By Mark Ambrogi
Creekside Middle School eighth-grader Ashwin Prasad is ready for his final shot at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The competition will be May 31 and June 1 in Washington, D.C. It is open to those in eighth grade or below.
Prasad, 14, qualified by winning his third Hamilton County Spelling Bee title in March at Ritz Charles in Carmel.
“I’m using outside websites more rather than just relying on the national site,” Prasad said. “(To make it to the) National Spelling Bee is to learn more language patterns, conventions and fundamentals rather than memorizing thousands and thousands of words. Knowing those conventions (pronunciations and languages of origin) and having them down to a tee will get you to a national level.”
Prasad said the past two competitions have helped him learn more words.
“I’ve also learned that feeling of being up on the stage and just looking out onto all those people and just focusing on the pronunciations,” Prasad said. “I think I have a better idea of how to tackle the preliminaries test, which has foiled me the last two years. They give the preliminaries to everyone and then they ask everyone to spell two words on stage. Out of everyone that spells those two words correctly, they take the preliminaries score and narrow it roughly from 250 to 270 people to 50. That’s how hard the test is.”
Prasad was four points off each year from making the top 50 cut.
“The words they ask you spell on the test are pretty up there (in difficulty) compared to the two words you get on stage,” said Prasad, who said he has prepared harder this year for the national contest.
Prasad said each Hamilton County competition has felt different.
“I think the seventh-grade contest went a little longer, but this year there were more difficult words,” said Prasad, whose parents were born in India.