Rules for local spelling bees

The Scripps National Spelling Bee provides rules for all levels of our competition from the classroom to our national stage.

Rules for The National Finals

The Contest Rules for the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee are now available. Download this PDF for rules as well as our eligibility requirements for 2021.



your School spelling bee abcs

Need a quick how-to? Running a spelling bee with our materials is as easy as A-B-C. 


Give each student a number. This makes it simple to make sure they spell in the same order for each round of the competition.


Use the Classroom Pronouncer Guide or School Pronouncer Guide (included with your enrollment) to answer your students’ questions. They can ask for alternate pronunciations, parts of speech, definitions or for you to use the word in a sentence. At the school-level, they can also ask for information about the word’s origin. Each answer, found right there in your Pronouncer Guide, is a clue to help your student spell correctly. 


If a student spells correctly, they move on to the next round of competition. 


If a student spells incorrectly, they’re out. At the national finals, our Head Judge rings a bell when this happens, but it’s no problem if you don’t have a bell. You can simply spell the word correctly (a great learning opportunity!) and let them know they aren’t moving on to the next round.  


If every student in a round misspells, all the students in the round are invited back to the competition. It’s basically a do-over – everyone from that round gets another chance. 


If a student asks to start over when spelling, that’s fine! Be sure to remind them that they can’t change the letters they’ve already said, or the order they said them in. 


If a student doesn’t say “capital A” when spelling “America,” for instance, that’s fine too! You should judge the spelling based on the order of the letters only; they don’t need to indicate capitals, special characters or spaces.  

Celebrate your champion! Declare your champion when only one student moves on to the next round, and then spells correctly in that one-student, one-word round. You can find printable certificates when you log in at, and we love it when you share photos on social media with #spellingbee.