General Rules

NASCON Competition Rules

In order to forestall possible friction between NASCON and any contestant(s) or parents/guardian, school administration or even critics, a few general rules and specifics are spelt out to all who have business with NASCON. As established earlier, these rules serve as the basis for interpreting scores.

1. Eligibility:

A speller qualifying for the National Spelling Competition of Nigeria (NASCON) must

a. attend a school that is officially enrolled with NASCON.

b. be between the ages of eight (8) and fifteen (15) years.

c. be between primary five and Senior Secondary School Two (SSS2)*

d. not have repeated any class unless repetition is due to other reason aside from low academic performance. In the case of any, the contestant must inform NASCON of the circumstances of repetition and NASCON will, in its sole discretion, determine the speller’s eligibility status on or before the date slated for the competition.

e. not have declared, in person or by proxy, to another entity an academic classification higher than SS2 for any purpose, including secondary school graduation equivalency or proficiency examinations and/or foreign examinations such as the SAT, TOEFL, IELTS, GMAT,GRE, etc.

f. not have earned the legal equivalent of a high diploma.

g. not bypass or circumvent normal school activity to study for the competition.

h. Upon qualifying for the NASCON Spelling Bee, submit a Certificate of Eligibility, a signed Appearance Consent and Release Form from the their school, and a passport photograph to NASCON no later than 2 weeks before the competition. The speller shall notify NASCON not later than 48 hours prior to the first day of competition, if any of the statements made on the Certificate of Eligibility are no longer true or require updating.

Contestants who attends school not registered

*NASCON conducts spelling bee on contestants in the junior and senior categories

NASCON may disqualify, prior to or during competition, any speller who is not in compliance with any of the above Eligibility Requirements; and it may at any time, require a speller who is found to have not been in compliance with any of the above rules to forfeit the competition, and other benefits accorded the speller as a result of Participation in NASCON competition.


2. Official Dictionary :

NASCON exercises the right to recommend the official dictionary for the competition, and the Concise Oxford English Dictionary (COED), powered by Oxford Corpus is the final authority for the spelling of words. All words given in competition are entries in the COED. If more than one spelling is listed for a word that the pronouncer has provided for the speller to spell, any of these spellings will be accepted as correct if all of the following criteria are met:

a. The pronunciations of the words are identical,

b. The definitions of the words are identical, and

c. The words are clearly identified as being standard variants of each other.

Note : Spellings at other locations have temporal labels (such as archaic, obsolete), stylistic labels (such as substand, non stand), or regional labels ( such as North, Midland, Irish) which differ from main entry spellings not having these status labels will not be accepted as correct.

Special note : Where there is a difference between the British and the American spellings of a word, ONLY the British form is considered correct. This is not so as to insinuate that the British linguistic system is superior to the American. It is so because local examinations test candidates on the degree of mastery of British English on account of Nigeria’s colonial experience and attachment to the British imperial government.


3. Progression of Competition:

At the beginning of any round in which either two or three spellers remain, the pronouncer will to the 10-word championship section of the word list. If a champion does not emerge in the course of administering these final 10-words, the remaining spellers will be declared co-champions. In the event that a round beginning with more than either two or three spellers ends with only one speller to begin the next and perhaps final round, the pronouncer declares him winner if his combined score during the Preliminary and Semi finals is the highest. If not, the pronouncer moves to the last round of the competition.


4. End-of-Bee procedure:

If none of the spellers remaining in the spelling bee at the start of a round spells a word correctly during that round, all remain in the competition and a new round begins. If only one speller spells correctly in a round, a new one word round begins and the speller is given an opportunity to spell the next word on the list ( the anticipated winning word). If the speller succeeds in correctly spelling the anticipated winning word in this one-word round, the speller is declared the champion. If a speller misspells the anticipated winning word in a one-word round, a new round begins with all the spellers who spelled (correctly and incorrectly) in the previous round. These spellers spell in their original order, until the ultimate winner emerges.


5. Time Constraints:

The speller’s time at the microphone has a limit of two (2) minutes and thirty (300 seconds per word, countdown begins when the pronouncer first pronounces the word. The pronouncer tells the speller when he/she has spent one minute, next two minutes. The pronouncer asks the speller to stop after the final thirty (30) seconds. The judges and pronouncer will not communicate with the speller during the final 30 seconds. The judges will disqualify any speller who does not provide a complete spelling before the expiration of time.

