I would randomly ask the other teachers of his grade how they do their spelling test and see if it is a school way to test or just that teacher's way. if it is just that teacher, maybe you can suggest they try it a different way like Mrs. ____ does it in the other classroom.
My son is 9 and he has spelling tests like we used to. They tell him the work then a sentence then repeat the word then he must spell it on his paper. I'm not sure what way would be easier or harder but both will challenge a child's mind.