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Spelling Bee : Rules
General Info | Rules | Preparation | FAQ
In addition to all the general contest rules stated by North South Foundation, the following rules are applicable for Spelling Bee Competition.
  1. There are 2 levels of competition in Spelling Bee:
    • JSB (Junior Spelling Bee): Grades 1, 2 and 3
    • SSB (Senior Spelling Bee): Grades 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8
  2. A 1st rank winner at the Scripps National Spelling Bee or the National Finals of the North South Foundation senior spelling bee are not eligible for competing in this and future North South Foundation spelling contests. (The 1st rank winner of junior spelling bee can, however, participate in the senior spelling bee.) A contestant who participated in the NSF senior spelling bee is not eligible to participate in the junior spelling bee, irrespective of his/her age.
  3. Both spelling bees (JSB and SSB) are held in two phases: Phase I (written) and Phase II (oral) Parents are not allowed in Phase I. They may be allowed in Phase II at the discretion of the judges, if space permits.
  4. Phase I (Written):
  5. Phase I is a written test with 25 words, and the contestant has to write the spelling for each of the 25 words. Ten words will be selected from the published list, and the remaining fifteen words will be from outside the published list. The published list of 1,000 words will be provided to the contestants after completing registration. This list contains words from SpellIt booklet, from Merriam-Webster as well as words taken from the past Paideia booklets, published by Scripps National Spelling Bee. All the contestants will write the spelling for the same 25 words. Each contestant will be given a sheet with 25 blank rows (the rows are numbered) to write the spelling for each of the 25 words.
  6. During this phase, the pronouncer will pronounce each of the 25 words, and for each of the words, he will give the parts of speech (POS), root of the word, definition, and the use of the word in a sentence. The contestant will have to write the spelling of the each word in the appropriate blank row.
  7. Unclear and illegible writing might be open for misinterpretation. So, contestants are expected to write clearly and legibly. The decision of the judges is final.
  8. There will NOT be any partial credits. There will be NO negative points for any incorrect answer. The contestant will be awarded one point for the correct answer and zero for an incorrect answer.
  9. All Phase I sheets should be returned at the end of the contest. All contestants will advance to Phase II (oral round).
  10. Phase II (Oral):
  11. Phase II contains 6 oral rounds. All the words in Phase II are used from the published list of 1,000 words.
  12. During this phase, the pronouncer pronounces a word to the contestant. The contestant shall pronounce the word, spell it, and pronounce it again. The contestant will be awarded zero points for failing to follow this order or failing to spell the word correctly. Pronunciation after spelling is optional, and points will not be deducted for failing to pronounce after spelling.
  13. A contestant may request to have the word pronounced again or ask for a definition, language origin, parts of speech, or a usage of the word in a sentence. This information will not be provided by the pronouncer (as done in Phase I) unless requested by the contestant.
  14. A contestant is allowed 30 seconds to start spelling a word. The judge may award zero points to any contestant who ignores a request to start spelling. This 30 second period excludes the time expended in step 11 above.
  15. Once a contestant starts spelling, he/she may stop and start over. In retracing, there can be no change of letters or their sequence from that of the first attempt. If any letter or the sequence is changed in the respelling, the contestant will be awarded zero points.
  16. In case more than one spelling is listed for a word in the Webster's dictionary (3rd International Unabridged Edition), the particular spelling enunciated by the contestant shall be accepted as correct, if the word either matches the pronunciation and definition provided by the pronouncer, or it is clearly identified as being a standard variant of the word the contestant has been asked to spell. No other source is allowed in this regard. If a word has one or more homonyms, the pronouncer will indicate which word is to be spelled.
  17. During each of the six rounds, each contestant gets a new word from the published list. The contestant will be awarded one point for the correct answer and zero for an incorrect answer. If a contestant gives an incorrect answer, the judges provide the correct answer, and the next contestant will be given a new word from the list.
  18. Winners and Ranks:
  19. Based on the combined scores of Phase I & II, the judges will determine the winners. The 1st place winner shall be ahead by at least one point to be declared as the champion. In announcing the ranks 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, the judges will follow these rules:
    • Announce Ranks 1, 2 and 3, if and only if there are at least 10 contestants
    • Announce Ranks 1 and 2 ONLY, if there are 8 or 9 contestants
    • Announce Rank 1 ONLY, if there are 5-7 contestants
    • DO NOT announce any ranks if there are less than 5 contestants
  20. Tiebreaker Rules:
  21. The tiebreaker rules apply ONLY if there are at least 5 or more contestants participating in a given center and at the discretion of the judges/regional coordinator.
  22. After tabulation of scores (out of a total of 31) from Ph I (words 1-25) and Ph II (6 words), if there is a tie, the scheme outlined below is followed in the order given, to break the ties:
    • Phase I score (words 1-25)
    • Phase I score among words 21-25
    • Phase I score among words 16-20
    • Phase I score among words 11-15
    • Phase I score among words 1-10
  23. If the above steps fail to break the tie in question, the foundation may use additional measures to resolve them or award joint ranks.
  24. Invitation to National Finals:
  25. Invitation to National Finals is based on the relative scores [Phase I and Phase II] of all the contestants nationally and is not based on a direct correlation of ranks achieved by a contestant in a regional contest. Thus, the combined Phase I & II score of each contestant out of 31 relative to all such scores around the country will determine whether the contestant will be invited to the National Finals. The regional tiebreakers are only helpful in determining the winners for a particular center, but have no bearing on the Finals invitation.
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