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Spelling Bee kids will have to know definitions

FILE - In this May 29, 2012 file photo, contestants in the National Spelling Bee take the written exam on computers in Oxon Hill, Md., before the oral competition began. Ever wonder if those spelling bee kids know the meanings of some of those big words? Now they’ll have to prove that they do. Organizers of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Tuesday announced a major change to the format, adding multiple-choice vocabulary tests to the annual competition that crowns the English language’s spelling champ. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File) WX103

Associated Press (2012)

FILE - In this May 29, 2012 file photo, contestants in the National Spelling Bee take the written exam on computers in Oxon Hill, Md., before the oral competition began. Ever wonder if those spelling bee kids know the meanings of some of those big words? Now they’ll have to prove that they do. Organizers of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Tuesday announced a major change to the format, adding multiple-choice vocabulary tests to the annual competition that crowns the English language’s spelling champ. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File) WX103

WASHINGTON — What does it all mean?

That's the question facing spelling whizzes across the country, who learned Tuesday that they will have to know the definitions of some of the those tough words they've been memorizing in the dictionary. For the first time, multiple-choice vocabulary tests will be added to the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee.

"Changes are not a surprise, but these changes are massive," said Mirle Shivashankar, whose daughter, 11-year-old Vanya, is among the favorites after finishing tied for 10th last year. "It came as a shocker. . . . We're going to have to change the way we prepare a little bit."

The changes will make it easier to nail down the nine to 12 competitors who make it to the final round, which will look the same as it has for years to prime-time TV viewers, with spellers taking turns until only the champion has avoided the familiar doomsday bell. The changes do add a wrinkle to the televised semifinals, however, as even the best onstage spellers could find themselves eliminated from the finals if they perform poorly on the multiple-choice test.

"I'm on an email group and we talk about spelling, and a lot of the returning spellers were really, like, shocked, and they were surprised about the change that's happened," Vanya Shivashankar said. "But it's going to be really cool and fun to see how the bee will be because it will be spelling and vocabulary."

Executive director Paige Kimble said the changes were driven by the desire to reinforce the competition's purpose — to encourage students to improve their spelling and broaden their knowledge of the language.

Sample questions

1. What is the purpose of defibrillation?

a) removing fibrous matter from vegetables

b) removing bodily hair

c) restoring the rhythm of the heart

d) reducing a fever using medication

2. Which of these is an example of

onomatopoeia?

a) chrome

b) novella

c) haiku

d) buzz

3. When would a prognosis be given?

a) after a disease diagnosis

b) during an operatic performance

c) after a horse race

d) during a guided meditation

ANSWERS: 1. C; 2. D; 3. A

Spelling Bee kids will have to know definitions 04/09/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 10:46pm]
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