The 12-year-old misspelled six of 25 words in a written test administered Tuesday during the first round of the contest.
Tammy Cundey, Rachael's mother, said the girl stumbled on such words as pinealectomy -- surgical removal of the pineal gland -- and acetarious -- describing plants used in salads.
"At first she was upset," Tammy said of Rachael's reaction to her first-round results. "Now, though, I think she just wants to try and focus on doing well."
Bee officials use scores from the written test and oral exams given during preliminary rounds to determine the approximately 50 qualifiers for the semifinals.
ESPN3.com will have live coverage of the preliminary rounds from 8 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Rachael is scheduled to compete from 8-10 a.m. and 1:15-3:30 p.m.
Live coverage of the semifinals will be on ESPN from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. On the same network, the finals will air from 8:30-10 p.m. Thursday.
A rising seventh-grader at Lakeside Middle School, Rachael is one of just 17 contestants in this year's spelling bee to compete for a third time. She never has made it to the semifinals at the national bee.
Rachael first won the Columbia County Spelling Bee as a fourth-grader, making her the youngest champion in the school system's history.