Viewers.h.i.+p ratings of The Voice's second episode had slapped many people's faces once again!
The people loved it!
The media were fighting to get their coverage out!
The industry was silent in unison!
Those who were waiting to laugh at Zhang Ye and The Voice, hoping that the show's second episode would plunge, were also made to shut up. Some people even sneakily deleted their Weibo posts or forum comments that cast doubt onto Zhang Ye and his new program, making it seem like nothing had been said at all.
It was business as usual.
Earth still continued to spin.
At this point, the battle between Zhang Ye and a part of the industry was laid to rest.
In the afternoon.
At the bottom of the television station tower, at a restaurant on the northern side of Bayi Lake, Zhang Ye paid out of pocket and gave another celebratory meal to everyone in the program team.
"Director Zhang, a toast to you."
"Alright, but I'll use tea on behalf of beer."
"It's the weekend tomorrow, do we still have work to do?"
"No, there's nothing else. Everyone will have their full days off to rest for a few days!"
"We can finally get some rest!"
The Voice was already progressing as planned. Whether it was the production process or the viewers.h.i.+p ratings, there was nothing to worry about anymore. Everything was heading towards the best possible outcome. It was all in control of the hands of Zhang Ye and his team. At this moment, the entire program team staff could finally all relax. Their days of being pressured by the deadlines and stressed out by work were finally over!
A middle-aged female editor of the program team said, "Director Zhang, I want to inform you about this in advance. In a few days, I might have to take two days off as my son is getting ready for his college entrance exam. Since my husband is too busy, I will have to stay and help him revise and make a last sprint to the college entrance examination. And there's still meals to be cooked too. I'm going to be so busy in the next few days."
Zhang Ye wondered, "The college entrance exam has not started yet?"
"Not yet, it's only the beginning of June now," the female editor said.
"When is the college entrance exam?" Zhang Ye asked, feeling unsure about it.
AD Zhang Zuo thought that Zhang Ye was just joking, so he laughed. "The college entrance exam is held at the end of June every year. Director Zhang, did you forget because you've been too busy?"
"Late June?" Zhang Ye repeated.
Ha Qiqi said, "Yes, it's only about a little more than ten days from now."
He didn't forget, nor was he playing dumb. Zhang Ye really did not know. In his previous world, the college entrance examination had been changed some years back to fall on usually the 7th or 8th of June. It had always been like that ever since. After he had been suspended from Peking University, Zhang Ye hadn't been paying much attention to news like this as he had been very busy with The Voice's production work, so he even thought that the college entrance exam was already over. Only now did he find out that the date of this world's college entrance exam was slightly different from his previous world's. The college entrance exam questions and the order of subjects being tested were going likely going to be different over here as well then.
Wu Yi said, "Sister Li, how's your son doing academically?"
Sister Li said, "It's quite good, but our home does not fall under Beijing's household registration, even though my son goes to school in Beijing. For the exam, we would have to go back to our old place. That's why I'm feeling quite worried."
Ha Qiqi said, "Isn't it the same wherever you take the exam?"
Sister Li waved her hands. "It's not the same, not the same at all. These days, the questions are all set independently by the provinces. The Beijing college entrance exam is always easy every year. The admission cutoff point is also lower, so there's definitely less pressure. But it's not the same for other provinces, some are more difficult and some are even easier, so it all depends on your luck."
Ha Qiqi could not understand why. "The Beijing examination is easier?"
Sister Li snorted. "Yes, much more easier too."
Zhang Ye asked with a smile, "Has your son expressed the university he would like to get into?"
She nodded and said with some pride in her voice, "His first choice is Peking University."
Ha Qiqi sounded somewhat impressed as she said, "Then your son must be very academically inclined!"
"He's not too bad as long as he can fulfill his potential. Then there's a good chance." The female editor said, "If my son really gets into Peking University, then I will treat everyone to a feast! That's a promise."
Zhang Zuo smiled and said, "Sister Li, you should be treating Director Zhang to a feast instead. He's the one who is a true Chinese Department lecturer and Math Department a.s.sociate professor at Peking University."
Sister Li immediately smiled. "I will definitely be treating. I was still hoping that after my son gets admitted into Peking University, Director Zhang would be able to look after him."
