For UK teachers: QTS Spelling Strategies to Help You Pass the Literacy Skills Spelling Test Workbook - Order now! For more info click here
For tips, comments, & recent test words from (trainee) teachers scroll down.

Recent words: May 2018 relieved, environmental, governmental, stationary, deterrent, compulsory, irrelevant
Feb 2018: thorough, parliament, variant, library, decision parallel, formally, recommended, entrepreneurial.
June 2017 - significantly, omitted, successfully


This is for trainee teachers who have to go through the horrendous spelling test that the government have imposed on you. And also valid for anyone in need of strategies for spelling tricky words.

We're going to look at some of the words in the test, and importantly the strategies, rules, patterns you need to learn to cope with doing this test.

For 1:1 QTS and teacher training help, check out Steve Padget's site

There are lots of spelling tests below. You can click on the player or click the link and a new window opens, which you can then right click and download to your computer if you want.

achievable, compulsory, negligible, justifiably, exaggerated, exhaustive. Can you spell these under pressure, quickly and on a keyboard without using a dictionary, spellcheck or writing them out a few times? (We'll do these in a test later.)

No? Of course you can't. I was struggling with these spelling. Why? Because I don't use these words in everyday situations so they're not automatically available to me in my brain. But I can use various spelling strategies to help. I'm shocked that teachers and children aren't taught these great strategies.

OK so teachers need to know how to spell, know spelling strategies and understand why spelling is the way it is. But no one is teaching these.

When you do the QTS practice tests a few times you can see the patterns and reasons why they are testing certain words. They want to know your knowledge of: how words are built with prefixes and suffixes, spelling rules, and common letter patterns.

Key strategies to improve and remember spellings include:
knowing how words are built with root words, prefixes & suffixes - check the series of lessons in the Lessons section - Click here
knowing spelling rules & the exceptions - check the various lessons in the lessons section
using memory tricks/mnemonics - for more details I have a Spelling Strategies video Click here
using syllable breakdown - Click here
understanding the history of spelling & why words are the way they are - check the Silent Letters lesson, and my ebook Click here
using the Look, Say, Cover Write Check method Click here
recognising common letter patterns - ible/able, ent/ant, ory/ery/ary... - check the Lessons section
noticing vowels - deterrent, thorough, exaggerated (This is great for dyslexics.)

Remember to check out teacher trainer Steve Padget's education site & QTS Literacy site

Ready for the test?

spelling tests

There are 12 words.

Use all the tricks and strategies you can. In the real test there's a time limit!

In the QTS exam they give you a sentence to establish the context of the word and you press the player and type in the word.

spelling tests Click here to hear the test - it'll open in a new window or press the player below.

1. Passing this test is ____.
2. Doing the QTS spelling test is ____ .
3. The difference between the two products is ____.
4. He was ____ proud of his achievements.
5. He ____ how much it was.
6. The unions have described the latest pay offer as ____.
7. The deal will be ____ announced on Tuesday.
8. Children normally feel a lot of ____ about their first day at school.
9. This is an ____ study.
10. She ____ to mention that she was going to Yorkshire next week.
11. These documents are ____.
12. The words 'annoyed' and 'irritated' are more or less ____.

After the test I'll go over the spellings letter by letter or you can check them below. Remember to:

  • underline the mistakes
  • analyse the mistakes - why do you think you've made them?
  • think about how you can remember them, what strategies can help you?

    1. achievable
    2. compulsory
    3. negligible
    4. justifiably
    5. exaggerated
    6. unacceptable
    7. formally
    8. anxiety
    9. exhaustive
    10. omitted
    11. irrelevant
    12. synonymous

    Let's go over the spellings and strategies to remember the words, rules and what to look out for.

    1. achievable - you've got 2 rules going on in this word: achieve + able so use the "drop the 'e' rule" with a vowel suffix = achievable, and the "i before e except after c" rule works for this. (There are always exceptions to rules - noticeable, hireable, sizeable, likeable - keep the 'e'. Go to the lesson here)

    2. compulsory (they're testing your knowledge of letter patterns and visual memory - is it ery or ory or ary?) you could use syllable breakdown com /pul /so / ry - say it slow and exaggerated and visualise it, or come up with a memory trick: sorry it's compulsory

    3. negligible - testing your ible/able again. You could use syllable breakdown neg/li/gi/ble. Notice the two i's li/gi - neg li / gi ble. Can you come up with a memory trick?

