WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 300 proficient spellers have gathered at a convention center outside Washington to take part in the preliminary rounds of the National Spelling Bee.

The 278 spellers range in age from 6 to 15. Lori Anne Madison, 6, of Lake Ridge, Va., is the youngest ever to qualify for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The field also includes three of last year’s finalists.

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The spellers are taking a 50-word computerized test Tuesday. Twenty-five of the words count toward their preliminary-round score. Each competitor will spell two words onstage Wednesday, with three points for each correct word.

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Results will be announced Wednesday afternoon, when the field is winnowed to no more than 50 semifinalists. The semifinals and finals are Thursday.

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