The main change at this year's Scripps National Spelling Bee is the introduction of an innovative new program called RSVBee, a "second chance" for competent spellers who either didn't win their regional bees or didn't have a sponsor for their regional bee. It will undeniably change the way the bee runs. Due to RSVBee, there are 519 spellers attending the Scripps National Spelling Bee--almost double the numbers of spellers in recent Scripps bees. The RSVBee Effect, as some have dubbed it, will likely show itself in a number of ways throughout the bee, mostly logistically but also competition-wise.
Firstly, the schedule of the bee itself has changed. Instead of the preliminaries test on Tuesday followed by rounds 2 and 3 on Wednesday, the test and round 2 will take place on Tuesday, leaving Wednesday just reserved for round 3. Spellers will be divided into five groups for the onstage preliminary rounds instead of two. Many past spellers reported that Rounds 2 and 3 felt long in previous years--they will likely feel even longer this year.
In addition, the Thursday night finals have a ticket policy for the first time in years. Each speller receives three tickets, and anyone else who wants to watch will have to stand in line in order to obtain a limited number of first come, first serve general admission tickets.
Perhaps the most interesting (although this is more of speculation than fact, unlike the previously mentioned effects) impact of RSVBee will be a higher cut line for the semifinals. Previously, the best prepared speller in a regional bee sometimes lost and, therefore, could not go to nationals. This phenomenon has largely been eliminated, as many of the most competent spellers in the nation who did not win their regionals are going to nationals anyway. This means that there will be a higher concentration of top tier spellers, which likely means that there will be a greater number of high scores on the Preliminaries Test. However, since only 50 spellers will be named semifinalists (just as before), the minimum score required to be a semifinalist will likely be higher than it has been in the past.
How do you think RSVBee will change the outcome of the Scripps National Spelling Bee this year? Will the cutoff score be higher than usual? What are your thoughts on the RSVBee program in general?