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The Classroom/School Bee is the first step of the journey for most spellers, and usually occurs in either December or January. Depending on the school, you may first be required to win/place high enough in your Classroom Bee to advance to the School Bee.
First things first, you need to the rules and format of the competition. So here’s the 2020 Rules for Local Spelling Bees. These rules also apply to any district, county, regional, or state bees.
Every year there are 450 words with an extreme variety of difficulty. For the Classroom Bee, you are usually only asked to spell the word list for your grade and up. However, for the School Bee, it’s important to study every word, even the ones that are not categorized in your grade level. Generally, even the toughest words on the list are pretty doable, but it’s best to be safe and make sure you have every word cold.
As of 2014, some Classroom/School Bees test vocabulary. If this is the case, you will need to learn the definitions of all of these words in addition to their spelling. Find out as soon as possible if your school will do this by reaching out to your bee coordinator.
Once you make it past the school list’s words, the bee will move to “Additional Words,” which are the words not on any Scripps-provided study list. The Additional Words for the Classroom and School Bees tend to stay pretty tame and are spelled like they sound. For reference, I’ve gathered the past school study lists and Classroom and School Pronouncer Guides from 2009-2017:
2009-2010 By Grade
2009-2010 Words Only
2010-2011 By Grade
2010-2011 Words Only
2011-2012 By Grade
2011-2012 Words Only
2012-2013 By Grade
2012-2013 Words Only
2013-2014 By Grade
2013-2014 With Definitions
2013-2014 Words Only
2014-2015 By Grade
2014-2015 With Definitions
2014-2015 Words Only
2015-2016 By Grade
2015-2016 With Definitions
2015-2016 Words Only
2016-2017 With Definitions*
2016-2017 Words Only
*In the 2016-2017 school year, Scripps stopped separating the school lists by grade.
2009 Classroom Pronouncer Guide (Grades Seven and Eight)
2010 Classroom Pronouncer Guide
2010 School Pronouncer Guide
2011 Classroom Pronouncer Guide
2011 School Pronouncer Guide
2012 Classroom Pronouncer Guide
2012 School Pronouncer Guide
2013 School Pronouncer Guide
2014 Classroom Pronouncer Guide (Spelling and Vocabulary)*
2014 School Pronouncer Guide (Spelling Only)
2015 Classroom Pronouncer Guide (Spelling and Vocabulary)
2015 School Pronouncer Guide (Spelling Only)
2016 Classroom Pronouncer Guide (Spelling and Vocabulary)
2017 Classroom Pronouncer Guide (Spelling and Vocabulary)
2017 School Pronouncer Guide (Spelling Only)
*I have included both Spelling Only and Spelling and Vocabulary versions of past Pronouncer Guides to show what both scenarios would look like in the context of an actual bee.