NSW Premier's Spelling Bee

A quick guide to the NSW Premier's Spelling Bee

Who is eligible to compete?

The Bee is open to students in NSW Public, Community and Central Schools in 2 categories.

  • Junior Spelling Bee – Years 3 and 4 (Stage 1 are welcome)
  • Senior Spelling Bee – Years 5 and 6

One junior and one senior student represent their school at regional finals. One junior and one senior speller from each regional will then go on to State finals.

How do schools enter the Premier’s Spelling Bee?

Schools previously entered in 2022 will be sent an invitation to enrol. Other schools use the enrolment link on the website.

An online entry form for the competition is available in March here on the Premier's Spelling Bee website. School entries should be submitted before close of business on the final day of registration, at the end of June. All contact details for the teacher who will be looking after the entry must be included. All teachers must provide a direct departmental email address (or the school's email if appropriate) to assist with our organisation. Entries can be submitted before schools know the names of the students they will be entering.

An online form is available from May for school coordinators to register their students’ names. Your regional finalist names need to be submitted by end of June.

How much does entry cost?

There is no cost associated with the Premier’s Spelling Bee. 

What are the competition stages?

Schools either follow official competition procedures or devise their own spelling activities to select students (a maximum of two, one per level) to represent the school at regional finals. These take place in August, Term 3, Weeks 4 and 5 and are conducted online. The Premier’s Spelling Bee Coordinator will advise schools of the dates of regional finals early in Term 3. The winner of each division of each regional final goes on to the state finals; please note that the runner-up does not. State finals will be held on a Friday in early November at the Eugene Goossens Hall, ABC Centre, Ultimo.

What does the school spelling bee coordinator do?

School Spelling Bee Coordinators should submit the online entry form for their school and download the current year's word lists once they receive the confirmation and password information. Wordlists, either printed copies or the link and password, should be supplied to interested students and families as early as possible.

Coordinators play a key role in selecting the school’s representatives. This is done through in-school heats, ideally in a format similar to regional and state finals. The names of the selected representatives should be submitted no later than the end of June. Once all the details are finalised, coordinators will receive an email with the date of the final their school will be 'attending'. For first-time coordinators, there are links to frequently asked questions, guidelines, and procedure documents. The Spelling Bee Support Officer is also available for assistance.

What word lists are used?

Words for the competition are provided by Macquarie Dictionary and are divided into several categories. Junior and senior students study different word lists. Regional and state finals also include unseen words in later rounds. Word lists are available for download from The Arts Unit website in March. School spelling bee coordinators who entered in 2022 will be notified of their availability via email, but all state primary, central and community schools are welcome to enter.

What are the competition procedures?

At each final, there is a demonstration round using simple words to help familiarise contestants with the competition format. No one is eliminated in this round. This is followed by elimination rounds of increasing difficulty. The announcer reads the word, then a sentence including the word, and then repeats the word again. Each contestant must repeat the word to the satisfaction of the announcer before they spell and then say the word again to indicate they have finished spelling. Up until this point, contestants may self-correct if they clearly indicate that they are starting again. Students have 45 seconds in which to spell the word. A warning bell is rung at 30 seconds with 2 bells at 45 seconds to indicate the contestant's time has expired. Contestants may ask the announcer to repeat the word – this is included in their 45-second time limit. Any self-corrections must also be made within the time limit. At the second bell, any incomplete spelling will be taken as the contestant's final answer. When a student has finished spelling a word, the announcer will either state, 'That is correct' or 'That is incorrect. The correct spelling is…'

How is a winner determined?

At the regional and state finals, the elimination process continues round by round. To win the competition, a contestant must spell more words correctly than all the other contestants. A contestant will only be eliminated if at least 1 other contestant in the same round spells their word correctly. If all contestants in a particular round misspell their words, then no one is eliminated.

What are the prizes?

All regional finalists receive a certificate of participation. Regional winners and runners-up receive a stationery pack from ACCO Brands Australia and a dictionary and thesaurus from Macquarie Dictionary. 

State finalists receive silver medallions, a Macquarie Dictionary, and other book prizes. State Champions receive gold medallions and are acknowledged along with their school on a perpetual trophy. State winners and runners-up also receive a free Macquarie Student App download. All competition finalists and winners also receive a stationery prize pack from ACCO Brands Australia.

The 2024 NSW Premier’s Spelling Bee is proudly supported by Major Sponsor Grok Academy, Supporters, Primary English Teaching Association AustraliaABC Radio Sydney and ACCO Brands Australia, and Word List Partner Macquarie Dictionary