Scripps National Spelling Bee
Nihar Janga and Jairam Hathwar celebrate as co-champions during the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — In an effort to make it less likely that the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee will have co-champions for the fourth year in a row, bee organizers announced rules changes Tuesday aimed at creating an effective tie-breaker.

Contestants who remain on the stage after the first day of the bee will be administered  a written test of 12 spelling words and 12 vocabulary items. If after 25 rounds involving three or fewer spellers a champion hasn’t won, the results of the written test will be used to determine the winner.

Even still, this doesn’t guarantee there won’t be co-champions again since, as anyone familiar with the caliber of the competition knows, these kids don’t often make mistakes at this level. An additional change will have spellers handwrite their preliminary classroom written spelling test, which will then be hand-graded. That was most recently the practice in the 2011 bee. In 2015 and last year, the preliminary test was recorded on Scantron test forms.

Jairam Hathwar, 13, of Painted Post, N.Y., and Nahir Janga, 11, of Houston, were co-champions last year.

“The very first bee started with nine students and now the Scripps National Spelling Bee program reaches more than 11 million,” Paige Kimble, executive director of the program and a champion speller herself, said in a statement.

The year’s 90th national spelling bee will be held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center south of Washington, D.C. It will consist of 290 students aged 5 to15 from all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Department of Defense Schools in Europe. Also competing will be spellers from the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.