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Part 3 
Once the break between classes began, many students inevitably went and gathered around Y?suke. 
Upon seeing that, Horikita quickly got up from her seat and joined them. 
I decided to listen in on their conversation as well, for the time being. 
“W-w-w-what should I do, Hirata!? My Academic Ability rating is an E! I’m screwed!” 
With his head in his hands, Ike begged Y?suke for help. 
Y?suke looked out over the whole class as he tried to calm Ike down. 
“Let’s calm down first, and then we’ll settle on a course of action.” 
“Yes, there’s no need to panic in the slightest.” 
“This certainly won’t be an easy exam, that’s for sure. A second-year student with an E rating in Academic Ability needs to pair up with a first-year student with at least a B to ensure they’ll score above 500. But, conversely, this exam should be fairly low-stakes as long as they pair up with somebody with at least a B rating.” 
She made it seem like the condition required to overcome the exam wasn’t very complicated, perhaps to calm him down. 
“Furthermore, we’ve gone through similar exams together as a class over our last year here. If we coordinate and study as best we can like we’ve done in the past, it shouldn’t be impossible for you to score over 250 or 300 points.” 
“Yes. It’s exactly as Horikita-san says. If we work together, we should all be able to get through the exam safely.” 
Y?suke echoed Horikita’s standpoint and the people around them gradually started to calm down. 
“The important part of all of this is that you don’t partner up with someone without thinking it through first. Even if you think it’s urgent, you shouldn’t rush the process unless a first-year student with at least a B rating is willing to pair up with you.” 
It was true that, if you got ahead of yourself and partnered up with someone early on, your decision would be set in stone for the rest of the exam. 
You had to make sure that you and your partner would definitely score above the 500 point baseline. 
“As for those of you with a B+ rating or higher, I’d like for you to take a good objective look at the situation. It might be important for us to reserve a certain number of our more skilled students in order to save everyone. At any rate, regardless of whether you’re good at studying or not, if something comes up please consult either Hirata-kun or me.” 
Horikita only asked them for the bare minimum: to avoid making a panicked decision. The honor students such as Keisei and Mii-chan nodded along without hesitation, indicating their willingness to cooperate. Horikita could’ve taken on the responsibility of sorting out the negotiations for everyone in the class, but that would’ve made it more difficult for the partner-making process to run smoothly. There would be lots of competition for every prospective partner, so every second would be essential. 
“For now, I’m going to try and negotiate with the first-years who joined the soccer club. It seems like some of them are good at studying, so I’m thinking we might be able to get them to partner with us.” 
After Horikita finished talking, Y?suke proposed his own idea to her. It was a good strategy to approach problems with more numbers. 
“Can I count on you for that? It’d be reassuring to have your support.” 
Nevertheless, club activities were outside of Horikita’s zone of influence. Y?suke smiled kindly and nodded. 

“Additionally, I think we should consider holding a hearing for the students with Academic Ability ratings below a C-, just in case.” 
“That’s a good decision. Let’s work together to help everyone find partners.” 
Explaining the plan of action to the entire class at such an early stage would probably make all the difference. Not only would the weaker students receive helpful feedback, they’d also feel assured that nobody would be abandoning them. 
“Horikita-san, just one more thing. Some?” 
“Some of the students who have ratings above a C aren’t very good at communicating. I’ll also follow up with those of us who’d struggle to find partners for reasons other than poor academics.” 
Their thoughts were so in tune that they understood each other without even needing to discuss it in detail. 
Only a few words were needed for the two of them to be in perfect sync with each other. 
“Thank you. That’d be very helpful.” 
Horikita and Y?suke continued their conversation without any hiccups, sorting out the situation into a form that they were both satisfied with. 
At one point, they used to butt heads with each other, but now they worked unbelievably well together. 
It wasn’t just that Horikita had become more amiable, Y?suke’s flexible way of thinking had also played a part in it. 
“By the way, Sud?-kun, what about the basketball club? A few first-year students must’ve joined by now as well, right?” 
Horikita inquired of Sud?, who was utterly devoted to his club. 
However, Sud? seemed somewhat uncomfortable as he looked away. 
“Y-yeah. But…” 
“Club started a few days ago and all, but, well, we’ve kinda gone full-on Spartan on ‘em… or how should I say it? We’ve been pretty harsh on ‘em, ya know?” 
“You mean you’ve been intimidating them?” 
“Well, I guess it might be like that. Basketball can be pretty hardcore, aight?” 
The point was that he might’ve already gotten himself into a position where his underclassmen didn’t like him. 
Of course, this was all because of how seriously he took basketball. 
Underclassmen had a tendency to be very divided on seniors who are strict during practice. 
“Alright. Just focus on your studies and don’t worry yourself too much about the special exam.” 
It would be counterproductive if Sud? tried to do something and messed it up, so Horikita gave him a firm warning to focus on something else instead.


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