WASHINGTON -- Elizabeth Koh is getting ready for the biggest spelling test of her life.
A seventh-grader at St. Francis de Sales School in Beckley, Elizabeth is representing the Gazette-Mail in the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee, held this year in National Harbor, Md., just outside Washington.
Elizabeth, her mother Rosemary and brother Matthew arrived in the nation's capital Sunday evening.
"We just kind of relaxed and settled in," Elizabeth said.
Elizabeth has used some of her downtime to prepare for the bee and relax. Organizers hosted a Memorial Day barbecue for spellers and their families. Elizabeth said the cookout allowed her to meet other contestants and bee officials.
Bee Week began in earnest Tuesday with the bee's first round of competition, a written test worth 25 points. Spellers crowded into a room and listened as bee pronouncer Jacques Bailly read off a list of words. After each word, contestants scribbled down their guess at the word's correct spelling.
"Like a spelling test," Elizabeth explained.
Though all 274 spellers were crowded into one room for the test, Elizabeth said she didn't use the opportunity to size up the competition.
"We were all being friendly," she said.
Contestants weren't allowed to discuss specifics of the Round 1 test until scores were released Tuesday evening. Elizabeth said she doesn't know how well she fared on the test.
"I did my best. I'm not sure what the results are going to be," she said.
She'll get her turn on the national bee stage Wednesday morning.
Contestants will spell one word each in Rounds 2 and 3, the first oral rounds. Spellers receive three points for each correct spelling but won't be eliminated if they spell the words incorrectly. Points from these rounds will be added to spellers' Round 1 score.