The New York Times Spelling Bee has a pretty simple scoring system. At a minimum, a word must have at least four letters. Four letters will get you one point. With Genius level sometimes being over 200, you’ll never get there only with four-letter words.
Starting with five-letter words, players receive one point per letter. This is a huge difference. So a five-letter word earns you five points. That one extra letter between a four-letter and a five-letter word makes all the difference. A twelve-letter word would receive twelve points.
The last way to score points is by finding the NYT Spelling Bee Pangram. The pangram is when you use all seven given letters in one-word. Players receive an extra seven points for doing so. There is guaranteed to be at least one pangram per puzzle. I’ve seen as many as three in one game. When Genius level is low (50s or 60s), it’s almost a requirement to get the pangram.
Strategy wise, it’s worth the effort to figure out how to make a four-letter word a five-letter word. This can easily be done by adding common prefixes or suffixes to words. If the letters are on the board, something like adding an -s, -ed, or -ing will instantly boost your scores.