There are, of course, many aspects of preparation for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. One must focus not only on memorization, but on roots, language patterns, vocabulary, and other topics. Mastering the English language is not an easy task. However, there’s an element of psychological preparation that cannot be ignored. When you’re studying, it’s much easier to spell words correctly than it is when you’re onstage with an audience, bright lights, and tons of pressure. As a result, it’s best to try to make up for this difference ahead of time by mentally preparing yourself for the national spelling bee outside of just learning about words, and the ideal time to do that is while someone is quizzing you on words that you’re learning for the bee. Here are some of the best ways to do that while you’re learning words.
Timed quizzing. Have the person who’s quizzing you set a timer for two minutes each time they give you a word. Remember that you can’t ask questions once you have 30 or fewer seconds left. This helps because it’s the same way time limits work onstage (at Scripps, that is), and getting used to having a limited amount of time will help you once it actually counts.
Stand up while someone quizzes you. This might sound unnecessary or over-the-top, but it helps to feel at least a little bit like you’re standing at a microphone and talking to the pronouncer. This is as close you can get to being onstage if you can’t actually be onstage.
Ask questions. All the questions. Every time. If you spell fast without asking questions while you’re practicing, you can’t expect yourself to switch into a different mindset when you get onstage. If you ask all your questions while you’re practicing, then it’ll be easier to remember to do so once you get onstage.
Find a bell. This will also help you make your practice as realistic as possible. Getting used to the presence and use of the bell will help you on the day of the bee because you won’t be stressed out by the bell; instead, you’ll be accustomed to it. Practicing with a bell helps you eliminate one factor that often causes more stress for spellers during bees.
Again, being prepared for the pressure of being onstage at the bee is just as important as being prepared for the words themselves. You can use these tips--or any other ideas you have--to do that, whether you're getting ready for a classroom bee or the national bee. Not only do these help you be ready for the bee--they also make studying more fun!