Aerial Rain
Translating Web Novel

ATCF Ch 51 Part 3 – Entrance Test (III)

In Minjiang First High School, there was a selection test before a student could join any academic competition class. The lesson time for the competition class was arranged during evening self-study, which seems to have no conflict with the regular classes. However, once students join the competition class, they would inevitably invest their spare time in it, resulting in a decline in academic performance.

This was why the school discouraged new students from joining the competition classes – it was tough to achieve results, and it consumed a lot of time. While the school had its intentions, students had their own thoughts, and since the school couldn’t outright declare a student lacked the talent for competitions, they resorted to a selection exam to filter out students joining just for the hype.

Want to enroll? Sure, go ahead. But if you fail the test, that’s on you.

Even after passing the test, there were more rounds of exams to come. When and if you get eliminated depends on your talent and effort.

When Jiang Li went to take the test, she found that over thirty students from her class alone were participating, not to mention those from other classes, adding up to over fifty. This number far exceeds the total participants from the second and third years combined.

Zhang Qingqing’s grades might not be top-notch, but she was fond of joining in the buzz. After learning that Jiang Li and Wang Simin had signed up for the test, she too grabbed a registration form and was determined to participate. She initially wanted to persuade Shen Mian to join her, but Shen Mian firmly refused, saying if Zhang Qingqing wanted to suffer, she should do so alone and not drag innocent people with her.

Watching students file into the classroom, Zhang Qingqing murmured, “Weren’t us first-year supposed to be just adding numbers? Why are there so few third-year students?”

Jiang Li thought for a moment and replied, “They’re probably focusing on college entrance exams.” It was all a matter of priority; like how she didn’t think about competitions in the last two months of junior high, the third-year seniors naturally focused more on the impending college entrance exam.

Zhang Qingqing nodded in apparent disappointment, then curiously added, “But there aren’t many second-year students either, less than half of us first-year.”

Jiang Li smiled, “The current number doesn’t mean much. After the test results come out, there will probably be more second-year students left than first-year students.”

Zhang Qingqing was skeptical, “How do you know? You’ve never participated in these competitions before, but I think our class has many talented students; maybe many of us will stay.”

Wang Simin couldn’t help but interject, “Then keep dreaming. Just don’t cry when reality slap you in the face.”

Zhang Qingqing shrugged it off, “I signed up just for fun. I don’t really care about getting in or not; it’s all about the experience.” She then turned her attention to Qin Zheng, “Old Qin, you should be able to get selected, right? I heard you participated in competitions in junior high.”

“…” Qin Zheng didn’t know how to respond. Could he protest that the nickname “Old Qin” sounded particularly tacky?

Zhang Qingqing had a knack for giving people nicknames—Mouthy Monkey, Giraffe, Sharpy Bird, etc—these were the nicknames she one-sidedly gave their classmates. Compared to them, being called “Old Qin” seemed relatively normal. What Qin Zheng couldn’t understand was why the boys in the class didn’t object to these nicknames and even seemed to enjoy them.

Seeing Qin Zheng remain silent, Zhang Qingqing was about to repeat her question, but the invigilator entered the room with the test papers, and she quickly shut her mouth.

Even though she was there just for fun, she still intended to take the test seriously. Who knows, maybe she could get selected?

That, however, was just Zhang Qingqing’s initial thought, especially after seeing the small volume of questions on the test paper, which boosted her confidence. She even thought she might finish early.

Taking out her pen, she confidently wrote her name. But after reading the first question, she felt half dumbfounded, and by the second question, she felt completely lost.

What on earth was this?

Were there really test questions? Had she ever learned this stuff? Was the teacher sure they didn’t hand out the wrong papers?

Looking around, Zhang Qingqing noticed that most of her classmates were deeply engrossed in their papers. Jiang Li, Qin Zheng, and Wang Simin nearby seemed particularly focused.

So, the questions were correct; she had just so confidently stepped into a world of prodigy gods and was being thoroughly humbled.

“The girl in the sixth row, focus on your own paper. Stop looking around!” the invigilator’s stern voice rang out.

Zhang Qingqing hesitated for just a second before raising her hand, “Teacher, my stomach hurts. Can I hand in my paper early?”

The invigilator frowned, “Do you want to hand in your paper early, or are you just handing in a blank paper early?”

