This One Detail About The National Spelling Bee Lets You Get In On The Fun, Too

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Tuesday, May 29 marked the first day of competition in the much-anticipated Scripps National Spelling Bee. The National Bee will feature over 500 spellers from across the country competing to be the ultimate spelling champion. If you're a fan of the annual event, this one detail about the Scripps National Spelling Bee in particular shows how, in addition to simply watching spellers compete, you too can get in on the fun. In fact, you can actually take the 2017 National Spelling Bee Preliminaries Test online to get a sense of what it's actually like to be a competitor in the prestigious Scripps Bee.

Before they even take to the stage, all competitors at the National Spelling Bee take what is known as the Preliminaries Test. The test is multiple choice and features both spelling words and vocabulary questions. The Preliminaries Test helps determine whether or not spellers make it to the Bee's Finals. Moreover, in addition to doing well on the Preliminaries Test, spellers also have to correctly spell words onstage during Rounds Two and Three of the competition. If these words are spelled correctly, the contestants' test scores help determine whether or not they qualify for the finals.

Now, you can see what it feels like to experience the Bee from a speller's perspective. Scripps has posted the 2017 version of the Preliminaries Test online, so you can easily take the test if you so desire. The test features 12 Round One spelling questions, twelve Round One vocabulary questions, one Round Two vocabulary question, and one Round Three vocabulary question. It also offers a chance to spell one Round Two word and one Round Three word to see if you stand a chance to advance to the Bee's finals.

Of course, the online test is the 2017 version, which means you won't experience exactly what this year's spellers are facing — though it's certainly close. Similarly, the 2018 version of the Preliminaries Test features 12 spelling words and 14 vocabulary questions.

The 2018 Preliminaries Test was administered on Tuesday, May 29. Round Two, which kicks off onstage spelling, also occurred on that day. Round Three takes place on May 30 and the finals, which take place in two parts, happen on May 31. In the first part of the finals, all finalists compete in a spell-off until around 12 competitors are left. The second part of the finals features all of the remaining spellers vying for the coveted championship prize. Part two of the finals airs live on primetime on ESPN.

If you wish to watch any of the aforementioned rounds of the National Spelling Bee, ESPN looks to be your best bet. Rounds Two and Three air on ESPN 3. Part one of the finals airs on ESPN 2 and, of course, part two is on ESPN.

Whoever wins the National Spelling Bee this year is set to take away a pretty substantial prize. The winner (or winners) will receive $40,000 from Scripps plus $2,500 from Merriam-Webster. The winner will also be gifted various encyclopedia and dictionary reference sets, an engraved Scripps trophy, and the opportunity to appear on several talk shows, including Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Live with Kelly and Ryan.

While the champion receives a substantial prize package, no speller will go home empty-handed. Each speller will receive a one-year subscription to both Britannica Online Premium and Merriam-Webster Unabridged Online. Each will also each be gifted a 2018 United States Mint Proof Set from Mr. Jay Sugarman. Spellers who make it to later rounds of the competition also receive various gift cards or cash prizes.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is certainly a very prestigious event — something in which thousands of students from all over the United States and world vie to compete. If you want to get in on the action and have a sense of what it's like to go up against some of the best spellers around, head on over to Scripps' website to take the 2017 Preliminaries Test. And then, of course, be sure to watch the spellers compete in the 2018 National Bee finals on Thursday.