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Chapter 2

Special Test of Survival and Dropout

AFTER THE WINTER vacation, school life took a fresh start.

There was a bit of confusion in the greetings with classmates who hadn't seen each other for about two weeks until the new year, but other than that, the days were passing without change.

When would the next special exam be conducted?

While everyone in the class would have that in the back of their minds, Horikita, who had received hints from senpais, was more concerned.

Chabashira-sensei, the homeroom teacher who symbolized the start of a new school day, appeared.

Her expression was always stern, heading to the podium with a serious face without a hint of levity.

However, even though everything was as usual, some of the students naturally sensed that something was different.

Observing everything from the back of the room, I reached the same conclusion.

Thursday, when half of the week had already passed, it seemed finally time for the prelude to begin.

"Good morning. Today I want to talk about the implementation of the first special exam of this third term."

Just as teachers had been observing their classes for two years, students had also been observing the teachers as well.

"Fewer of you are surprised. You've gotten good at understanding the timing, I see."

If so, the announcement would be quick. Chabashira-sensei straightened herself and looked around the students.

"I'd like to get right into the explanation. This special exam has slightly complicated rules."

Chabashira-sensei turned on the monitor and started the software.

"This special exam will only be conducted among second-year students."

Initially, it was revealed that it wasn’t going to involve other years like the first and third years.

"This is going to be a different ruleset from the special exam where we compete side by side for first place or decide the winner in a one-to-one match with a specific class. I'll explain it with the help of diagrams to make it easier to understand. Let’s take a look at the monitor."

Data created by the school was quickly loaded and a file was opened.

'Survival and Dropout Special Exam.'

The first text that appeared was believed to be the name of the next special exam.

Despite being a mere exam name, there was a slight tension among the students.

"Survival and dropout? That sounds very dangerous..."

The usual candid words from Ike. However, that was an understandable impression.

When you saw the word 'dropout,' there was something that was inevitably associated with it.

While students didn't explicitly say it, everyone associated it with 'expulsion.'

Chabashira-sensei, without commenting on the name of the special exam, began explaining the test content.

"In this special exam, there are diversified tasks based on the category prepared by the school. Each class will choose a category, select a difficulty, and issue a task to the target class in a specific order."

A diagram of a square figure was given as an example. 

①Class A→②Class B

↑ ↓

④Class D←③Class C

"While the arrangement of these classes is just an example, clockwise from Class A, they will have us solve the task they chose and gave to Class B; Class A is the attacking side in this case. On the other hand, Class B is the defending side. Class B scores points by solving the task, i.e., the attack that came from Class A. Then, once this offensive and defensive action is done, Class B will be on the offensive side and will issue tasks to Class C. We will repeat this attack and defense while moving around the classes, and the offensive and defensive war between Class D and Class A at the end of the rotation—this will be considered one turn."

From this initial explanation, it was clear that points for your own class didn’t increase when attacking, but rather, points would increase depending on how much of the prep work you could do correctly when defending.

"After 10 turns, the first half will be over. The second half will invert the arrows counterclockwise, and another 10 turns will be held. We are going to repeat the offensive and defensive battles for a total of 20 turns."

Another figure was courteously displayed for the counterclockwise rotation. 

①Class A←④Class D

↓ ↑

②Class B→③Class C

It was still unsure how the class arrangement would be decided, but the fact that there wouldn't be any offensive and defensive actions against the class located diagonally couldn’t be overlooked. 

It would be an additional mental burden to wage a defensive and offensive war against a class that posed the greatest threat to one's classmates.

"Next, I will detail the attack issues. The categories provided by the school, as I mentioned at the beginning, cover a wide range. From fundamental academic skills such as literature, economics, English, mathematics, kanji, and history, to subculture, and entertainment subjects which are not related to academics."

"Do students need stuff like entertainment...? I'm not good at that..."

Sudō expressed his aversion openly towards the unfamiliar term mentioned.

