What Time Is The National Spelling Bee? 2018 Will Feature Over 200 More Contestants Than Last Year

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The National Spelling Bee is rapidly approaching and many are eagerly anticipating the annual event. The Bee begins on May 29 and will culminate with the crowning of a new national champion on May 31. If you're interested in witnessing some of the best young spellers from around the world vie for the coveted title, you may be wondering at what time the 2018 National Spelling Bee is and how you can follow along.

The competition portion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee officially begins on May 29, when spellers take a multiple choice preliminaries test. On the same day, all spellers will take to the stage to spell one word each in Round 2 of the competition. Round 2 will be televised on ESPN 3 from 9:15 a.m. - 5:20 p.m. EST.

All of the students who spelled their words correctly in Round 2 will then move on to Round 3, which begins at 8 a.m. EST on May 30. Round 3 spelling lasts nearly all day, until around 5 p.m., and the Bee's finalists are announced at the conclusion of the round. If you wish to watch Round 3, you can also do so on ESPN 3.

May 31 marks the beginning of the National Spelling Bee finals, which occur in two parts. Part 1 happens from 10 a.m. to around 2 p.m. EST — and seeks to narrow down the pool of spellers to around a dozen. The second part of the finals begins at 8:30 p.m. EST and will feature the remaining contestants competing for the coveted National Spelling Bee championship. Part 1 of the finals will air on ESPN 2, while Part 2 of the finals will air during primetime on ESPN. A new National Spelling Bee champion (or champions) will be crowned at the end of Round 2, which is set to wrap up at about 10:30 p.m. EST.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee features students from around the United States and world competing for the top spelling prize. The prize consists of $40,000 from Scripps, an engraved spelling bee champion trophy, and additional cash prizes and media appearance opportunities.

This year's over 500 spellers range in age from eight years old to 15 years old, with the majority of spellers between the ages of 12-14. All of them are seasoned spellers, having already won local spelling bees and, frequently, regional spelling bees, in order to advance to the National Bee.

This year, the Scripps spelling bee has a record-breaking number of students participating in the event. Last year, the event featured 291 spellers, with this year seeing an increase of over 200 spellers. As the E.W. Scripps Company reported in a press release on May 22, this increase in spellers is largely due to a new program implemented by the Bee, known as RSVBee.

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As the company explained, RSVBee is an invitation program that allows students who won a school spelling bee (as opposed to a regional spelling bee) or who are former National Spelling Bee finalists to have an opportunity to participate in the Bee. This has readily increased the number of students eligible to compete in the National Bee, something which Scripps characterizes as a great success. As Paige Kimble, the executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, noted in the May 22 press release:

To welcome more spellers than ever to compete exemplifies the evolution of our program and the vast interest from families across the country. With RSVBee, we are leveling the playing field for national finals qualification and providing more opportunities for students to experience all the thrills, friendships and memories that come from the event.

Thus, if you wish to watch an unprecedented field of spellers compete on a national stage for the Scripps Bee championship, be sure to tune in and watch each round of the Bee. The experience looks to be both entertaining and history-making.