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National Spelling Bee adds vocabulary challenge

Posted at 11:53 AM, Apr 09, 2013

(CNN) — It’s not enough to be a fantastic speller anymore. A student who wants to win the National Spelling Bee must now be a whiz at vocabulary.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee will add the evaluation of vocabulary to the competition’s early rounds, according to a release from the bee.

“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,” said Paige Kimble, the director of the bee.

“Spelling and vocabulary are, in essence, two sides of the same coin,” she said. “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.”

Since 2002, a written or computer spelling test has been a component of the bee that, with onstage spelling, helped determine which spellers advanced to the semifinals. This year, a speller’s qualification for the semifinals and championship finals will be based on a cumulative score that includes onstage spelling, computer-based spelling questions and computer-based vocabulary questions, the release said.

Vocabulary evaluation will count for 50% of a speller’s overall score, and the score determines which competitor goes on to the semifinals and the championship finals, the bee said.

The bee will take place May 28-30 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland. ESPN will broadcast the competition.

CNN’s Devon Sayers contributed to this report.