2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee Changes

Posted on Posted in 2016

Hello Everyone!

It feels like only a few days ago, Gokul and I hoisted the trophy, but Bee Week 2016 is already around the corner!! 2 weeks ago, Scripps released their changes for the 2016 Bee. Some of the new rules were expected, considering the outcome of the bee in 2014 and 2015. As a speller, it was exhilarating to watch the bee end in a tie in 2014, and it was an amazing experience to live it out last year.  Undoubtedly, the extent of the preparation of the spellers is only increasing each year which may have attributed to the back to back ties.  For that reason, it was clear that some changes were bound to happen and here they are.

Of course, the Bee can never really gauge how the spellers may do each year and the Bee has a formidable task to ensure that the bee will run smoothly.  Now that the Bee has become such a popular TV event, there are additional expectations from the audience watching at home.  The spelling bee audience would like to see a show and would like the bee end with a single champion, just like most other other competitions.

First, the Bee has changed the 25 word championship list to 25 rounds. The 25 word list has been around for some time, and they have not exhausted it in the past few decades (excluding the past 2 years). I thought that the Bee would increase the level of difficulty of the words this year, but the change to a max of 25 rounds  is something that I had not anticipated. It would be interesting to see how it pans out, specifically if the bee were to end too quickly although I do know that the spellers will be very prepared.

Of course, the increase in the prize money is sweet, definitely a big jump for the second and third place spellers.  I wish this increase can be retroactive. 🙂

My favorite change is the elimination of the semifinals test. I never found this test to be necessary, and it never made sense to me. Personally, I would have benefited from this rule and this would have been amazing news to hear in 2014.  The reason I was eliminated before the finals that year was because of my score in the semifinals test, although I never misspelled on stage. I did not mind the semi finals test if the semifinals test was limited to just spelling. If that were to be the case, it is my personal opinion that it could produce the strongest pool of spellers for the finals round. Nevertheless, the total elimination of the test is a welcomed change!

If you’d like to read more in depth on the official rules of the bee, they can be found here: http://spellingbee.com/contest-rules-0.

Being in spelling bees for such a long time, I have adapted to the many changes in the rules at the bee. As a speller, I have always prepared to perform to the best of my abilities. I am pretty sure that the spellers at the 2016 Bee will adapt to the rules and will put on a great show.  Personally, I’m excited for Bee Week 2016 and I am planning to watch all the action live in person!

Back in 2011, the Bee made some changes including the move to the beautiful Gaylord Resort. My sister wrote a similar post about her reaction to those changes. Feel free to read that post: http://www.shivashankars.com/spellingbeeblog/2011-scripps-national-spelling-bee-changes.

That’s it for this blog, but I’ll be back with more soon! I can feel the excitement of Bee Week in the air. The competition is less than a month away; the spelling roster is online and so is the official countdown to the bee. Are there any favorites and will be the next champion? How easy is it to predict the winner?

Vanya

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