William stood behind his father, who was asking to speak to a teacher about the application process. However, the real point was to get information about the tests themselves. The secretary was well versed in the former, not so much in the latter. William whispered questions for his father to ask, but either the secretary didn’t know, wouldn’t say, or couldn’t say. Instead of giving up, his father used his negotiation skills he’d gained as a merchant. Sadly, it did not help much in the current situation. William was grateful to his father for even trying, knowing he had no magical potential. Just before the pair finally gave up, an old professor wandered by.
“What are you young fellows doing here?” he asked. William thought it was funny to hear his father called a young fellow. It was also odd to hear it applied to himself, since he had been older than this professor in his previous life.
William whispered words for his father to speak, “I’m trying to find out what material will be tested during the application process.” William knew that the preliminary magic school here only accepted those that had tested with high potential. However, the higher level accepted those who passed a practical test- generally meant for those from other cities to join the school, or the rare self-study. He didn’t know anything specific about the test, though.
The old professor looked at William’s father, and at William. “Come with me to my office,” he said. They followed. Eventually, they arrived in a rather spare office. It did seem to fit the old wizard- Professor Phineas Pierce, by the plaque on his desk.
Professor Pierce definitely looked like a wizard. He had a graying beard and out of control eyebrows. He had a staff, and even wore robes. The only thing missing was a pointy hat, but William figured they weren’t in fashion. Alternatively, maybe they were, and Professor Pierce wasn’t.
“So, what questions did you have?” the professor finally asked.
William again asked the questions, through his father, “I was wondering what could be told about the material for the tests to get into the school. I was not sure if the test differed from those in the other regions.” This was true, but of course neither William nor his father knew what the tests in other regions were like to begin with.
“As everywhere, the tests are separated into practical and theory.”
“What about the weight of each section, and the amount needed to pass?”
“I’m afraid I can’t say either. Such knowledge might tip the chances in someone’s favor,” the professor said. Then he turned to William. “It might be faster if we just speak to each other directly.
William rubbed the back of his head in an embarrassed manner. He hadn’t thought he’d be found out so easily, but he supposed he hadn’t been really subtle about it. He wasn’t very good at that. William was glad he seemed willing to talk, even to a small child, as he currently appeared, and technically was, in a way. “Haha, you found me out. If you can’t tell me that, then what can you tell me?”
“Nothing that would give anybody an advantage above anyone else.” He seemed to be hinting at a possibility. William hoped he had the right idea in mind.
“Well, in that case, if there were hypothetically somebody with no magical potential, what would you be able to tell them about the test?”
“In that case… well, since there is no way they could pass, I could tell them that both parts are weighted equally. Two thirds of the points are necessary. Each problem is worth the same amount in the theory test, and it covers everything that should be known by an aspiring mage. When to use what kind of spell, reactions between elements, and the like. The practical test involves, of course, using magic. One third of that is the proper chants and hand formation, and the other two third are proper release, targeting, and power of the spell. Thus, it is impossible to get the necessary points to pass if one has no potential for magic.” Professor Pierce smiled.
William knew that the professor wouldn’t have gotten there if he was incompetent at math. Thus, he knew that technically, someone could pass without being able to release magic, if everything else was perfect. He just wouldn’t say it like that, likely so he could deny it later if necessary.
“That’s too bad, it would really be impossible to pass like that.” William smiled back, “Thank you for your time.” He took his father with him to leave the building. Then, he explained his plan. After all, it involved his father deeply, since he would be paying for the testing fees.
William spent about a month preparing for the entrance test. The timing was a coincidence, because nobody expected someone would go straight from the aptitude test into the main school. If they were talented, they got into the preparatory school. If they weren’t, they gave up or hired a private tutor, and likely spent six years or more studying. William wasn’t trying to be arrogant, because he’d spent three years studying magic already, and had the added bonus of a lifetime worth of experience, although obviously none in the field of magic.
As expected, though, he failed. In total, he got slightly less than half of the points available. This meant that he only got a tiny portion of the theoretical section wrong, because he got no points from the practical. He’d made the mistake of letting the test overseer of the practical portion know that he couldn’t sense or use mana. Since they thought it would be a waste of their time, he didn’t get to participate. He did, however, get to watch. That was actually good enough.
He had failed, but he wasn’t going to give up. Indeed, it would be foolish to give up, since he had a plan. That plan was actually being fulfilled, since he’d failed the test on purpose. Well, he’d taken it knowing he was going to fail, not that he didn’t put his best effort in. However, now he knew what to expect, and could be prepared for the few types of questions he’d been stumped on. He hoped he would get a different examiner for the practical portion the next year. As long as they were fair, he would accept the results.
William was glad that his father was indulgent enough to agree to his plan- taking the test twice. Maybe if his parents had been so supportive in his previous life… Well, it was best not to think about that. A large part of the way his previous life had turned out had been his own doing. He had no right to complain, and he even got another chance.