    4. justifiably = testing your suffix ending rules
    justify + ably: so we have to change the y to i with -ably= justifi + ably = justifiably
    You could use syllable breakdown = jus /ti/ fi/ ably, (see the two i's)

    In the QTS test commentary they say: "Think of the root justify, lose the final 'y' and replace it with 'iably'" justif + iably

    5. exaggerated ( it took me a while to see this word in my mind and I really wanted a pen and paper to scribble the word on.) Are there two g's, two r's? The 'ex' sounds like "eggs!" Can you see the 2 g's in eggs - use that memory trick to remember that there are two g's in exaggerated exaggerate + d = exaggerated. A memory trick could be: "I ate two extra eggs = exaggerated

    6. unacceptable - again the able/ible ending and a prefix 'un'
    un + accept + able: no dropping anything just add the un + able. Go to the -ible/-able lesson here and see how you can use the root word to help you figure out which one to use.

    7. formally - sounds easy but it's about adding the suffix ending -ly. We don't drop the L . formal + ly, usefully = useful + ly, helpfully, naturally, finally... Click here to go to the spelling rules lesson and look out for adding -ly and the exceptions Also go to the Only Use Full When Full lesson

    8. anxiety - this word the QTS site said, "You have to learn by heart"
    You could learn the others in the anxi- pattern: anxiety, anxious, anxiously. Or use a memory trick.

    9. exhaustive - sounds like "eggs or stiff" so you can't use phonics!
    Take notice of the other words in the patterns and make a list: exhaust pipe, exhaustion, exhausting, exact, exactly, exam, exaggerate...

    10. omitted - this is the 1:1:1 doubling up rule click here to go to the lesson

    11. irrelevant - ir+ relevant You can use syllable breakdown ir/re/le/vant
    Notice the 2 x e's irrelevant. For more on some prefix rules click here

    12. synonymous - can you think of any ways to remember this word?

    Key strategies to doing the test are:
    1. Use memory tricks.
    2. Use syllable breakdown to break a word down into small chunks by sounding it out slowly and exaggerated.
    3. Think of a word that sounds like the word and has the same letter pattern.
    4. Use your knowledge of suffixes and prefixes.
    5. Think of the spelling rules - drop the 'e', doubling up 1:1:1 rule, i before e rule
    6. Notice the patterns and vowels in the words.
    7. Use Look Say Cover Write Check to help you learn the words.

    Teach your students these strategies too.

    Top spelling tips -

  • they like their able and ible, ably/ ibly words. Unfortunately, you have to learn the key words but there is a way to help you figure out whether you should use -ible and -able. Go to the lesson here
  • i before e rule - receive, achievable
  • ent / ence / ently and ant / ance/ antly endings relevant, relevance/ subsequent/subsequently. Learn these, make a letter pattern dictionary.
  • adding suffix -ly - formally
  • drop the 'le' when adding -ly
    reasonably = reason + able + ly - reasonable - reasonably
  • doubling up rule - omit - omitted, begin - beginning, prefer - preferred, refer - referring
  • learn prefixes and rules - im+ mature, ir+ relevant, il+legally,
  • drop the 'e' rule - achievable / receiving / responsibility / communication - drop the 'e' rule

    QTS practice tests here - - click here

    Have you taken the QTS spelling test recently? Did you pass/fail? What spellings did you find difficult? Let me know.

    Here are some of the words in the test, practice papers and words that are commonly misspelled (from the Oxford Dictionary Corpus. Do a spelling test of these words 12 words at a time. You can press the link to go to another window or there are players below.

    Spelling test 1 Click here to do spelling test 1 (new window) or the player below.
    Spelling test 2 Click here to do spelling test 2
    Spelling test 3 Click here to do spelling test 3
    Spelling test 4 Click here to do spelling test 4
    Spelling test 5 Click here to do spelling test 5
    Speling test 6 Click here to do spelling test 6

    Check your spelling letter by letter - what mistakes have you made? How can you remember how to spell these?

    Test 1
    1. accommodation/ accommodate
    2. accomplishments
    3. achievable
    4. acknowledge
    5. administrative
    6. aggressive/aggression
    7. anxiety
    8. ecstasy
    9. basically
    10. capabilities
    11. chronological
    12. communication

    Test 2
    1. compulsory
    2. cumulative
    3. crucial
    4. embarrass
    5. exaggerated
    6. exhaustive
    7. existence
    8. environmentally
    9. detrimental
    10. definitely
    11. formally
    12. government
    13. grammatical

    Test 3
    1. illuminating
    2. implementation
    3. inappropriate
    4. independently
    5. ineffectual
    6. irrelevant
    7. justifiably
    8. mathematical
    9. metacognition
    10. meticulous
    11. minuscule
    12. miscellaneous