"Indeed, some areas might not be primarily related to a student's responsibilities. But those who are ignorant of the world are often eliminated when they step into society. In other words, even if you can't study, those who can follow the conversation are often treasured. This means that this time, your general knowledge as a human being will be tested."

With that explanation, some understood while others were still confused. The air was tense.

Sensing this, Chabashira-sensei added to her explanation.

"It seems there are some who find it hard to understand, so let me simplify it. Basically, it has aspects similar to a quiz. The attacking class will present a quiz, and the defending class will solve it. It's as simple as that."

This description was extremely insightful, and many students began to show their understanding simultaneously.

At the same time, there were also those who wore baffled expressions.

Competing with a quiz—indeed, if you just proceed with that image alone, it wouldn’t be unreasonable.

However, not all successful people are only excellent in academics. Regardless of their final academic level, many possess something noteworthy besides that.

In that sense, it couldn’t definitively be said that knowledge in areas like entertainment was completely unnecessary.

If you were to enter into the entertainment industry, there would be a significant difference between knowing nothing and having an abundant amount of knowledge.

When facilitating smooth communication with superiors and subordinates, non-academic knowledge was also demanded. If you could fully utilize your skills, it would be a plus in many cases, without a doubt.


Select the category and difficulty. Nominate a student and attack.

Attack limit

There is no limit to the number of consecutive student nominations. It is also possible to continuously choose the same category.

Nominate five students of the target defensive class to the officer in charge within three minutes of starting.

※ If you cannot meet the time limit, the number of people who could not be nominated will be determined randomly. 

List of possible categories for question

Literature, History, Science, Society, Sports, Entertainment, Music, Economics, General Knowledge, English, Mathematics, News, Kanji, Life, Gourmet, Subculture

Difficulty level

Three levels, from one to three. (The higher the number, the greater the difficulty)

Target number

Five people

Indeed, as the school had mentioned, it covered a wide variety of topics.

The choice of category alone was divided into 16 choices.

"The attacking class will first select a genre from among these—”

“Aren't others simply going to present high difficulty levels?"

During Chabashira-sensei's explanation, this seemed to have unintentionally slipped out of Ike’s mouth.

Uttering such, he hurriedly covered his mouth, but it was already too late.

In the awkward silence that followed, he timidly looked up at Chabashira-sensei.

While there was a strong negative impression around interrupting someone mid-explanation, Chabashira-sensei, albeit sighing, didn’t seem too harsh on him.

"Be careful with your careless remarks, Ike."

"Y-yes, I'm sorry!"

"The attacking class will select the difficulty level after choosing the category. The basic level is the average difficulty of the first stage. The second and third stages with higher difficulties can also be chosen, but to do so, you need to consume the points that you have acquired. For every point you hold, you can increase the difficulty level by one stage."

The special exam rules began to be broken down little by little.

Apparently, the attacking side was not just about choosing a category.

"The attacking side will nominate five people from the defending class and give a problem. It doesn't matter if the same student is continuously nominated, or if it's changed. The same applies to categories."

There seemed to be no restrictions at all on the nomination of students and the category selection. Whether to aim at an unspecified majority or to continuously target a specific student—it was all at the discretion of the attacking side.

"But what if the opponent's class is aware of the categories we’re weak in..."

It wasn’t unreasonable to immediately come to that conclusion.

If we’re consistently attacked in areas we aren’t good at, the probability of getting all the questions wrong wouldn’t be low.

"I understand feeling uneasy, but this isn't a special exam that specifically requires you to overcome your weak subjects ahead of time. In this special exam, individual knowledge is important, but it also becomes crucial how well the class understands each other. It isn't just about taking on the given tasks indifferently, but there's a system where, at times, a leader can protect students and decide when to attack based on the situation."

Defensive side

By the leader's nomination, up to five individuals can be protected for each task. If a student, who was nominated to be protected, is within the five individuals nominated by the attacking side, they will be treated as if they answered correctly.

