I've always considered myself a decent speller. That is until last year when I took my daughters to our local high school spelling bee and realized with much dismay that I would have been eliminated multiple times within the first round. Ouch. I guess I have come to rely on spellcheck more than I thought.  

Spelling bees have never been easy. It takes a lot of practice and studying to know how to spell words such as "chiaroscurist" — the championship word for the 1998 National Spelling Bee, or "succedaneum" (2001), or "guetapens" (2012.) But now students will have to take things up a notch with the latest announcement from the Scripps National Spelling Bee explaining how the contest will now include definitions as well as spelling. It's one thing to know how to spell guetapens. Now spelling bee contestants will also need to know that it means "an ambush, snare or trap."

"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 news 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 news release goes on to explain that this year, spellers will not only have to compete onstage, they will also compete off-stage with computer-based spelling and vocabulary questions. Scores in vocabulary will account for 50 percent of the speller's overall score and determine whether or not contestants advance to the semifinals.  

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

Here's a look at what the vocabulary questions will look like:

What does it mean to appertain?

a) assume the character or appearance of

b) belong either as something appropriate or as an attribute

c) distress severely so as to cause continued suffering

d) be guilty of

The answer is b.

Something described as refulgent is:

a) tending to move toward one point

b) demanding immediate action

c) rising from an inferior state

d) giving out a bright light

The answer is d.

Where would a campestral scene take place?

a) in the country

b) in a city

c) at the beach

d) in a warehouse

The answer is a.

Get any right?  Me neither.

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