    Test 4
    1. negligible
    2. omitted
    3. particularly
    4. perpetrator
    5. procedural
    6. preference
    7. reasonably
    8. supersede
    9. stringent
    10. subsequently
    11. synonymous
    12. unacceptable
    13. unnecessary

    Test 5
    1. noticeable
    2. appropriately
    3. unfortunately
    4. skilfully/skilful (American spelling - skillful / skillfully)
    5. susceptible
    6. correspondence
    7. courageous
    8. dissatisfied
    9. faithfully
    10. accessible
    11. assessment

    Test 6
    1. unachievable
    2. exaggerated
    3. relevant
    4. meticulously
    5. fortunate
    6. stringently
    7. exhaustion
    8. anxious
    9. subsequent
    10. justify

    This is an email I sent to someone who asked for my help. I was shocked by how tricky the test was. This was the first time I'd done it!

    "I've just done the spelling test with the listening. Blimey! Scary and some very tricky words.

    Let me go over the words I heard and tell you how I tried not to panic and instead used some tricks, understood some patterns and rules:

    First word was opportunities (They're into testing your spelling rules and changing y to i plus adding suffixes)
    Check out my y to ies spelling rule + video click here
    I bet they like testing the big words like opportunity - opportunities and responsibility - responsibilities

    Just done a word I struggled with - cumulative. I got there in the end but I suddenly had a freeze up. I went through the other sounds I knew with cu - cucumber. I knew it wasn't qu. Wow! Puts you on the spot. But work through the possible pronunciation of related patterns and don't panic.

    crucial - is like special

    communication - I used syllable breakdown com/mun/i/ca/tion. They like to test your knowledge of double letters especially double m's!!!

    capabilities - I wrote capable then deleted the 'e' and typed in capability then dropped the y to ies

    accomplishments This fools you because it looks like accommodation (2 c's and 2 m's ) but it's only got 1 m so use a memory trick.

    unacceptable - (They're seeing if you know how to build words with prefixes & suffixes )
    accept is the root word then add un + accept + able
    use -able when the root word is whole and can be used on it's own (see click here)

    synonymous Wow! They throw some tough ones at you. I had to think about this. I knew synonym so added -ous

    inappropriate - we have in + appropriate Do you know how to spell appropriate?
    - memory trick I ate an apple

    negligible - Christ! A hard one. I bet they throw in an -ible word so make sure you learn the ible/able words. I spelt negligent then dropped the -ent and put in -ible.

    Try this spelling test from Oxford Dictionary they say the word and you type it Click here to go to the test page

    For punctuation practice click here

    Your recent comments & QTS test words

    I would like to thank you so much for your hard work on this site trying to simplify all the information for people like me. I highly recommend your website for everyone to pass the skills test. I have just passed my one today I was using your website as a valuable asset to help me. I was so confident today with my punctuation and everything.

    Can’t wait to pass my numeracy skills and wish I can find a website that can simplify it for maths like you did with English. I was very lucky as I got some very easy words thorough, parliament, variant, library, decision parallel, formally, recommended, entrepreneurial. Thank you once again. W.M. Feb 2018. (Quick note from Joanne - these words seem easy now you've studied them but one wrong vowel and wallop!)

    Robert Clarke on YouTube June 2017
    This was so helpful! Thank you! I passed my Literacy second time! I wouldn't have done it without your help! Thank you so much! I think I had words like significantly, omitted and successfully. I can't remember the others. I did find writing a word I wasn't sure about down on the whiteboard a helpful trick! Particularly for omitted trying to work out if it had one 't' or two

    Hi Joanne, I just wanted to say a massive thank you! If it wasn't for your website and your YouTube videos on the QTS Skills Test, I do not think I would have passed the test but I did and therefore I am very grateful. Thank you once again. Kindest Regards, Danielle (March 2017)

    (Aug 2016) Your tips on remembering tricky words worked wonders. I passed my literacy today and even though I only stumbled across your site last night it was of much benefit. Thank you do very much. A word that came up to day which I have not seen in lists was colloquial. S.P.

