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The LEST Spelling Bee is conducted in three divisions: one each for 7th grade, one for 8th grade, and one for 5th and 6th grade combined. Awards will be given to the top finishers in each division.


Each school is permitted to enter one main student representative and one alternate for each grade level. Spelling lists are not published or distributed by LEST. It is suggested that schools help their student representatives find word lists with which to practice from their school spelling curriculum or through websites designed to help students prepare for Spelling Bees.

There will not be a written qualifying test prior to the oral LEST Spelling Bee competition. Each of the grade level participants from each school will compete. Alternates will only compete if the main speller is unable to participate.

Specific guidelines for the LEST Spelling Bee, including the procedure to follow once only two spellers remain, are included below. Contestants will be given a number to wear to track contestants through each round of the LEST Spelling Bee.

The LEST Spelling Bee is meant to be a form of friendly competition. The students are striving to do their best and to gain confidence in front of an audience. The audience should be reminded that their only function is to provide positive support for the event. All decisions of the lead judge are final.

Specific Rules for LEST Spelling Bee Competition

The format will be as follows:

  1. The competition will be an oral spelling bee. All participants will meet in the designated room at the specified time for the oral spelling bee.
  2. The word will be pronounced according to the diacritical markings in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (unabridged). The word will then be used in a sentence, and it will be pronounced again.
  3. The participant will say the word, spell the word, and say the word again.
  4. Judges may not disqualify a speller for failing to pronounce a word either before or after the spelling.
  5. If the word is not spoken by the student after spelling the word, the student will be asked to say the word, and then the judge will make the determination of whether the word has been spelled correctly.
  6. If the student feels he/she has made a mistake, he/she may request to “start over.” If letters or their sequence are changed in the respelling, the speller will be eliminated.
  7. A contestant is allowed only 30 seconds to spell a word. The judges may disqualify any contestant who ignores a request to start spelling. The 5th & 6th grade team is allowed 45 seconds to confer and to spell the word for the judges.
  8. Upon missing the spelling of a word, the speller will walk to a designated area. If any of the remaining spellers spell their words correctly, then the spellers who missed their words will sit down at the end of the round.
  9. If none of the spellers remaining in the bee at the start of a round spells a word correctly during the round, all spellers will remain in the contest. All of the spellers eliminated in the same round will be tied for the same place.
  10. If at the end of a round only ONE speller has spelled her/his word correctly, then that speller will be declared the winner and earn first place. All of the other spellers in that round will earn second place.
  11. If at the end of a round ONLY TWO contestants remain, the competition will proceed as follows: The winner will be the contestant who spells a word correctly that the other contestant misses, plus one additional word. When both miss a word in the same round, each is still in the competition.
  12. Judges’ decisions will be final.
  13. If more than one spelling is listed for a word in the official Webster’s Dictionary, any of these spellings shall be accepted as correct if the word either matches the pronunciation and definition provided by the pronouncer or if it is clearly identified as being a standard variant of the word the contestant has been asked to spell. If a word has one or more homonyms, the pronouncer will indicate which word is to be spelled.
  14. Any questions relating to the spelling of a word must be referred to the judges immediately by the speller or the speller’s coach before completion of the round in progress. No protest can be entertained after a round is completed. Only contestants or their coach may question the spelling of a word. The judges are in control, and their decision is final in all situations.
  15. No picture taking is allowed during the competition.
  16. Contestants and their families/supporters should remain seated until the end of the grade level competition. It is very distracting to the contestants when people enter or exit the room during the competition.

To eliminate any doubt about winners in any round, all contestants will be given a number to wear, and these numbers will be tracked through each round. This will allow for more than one person to “tie” for a place if a number of contestants go out in the same round.

Again, please remember that this is to be a form of friendly competition. The students are striving to do their best and to gain confidence in front of an audience. The audience has one function, which is to provide positive support for the event. The decisions of the judges are final.

Spelling Team Leaders

Kerri Tom
Concordia University Irvine
Professor of English; Assistant Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences,
and Director of General Education

Franchesca Black
Crean Lutheran High School
English Teacher,
English Department Chair

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