Assess school students’ spelling skills with ICAS Spelling Bee

Spelling is more important than it seems — it lays a crucial foundation for literacy, communication and broader academic success.

It’s easy to dismiss the importance of spelling, but for every such assumption, there is a strong, research-backed counterargument. Why bother learning to spell when autocorrect can do it for you? Spell checkers aren’t always available, and they don’t always catch all errors — usually only 30 to 80 per cent of misspellings. Does spelling even impact learning in other areas? Yes — research has shown that the processes underlying learning of spelling, reading and writing are all closely interlinked. But isn’t it only relevant for young children? Absolutely not. Continued, appropriate spelling instruction facilitates vocabulary development, increased confidence in communication, and the perception of professionalism and trustworthiness. For example, it has been reported that 80% of poorly spelled or written job applications are thrown out immediately.

In recognition of the subject’s educational and practical value, ICAS Spelling Bee is designed to provide an objective ranking of students’ performance based on the curricula for the relevant year. Spelling is a critical component of literacy, communication and broader academic success. It’s a complex skill involving phonological, orthographical, morphemic and etymological knowledge, and one that is important to master — and there is no better opportunity to test your knowledge than with ICAS assessments.

More than simply a spelling competition, ICAS Spelling Bee papers consist of different types of questions written and reviewed every year by expert educators in partnership with Macquarie Dictionary. Papers are carefully graded to stimulate interest and learning across a wide range of abilities, including gifted and talented students. They assess students’ skills at spelling words in four different contexts:

  • dictation
  • applying rules and conventions
  • proofreading
  • error correction (excluding the Introductory paper).

The words tested range from simple, frequently used words to less common and technical words with difficult or unusual spelling patterns. These words can be organised under four types of spelling knowledge:

  • visual (orthographical): using memory of the visual features of a word
  • phonological: using sound-letter relationships
  • morphemic: using parts of words to build word families
  • etymological: using word origins and derivations.
“I feel proud of myself because I have been challenged and I’ve won the ICAS medals two years in a row.”
Year 3, Digital Technologies and Spelling Bee, 2021

Year 2 to Year 7 ICAS Spelling Bee

ICAS Spelling Bee tests a variety of different kinds of words organised by the four types of spelling knowledge. Within each type, papers will contain some words that are easy to spell for students at the year level, some that are of medium difficulty and some that are quite challenging. Some examples of the range of difficulty of words tested include:

  • grammatical words (e.g. that, above, themselves)
  • homophones and commonly confused words (e.g. past/passed, quite/quiet, stationary/stationery)
  • vowel/consonant trigraphs (e.g. pair, frighten, courageous)
  • confusion between single and double consonants (e.g. happy, disease, accommodation)
  • adding multiple affixes (e.g. unkindly, usefully, insignificance)
  • foreign words (e.g. pizza, garage, bazaar).

Please note that the ICAS Spelling Bee assessment requires earphones and the Janison Replay application. Click here for more information.

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ICAS digital technologies competition

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ICAS writing competition


As our primary means of communication in academic, social and professional life, writing is one of the most fundamental skills to practise and master.

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ICAS spelling bee competition

Spelling Bee

Spelling is more important than it seems — it lays a crucial foundation for literacy, communication and broader academic success.

Discover ICAS Spelling Bee >

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