Flash-Word Spelling Test

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Most students I that have come across hate the idea of a spelling test. I was faced with a situation where students who could have done very well if they’d studied were cheating on simple spelling tests and subsequently getting 0 awarded for a relatively easy test. In one class I caught every student cheating in some way or another. There must be a way to allow students to learn words and their spelling without making them feel they must resort to cheating to pass. During this class I devised a spelling test which removes the need for cheating entirely while still allowing the student to internalize the shape of the word.

You’ll Need:

                       Overhead Projector (OHP)


                       Enlarged vocab list

                       Paper to cover the words.


Give students a copy of the new vocabulary list prior to the test. The time allowed to learn the list can be up to the teacher and the evaluation of the students abilities. With regular classes I would give 20 words on Monday and test on Friday. With remedial classes I gave 10 easier words per day


Copy the vocabulary list onto a transparency at about 36 font. Make a covering sheet out of a piece of legal size paper and cut a rectangular hole the size of the words in the middle of it. This is to hide the words and only show the one you are testing.


Administer the test as you would any other test but place the transparency list on the OHP and cover all but the one word you are testing and then turn on the OHP for 3 seconds, and then turn it off. Students will have to recognize the word in the time it is on the screen and write it down.


Continue the test at three seconds for each word until you are finished the list for that test. Allow enough time in between the flash time for students to write the word. After the first couple of weeks of doing the flash for 3 seconds I lowered it to 2 seconds and then 1.


Finish the test by flashing all of the list together for 3 seconds so students can do a quick review.


Expand the test further by putting the vocabulary word into simple phrases and flash the whole phrase for 3 seconds, then 2, and so on. Students will be amazed at how quickly their brains can acquire the words. Gradually students should be able to know a word simply by its shape, which will facilitate quicker and more fluent reading.


                        You can count the time aloud or use a timer.

                        Maintain discipline

                        Don’t allow students to sit close to the OHP as they can look at the list.


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