Dr. Richard Gentry, a spelling series author and spelling authority, has developed a graded list of spelling words that allows teachers and parents to determine a student’s “spelling grade level” without analyzing the student’s errors or stage of spelling development (Gentry, 1997—2022).


The test consists of eight lists of 20 words each for grades 1 through 8. Words selected are those that students in a particular grade often misspelled at the beginning of that grade but typically spelled correctly by the end of that grade. A student who spells 50 percent or more of the words on a particular list is said to be spelling comfortably at that grade level.


This is a quick screening device that can be useful in placing students in a commercial spelling series and in determining if further spelling analysis and intervention may be needed.

Directions: Call out each word and give a sentence for meaning. Have the child say each word and then spell it on paper in a numbered column. Stop the test when the child is missing more than half of the words in the list. The highest level with 50% spelled correctly is the child’s approximate Grade Level for spelling.