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Vocabulary test will be added to National Spelling Bee

April 09, 2013|By Houston Mitchell
  • For the first time in its 86-year history, the National Spelling Bee will require contestants to know what the words mean as well as how to spell them.
For the first time in its 86-year history, the National Spelling Bee will…

Wouldn't this be fun to hear at this year's National Spelling Bee: "May I have the definition please?" "No, you should already know it." Well, things might not get that drastic, but for the first time in its 86-year history, the National Spelling Bee will require contestants to know what the words mean as well as how to spell them.

To qualify for the semifinals and finals, spellers will be judged on a cumulative score that incorporates live spelling, computer-based spelling questions and computer-based vocabulary questions, organizers announced Tuesday.

Vocabulary will count for 50% of a speller's overall score that will determine who advances in the competition May 28-30 in Oxon Hill, Md.

"This is a significant change in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, but also a natural one," said Paige Kimble, director of the competition. "It represents a deepening of the Bee's commitment to its purpose: to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.

"Spelling and vocabulary are, in essence, two sides of the same coin. As a child studies the spelling of a word and its etymology, he will discover its meaning. As a child learns the meaning of a word, it becomes easier to spell. And all of this enhances the child's knowledge of the English language."

This year, 281 spellers will converge in the Washington, D.C., area from eight countries and Department of Defense Schools in Europe and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A few samples of the vocabulary questions contestants will answer:

1. What is the purpose of defibrillation?

a) removing fibrous matter from vegetables

b) removing bodily hair

c) restoring the rhythm of the heart

d) reducing a fever using medication

correct answer: c

2. What does it mean to appertain?
 
a) assume the character or appearance of

b) belong either as something appropriate or as an attribute

c) distress severely so as to cause continued suffering

d) be guilty of

correct answer: b

3. What does it mean to be intestate?

a) be under strenuous circumstances

b) be without a valid will

c) be in the middle of a test in school

d) be in possession of a large amount of money

correct answer: b

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