Zhang Qingqing: …

Was there a difference?

She quickly grabbed her test and stationery, rushed to the front, and handed in her paper. Of course, she didn’t forget to put on a look of great suffering, “Teacher, I really feel unwell. I’m going to leave now.”

“…” The invigilator simply threw her a knowing glance, thinking that this girl surely didn’t look like a case of stomach pain, but more like fleeing from battle.

Well, let her go. After all, most of the students sitting there were just going through the motions.

After receiving the test paper, Jiang Li first wrote her name and then quickly skimmed through the entire sheet before starting to answer the questions seriously. Most of her time was spent thinking, because the types of competition questions were indeed quite different from standard exam questions. Fortunately, she had seen some similar problems from the materials Feng Song had given her, so she wasn’t completely clueless.

Furthermore, she also felt that the difficulty of the questions wasn’t up to the level of typical competition problems, at least not as hard as the ones her brother had given her. Jiang Li took her time and didn’t rush. When the teacher finally instructed them to hand in their papers, Jiang Li sighed regretfully, as she hadn’t managed to complete the last question—something that had never happened since she transmigrated into this world.

After handing in her paper, she heard a chorus of sighs filling the exam room, suggesting she wasn’t the only one who didn’t finish in time.

Jiang Li walked out of the exam room and found Qin Zheng and Wang Simin standing together, discussing their answers in a low voice. She quietly joined them, eager to compare her answers with theirs. The test had only ten questions, and she found that her answers matched theirs in only seven of them, causing her to frown. While she had anticipated possibly failing, the prospect of it actually happening still made her very disappointed.

Qin Zheng and Wang Simin noticed Jiang Li’s concerned expression. Knowing her inexperience with competitions, Qin Zheng comforted her, “The school organizes competition classes every year. Even if you don’t get selected this year, there’s always next year.”

“…” Jiang Li felt little consolation from his words. In the end, she simply let out a resigned sigh and slowly walked towards her dormitory.

Not long after Jiang Li returned to her room, her phone vibrated in her pocket. She took it out and saw a call from Tong Yi. “You know, calling elders late at night is quite impolite,” she listlessly answered the call.

Tong Yi was stunned for a moment, “Did you not pass the test?”

“You sound really surprised,” Jiang Li remarked.

Tong Yi, aware of her bad mood, didn’t dare to tease Jiang Li further and simply asked, “What questions were on the test? Tell me about them.”

With her excellent memory, Jiang Li quickly recounted the two questions she had gotten wrong, then sighed, “Wang Simin and Qin Zheng had the same answers. I think I’m most likely going to fail.”

Tong Yi immediately responded, “Tell me how you solved them. It would be even better if you remember the answers.”

When Jiang Li heard the sound of a pen scratching on paper from the phone, she couldn’t help but ask curiously, “Can you figure out the answers that quickly?”

“Well, one of those questions is quite difficult, but the other is not so much. It just has several traps. Avoiding them should do the trick.”

“…” Jiang Li fought the urge to end the call here and then. Listen — was that the correct thing to say to a person already disheartened? Nonetheless, she explained her solving methods and then waited for Tong Yi’s verdict.

Twenty minutes later, Tong Yi spoke with certainty, “You got one question right, and the other… well, it’s not a big deal. Didn’t they also get one wrong? You and they are basically even.”

Jiang Li sighed heavily, “It’s not even. I didn’t even get to look at the last question before the teacher told us to hand in our papers. How tragic is that?”

Tong Yi was silent for a few seconds before consolingly saying, “Maybe you could wait for next year…”

“Goodbye. Your aunt needs two days to recover her broken heart. Please don’t contact her heedlessly, thank you.” Jiang Li promptly hung up the phone.

“…” Tong Yi didn’t dare tell Jiang Li that these were just entry-level test questions. Telling her the truth might require her to take even longer to recover.

After some thought, Tong Yi opened a QQ chat box and typed a long message, but then deleted it one character at a time.

With Jiang Xiao Li in a bad mood, anything he said would probably be wrong. It might be better to wait for her to calm down a bit before contacting her again, no?

But then, wouldn’t she think he was unsympathetic if he didn’t comfort her?

Caught in this dilemma, Tong Yi felt trapped between a rock and a hard place.

 

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