Spelling Introduction

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Try the Test


Why spelling matters

  • Bad spelling just looks stupid.
  • A writer who is careless about spelling is probably careless about other things too, like accurate facts. Sloppy writing cannot be trusted, so why bother reading it?
  • Bad spelling can confuse the reader. He either doesn't get the idea, or, worse, gets the wrong idea. The unintended result may be humorous, or deadly.
  • Unlike Spanish or Russian, English is famously difficult to spell. If you want to use English, then spelling is part of the deal.

How to spell better

  • Care. The basic reason people misspell words is because they don't bother to check.
  • Buy a five-dollar paperback dictionary and use it every day. Look up any word you read but don't understand. Look up any word you write but don't know how to spell. A dictionary should be a requirement for every student, starting in elementary. Schools should buy thousands at a time and give them away.
  • Most English words are spelled according to patterns and rules. Many aren't. Still, it's better to know the main rules to avoid really dopey mistakes.
  • Take some time to study the tricky words. They are well-known, so they can be listed and studied. Keep the lists with the dictionary, to refer to. Good spellers may not know how to spell them either, but they know how to look them up.
  • Use mnemonics. Use the well-known ones, and make up your own.


  • This spelling test was designed as a simple tool to make it possible to test remedial-level teenage students individually. It uses relatively basic HTML and absolutely basic pencil and paper. The teacher gets a document to assess, and the answer page at the end gives the student immediate feedback and may be printed out for their reference and study.
  • This test was devised as an experiment. If it is productive, more tests will likely follow.
  • The following are good sources for lists of "most commonly misspelled words:"