The Scripps National Spelling Bee is a three-day, nationally televised event in which more than 500 kids compete with one another to spell increasingly difficult English words. Over the years, it’s achieved the status of a cult sport. ESPN has broadcasted it since the first competition in 1994, and more than one million people tune in to watch the crowning moment of America’s smartest nerds.
The kids who advance to the final round, which takes place today (May 31), compete in three rounds of on-stage spelling. But they also take a preliminary multiple-choice vocabulary and spelling test. The 50 kids with the best preliminary test score and best onstage score in rounds two and three advance to the coveted final round.
How do you think you would do on the preliminary test? As the judges of the Scripps National Spelling Bee explain, “in a competition where letters and words reign supreme, numbers define who advances to spell another day.” We have turned an abridged version of the test into a little quiz, with a selection of actual questions from the real one. Take the quiz and found out how you compare to America’s smartest fifth graders: