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Spelling Bee : FAQ
General Info | Rules | Preparation | FAQ

Why is the Spelling Bee conducted?

With the popularity of the computer spell checker, youth are losing their spelling skills. Spell check programs cannot detect a mistake, if the misspelled word exists in the dictionary with a different meaning. Learning to spell correctly is necessary in all walks of life. Many children and their parents are not fully aware of the importance of developing English vocabulary as a stepping stone for success. The preliminary selection for National Merit Scholarships is solely based on a student's PSAT score. In this test, 67% weight is given to English and 33% to Math. SAT scores assume great significance as one of the most important selection criteria in college admissions. In an effort to encourage children to excel in English early on, the Foundation has embarked on nationwide spelling and vocabulary contests.


Why is the Foundation conducting Spelling Bee when there are other contests in the US?

The spelling bee contest by Foundation is one of the few in the US based on cumulative scoring where in a contestant is allowed to participate in several oral rounds even though he(she) misspell a word in one or more rounds. This is different from a typical spelling contest one is familiar with in which if you make a mistake in the very first round you are eliminated.

In addition, a written phase is also administered prior to the oral phase and those scores are added to oral scores.

This cumulative scoring would provide a fair assessment of contestant's spelling abilities.

This contest is specially customized for the needs of the NRI community. Additionally, the NSF Spelling Bee is conducted where Indian American population is significant and other contests may not be available in those locations.


How can my children prepare for the NSF Spelling Bee contest?

See the section on Spelling Preparation.


Can a Junior Spelling contestant also participate in the Senior Spelling Bee?

No, a participant can only participate in one spelling bee and in one regional center only. Eligible contestants from the Regionals Contest will be invited into the same bee for the NSF National Finals event


Can a kindergarten (KG) child participate in the Junior Spelling Bee?

Yes, a child in KG is allowed to participate in the Junior Spelling Bee, on an equal basis without any special privileges. Parents should bring young children into the contest with the aim of getting them acquainted. Over the last several years, many 6- and 7-year olds participated and have done exceedingly well in the contests.


What words are used for each level?

Beginner level words are generally used for Junior Spelling Bee, and Intermediate words are generally used for Senior Spelling Bee. See the section on contest rules for further details.


Is the participant eliminated on first misspelling?

No, each participant is allowed to participate in all oral rounds in the Regional contests and a misspelling in any round will only give zero points and does not lead to elimination immediately. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why NSF spelling bee differs from a spelling contest at your child's school in which a contestant is eliminated after the first misspelling. Also, during the NSF spelling bee contests, there will be a written phase where in all the contestants write the spelling of the same set of words.


I find words given in the list provided very hard; what do you suggest I do?

What appears to be so tough at first glance may not be really that tough. A simple analogy is a mountain. Don't be scared of its height! Take one step at a time. Eventually, when you reach its summit, you feel exhilarated! Next time you are ready to try even bigger mountains.

Similarly, try the given list by sitting with your child and tackling the words. Even if the child finds the words difficult initially, after some practice, the child will find them easy (relative to when he/she started for the first time).

"Practice makes perfect.”

There are many tricks to mastering the spelling. Teach your child how to look at the root of a word, for instance. There are Spelling Bee workshops in certain centers for more help and training in this area. Also, refer to the section on contest preparation.


How can I register for the NSF Spelling Bee contest?

Online registration via NSF homepage is generally available, starting early January. You can also refer to the NSF Contest Calendar or ask your Regional Coordinator about registration deadlines and contest dates.


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