If you want to challenge yourself with vocabulary words that are as hard as the ones asked at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, you’re at the right place; likewise, if you want to improve your vocabulary skills sharply and quickly, you’re at the right place.
Completing the following 60 quizzes will tremendously improve your chances of qualifying for the Finals of the Scripps Bee. They contain words as challenging as any word that will be asked and force you to hone your critical thinking skills by connecting distantly related words to each other, recognizing hidden stems in a word, establishing a gut instinct for what a word might mean, and better your guessing skills in a variety of other ways.
Many words on these quizzes have appeared at Scripps and at district/county/regional bees. Yes, every word on these quizzes have a very high chance of showing up at the national competition and are words whose definitions you should absolutely commit to memory. However, these quizzes are just as much if not more about developing your ability to reason and get a feel for how to discern the meaning of a word you’ve never seen.
Start by looking at the Vocabulary Quiz Example to see how the quizzes work, then take the Diagnostic Test. When you finish, read the feedback I give you on the next page. That lets you know approximately what your overall vocabulary skill level is. After that, you can start the quizzes. Feel free to print!
If you’re a beginner, the first few quizzes that you do will be really hard. You might not get any at all correct. But if you push yourself to make guesses on each word—even if you have no earthly clue what they mean—and come up with strategies to remember the correct answer for every word you miss, you’ll gradually start doing better and better on every quiz.
One of these strategies might be to group words of similar meaning with a Vocab String (if you missed bogatyr, you could put it along with kraken and marmennill in your list of mythological terms; see Vocabulary Quiz Example for more on this), noticing a root that another word you already know also has (pendant has a root in common with pendulum and they’re related in meaning because of this), or finding that a word means just like it sounds like it should mean (churr is a whirring noise).
If you do this consistently, by Quiz 60, your vocab skills may be good enough to make you a Top-50 Finalist at the Bee in late May.
Try to space out your completion of these quizzes. Because of how our brains work, it benefits you way more to do one or two per week than all 60 over the course of a couple weeks.
Last year, I assigned these quizzes to the 12 students I coached. All 12 students qualified for Scripps, all 12 scored high enough on the Preliminaries Test to make the Top 100, and 9 made the Top 50. Since I’ve already used them, I’ve decided to publish them here for free.
All that said, these quizzes are tough and they’ll benefit you if, and only if, you put the work in.
Make sure you record your score on each quiz and track your progress. Your score should generally improve as you take more quizzes. The Challenge Word is worth one bonus point.
No duplicates appear in these quizzes, meaning no word is repeated from an earlier quiz.
Good luck and have fun!!