After two straight years of ties, the Scripps National Spelling Bee is adding more sting: The championship rounds will last longer, and the words will be harder.
The bee, now televised in prime time by ESPN, has exploded in popularity over the past two decades. And the spellers have gotten increasingly savvy. So instead of sticking to a list of 25 “championship words” selected weeks earlier, the final rounds could have as many as 75 words. And the organizers can choose harder words on the fly if the spellers don’t appear to be struggling.
Rewards will also be bigger for the May 24-26 championship. The first-place cash prize is rising from $30,000 to $40,000, while second place will now get $30,000 and third place, $20,000.
A version of this article appeared in the May 11, 2016 edition of Education Week as Changes Coming To National Spelling Bee