by Jennifer Mistrot and Sharon Chin

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — A San Jose seventh grader is getting ready for the competition of his life, representing the Bay Area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee near Washington DC.

Rutvik Gandhasri has been busy studying new words since he won the CBS Bay Area Spelling Bee in March.

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“It’s been fun (and) cool seeing really weird words,” he mused recently from his San Jose home.

The Chaboya Middle School student will compete with nearly 300 other kids aged 6 to 14 in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

When asked how prepared he felt, he reflected, “ I feel kind of prepared, but I feel I need to really prepare a lot more.”

This year, Scripps announced the contest will be harder, following two years of first-place ties.

Instead of the pre-determined list of 25 words in the championship rounds, organizers will be able to pick from an expanded list of up to 75 words from anywhere in the dictionary.

To that, Rutvik concluded, “It means I have to study a lot more.”

Rutvik’s 10-year-old brother Rishik has helped prepare him for the national competition. Rishik himself placed 5th in the CBS Bay Area Spelling Bee.

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He and their mother find difficult words in the dictionary to help Rutvik study.

“Whenever I find a good word, I quiz him on that,” said Rishik. “I’m just really proud of him that he got this far.””

Rutvik said he studies for the bee about 23 hours a week. But he said he has still found time to read on his Kindle Paperwhite, a gift every speller has received from Scripps.

The 12-year-old has also been playing video games and riding his bike.

He said he is excited about “going around DC, seeing the spelling on stage itself, meeting all the top spellers from around the country.”

Whether Rutvik wins first place or not, he plans to bring home memories of an experience of a lifetime.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee on-stage competition takes place next Wednesday and Thursday May 25-26.

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First prize is now $40,000, $10,000 more than last year.