Within three minutes after the attacking side has finished their task, the leader shall nominate five individuals from their class and declare it to the officer in charge.

※ If unable to make nominations within the time limit, the remaining number of students will be chosen randomly.

Excluding Categories

Each student can choose to exclude up to three of the sixteen categories beforehand.

The attacking side can’t choose the excluded categories.


If a student answers incorrectly three times in total, they will be eliminated and cannot be targeted for nomination.

Moreover, for every person eliminated, one point will be deducted.

※ Even if the score is zero, negative points will accumulate.


If an answer is correct (or protected successfully), one point is given for each person.

Incorrect answers will not deduct points.

“At this point, some of you might be confused, but because you can exclude five people every time you defend, if someone is being specifically targeted, you can prioritize protecting that person. Of course, if the attackers think you will protect, they will change their target each time. You guys will have to make various strategies beyond just getting the answers right.”

As Chabashira-sensei said in advance, it could be called a slightly complicated special exam.

However, when untangled, there were surprisingly simple aspects to it, and it consisted of repeating the same process.

“Also, during this special exam, both the attacking and defending sides are allowed to discuss and consider necessary matters among themselves. However, all final decisions will be made by the leader elected by the class. It is a position that holds a lot of responsibility.”

It was entirely up to the leader if they chose to represent the views of their classmates or not.

Such a role could not be left to someone indecisive or someone who could lose their sense of judgment.

“Also… if a class with any eliminated students sinks to the bottom of the four classes, one of those eliminated students will be expelled.”

“Wow… E-expulsion, seriously… I thought it was possible, but…!”

Somewhere, a small scream rose among the students.

“And the reward for this special exam is as follows:”


1st place: 100 Class points

2nd place: -50 Class points

3rd place: -50 Class points

4th place: -100 Class points

※If there are multiple classes with the highest score, an extension will be held to determine the outcome.

※If all four classes finish the test with the same score, everyone’s class points will be deducted by 100.

“What the heck is this!? Other than first place, all the class point rewards are negative!?”

It was only natural that voices of surprise and dismay rose from the students.

Only one class could be the actual winner among the four. However, if one deeply analyzed the rules, they would be able to predict why only one class could be the victor.

As noted in the reward description, if all four classes conspired and colluded prior to the special exam, they could potentially finish the exam with equal scores. This rule was in place to prevent such scenarios.

Given that all ranks below the first are in the negative, it becomes practically impossible for classes to collaborate across boundaries. Even if they joined forces, only one class could win.

Of course, it wouldn’t be impossible if they used unconventional methods, such as the contract Ryūen and Katsuragi made during the deserted island exam last year in summer, in which they forfeited class points in exchange for Private Points. However, collaboration was unlikely unless it could ensure a secure first place.

By those rules, it was easy to obtain high scores if classes collaborated, but the school’s restrictions to prevent this from happening were more powerful than expected.

This was also a rare opportunity to expel a specific student by making their class lose.

It was hardly plausible that they would give up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity without something significant in return.

The only viable cooperative relationship could be an agreement not to eliminate each other.

This method was fair to all classes and could also purchase safety.

However, setting aside Horikita and Ichinose, the possibility of such a proposal getting through to Ryūen or Sakayanagi was low.

Furthermore, due to the attack and defense mechanisms, they inevitably need to fight against two classes, and adhering to a no-elimination policy wouldn’t be easy.

“In the event that there are multiple eliminations in the lowest-ranked class, the class leader will nominate one from among the eliminated. Of course, the nominated student cannot refuse. If there are classes tied for the lowest rank, there is a possibility that there will be expulsions from multiple classes.”

This meant that if any of the students in the lowest-ranked class were eliminated, there would definitely be at least one expulsion. The only exceptions would be if 20 million points were paid or when a student holding Protection Points was eliminated and selected.

