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2010 AARP National Spelling Bee Rules

Rules for the 2011 AARP National Spelling Bee scheduled for June 18, 2011 will be posted by Sept. 1, 2010.

Rules and Regulations - General

  1. The annual AARP National Spelling Bee will be held in Cheyenne,Wyoming, on June 18 and 19, 2010. There will be a registration fee of $30.  Contest registration begins at 12 a.m. E.T. on June 20, 2009 and phone and online registration ends at 11:59:59 p.m. on June 11, 2010.  The walk-in registration fee is $40 for those who have not previously registered. Walk-in registrations will be accepted from 8:00 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. M.D.T on Saturday, June 19, 2010 at the site of the Bee. Contestants will be required to show proof of identification and age to complete registration.
  2. Spellers must be at least 50 years of age at the time of the Bee. Previous first-place winners are eligible to participate in this competition.  Employees of AARP or any of its respective divisions, affiliates, subsidiaries, and promotional or marketing agencies, and the immediate family members of, and any persons domiciled with, any such employees are not eligible. The term “immediate family members” includes spouses, parents, siblings, and children.  Additionally, National Spelling Bee Board members, and members of their immediate households may not compete in the Bee.  Entering the contest constitutes the Contest entrant’s full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of these official rules.  The Contest is sponsored by and administered by AARP (the “Sponsor”). Void inPuerto Ricoand where prohibited.
  3. First, Second, and Third place finalists will be presented prizes. The First place finalist receives $500; Second receives $300 and Third receives $200. The winner will also receive a plaque. Other prizes may also be awarded as determined in the sole discretion of sponsor. The winners will be required to show proof of identification and other documentation that may be necessary to fulfill the prize, as determined by AARP in its sole discretion.  
  4. AARP will not be responsible for incomplete, late, or misdirected entries or for failure to receive entries due to transmission failures or technical failures of any kind, including, without limitation, malfunctioning of any network, hardware or software, whether originating with sender or Sponsor. AARP reserves the right to disqualify any entries by persons or potential contestants determined to be tampering with or abusing any aspect of the Contest, as determined by AARP in its sole discretion.  By entering the Contest, you agree to be bound by all terms and conditions of these Official rules, including without limitation the grant of official rights set forth in Paragraph 5. The decisions of Sponsor are final in all matters relating to the Contest.
  5. By entering the Contest, you acknowledge and agree that Sponsor shall have the right (without limitation or further compensation to you) to edit, adapt, modify, reproduce, publish, promote, display and otherwise use your name and image in any way it sees fit, including the right to publish your name and image online and in print
  6. Sponsor, in its sole discretion, may disqualify contestants for an occurrence or existence of the following: 1) any misconduct, 2) any act or omission attributable to contestant that brings shame or public embarrassment to AARP; or 3) any act by contestant that maligns or disparages AARP, or negatively depicts AARP.  In the event of disqualification, contestant shall not be entitled to any prize or reimbursement of entry fee and may be ejected, at the sole discretion of sponsor, from the contest venue.
  7. All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply.  Winners are solely responsible for reporting and payment of any taxes on prizes.  Entrants are solely responsible for their own conduct and agree to release and hold harmless Sponsor and its respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, and the directors, officers, employees and agents of each, from any and all liability for any injuries, loss or damage of any kind arising from or in connection with the Contest or any prize won.
  8. The Contest is governed by the laws of theUnited States and the District of Columbia.  As a condition of participating in the Contest, participant agrees that any and all disputes which cannot be resolved between the parties, and causes of actions arising out of or connected with the Contest, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and must be brought in the State or Federal Courts in the District of Columbia.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Rules and Regulations - Spelling                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
  9. The Bee has two segments. The first will consist of 100 written words, given in four rounds of 25 words each. Spellers’ scores in the written segment will be used to determine those qualifying for the second segment, the oral rounds. The top 15 spellers plus any ties will proceed to the oral rounds.  Any speller not seated and ready to compete at the beginning of a round will be disqualified.
  10. Before the oral rounds begin, a random drawing will determine the order of the spellers. The oral rounds will consist of each speller, in the order in which his/her name was drawn, being given a word to spell orally. Each speller will remain in the oral rounds until such time as s/he incorrectly spells a total of three words. When a speller misspells a word, a bell will sound and correct spelling will be provided. Eliminated spellers will leave the orals after the current round of words is completed. The judges’ decisions are final and absolute on all
  11. Only spellers, Board members, staff, and official volunteers are allowed in the competition area during each segment. Others will be asked to move to a viewing area
  12. Any spelling assistant is forbidden. Any assistance may result in the spelling being counted as incorrect, or in disqualification of the speller, as determined by the judges.
  13. All words used in the Spelling Bee have been taken from the printed and on-line formats of the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh edition, copyrights 2003-2009. No capitalized, hyphenated, or double or triple entries will be used. Variant spellings will generally NOT be used. The only exception will be secondary variants found adjacent to main and boldface entry words. These are preceded by the word also. Examples of words that could be used are antepenult also antepenultima; cancellation also cancelation; the plural exanthems also exanthemata; and ipecac also ipecacuanha. Please consult the dictionary’s Explanatory Notes section on Variants. Spellers should also assume that a word can be used in its singular, plural, or inflected form or as one of the allowable parts of speech for that word.
  14.   Words will be pronounced according to the diacritical marks in the dictionary formats cited above.
  15. The Pronouncer will pronounce each word at least twice and may designate its part of speech and language of origin, provide its definition, give its usage in a complete sentence, and pronounce it a third time. Any of the above information must be requested before the Speller begins to spell.
  16. The Pronouncer will provide the above-mentioned information until such time as the Judges determine that the word has been properly and reasonably defined and illustrated. The Judges have the right to disqualify any Speller who declines a request to start spelling.
  17. Spellers have the right to request on-line pronunciation of their word if it is available. If the pronunciation is available but the Speller does not request it, no challenges based on pronunciation will be allowed.
  18. Any questions should be addressed to the Pronouncer publicly. If necessary, the Pronouncer will approach the judges for a decision. Judges may not be contacted by either spellers or spectators.
  19. Before each segment, the Pronouncer will advise the Spellers of specific rules to be followed as appropriate to either the written or oral part of the contest.  A complete list of written and oral round rules will be provided to contestants prior to the beginning of the segments (A non-inclusive representative list is provided below). Failure to follow the stated rules will result in individual words being judged incorrectly spelled.


