The sign outside the waiting room read: “Preliminaries Test, Quiet Please.” Spellers emerged one by one, having taken the first vocabulary test in the history of the National Spelling Bee, the Associated Press reports. They were greeted with pats on shoulders from parents and whispers of “How’d it go?” One of the favorites thought he did OK, although he was grateful for a trick everyone learns at school: the process of elimination. “It was good that they gave multiple choice, so that you could eliminate incorrect answers,” said 13-year-old Arvind Mahankali of New York. “I had to guess at one or two in vocabulary.”

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staff and wire services reports