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This Spell Bee prodigy from Apeejay Svran Global doesn’t let anything distract him  

Class 2 student Dhruv Pandit recounts his experience at the National level Spell Bee competition and shares the secrets of his success

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A gentleman is one who raises his words not his voice. Dhruv Pandit is indeed a gentleman. The class 2 student at Apeejay Svran Global School is a multi-talented prodigy. Apart from his various achievements in the field of Karate and technology, he has recently won the celebrated competition of words, the national-level Spell Bee competition.

 In an exclusive interview, the young wordsmith and his mother Dr Meenu Pandit, give a detailed description about the Spell Bee competition, their practice routine, mention the toughest words they faced and also highlight how the school helped them in this new endeavour. Edited excerpts:

Please tell us about your experience in the Spell Bee competition?

Dhruv: Starting from level 1, there were five rounds and more than 1 lakh students participating from all over the nation. Level 1 exam was at the inter-school level, in the various districts. This exam was held in September. I was directly promoted to level 2, for I was the topper in level 1 with excellence in both accuracy and speed. I completed 100 questions within 16 minutes. Level 2 was at the inter-state level. I was the topper at level 2 as well.

Dr. Meenu Pandit (Mother): There are a total of four levels in the Spell Bee Competition. Dhruv has recently won Level 3 of the competition as well. Level 3 is held at the national level. 177 students qualified in it from all across the nation. There was a tie breaker exam on 13 Feb this year. Dhruv  cleared that with ease. He solved 25 questions within 4 minutes.

What was Dhruv’s practice regime for the competition?

Dr. Meenu Pandit (Mother): Dhruv started preparing for the Spell Bee competition in August 2021. English has always been his strong point. He used to read the Spell Bee specific book after the online school classes. Some days, he even read till his bed time. He read 4-5 hours every day and also successfully managed his class and home work alongside the preparations. He also watched some Spell Bee episodes on YouTube. Some exclusive programmes were organised by Spell Bee. They also organised seminars for the participating children. Dhruv attended those seminars as well.

We are highly excited and curious to know about the toughest spellings in the competition

Dhruv: In level 1 the toughest word I faced was ‘QUICHE’. It is a food item, a cake made out of a mixture of eggs. There were six rounds in this level.

Level 2, was all about phonetics. The anchor would play a recorded audio of a word spoken in a foreign language accent. It was very tough to understand the word ‘dough’ in a different accent.  The student has to guess the primary word and also tell a homophone which is a word with a different spelling but with a similar sound to the original word. Such as ‘dove’ in this case. There were 9 rounds in the second level.

 In level 3, there was the unscramble word round. This was really tough. In this, some 15-14 alphabets are written in a scrambled or jumbled order. One has to crack the word. Only a single clue is given. The toughest words I faced in Level 3 were ‘marshmallow’ and ‘downstairs’.

Also, there was the definition round. In that, they would tell you the definition of a word and you would have to guess and spell the word. I had a tough time guessing the word ‘blacksmith’.  There were 12 rounds in Level 3.

Was the competition held virtually?

Dr. Meenu Pandit (Mother): The exam happened virtually. The Spell Bee organization was very strict. The exam required two laptops. On one laptop the participant had to do the exam. The other laptop had to be kept in such a way that the camera covered the child and the entire room. We had to cover the wall behind Dhruv with a white sheet. The participant had to sit in front of a plain background, so that there could be no possible use of any unfair means.  

How did Apeejay Svran Global School help you in winning the Spell Bee contest?

Dr. Meenu Pandit (Mother): Well, to begin with we got the information about the competition from the school itself. So, the school was the starting point of the journey. Secondly, the school’s English curriculum covered all the grammar concepts. There were some 4-5 rounds in the competition which were about correcting basic grammar. So, half of Dhruv’s preparation happened in the English classes at school. Only for the specific part such as phonetics, I had to read and understand it myself and then I taught it to Dhruv.

Did you play any word games while preparing for the Spell Bee competition?

Dhruv: Yes, I play a lot of word games. I played Hangman, the word game created by Spell Bee International. I also played word games on wordworld.com.  Also, I love to play crossword puzzles in the newspapers.

Dhruv, what are your next targets?

Dhruv: I missed the deadline of the Level 4 of the Spell Bee competition that is the international round. So, I will now be focusing on my Karate championship on March 12. I am preparing hard for that.

Finally, Dhruv, please tell us the secret mantra behind your success in so many fields?

Dhruv: It is confidence. You should put your mind into books when there is an exam, you should focus all your efforts towards the target. Don’t be distracted.

Arijit Roy is a young correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. He has done his masters in English literature from Delhi University and has a book of poems published by Writers Workshop India. He can be reached at [email protected]

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