Zhang Ye shrugged while smiling and said, "I've already been suspended for the past semester, so I doubt that I would be able to go back to teach this year. But if your son does apply for the Chinese or Math Department, I still do know quite a few teachers personally, so if there's any problems, they would help me look out for him. Let's talk about that when it happens."
"Since you've already given me your word, let me toast you." Sister Li looked happy, then she picked up her gla.s.s of orange juice and clinked it against Zhang Ye's gla.s.s.
Zhang Ye said, "I hope your son will be able to get what he wants."
Suddenly, his cell phone starting buzzing inside his pocket. It was a call.
When he took it out to check the number, the caller ID showed Pan Yang's name—the Dean of the School of Mathematical Sciences. He found it strange that Dean Pan would call him at such a time, so he told everyone at the table to continue without him first and excused himself. He went outside to answer the call.
Zhang Ye: "h.e.l.lo?"
Pan Yang: "h.e.l.lo, Professor Zhang."
Zhang Ye: "Dean Pan, don't address me like that, just call me Little Zhang."
Pan Yang: "Hur hur, then I will call you Teacher Zhang instead. Are you outside?"
Zhang Ye: "I was just eating lunch, what is it that you're looking for me for?"
Pan Yang: "There's something, but it's difficult to explain over the phone. Shall we meet up instead?"
Zhang Ye: "What time?"
Pan Yang: "It's best if we could meet now."
Zhang Ye: "So rushed? It might not be possible now, I'm still not off work yet."
Pan Yang: "Oh, I remember now. You've recently created a new TV show and it seems like it's doing rather well in the nation as well now, isn't it? Hmm, then why don't you tell me when you will be free? What time do you finish work?"
Zhang Ye: "Why don't you tell me what's the matter first so that I won't feel so unsettled."
After a moment's pause, Pan Yang said: "Alright then, it's actually fine to tell you over the phone since it's not too big an issue. I'm looking for you mainly regarding this year's college entrance exam papers in Beijing."
Zhang Ye was taken aback: "Huh?"
Pan Yang said: "I have been appointed as the supervisor of this year's question setting team for the Beijing college entrance exam. The questions for the examination were already set and ready for the Mathematics, Chinese Literature, English Language, Arts, and Science sections, including a few alternate question sets. But we have suddenly encountered a situation in which all of those question sets were not approved by the board. The Beijing college entrance exam has never been too difficult. It was going to be the same this year, so the leaders on the Board of Education wanted to add more difficulty to it. If they had let us know earlier, it would have been fine since everyone could've discussed and slowly refined the exam standards. But we don't have much time anymore. The college entrance exam will take place in just over ten days. The tests have to be ready before that, which means we have to confirm the rough draft by next Monday at the latest. That leaves us with just around three days to plan, get approval from the Board, and settle the printing of the papers. It seems like we won't be able to make it in time. That's why the question setting team members are all reaching out for help from their friends right now. The more people we have, the faster we can get it done. The first person I thought of when I knew our Mathematics section needed someone was you."
Zhang Ye said nervously: "Dean Pan, you have a group of professors, deans, and PhDs there with you, surely it wouldn't trouble you all to increase the difficulty level of the exam's questions, would it?"
Pan Yang: "It's different. Of course it would be easy to increase the difficulty. We could just grab anyone from our team to set an exam consisting of questions that even a research student would not be able to solve. That would definitely be easy, but it's different for setting questions for the college entrance exam. The difficulty is not done for the sake of causing trouble to the students; it's just to filter out the students to pick out who is good. That is why the question not only needs to have value, it also needs to be presented so that a high school student would be able to solve it with their knowledge and understanding. That's not an easy thing to do, do you understand? Suppose I throw a mathematical conjecture into the exam. Then the questions would surely be very difficult, but the students definitely couldn't answer it, and even I wouldn't be able to solve it, so what's the point in that? Increasing the difficulty is not the objective, what we want is to screen the examinees."
"I see," Zhang Ye responded vaguely.
Pan Yang: "So what do you say? Would it be convenient for you to join us?"
Zhang Ye: "I've never set exam questions before. It seems like you really trust me."
