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Spelling Bee Ditches Tiebreaker
News Bytes 05/9/2019 16 Comments

In the spelling bee world, tie-breakers are H-O-R-R-I-B-L-E. For two years, spellers had been taking a written pre-test—just in case a single champion didn’t emerge during the finals. Now Scripps National Spelling Bee organizers have ditched the tie-breaker.

The test began in 2017 after three consecutive bees ended with co-champions. Bee executive director Paige Kimble says it wasn’t worth the trouble. “It was just squeezing way too much in a short timespan when really what these kids needed more than anything else was to rest a little bit, put food in their stomachs and clear their heads,” she says.

On the last day, the morning rounds can last several hours, until mid-afternoon. The remaining spellers then have to squeeze in time to eat, do interviews and other prep work for the broadcast—plus take a tie-breaker test before the evening TV broadcast.

Many spellers worry more about fairness than whether the audience wants two winners. “I really don’t see what’s so wrong with co-champions,” says 13-year-old Simone Kaplan. She finished tied for 10th last year and is back for another go at this year’s bee.

“If people are at that level, they really deserve to be co-champs,” says 13-year-old returning speller Aisha Randhawa, who tied for seventh last year.

A common complaint among spellers is that the test included not just spelling but vocabulary questions. Naysa Modi, last year’s runner-up, says, “When it comes to deciding who the champion is going to be, I think it should be all down to spelling and not having to factor in vocab.”

Tie-breaker results weren’t needed the past two years, so the results of those tests aren’t known.

Naysa will be back for this year’s bee. “I’ll be more relaxed this year and less stressed out, if I make it.” The Scripps National Spelling Bee starts May 27, and ties will be OK. H-O-O-R-A-Y!

Have you ever participated in a spelling bee?

(In this May 28, 2015, photo, Vanya Shivashankar, left, and Gokul Venkatachalam, hold the championship trophy as co-champions of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

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Most recent comments


Why can't they just go through a sudden death round?


First comment by the way.

I have never participated in

I have never participated in a spelling bee, but I think it would be fun to do so. Has anyone else participated in one?

Lily ( thia's sister)

Rebbeca no I have not but I am a pretty good speller

Rebecca F., no, I have not

Rebecca F., no, I have not participated in a spelling bee but I have a friend who has, and about the article itself I think it might actually be kind of fun to tie with someone else. I think that the whole tiebreaker thing was just adding more stress for the kids, so I'm glad that they ditched it.

Karisma S

I'm never doing a spelling bee. Too much stress.

Answer to question

I have participated in a spelling bee several times through my 4-H club.

Spelling Bee

I have done spelling bees with my sister but not any official ones. I think it's good they stopped having the tiebreaker tests because that just puts that much more stress on the kids.

I have almost done a spelling

I have almost done a spelling bee. I was ready to do it but than I got sick sooo...

Bethany H.

I have never been in a spelling bee but I want to try it sometime... they sound super fun and I LOVE spelling!


The only ones I'v ever participated in where against my little brother...... not exactly my favorite subject

Lily ( thia's sister)

LOL how old is he?


I think if theirs a tie then they should have tie braking round. And i like spelling I never have been in a spelling bee though.

I was in a spelling bee once

I was in a spelling bee once with friends from church and got EXTREMELY embarrassed when I spelled the word "chimney" with 2 m's!! I was kinda nervous or else I would've totally spelled it right=)

sounds like fun!!!

i think i would like to participate in a spelling bee

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