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University of Texas at Austin
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Spelling and Vocabulary

Elements of the Contest

Each year, the UIL Spelling and Vocabulary Contest is based on a different vocabulary list provided by UIL and consists of a three-part test:

  • Part I:  A fifteen-minute section of 30 multiple-choice items focused on vocabulary and proofreading, and...
  • Part II & III:  The hand-written spelling of 70 words pronounced aloud to contestants, as well as a tiebreaker section of 20 additional pronounced words.

Spelling Overview Video

Additional Information

Eighty percent of the test will come from the UIL “Word Power” list that changes each year.  Twenty percent will come from outside sources, such as commonly used words, proper names/words in the news, and words that are representative of important elements of the English language.

The “Word Power” list can is now a free digital download found on the right-hand column of this page.

DICTIONARY UPDATE

Update: It's official!!  Beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, we will move solely to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition: Fiftieth Anniversary Printing for UIL Spelling and Vocabulary competition. 

Houghton-Mifflin will release a dictionary called The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition: Fiftieth Anniversary Printing in October, 2018. For all intents and purposes, this is an unofficial 6th edition as there will be 150 new words and thousands of revisions. This will be the final hard-copy dictionary Houghton-Mifflin will publish. Beginning with the 2019-20 school year, we will tentatively move to this new edition as our sole source for words. Please note: This new edition is NOT an eligible word source for the 2018-19 school year.

Word sources will continue to be The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third (1992), Fourth (2000), and Fifth (2011) hard-copy editions. No online or paperback dictionaries are acceptable.