with new content.  But for now, this is the current format of the bee that you should expect and prepare for:

Round 1: This is the Preliminaries Test – you will be given 12 spelling words and 12 multiple-choice vocabulary words, each worth 1 point.  You will also be given your Rounds 2 & 3 Vocabulary words.  These will count for 3 points.

Round 2: The first onstage round, broadcast on ESPN3.  Words from here will be provided in a 400-word study guide provided by Scripps a few months before the bee.

Round 3: The final preliminary round, broadcast on ESPN3.  These words will not be from a specific study list, but will stray away from exceptionally esoteric words.  However, some of them can still be very tricky.

Rounds 4 through ~7: This is the first stage of the Finals, broadcast on ESPN2.  The 50 highest scorers (maximum) on the Preliminaries Test (spellers must also have spelled their words correctly in Rounds 2 & 3) advance to this stage.  Spellers will also take the Tiebreaker Test (12 spelling 12 multiple-choice vocabulary) in the case of a tie at the end of the bee.  The bee will then whittle down the number of spellers to a maximum of 12.

Rounds 8 through 8+x: This is the Championship Finals, broadcast on ESPN.  Once the field decreases to 3 or less, the bee will move on to “the Championship Rounds,” in which there will be 25 rounds of onstage spelling to determine a winner.  If no winner is determined, the results of the Tiebreaker Test will be used.

Here are the official rules: 2017 Contest Rules

Words Appearing Infrequently

The words on the CWL least likely (but still pretty likely) to show up in a spelling bee.

Words: 6,615

Consolidated Word List Words Appearing Infrequently

Consolidated Word List Words Appearing Infrequently (A-F)

Consolidated Word List Words Appearing Infrequently (F-P)

Consolidated Word List Words Appearing Infrequently (P-Z)

While this list has many words that are likely to show up, it also has lots of words (such as quest) that are not national-caliber. To study the CWL Infrequent Section without the non-national-caliber words and save yourself potentially hundreds of hours, check out the Hardest Words on the Consolidated Word List – Infrequent Section! For the full CWL, check out the Hardest Words on the Consolidated Word List – All Sections!

Words Appearing with Moderate Frequency

The words appearing with moderate frequency. These words are also very good candidates for bee words at any level. Again, I split the section up into letter groups, and made a document with the full list.

Words: 9,058

Consolidated Word List Words Appearing with Moderate Frequency

Consolidated Word List Words Appearing with Moderate Frequency (A-C)

Consolidated Word List Words Appearing with Moderate Frequency (C-G)

Consolidated Word List Words Appearing with Moderate Frequency (G-O)

Consolidated Word List Words Appearing with Moderate Frequency (O-S)

Consolidated Word List Words Appearing with Moderate Frequency (S-Z)

While this list has many words that are likely to show up, it also has lots of words (such as quest) that are not national-caliber. To study the CWL Moderate Section without the non-national-caliber words and save yourself potentially hundreds of hours, check out the Hardest Words on the Consolidated Word List – Moderate Section! For the full CWL, check out the Hardest Words on the Consolidated Word List – All Sections!