Contest rules are now available for the US Scripps Spelling Bee

Every year, spelling enthusiasts converge on Washington DC to participate in and watch the National Scripps Spelling Bee..

Scripps has just released the contest rules for this year’s competition. These can be viewed at downloaded at

According to Scripps, here are the 3 most buzzworthy changes from last year’s rules:

  1. The spelling portion of the Preliminaries Test will be handwritten.

For the spelling portion of the Preliminaries Test, spellers will handwrite their spellings on Bee-formatted test forms, which will be hand-graded. This format was most recently implemented in the 2011 Bee, and was also used in several Bees in the early 2000s. For the spelling portion of the Preliminaries Test in 2015 and 2016 Bees, spellers recorded on Scantron test forms their responses to multiple choice spelling items. For the spelling portion of the 2012 through 2014 Bees, spellers typed their spellings in a computer-based test interface. Each Preliminaries Test format has been used successfully, and served the competition well. Event logistics, which vary from year-to-year, drive the Bee’s decision-making regarding Preliminaries Test format.

  1. The official source of words is Merriam-Webster Unabridged.

Merriam-Webster Unabridged ( is the most up-to-date dictionary reference from Merriam-Webster. The previous official source of words, Merriam-Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, is out of print.

  1. A Tiebreaker Test will make declaration of co-champions less likely, but still possible.

There will be no more than 25 consecutive rounds involving three or fewer spellers. At the end of a round when it is mathematically impossible for a single champion to emerge victorious in subsequent rounds, officials will disclose only the Tiebreaker Test scores of the spellers remaining in the competition. The speller with the highest Tiebreaker Test score will be declared champion. If, however, there is a tie on the Tiebreaker Test for the highest score, the spellers tying for the highest score will be declared co-champions.

Best of luck to all participants, especially those who use Spelling Bee Ninja to prepare for the year’s biggest spelling competition!