Sitting the Higher School Certificate (HSC) is a notoriously stressful right of passage for a teenager in any year.
Throw in a global pandemic and things can get really tricky: remote learning, restrictions on long-awaited formals and graduations with a virtual audience cheering them on.
Hats off to the graduating class of 2020 with 75,000 students across the state sitting the first HSC exam tomorrow morning - English, the only compulsory subject.
All Saints College Maitland students Annabelle Jones and Zach Butchard admit it has been a stressful year but they are feeling optimistic now the light is finally at the end of what has been a long and often uncertain HSC tunnel.
"Obviously it's a bit stressful, there's a lot to cover in quite a short period of time," said Annabelle.
"But just with the support of the teachers and the tutorials offered here it has helped a lot, so I guess we just have to hope for the best, work as hard as we can and do our best.
"That's all we can do."
Both Zach and Annabelle agree their school's tutorials have been a great boost for their final push towards the written exams with Zach acknowledging working in groups works best for his study style with "more people, more brains, more collaborating".
When the Coronavirus response closed classrooms across the state students were forced to learn something new to most of them - remote learning.
Zach said he became a bit bored at home which was not ideal for learning and admits he also got distracted.
"Overall it hasn't been too bad," he said, adding it was a relief to go back to the classroom and see other students.
Annabelle agreed that losing contact with her friends and access to other outlets such as the gym during the peak reaction to the pandemic made things difficult to stay balanced with study.
"We are lucky now we are coming out of it and things are opening up," she said.
"It's made it a lot easier. Online learning was really tricky. We were all sort of navigating the ropes, obviously you can't really plan for a pandemic.
"I think our school adapted really well, did they best they can and I'm really appreciative of that."
Zach hopes to secure the ATAR required to get into his chosen course of Physiotherapy at the University of Newcastle.
He feels most confident in Investigating Science among his other subjects of PDHPE, advanced mathematics, standard English and biology.
Annabelle is studying English advanced, mathematics extension one, community and family studies, economics, legal studies and studies of religion 1.
She has had an early conditional offer to study a combined Bachelor of Economics and Public Policy at the Australian National University.
She plans to go straight back in to study next year after a little bit of post HSC down time where she will "work a bit, save a bit of money and just enjoy turning 18 and then I think it will be heads down again".
"I'm looking forward to going to university studying something I'm really passionate about," she said.
Following his final exam Zach plans a trip away with his mates to Byron Bay.
Annabelle will also relax with a family holiday to Kingscliffe and with friends to Forster.
The written HSC starts on Tuesday , October 20, with the English exam and continues for 17 days with drama the last exam on the afternoon on November 11.
You can see the complete HSC timetable here.
Students will receive their results on Friday, December 18.
Australian celebrities from football stars to musicians have wished the HSC candidates the best. You can watch the video below.
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