Important note : if the judges and pronouncer need to discuss a competition-related matter while a speller is contemplating a word, they may pause the time clock, but they SHALL inform the speller when they pause and resume the time clock.

Also, NASCON , from its inception, ensures an impartial status. Short-listing of prospective participants is based on merit, is purely secular, and does not segregate, as long as prospective participants with disabilities can demonstrate preparedness up to a level that is obviously reasonably practicable. This means that the principle of time management set forth in Rule 6 is unconditional, as the judges have no discretionary power to amend spelling requirements on a case-by -case basis for spellers with diagnosed medical impairments.


6. Pronouncer’s Role:

The pronouncer strives to pronounce words according to the diacritical markings in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary (COED). If a word has one or more homophones, the pronouncer indicates which word is to be spelled by defining the word. In oral competition, the pronouncer responds to the speller’s request for a definition, sentential example, grammatical class, language(s) of origin and alternate pronunciation(s). When asked for alternate pronunciations, the pronouncer or associate pronouncer checks for alternate pronunciations in the COED.

Note : if the speller wishes to ask if the dictionary lists a specific root word as the root of the word to be spelled, the speller must specify a pronunciation of the root (not a spelling), its language and its definition.

The pronouncer will grant all such requests provided they are in accord with time constraints outlined in Rule 6. The pronouncer may also offer word information without the speller’s having requested the information if the pronouncer senses that the information is helpful and appears in the COED.


7. Judges’ Role:

The judges uphold the rules and determine whether or not words are spelled correctly. The decisions of the judges are final; judges want to pay serious attention to the following information concerning their role.

a. Interaction with the speller: because seeing lip movements may be critical in detecting misunderstandings or misspellings, the judges encourage spellers to face them when pronouncing or spelling the word.

b. Misunderstandings: the judges participate in the exchange of information between the speller and the pronouncer if they feel that clarification is needed. Moreover, the judges listen to the spellers’ pronunciation of the word; and if they perceive that the speller has misunderstood the word, the judges work with the speller and pronouncer until they are satisfied with reasonable attempts that have been made to assist the speller in understanding the word within the time constraints described in Rule 6.

Note : while the judges are responsible for attempting to detect the speller’s misunderstanding, it is sometimes impossible to detect a misunderstanding until a spelling error has been made. The judges are not responsible for the speller’s misunderstanding in that case. c.Pronouncer’s errors: The judges compare the pronouncer’s pronunciation with the diacritical markings in the word list. If the judges feel that the pronouncer’s pronunciation does not harmonise with the pronunciation specified in the diacritical markings, the judges will direct the pronouncer to correct the error as soon as it is detected.

d.Other grounds for disqualification : the judges will disqualify a speller

(I) who refuses a request to start spelling;

(II) who does not approach the microphone when it is time to receive the word;

(III) who engages in unsportsmanlike conduct;

(IV) who, in the process of retracing a spelling, insist on altering the letters or sequence

who, in the process of spelling, utters unintelligible or nonsense sounds.

c. Speller activities that do not merit disqualification: the judges may not disqualify a speller

(i) for failing to pronounce the word either before or after spelling it,

(ii) for asking a question,

(iii) for noting or failing to note the capitalization of a word.


8. Spellers Role:

The speller makes an effort to face the judges and pronounce the word for the judges before spelling it and after spelling it. The speller while facing the judges strives to utter words distinctly and with sufficient volume to be understood by the judges. The speller may ask the pronouncer to say the word again, define it, use it in a sentence, provide the grammatical class, provide the language(s) of origin, and/or provide an alternate pronunciation(s). The speller may also ask root-word questions that meet the specifications delineated in Rule 8. The speller is responsible for any misunderstanding of the word unless (i) the pronouncer never provided a correct pronunciation; (ii) the pronouncer provided incorrect information regarding the definition, grammatical class or language of origin; or (iii) the speller correctly spelled a homophone of the word and the pronouncer failed to offer a definition or distinguish the homophones.


9. Protests:

Protests may be filed by anyone (the speller, parent, teacher, guardian, etc) wishing to reinstate a speller into the contest but will not be heard from any individual seeking to dislodge another speller from the competition. Deadline for filing a protest is before the speller affected would have received his/her word and he/she stayed in the contest. NO PROTEST will be entertained after that word has been given to another speller.