Rules for the Alameda Elementary Spelling Bee
1. This competition is open to students of grades 4-9 who live or attend school in the city of Alameda.
2. The Bee may include both a written and an oral exam, based on the number of participants. For the written bee, either 25 or 30 words will be given, and the top 30 spellers (based on number of words spelled correctly) will proceed to the oral semi-finals. All spellers tied at the “cut line” will advance to the oral competition so that at least 30 will participate.
During the oral competition, a scratch pad and pencil will be available on the table for the spellers to write the word, but the speller must then spell the word orally for competition. Paper and pencil are not allowed except as provided on the table.
3. Words may be chosen from any source deemed appropriate by the Judges and the Spell Master. With few exceptions, words will be chosen that are relatively familiar and not excessively obscure or specialized.
4. In competition, spellers may pronounce words before spelling, after spelling, or not at all. However, spellers are encouraged to pronounce the word before spelling to ensure that they heard the word correctly. For example, if you are given the word baseball and you spell baseballs, your spelling will be considered incorrect. Similarly, if you are given the word absence and you spell absent, your spelling will be considered incorrect.
5. Once you begin to spell a word, you will not have a chance to change letters once pronounced. A speller may repeat the word orally, provided the letters and their sequence are not changed.
6. At any time, a speller may request that a word be pronounced again, defined, or used in a sentence. They may also ask about the etymology of a word. The Spell Master shall grant the request(s) until the Judges agree that the word has been made reasonably clear to the speller.
7. Judges may disqualify any speller who ignores a request to start spelling the word within a reasonable time period.
8. If no definition of a homonym is given, the correct spelling of either word shall be accepted as correct. When a speller is given the definition of a homonym, he or she must spell the word defined.
9. There is an element of chance in this competition. Spellers will be eliminated in the order in which they misspell words. When a speller fails to spell a word correctly, he or she must drop out of the competition and return to the audience. Another word shall be given to the next speller in line. The last spellers standing will be the winners.
10. When only two spellers remain, the elimination procedure changes. After that point, when one speller misspells a word, the other speller will be given the opportunity to spell the same word:
a. If the second speller spells the word incorrectly, the competition continues and a new word will be given to the second speller.
b. If the second speller spells the word correctly but fails to correctly spell the next word on the Spell Master’s list, the competition continues and a new word will be given to the first speller who missed the word.
c. If the second speller spells the word correctly and also correctly spells the next word on the Spell Master’s list, the second speller will be declared the champion.
11. The decision of the Judges and Spell Master will be final in all questions. Any problem relating to the spelling of a word must be referred to the Judges immediately (before the beginning of the next round). No protest will be entertained after the contest has ended.
12. In the event of a protest or dispute, decisions will be based on the official contest dictionary, which will be announced at the time of competition. No other source will be allowed.
13. Once the competition begins, spellers must remain in the competition area. Family and friends are not permitted in the competition area. If spellers need to use the restroom, they are to notify the judges to be excused.
14. To minimize disruptions during the competition, we ask audience members to turn off cell phones and pagers.
15. Based on funding, top competitors will go on to the Alameda County Spelling Bee, to be held in Castro Valley in March. An additional speller will serve as an alternate.