Across the country, middle school students are entering the early stages of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, competing on the classroom, grade, and school levels. Because the Bee now includes questions on vocabulary designed to round out the educational experience of the contest, these students must take on the challenge of learning what the 450 words on Scripps study list mean as well as how they're spelled.

How to approach the Bee's vocabulary challenge? With! Here are three strategies and a free resource to use when executing each one. 

1. Better Understand Words' Meanings. When encountering a word you don't know or only half know, the Dictionary is a great place to start learning it. Our definition pages take you well beyond traditional dictionary definitions by featuring friendly, and often funny, blurbs designed to bring words to life. Take loquacious. Not only does our blurb explain the word's meaning, it gives you information about its Latin root that will help you understand and spell other words that come from the same loqu- root. 

2. Get Organized with Vocabulary Lists. Another resource for Spelling Bee prep is our List Building Tool. Watch this short video to find out how to use it to collect words whose definitions you're struggling with for easy review.

3. Turn Word Studying into a Game. On any list's page, select "Learn this List" and you'll start seeing questions on the words on that list as you play our game. The questions will be mixed in with other words you're learning, and we'll spread them out over time to make sure you don't forget.

Want to move a little faster and see questions on just the words on that list? Use the list's Practice tab for quick study fun. Either way you chose to learn, you'll have to demonstrate an ability to spell the word correctly.

Now that we've made vocabulary learning so fast and easy, what should you do with all that extra time? Why not play your list as a spelling bee, using the Spelling Bee tab? You'll be able to see the word's definition and hear it spoken aloud, which is great preparation for the Scripps Bee itself.