Written Test instructions include:

The Pronouncer will inform the Spellers that:

  1. The Scoring Judge is the final authority in case of questionable printing or writing.
  2. Spellers are to write or print legibly and erase cleanly, placing only one word on a line. Block letters (i.e., printing in capitals) are acceptable, but the block letter “I” must have cross bars at both the top and the bottom of the upright. Failure to meet these requirements shall result in words being judged as incorrectly spelled.
  3. Written test papers will be returned to the Spellers as quickly as possible. Any questions shall be presented to the Pronouncer before the beginning of the oral rounds.
  4. All writing materials used must be those provided by the Spelling Bee. No other printed or electronic material is allowed in the competition area.


Oral Rounds instructions include:

The Pronouncer will inform the Spellers that:

  1. Spellers will not be allowed to use any printed or written materials or any writing implements in the oral rounds.
  2. Spellers must speak clearly and loudly and slowly enough to be understood by the judges.Pronunciation of the word by the Speller before beginning spelling is required to ensure that the Speller has correctly heard the word to be spelled.
  3. The Speller may make three different attempts to spell the word correctly. Final pronunciation of the spelled word is required to indicate completion of the spelling, after which no further attempts may be made.
  4. If more than one Speller ties for first, second, or third place, a separate spell-off between the tied Spellers will be held. Once the spell-off is completed, the oral rounds will continue.
  5. Any challenges must occur on-stage prior to the next Speller’s word.

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