Pan Yang laughed: "But I've seen the problems that you've given before."
"Oh? What problems did I give?" Zhang Ye did not remember.
"The few problems you gave when you were at Experimental Primary School. Those were quite interesting and had a standard of difficulty to them. It's also philosophical in nature and quite interesting at the same time," Pan Yang said.
Zhang Ye sighed: "But those are elementary math questions."
Pan Yang laughed loudly: "Don't underestimate that. It's hardest to set questions for elementary math. If you ask me to make a question at my own level, I can design it to be interesting and good, but that's because I am at this level and I know what is difficult and what is easy for people like me. But if you need me to set a question for the elementary level, then I will truly be at my wits' end. To me, those questions are all the same, they're all too simple. Because of that, it becomes harder to differentiate between what's hard and easy. On this front, you have an advantage as you are able to bring yourself down to their level of thinking to understand the difficulty level for them. This is a quality that any excellent exam question setter must have, and from those few questions of yours, it already proves that you are really much better at setting questions than us. Otherwise, I wouldn't have come to you for help."
Zhang Ye jokingly said: "You're praising me to the high heavens. I feel like if I didn't agree, I would be letting you down."
Pan Yang: "Then it's settled."
Zhang Ye confirmed: "All you want are difficult questions, right?"
Pan Yang acknowledged: "But solvable within the context of an examinee, though we prefer it to be as difficult as possible!"
"Are you sure? What if the questions are too difficult, what then? Won't everyone curse me to death?" Zhang Ye had some concerns about this.
Pan Yang was tickled: "The question setter for the college entrance exam has always been a scapegoat. If you make the questions too easy, examinees from other provinces and autonomous regions will scold you, claiming that the Beijing question setter has low standards and how well they would do if they took their exam here instead. But if you make it too difficult, the Beijing examinees will scold you, saying that you have something against them. So no matter what, you won't be able to escape criticism. That's also a reason why many teachers do not like being appointed to the college entrance examination's question setting team."
Zhang Ye nearly fainted. "Then why did you still ask me?"
Pan Yang's answer left Zhang Ye annoyed but amused. "You're still afraid of being scolded? Online, on TV, in the media, has any day pa.s.sed without you getting scolded by a mult.i.tude of people?"
Zhang Ye: "—No comment."
Pan Yang said: "Besides, every province will be setting their own questions and determining their own admission cutoff points. If a province's exam questions are too difficult, n.o.body will do well and the mean will also be low. Then the entry cutoff points will also be lower and it will all become relatively the same, so that is still going to be a fair a.s.sessment. We are not purposely trying to turn away examinees here, rather trying to see their standards. The standard of Beijing's exam has long been criticized by people, so the Board has hardened its heart this year and wants to bring a change to the style and thought behind the exam questions. That is why I think you're free to unleash whatever you can think of, regardless of how difficult it is. We're just afraid that it won't be difficult enough! I am very curious about the type of questions you will create if you were a.s.signed to present the last three major questions of the Mathematics section of the exam."
Zhang Ye thought for a bit then said: "Alright then, let me consult with my director at work first."
Pan Yang: "It's rather urgent, so try to give me your answer by today."
"Sure," Zhang Ye said.
Actually, Zhang Ye already had a decision!
Not just anyone could quality as a question setter for the college entrance examination. Although Pan Yang had mentioned that many teachers did not wish to be one, it was actually just an offhand remark. If the question setting team truly sent an invitation, hardly any teachers would reject such an opportunity, because it would be an honor and also a very strong acknowledgment of an educator's contributions. This acknowledgment did not mean much to Zhang Ye. What he placed more importance on for this appointment was the fame he would receive from it. In recent times, The Voice had brought Zhang Ye an enormous amount of reputation and let him taste the sweetness of his popularity soaring again. But he knew that if he were to achieve his target of becoming an A-list celebrity this year, then just that amount of reputation was not enough. He had to find the quickest way to get promoted to the A-list rankings, so it was impossible to not take the unconventional path. Another source of fame would always be good. And since his work here was already becoming cyclical, it wouldn't matter to have some "fun" on the college entrance examination's question setting team!
He would be idle anyway!
So why not earn some fame with a "part-time" job!