Although the soroban test was only on Sunday and I did not receive any official result yet, I already know that I failed it. Again. There’s not much point in hoping if you only did 9 exercises and you need at least 10 to pass… At least this time I am only partially to blame.

This time the test took place in a large meeting hall at a community center. The hall could seat 200 people; the 1st kyu candidates were seated in front, and in the back there were the candidates for 3rd kyu. Usually, the procedure is as follows: Once everybody is seated and has their soroban paraphanalia laid out in front of them, the rules of the test are read aloud: What is permitted and not, how to write certain solutions, and what to do when a rubber is needed. Then the test sheets are handed out, the candidates fill in their names and candidate number, and the sheet is placed upside down in front of them. Finally, the person administering the test says loudly: Hai, yo-i (turn your sheets around) and hai, hajime (start!) and starts the timer for 7 minutes. At the end of the time there is a loud yell of yame (stop!).

This time things were slightly different. The reading of the rules was shorter than I had remembered. After everybody had their sheets there came a general question whether everything was okay with everybody. And into the ensuing silence the woman in charge yelled yo-i and nothing else – on top of her voice and into a microphone. I am obviously too old for these kind of shenenigans because I almost got a heart attack! My hands were still shaking at the end of the first 7 minutes (multiplications, my forte) and I only calmed down after the second 7 minutes, when I realised that I had botched the divisions, again.

It’s interesting how much those little insignificant things can throw you off. And I am a bit angry too, because had this happened during my first try of this exam it would not have meant anything then, I might have been prepared for something like this and I might have done better this time. Oh well, there’s always a next time, isn’t it?