It would be possible to avoid that if the lowest-ranked class kept the number of eliminated students to zero, but that was nearly impossible under normal circumstances.

“Excuse me, may I ask a question?”

Horikita, who was sitting in front of Chabashira-sensei, raised her hand to ask for permission to speak.

“Yes, what is it?”

“What happens if the leader is eliminated midway through the special exam? Also, will those who are eliminated be required to do something like leaving the room?”

“To answer the easier question first, even if you are eliminated, you just won’t be nominated by the attacker afterward. You’ll continue to wait in the same place as the other students and are free to participate in the conversation.”

In other words, they would be put on the eliminated list, but there wouldn’t be any other restrictions.

“As for a leader getting eliminated, the leader does not participate in any tasks to begin with. This means that they cannot be nominated by the attacker and therefore have no fear of being eliminated.”

“The leader only directs and doesn’t fight...”

“Correct. Those who are chosen as leaders are effectively exempted from the risk of expulsion. Whether they consider this a perk or not is up to the individuals.”

The class leader, who would lead the fight, won’t bear the risk of expulsion.

However, if the class were to lose, the leader must nominate an eliminated student to be expelled.

The responsibility of being a leader is already a heavy burden if they lose, and yet they have to undertake the task of expelling a comrade without being able to take responsibility themselves.

Although it was a position that assured safety, hardly any student would eagerly want to undertake the responsibility of determining victory or defeat and having to select comrades to abandon if they lose.

While someone like Ryūen or Sakayanagi might easily undertake such merciless tasks, most other students would likely refuse. The role of pushing the button to eject the floorboard of a condemned prisoner was extremely harsh.

“Also, it’s important to note that during this special exam, the use of mobile phones will be permitted at all times, except when the defensive side is solving a problem.”

“Eh, it’s allowed...?”

“Rather, it might be said that phones are indispensable for this special exam. The other classes’ details will be disclosed after the exam starts, so you will have to organize the information in real-time and find the optimal solutions to determine who is excluding which category.”

More than 100 students were spread across the three classes. There were about 80 even with just two target classes.

It would be almost impossible to specify the categories without the class mustering all its resources to gather information.

There were other advantages to being able to use phones.

Usually, students who weren’t good at speaking up found it difficult to raise questions about minor realizations. Frequently, they’d just swallow their small doubts and later find out that they were the key questions they should have asked.

Through an app, they could easily send messages about their realized doubts, just to their specific friends, and ask for their judgment.

“Of course, you can also use it for the defensive side. It’s up to you whether you cram knowledge into your head for the exam until the last minute or if you contact and negotiate with the opposing classes. Feel free to do as you wish. If the patterns of the questions during the exam become apparent, it should be possible to allocate some countermeasures.”

This added conditions we had never considered until now.

If phones could be used, the scope for offense and defense would significantly widen.

How quickly and efficiently we could share information seemed to be a point of the test.

“The special exam will be conducted next Friday. First of all, by the end of school next Monday, find time, decide the leader through mutual discussion, and let me know. If you can’t choose a leader, as you can probably guess, we will randomly select one.”

With that, Chabashira-sensei exhaled a heavy sigh, seemingly ending her explanation of the special exam.

“I understand everything, but it’s going to be a tough fight. All I can say is—.”

She stared at the students, and then answered, “Do your best not to place last. That’s it.”

In the special exam where failure would put losing your friends at risk, avoiding last place was absolutely necessary.

There was a possibility that the third-term special exam would be brutal, and that turned out to be precisely the case.

Even if a student was academically or physically skilled, another class could apply a strategy that exploits the gaps in their knowledge and get them expelled.

Nonetheless, I was impressed that this time, the mechanism wasn’t structured on gaining points from attacking.

As the defense’s judgment was connected to the score, it became more important to face and consider your own class. It was a test to earn points through discussions with the leader and classmates.

How well one knew the class and the enemy would affect the outcome of the battle.


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