One of the key elements to studying spelling is systematic review. Yes, exposure to words is important, and learning as many as possible is important, but in order for the exposure to words to pay off, a speller must review repeatedly. This can take many different forms. But which is the most effective way to handle "problem words"--reading them, writing them, having someone quiz you on them? For me, a solution to the review question was found in an online module called Quizlet. Essentially, I could input the words and their definitions; then, I would add their pronunciations and sometimes a corresponding image. Once the set was created, I would select the "speller" option, and I had an automated review tool at my fingertips.
Different forms of review can be more or less helpful depending on what type of learner you are. For example, if you're a visual learner, reading words to yourself could be helpful, but if you tend to learn in a more auditory format, listening to or speaking the words will be better. For our purposes, there are three main types of learners: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. The main reason I recommend Quizlet is because it effectively combines all three learning styles.
Visual: Visual learners tend to learn better through seeing things, as well as using graphics or images. Quizlet gives the speller the opportunity to see a word, and sometimes allows an image to be added to the set for a specific word as well. Seeing the word and an image (like an image of a flower for the word dahlia, or a diagram of a part of a castle for merlon, etc.) for it helps a visual learner cement the word in their mind.
Auditory: Auditory learners prefer to hear things when learning. Since Quizlet pronounces the word for you or you can input the pronunciation yourself (for a worthwhile fee of $15 per year), you will be able to remember the word more easily--although spelling out loud as you type the word in wouldn't hurt.
Kinesthetic: Kinesthetic learners learn best through some kind of motion. Kinesthetic learners are the most visible in the context of the spelling bee--they're the ones you see "writing" the words on their placards, air typing, or tapping their foot with each letter as they spell the word. Quizlet allows you to cement a kind of motion for the word--the sequence of letters that you're typing out.
Quizlet is optimal for combination learners, those who learn through all of these methods, but it can be helpful for others as well. Because of Quizlet, when I received a word, I could see it in my head, hear it in my head, and remember a typing sequence to go along with it. Then, I could "write" it into my hand and spell the word with confidence (providing, of course, that I had been over the word in question in the first place).
Outside of learning styles, Quizlet provides "someone" to quiz you if you don't know any people who have the time to quiz you on words regularly, or it can be a supplemental review source if you do have someone to quiz you. Also, it doesn't mark the word as learned until you spell the word correctly twice in a row, which will further cement the word in your mind. Other means of review are certainly helpful as well. The most important thing is that once you expose yourself to a word, you come back to it time and time again. Looking at a word once does not necessarily equate to mastery; reviewing the word again and again gets you much closer.