Heroes of the Past
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Volume 2, Chapter 2-2: Preparing for Math Finals II

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Autumn Quarter 2015 Finals Week Tuesday

Tess lied. She did not come at nine but arrived at seven. I was still sleeping when I heard the vibration of my phone. My eyes still not open fully, I checked my alarm clock. It flashed 7:05 AM and I sighed. Unlocking my phone, I saw a message from Tess. Wait, I swore I told her nine. Did I misremember because of all the studying?

“Tess, are you here already?” I asked, my voice still groggy.

“Yes, I’m outside. Please open the door. I brought my breakfast with me seeing as you were concerned with my diet yesterday,” Tess replied.

Yawning, I changed out of my sleeping clothes and walked downstairs. Walking to the bathroom, I splashed water on my face for a minute. God, what had I done? I should have told Tess a later time. Wait, were my parents still home?

I checked their room, but saw no one inside. Well at least Tess arrived at a time where she didn’t disturb them. I peeked through the blinds and saw Tess’ car outside. But Tess was nowhere in sight like yesterday. I then walked over to the window facing my backyard. I checked but saw no one there either.

“Damn it, Tess, where are you?” I asked myself.

“Good morning, Tomo. You still seem sleepy,” Tess greeted.

“You’re already inside?”I exclaimed, turning around and seeing Tess.

Tess, a silver spoon in her left hand, looked at me with her usual expression. You know what, I shouldn’t even question this anymore. I give up. Sighing, I walked upstairs with Tess behind me.

“Tomo, I’ve been wondering about something. How early do you wake up?” Tess asked as she scooped food into her mouth.

“Uh, usually around nine. I don’t have classes until eleven this quarter,” I replied, unsure about the relevance of the question.

“I arrived here earlier than the promised meeting time. I apologize for that, but I thought it would be better for you to start early,” Tess explained.

I glanced over at Tess’ food and blinked. Wait, was she eating cereal plain without anything? Not to mention, I didn’t even recognize the brand of cereal.

“So, where should we start?” I asked.

“Hmm, I think it’s a good idea to start from the beginning. Reviewing the recent material is good but you still want to make sure you have a good grasp of stuff from the beginning,” Tess replied.

“I’m sorry but what are you eating?” I asked.

“Hmm, it’s cereal. Nothing too fancy. Start from page 17 and do the practice problems there,” Tess answered.

“No, I meant what kind of cereal?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I just grabbed whatever there was in the cupboard,” Tess replied, showing me her food.

I looked at the cereal. It appeared generic with an array of different shapes. There were squares, triangles, circles, and even a pentagon. Wait, these were just geometric shapes. I never saw cereal like this before. I grabbed my phone and searched for the product. Of course there were no results. Just focus on math, nothing else matters.

“Ah, I recall now. It was homemade. My parents tried making cereal and it ended up like this,” Tess exclaimed.

“Your parents tried making cereal? Well, good for you I guess,” I said, starting my work on the practice problems.

When it was afternoon, I stopped for a short break. I glanced over at Tess who just stared back at me. Was I distracting her from preparing for any other finals she had?

“Tess, do you have something else to do?” I asked, looking over at her.

“No, not really. Keep going. Oh, you made a mistake there,” she pointed out.

I looked down at my paper and saw the mistake. Tess’ fingers tapped her cellphone. Okay, maybe this time, I could see what was on her screen. I was curious about the contents.

“Tomo, you made a sign error. It should be positive,” Tess circled my answer, putting her phone down, denying me the chance.

“Oh, you’re right. I should be more careful about things like that,” I said.

Four hours passed and I sighed. I was tired of seeing numbers and I wanted the exam to be over with already. Tess kept a close eye on my work the entire time and pointed out several mistakes.

“Thanks so much for the help, Tess. I really appreciate it,” I said.

“There’s no need for that. Get at least a 95 and I’ll be okay,” Tess said.

Uh, Tess, your expectations are too high. I would be happy scraping by with a 60 or hell even a 50. According to Zhuyu, the averages for the final were around 50 most of the time. To get a 95 would be crazy especially with only two days of studying.

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“Um, Tess, what did you get on the final?” I asked, curious.

“I think I got a 99. I missed one point because of a sign error. You should be careful about those,” Tess warned.

Alright, I think Tess was just a little bit too out of my league in terms of math. Time to try a different question.

“What about Zhuyu or Kisai?” I asked.

“Kisai skipped this class because he got credit for it on a placement test. Zhuyu, I think got a 64,” Tess replied.

“I think his score is more manageable for me. I’ll try for that, Tess. How
about that?”I asked.

“Based on what I’ve seen, you can pull off a 95. I don’t see why there would be any difficulties,” Tess countered.

“Well, Tess, you might be right if it was you. But I still missed weeks of class so that is crazy,” I disagreed.

“Don’t worry, Tomo, I believe in you. Remember, 95 or above. I would be quite happy if you managed to beat my score. Sign errors are killers,” Tess reassured me.

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“Alright, Tess, you know what? I’ll try for you but there’s no way I can do it. Actually, was your score the highest that year?” I questioned.

“No it was not. Someone got a 100. That’s why I reminded you about sign errors. Don’t repeat my mistakes. However, I do believe that my scores were the most consistent out of all the students that year,” Tess replied.

“Tess, if I need help again, I’ll be in touch,” I said, standing up from my chair.

“Of course, I’m ready to help you anytime. I always expect Fel to score in the 90’s but she never does. I wonder why? She understands the material,” Tess remarked.

“Your expectations are too high,” I said.

“Really? I think that they’re fair. Hmm, I’ll consider what you said today,” Tess nodded.

Tess left and I stared at the study material she left behind. How much did Tess study and what was the secret to her success? I hoped I would do well. I sighed and went to sleep early.

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