Spelling Bee Rules




a.       The speller must be enrolled at the institute for the duration of the competition.

b.      If the speller is a minor, legal guardian must fill out and sign waiver.

c.       The speller must have completed book 1 by the final round.

d.      The speller must not stop or bypass normal activity at the institute.

e.      The speller must have been declared champion at the institute level.

f.        The speller must send the Champion Registration Form

g.       The speller can be disqualified if they don’t meet the above standards.

Preliminaries Format

a.       The Preliminaries consists of a test with written spelling items and multiple choice vocabulary items, and two rounds of oral spelling onstage.

b.      Spellers may earn up to 36 points during the Preliminaries: up to 30 points on the Preliminaries Test, three points for correctly spelling in Round Two and three points for correctly spelling in Round Three.

c.       There are no immediate eliminations for providing an incorrect answer in the Preliminaries Test. After round three the students with 32 points or higher go on to the final round, held on the next day.

Finals Format

a.       The Finals consists of rounds of oral spelling beginning with Round Four and continuing, with breaks as the officials deem necessary, until a champion is declared.

b.      The Tiebreaker Test consists of 24 items: 12 spelling and 12 multiple choice vocabulary. Each correct response is worth one point.

c.       All spellers who have not been eliminated from the competition spell one word in each round. Upon incorrectly spelling a word during an oral spelling round, the speller is eliminated from the competition, except as provided under "End-of-Bee Procedure"

d.      End-of-Bee Procedure: If all spellers in an oral spelling round misspell, all remain in the competition and a new round begins with the spellers spelling in their original order. If only one speller spells correctly in a round, a new one-word round begins and the speller is given an opportunity to spell the next word on the list.

Official Dictionary and Source of Words

a.       Merriam-Webster Unabridged, available at http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com, is the final authority and sole source for the spelling of words; the primary source used to craft the pronunciations, definitions and language origins; and the only authority consulted by officials, as well as the sole source used during the Spelling Bee to verify the information in the prepared lists.

b.      During oral spelling rounds in the Preliminaries and Finals, the speller’s time at the microphone has a limit of 2 minutes. Time begins when the pronouncer first pronounces the word.


a.       The judges listen carefully, determine whether or not words are spelled correctly, and uphold the rules. The decisions of the judges are final.

b.      Misunderstandings: The judges will not respond to the speller’s question(s) about the word and its pronunciation but, if the judges sense that the speller has misunderstood the word, the judges will direct the speller and pronouncer to interact until they are satisfied that reasonable attempts have been made to assist the speller in understanding the word within the time constraints. It is sometimes impossible to detect a misunderstanding until a spelling error has been made, and the judges are not responsible for the speller’s misunderstanding.

c.       Pronouncer Errors: The judges compare the pronouncer’s pronunciation with the diacritical markings in the word list. If the judges feel that the pronouncer’s pronunciation does not match the pronunciation specified in the diacritical markings, the judges will direct the pronouncer to correct the error as soon as it is detected.

d.      The judges may not disqualify a speller(1) for failing to pronounce the word either before or after spelling it; (2) for asking a question; or(3) for noting or failing to note the capitalization of a word, the presence of a diacritical mark, or the presence of a hyphen or other form of punctuation.