Rules and Procedures

  • Participants must be 18 years or older. No pre-registration required. 
  • Eligible: Those who have not won three times or have not won a national spelling bee for adults (call it sustainability for newcomers to have a chance). 
  • We provide paper, and for those without a writing instrument, we provide pencils. 
  • For Round 1, place your name at the top right of the paper and on the left the numbers 1 to 20. 
  • Round 2 has 15 words, Round 3 has 10, and Round 4 has 5. 
  • You’ll have 20 seconds to spell each word after we pronounce it. After the round, we’ll repeat them. 
  • A schwa is an unstressed vowel, so asking for repeats may not help. 
  • Print clearly, no cursive. If we can’t read it, we can’t mark it. 
  • Don’t worry about capitals, hyphens, spaces, or diacritical marks (such as cedillas or grave accents). 
  • To correct a mistake, put a line through the word and write it again. Do not erase or insert letters. 
  • In Round 1, you’ll mark your own paper, X for incorrect. If you qualify for Round 2, we’ll recheck your paper. In all other rounds, we mark the papers of those in the running. 
  • We take about 20 people into Round 2, about 10 into Round 3, and about 5 into Round 4. A tie for first at the end of Round 4 results in a Sudden Death Round. 
  • Do not collaborate on spellings—no use of cell phones or text messaging. 
  • We consult several unabridged dictionaries to confirm the spelling of the words we select, including Merriam-Webster, Random House, and Oxford American. 
  • Our event is the first Saturday after Valentine’s Day each year. 
  • After a third win, a competitor must retire from the competition and enjoy some time serving on the committee.   
People Watching Spelling BeeGroup of Spelling Bee Participants