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New Rule: Spelling Bee Will Now Include Definitions Test

As if it weren't hard enough to spell "cymotrichous," now the National Spelling Bee will expect contestants to know that it means "having wavy hair."

"This is a significant change in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, but also a natural one," Paige Kimble, director of the bee, said in a press release. "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."

The change will take effect this year during the National Spelling Bee, scheduled for May 28-30. The spelling bee explains:

"This year, a speller's qualification for the semifinals and championship finals will be based on a cumulative score that incorporates onstage spelling, computer-based spelling questions and computer-based vocabulary questions.

"Vocabulary evaluation will count for 50 percent of a speller's overall score. The score determines which spellers advance to the semifinals (Thursday, May 30 at 2:00 p.m. on ESPN2) and the championship finals (Thursday, May 30 at 8:00 p.m. on ESPN).

"Because the computer-based tests of spelling and vocabulary are not part of the onstage portion of the Bee, they will not be broadcast on ESPN or any of its affiliates."

The spelling bee has also published a list of sample questions. Here is one:

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

The answer is C.

Here is another:

Something described as indocile is:

a) markedly inane or foolish
b) not able to be physically documented
c) not easily instructed or controlled
d) perseveringly active

The answer is C.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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