Ash, Misty, Brock, Todd, Pikachu, and Togepi are enjoying a nice lunch until Misty points out that Ash has not won a Gym Badge in a while. After nearly choking on his food and washing it down with a glass of water, Ash claims he wins all his battles with skill, and then challenges Misty to a Pokémon battle. Todd steps in, takes pictures of Pikachu, then tells Ash that he should take the Pokémon League Admissions Exam.
The group arrives at the Pokémon League Admissions Exam building so Ash signs up and gets the testing number 7. Nearby, Jessie, disguised as a schoolgirl, complains that she didn't get number 7, causing Ash to briefly suspect her. Then, Nurse Joy enters and Brock follows her. Ash then is told by the head instructor to leave all his Poké Balls at the counter, as well as temporarily leave Pikachu in Misty's care. Shortly, Nurse Joy tells Ash, Misty, and Brock that she signed up for the exam to become a Pokémon Master. Soon after, James walks in, disguised as a schoolboy with glasses, but quickly heads for the counter once Ash sees him. When the head instructor reads James's registration form and calls out his name, James tells him to keep quiet. But unfortunately, Jessie hears this and takes James outside. Once outside, Jessie takes off her glasses and asks James what he is doing there. James confidently says that he too wants to become a Pokémon Master, as well as ask Jessie what she's doing here. Jessie explains that she wants to add another talent to her collection. Suddenly, Meowth shows up and scratches both their faces. James quickly throws Meowth a ball of yarn, then runs off with Jessie back inside for the exam.
The first exam tests a person's knowledge of Pokémon, where they answer true or false questions. Ash does his best to answer each of the questions correctly. At the Magikarp question, James becomes angry because of the time he had a Magikarp, as well as notice Jessie giving each question a "true" answer, hoping that she gets half of them right.
The second exam tests a person's ability to recognize Pokémon. The Pokémon to recognize on the screen looks like a ball. Ash thinks it's a Voltorb, James thinks it's a Poké Ball, and Jessie thinks it's an Electrode. The head instructor reveals the answer: a Jigglypuff seen from above. The next Pokémon to recognize looks like a swirl. Ash guesses it's a Poliwhirl, James believes it's an Omanyte, and Jessie guesses it's an Arbok when it's all coiled up. Unfortunately, the correct answer is a Poliwag. The next Pokémon for all the students to guess has a fiery tail, and Ash guesses it's a Charmander, but the right answer was Ponyta. A furious Jessie demands that she be asked easier questions, and the head instructor expels her. Once outside, Jessie wakes up Meowth and says that they're going to get revenge.
When the scoreboard comes down, Ash wonders where his score is. Misty points out that Ash's score is on the scoreboard for all the students who got the lowest scores, as Todd takes a picture, much to Ash's chagrin. Meanwhile, James stands alone in a corner, vowing that he will try extra hard for Jessie.
The third exam involves Pokémon battles, as Nurse Joy uses a Squirtle against a fellow instructor's Charmander. Next, the head instructor tells Ash and James that they each have to select a belt of three Poké Balls, even though they don't know what Pokémon are inside them. They choose their belts, and James is up first against the head instructor. The first Pokémon James sends out is a Pikachu, much to his delight. James believes that he can't lose with Pikachu and claims that he's been destroyed by Pikachu's attacks so many times that he knew them all by heart. The head instructor then sends out a Graveler. James immediately commands Pikachu to use Thunderbolt, but the attack doesn't work on Graveler. Then, Graveler sends Pikachu flying with a Tackle. Angry at this, James then sends out an Ivysaur and a Charizard at the same time. But unfortunately, the head instructor expels James for bringing out two Pokémon at once.
It is Ash's turn to face the head instructor, who sends out a Flareon. Ash pulls out his first Poké Ball, which reveals a Weezing, much to Ash's shock and displeasure (made only worse when Todd starts taking pictures of his face looking like Weezing's). The instructor has Flareon use Flamethrower, which Weezing proceeds to dodge. Coming up with an idea, Ash tells Weezing to counter with Smog, which explodes upon being hit by the Flamethrower, throwing Flareon backwards. Flareon then uses Leer, but Ash has Weezing use SmokeScreen to hide, then follow up with a Tackle, knocking Flareon out. As Misty comments on Ash being good at battling after all, Brock comments that even Team Rocket could win if they battled like that. Meanwhile, Team Rocket is taking notes of Ash's fighting strategy. Next, the head instructor sends out a Jolteon, and Ash sends out an Arbok. Jolteon uses Agility, but Arbok stops it with Glare. Then, Arbok uses Wrap but gets hurt by Jolteon's spikes. At this point, while Arbok is wincing in pain, Jolteon shakes off the Glare attack and finishes it off with Thunder. For the final round, Ash opens his last Poké Ball to reveal a Meowth, while the head instructor sends out a Vaporeon. Meowth tries to use Fury Swipes, but gets frozen in its tracks when Vaporeon uses Ice Beam, giving the victory to the head instructor. Team Rocket's Meowth scratches Ash's face and frees his fellow Meowth. The head instructor is impressed by the talking Meowth, so he goes to capture him. However, Team Rocket returns with James's Pikachu, Ivysaur, and Charizard. The head instructor demands that they return those Pokémon immediately. Jessie and James then say their motto and remove their disguises. Then, Team Rocket orders Ivysaur to use Vine Whip, Charizard to use Flamethrower, and Pikachu to use Thunder. Before the Pokémon attack, the head instructor quickly orders them to about-face, causing Pikachu, Ivysaur, and Charizard to attack Team Rocket. Ash realizes that those Pokémon listened to the head instructor because he raised them. Then, Ash orders his Meowth, Weezing, and Arbok to also stop Team Rocket. Weezing uses Explosion, sending Team Rocket blasting off again.
Back inside the PLAE building, the head instructor tells the whole class that due to Team Rocket's interference, they have to do the entire exam all over again. The head instructor then offers Ash another chance to pass the test, but Ash refuses, saying that he's better off winning Gym Badges from Gym Leaders. Misty is now convinced that Ash has got skill. A short time later, as Ash, Misty, and Brock say goodbye to the head instructor and Nurse Joy before heading off for Cinnabar Island, Todd comes up to Nurse Joy with one of the two Meowth that got hurt in the Explosion. The Meowth then talks, revealing that it is Team Rocket's Meowth. Meanwhile, as Jessie and James vow revenge on Ash and his friends, they quickly discover that they ended up with the wrong Meowth.