The next morning, Hermione comments on Harry's angry look before turning her attention to a notice on the bulletin board that Fred and George put up to find testers for their joke products. She pulls it down and tells Ron that they'll have to tell the twins to stop. As they head for breakfast, Ron explains what happened with Seamus, and Hermione sighs that Lavender feels the same way. Harry snaps at Hermione, but Hermione calmly tells Harry to stop losing his temper with her and Ron. She reminds him that both Dumbledore and the Sorting Hat said that students need to work together. Seeing a group of Ravenclaws looking scared of him, Harry sarcastically says they should make friends with them.
When Hermione so calmly tells Harry to stop snapping at her and Ron, she shows Harry how she wants to be treated as his friend and as a person on his side. By doing this so evenly and not losing her temper with Harry in return, Hermione gives Harry the opportunity to take her example and treat her with the same kindness. Note that even though Harry is the hero of the series, he still looks at the Ravenclaws as though they're potential enemies. This suggests that the Sorting Hat is right, and the setup of Hogwarts encourages this kind of behavior.
In the Great Hall, Harry, Ron, and Hermione notice that Hagrid is still absent. Hermione wonders if Dumbledore doesn't want to draw attention to Hagrid's absence. Angelina briskly approaches Harry; she says that she's holding tryouts for Gryffindor Keeper on Friday and Harry needs to be there. Hermione gets her Daily Prophet delivered by a barn owl and explains that it's best to be aware of what the enemy is saying.
By continuing to read everything, even if Hermione knows that she's not going to like what she reads, Hermione is able to get a more nuanced sense of what's going on in the world. By looking at what the Prophet and by extension, what Fudge wants the public to know, she'll be able to work backwards to figure out what they're not saying.
As Hermione finishes reading, McGonagall hands out schedules. Ron groans: they have History of Magic, Potions, Divination, and Defense Against the Dark Arts. He says he wishes he had a Skiving Snackbox, and Fred and George offer to sell him Nosebleed Nougat for cheap, as the antidote doesn't work yet. Hermione tells the twins that they can't advertise for testers in the common room, but the twins insist that with it being O.W.L. year, Hermione will soon want a Snackbox for herself. They reminisce about the breakdowns their classmates had and say they almost didn't come back for their N.E.W.T.s, but they decided to use the year to conduct market research.
The twins' disinterest in academics is shocking for Hermione, who places so much importance on doing well in school. The twins, however, are proof that one doesn't need a bunch of passing O.W.L. grades to be successful adults—they're already developing these joke products and displaying considerable ingenuity in the process.
Harry and Ron play Hangman all through History of Magic, which annoys Hermione. In the courtyard after class, Cho approaches and greets Harry. As they begin to chat, Ron asks about the Quidditch team badge Cho is wearing. He accuses her of only supporting the team since they started winning, and Cho walks away. Hermione reprimands Ron and Harry thinks he'll be lucky to ever have a reasonable conversation with Cho. He reasons, however, that Cho is seeking him out, which seems like a good sign.
Harry and Ron's behavior in History of Magic shows that they don't take this class seriously. However, remember that History of Magic has no practical element to it, so compared to the rest of their classes that have practical parts, it's boring and not at all engaging.
In Snape's dungeon, Snape reminds the class that he expects them all to achieve "Acceptable" results in their Potions O.W.L. He glares at Harry and says that most students won't continue on to the N.E.W.T. level. He then announces the potion for the day, the Draught of Peace. The potion is complex, and by the end of class only Hermione's looks correct. Snape stops in front of Harry's cauldron, points out that Harry clearly missed a step, and Vanishes Harry's entire potion. At lunch, Hermione admits that she thought Snape might be better this year since he's in the Order, but Ron says that he doesn't think Dumbledore should trust Snape. Annoyed by their bickering, Harry leaves early.
Hermione expected here that being united with Snape ideologically in the fight against Voldemort might allow them to actually form a better, more personal relationship with the professor. Realizing that this isn't going to happen indicates that for Snape, there's something more important driving his personal hatred of Harry. He can be doing dangerous work for the greater good and still be an extremely unpleasant person to be around.
Harry is the first one up the ladder for Divination. Ron joins him a few minutes later and announces that he and Hermione have stopped arguing, but asks Harry to stop taking out his temper on them. Trelawney welcomes the class before Harry can reply. She mentions O.W.L.s, but says that grades don't matter for the "sacred art." The students work on interpreting dreams and Trelawney assigns a dream diary as homework. Ron complains about their homework load all the way to Umbridge's class.
When even Trelawney is mentioning O.W.L.s, it tells Harry and Ron that these tests are important enough to land on the radar of the professor who's the least interested in standardized testing. Note too that Trelawney suggests that the test isn't even a good measure of who's proficient at Divination and who isn't; this again shows that testing isn't a good measure of some things.
The Gryffindors are silent as they sit down in Umbridge's classroom. She brightly makes the students answer her "good afternoon" with, "good afternoon, Professor Umbridge." She remarks that their previous education hasn't followed Ministry standards and lists the aims for the class, which focus on theory and understanding the legal uses of defensive magic. Umbridge then tells the students to read the first chapter of their textbook. Harry is shocked to see that Hermione isn't reading. Her hand is up, but Umbridge ignores her. Umbridge only acknowledges Hermione when most of the class is clearly not reading.
Focusing on theory instead of practical applications of magic suggests that Umbridge doesn't actually care much about preparing students for the real world. While the course aims she sets out would certainly be useful when combined with practical magic, focusing entirely on theory and the legal particulars surrounding defensive magic indicates that there's more going on here than an educational model designed to help students.
Hermione bluntly says that the course aims don't mention using defensive spells. Umbridge insists that there's no need to use spells, and Ron and Harry begin to blurt that that's pointless. Umbridge demands that students raise their hands as Dean, Hermione, and Parvati all defend Lupin's teaching and note that Umbridge's methods seem useless. Parvati is shocked when Umbridge says that with enough theory, students should be able to perform spells for the first time in the practical portion of the O.W.L. exam. Angry, Harry notes that theory won't help against Voldemort. At this, Umbridge says that Voldemort's return is a lie. She assigns Harry detention.
Whatever one's opinion on the practical versus theory argument, Parvati has a point: Umbridge is going to keep students from doing well on their Ministry-approved standardized tests by not teaching them the actual spells. This makes it clear that Fudge—who's behind Umbridge in all of this—is willing to sacrifice an entire generation of future professionals in order to control what's going on at Hogwarts.
Harry stands and asks if Cedric Diggory died of his own accord. Umbridge says that Cedric's death was an accident. When Harry protests, Umbridge gives Harry a sealed note and sends him to McGonagall. McGonagall suspiciously takes Harry's note and asks him to confirm that he called Umbridge a liar. She sits and tells Harry to take a cookie. McGonagall says that Harry needs to be careful with Umbridge, as she reports to the Ministry. She also says that Harry has detention every day this week and snaps that this isn't about the truth; it's about Harry keeping his head down. McGonagall points Harry out of her office.
Here, McGonagall tries to impress upon Harry the importance of being politically savvy and recognizing where it's appropriate to push back and where to remain silent. As a justifiably angry young person, Harry doesn't have the willingness or self-control to censor himself for the sake of not getting in trouble. Through this protest, Harry is able to feel like he's at least doing something to resist.