HSC students have been able to breathe a small sigh of relief with the completion of the first examination.
More than 77,000 students sat the compulsory first English advanced and standard exam on Thursday.
The second part of the test will follow on Friday.
Among that cohort were Hunter Valley Grammar students Millie West, Saad Majeed and Sam Jolliffe.
All three agreed that the first exam was what they expected, with no added curve balls thrown in.
Past papers were the common way to prepare, however a syllabus change did make that a bit difficult.
The area of study up to last year was belonging, but it was changed to discovery for the 2015 exam.
The exam was broken up into three parts: reading, an essay and creative writing.
Sam left himself an allotted period of time to complete each part, and moved on if he did not get to finish a question in time.
Millie took a different approach. She continued on a question until she finished the question in order to keep her thoughts running.
“It works better for me that way,” she said.
Saad said he found the exam quite stressful and did not get to finish the creative writing component, but felt he still did well.
It has been a long build up to these exams for the students, who said they were glad the HSC was finally here.
“The anticipation of it all year than it being here is a bit surreal,” Millie said.
“It’s good to get it started.”
They said summarising notes throughout the year had helped, but that a lot of preparation came down to the last three weeks.
“You definitely cram it all in at the end,” Sam said.
“You’re cementing all that knowledge,” Millie added.
But the students are certainly looking forward to a sleep in, catching up on some TV and relaxation once their exams are over.
The 2016 HSC finishes on Friday, November 4.