A speller qualifying for the Kenya National Spelling Bee must meet these requirements:

A. The speller must attend a school that is officially enrolled with the Kenya National Spelling Bee.

B. The speller must not have repeated any class for the purpose of extending spelling bee admissibility. If the speller has repeated any class, the speller must notify the Kenya National Spelling Bee of the circumstances of class repetition and the Kenya National Spelling Bee will, in its sole discretion, determine the speller’s eligibility status.

C. The speller–or the speller’s parent, legal guardian, or school official acting on the speller’s behalf–must not have declared to another entity an academic classification higher than class five, six, seven or eight for any purpose.

D. The speller must not have earned the legal equivalent of a high school certificate or university diploma/degree for participants representing primary and secondary schools respectively.

E. The speller must not shun normal school activity to study for the spelling bee championship.

F. Once having been disqualified at any level of a spelling bee championship, the speller remains disqualified for the Kenya National Spelling Bee Championship for the entire year.

G. The speller must not have any first, second or third degree relatives who are current employees of the Kenya National Spelling Bee.

H. Preliminary Rounds will be held in each participating School, using the Kenya National Spelling Bee Manual, KNSB qualifier tests and the listed rules and regulations.

I. Spellers must pronounce the letters as used in the English alphabet, not the sound of the letters or the names of the letters in French or any other language that uses the Roman alphabet.


An official of KNSB will read the below rules 1 to 30 aloud before the beginning of each contest and, when the number of competitors has been reduced to two, he or she will read rules 31 to 35 unless those present agree unanimously to waive the reading of the rules.

I. The Pronouncer, Judge(s) and other officials of KNSB will be in complete charge of the championships.
II. Any questions or protests about the spelling(s) or pronunciation of a word or the running of the championships must be referred to the officials immediately (before the beginning of the next round).
III. The official’s decisions will be final in all matters.
IV. No Protest Will Be Entertained After the Contest Has Ended.

Below are the guiding conditions for the National Spelling Bee Championships:

  1. For each championship there will be an arbiter whose duty is to hear any protests as they arise and decide on them before the championship continue.
  2. The arbiter’s decision shall be final. If possible each championship will be videotaped or recorded so that any point of contention may be reviewed.
  3. All the words that will be used in the championship will be chosen from the Kenya National Spelling Bee Manual and lists compiled by KNSB officials.
  4. The official Dictionary and Word List are the final spelling bee authority for the championship.
  5. Spellers may not receive help of any sort from other spellers or members of the audience. If that occurs, the speller will be disqualified.
  6. The championship will be oral; contestants must spell the words orally and the use of pens and/or pencils and paper will not be allowed except in special cases.
  7. There will be 4 rounds and 14 words in total during the Spelling Bee Championship.
  8. In each round, spellers receive one word to spell at a time. If they spell it correctly, they continue to the next word. If incorrectly, they are eliminated, and must leave the stage except on the warm-up round where there will be no elimination of the first word given.
  9. Round 1 shall have 2 words with each participant given 20 seconds to spell each word.
  10. The first word in round one shall be a warm up and participants shall not be eliminated if they spell it wrong.
  11. The 2nd word in round one shall be an elimination word and should the speller get it wrong they shall be eliminated immediately.
  12. There shall be 3 words in round two, 4 words in round 3 and 5 words in round 4.
  13. Round 4 shall be the final and sudden death round and all words in this round shall be outside the usual word list and manual, these words will be picked by KNSB from a wide range of books within the class 5 to class 8 syllabus.
  14. Each word shall be spelled within 20 seconds. These are elimination words and shall lead to immediate elimination should a speller get his/her word wrong.
  15. Contestants may pronounce their words before spelling them, after spelling them, or not at all.
  16. For all words with capitals, the speller must indicate the Capital Letter. For example, Kenya the speller must say “Capital K–e–n–y–a.”
  17. Spellers must spell each letter. They may not use “double _” or any other shorthand in their spelling. For example, ‘book’ must be spelled “b–o–o–k, not b–double o–k.”
  18. Once a contestant has begun to spell a word, he or she may not ask for a word to be re- pronounced, defined or used in a sentence.
  19. Also, having started to spell a word, a contestant will not be given any opportunity to change letters already pronounced. A speller may retrace provided that letters and their sequence are not changed in retracing.
  20. Apostrophes and other punctuation are required where necessary.
  21. If a word is unclear to a contestant, he or she may ask for the word to be re-pronounced, defined or used in a sentence, unless the word is a homophone in which case the Pronouncer must give the definition and an example sentence without being asked.
  22. The contestant must give the spelling of the word as defined, not a homophone of the word.
  23. If a word has more than one acceptable spelling, any spelling listed in the word list, tiebreaker list or the Oxford Dictionary, for that word will be accepted.
  24. The Pronouncer will grant the request(s) until the officials agree that the word has been made reasonably clear to the contestant. If a word is a homophone, the Pronouncer must give the definition and an example sentence without being asked.
  25. Officials may disqualify any contestant who ignores a request to start spelling his or her word within a reasonable length of time. Also, a speller whose spelling of a word is not audible to the officials may have his or her spelling ruled incorrect.
  26. No, cell phones or other electronic devices are allowed during the competition.
  27. Spellers will be assigned numbers at random to determine the order of spelling.
  28. In each round, the speller must be present when his or her number is up. Failure to be present will be considered a misspelling.
  29. When it is their turn, spellers should approach the microphone and face the judges.
  30. If every contestant in a round misspells the same word, all contestants will remain in the competition.Note: Rules 31 onwards are for the tie-breaker rounds only (Please note that during the tie-breaker rounds, a new list of words is introduced. These words are not in the Kenya National Spelling Bee Championship Manual.
  31. The championship continues until there is only one speller left, and he or she is the winner.
  32. If there are spellers tied for the top positions, the judges will hold additional rounds among those spellers to determine the order of finish.
  33. The elimination procedure changes when the number of contestants is reduced to two. At this point, when one contestant misspells a word, the other contestant will be given the opportunity to spell the same word.
  34. If the second contestant spells the word correctly, then he or she will be declared champion.
  35. If both contestants misspell the same word, then both continue in the contest until one misspells their word.