    (Aug 16) Hi Joanne, I just wanted to say thank you.I took my literacy skills test this week and passed. I went into the test feeling very calm and relaxed. I found the spellings very easy and I know that was due to the skills I learnt from your website and spelling book. The work on punctuation, particularly commas and apostrophes was very helpful. I will continue to maintain and improve my literacy skills especially punctuation. Thanks again, Patrick (click here for the Punctuation videos click here)

    (Apr 16) Hello Joanne, I thought I should message with many thanks about this website. I failed my QTS English test a couple of weeks ago. Spelling has never been my strong point and this website definitely taught me a thing or two about how to memorise spellings and the rules. Yesterday I passed! The words that were on my test included:
    - entrepreneurial
    - legendary
    - synonymous
    - implementation
    - infallible
    - nauseous

    I can't remember the rest but I knew I definitely got at least 6 correct due to this website. I think there will always be words that come up that you've never heard of. I also have dyslexia so hearing new complicated words can really throw me. However, if it wasn't for this website I wouldn't have managed to get half the words correct, so again a massive thank you!

    To anyone taking the test who struggles with spelling like me, do the practice tests and look at words people have posted that were on their tests. Victoria, April 2016

    (from Steven V) For anyone that is taking/wanting to take their QTS literacy, I HIGHLY recommend this website! I failed my first attempt by 4 marks, as I really struggled with spelling and where to put punctuation in the text (apostrophes - knowing where they should go and why, etc). I contacted Joanne who was more than happy to help and she created some amazing videos that give detailed explanations about why and how you should use certain types of punctuation. After a lot of revision, and using Joanne's content, I passed my second attempt with flying colours. I was much more confident and felt at ease. A few tips for people:

    - If you are struggling with spelling, practice all of Joanne's spellings, and note down the ones that you get wrong. Once I had done that, I recorded myself on my phone with the words I struggled at and gave myself little tests.
    - A tip Joanne gives is to use memory tricks. I was sceptical about this at first, but it really does work! For example, the word Bureaucratic. I remembered it by saying to myself: 'Bur' 'E' 'AU' 'Cratic'.

    - Visit the There are lots of spellings on there that people have uploaded.
    - In the actual test, use the paper and pen that is provided! Write the spelling down first, and carefully type them into the computer. When you are nervous, you could make a typo - every mark counts!

    When I moved onto the punctuation section, I made a little tally chart as I went along to keep count of the amount of punctuation that I added.
    - Spellings that I got in the test were: proficiency, independently, conscientious, apprenticeship, consultancy, available, courteous and cohesive. That's all I can remember!
    - Try to practice as much as you can as it pays off! There's an App for the iPad called 'Practice QTS.' I would recommend using this as there are only three practice tests on the .Gov site.

    Thank you again Joanne :)

    from Andrew. Some of the words that came up on my literary test on 7/7/14 are as follows:

    Hi Joanne, just thought I would let you know that I passed my QTS tests the first time. I am so pleased that I found your website :-) All the best, Liz

    "I took my literacy test today (8/4/14). Some of the spelling were: beneficial, embarrassed, psychology, competence, received, adjourned, sensitively and bureaucratic. My advice for the other 2 sections is to practice using the practice test online and buy the books to help. GOOD LUCK!" N.S.

    Just some words that were in my test, can't remember them all. Unfortunately I did not pass. Some really tricky ones that I had not seen or heard before. 25/11/14
    > fallible
    > inconspicuous
    > succinctly
    > applicable
    > mischievous
    > hypothesis

    I'm writing to say a MASSIVE thank you for this website. It has helped me no end with my QTS training and I don't know where I would be without it. I was told once that my spelling was 'beyond help', but I have found it easy to learn with your teaching style and now look forward to the test which will be on March 4th. Once again, THANK YOU. C

    This is fantastic thank you so much!!!! I think all these tips are fantastic. Thank you so much!!!!
    Your work is fantastic!!! Thank you so much for all your help and your books and web page!!!!!
    Thank you!!!!! Taking my skills test soon and your work had helped me loads!!!! There's so much information online its a little overwhelming and difficult to pin point the gaps in my spelling. I will also use you lessons alongside the book, I'm so exited about being confident in spelling!!!!!!! Thank you so much!! Justified and exaggerated are two new words I can spell!!!!! Yay!!!!! Thank you so much!!

    Hi Joanne! Just wanted to say massive thanks for your work and the fantastic practice videos for the literacy skills test. I have dyslexia but I did the four online practice tests on the Department for Education website and had 75-90%. You can imagine my shock when I failed my first attempt (by one point). To start my teacher training, I had to first quit my current job so it was extremely stressful, my entire future was at stake and I was running out of time. Your website was so extremely helpful, I couldn't have done it without you! Also, your voice is very calm and reassuring, it really helped with the stress! I will start my teacher training in mid-August and I am very excited. Thank you! Matt (July 17)

    Thank you for all your help. This website has helped me pass my QTS exam. I will recommend it to all the people that are going to do this test in the years to come. 
    Thank you again, Gabby (passed in 2019)

    QTS Spelling Strategies - out now