The feeling of relief, however fleeting, was something to grasp on Thursday morning, as around the state students completed their first HSC exam.
The hours of study and preparation came to complete fruition for Wagga Christian College student Emily Linn, who completed the first paper without complaint.
"I feel confident, I think I put down all my thoughts well," said the 18-year-old.
"There wasn't too much of a surprise, I expected the questions would be in-depth.
"I might have spent a bit too much time on the short answers, which meant I didn't quite finish my essay. I only had the conclusion to go."
Following her exams, Emily plans to work and save money, before heading to university in Orange or Cairns to study dentistry.
While her plans are still fluid, fellow student Ben McDowell's future is looking a little more concrete.
The 18-year-old has just received notification of his early entrance acceptance to the engineering course at Wollongong University.
That news has removed some of the pressure on his exams.
"It was a bit stressful being in there, but I got through it and it was pretty good," he said.
"English is definitely not my strongest subject, maths is."
Ben and Emily joined the cohort of 40 students in completing their first English paper at the school on Thursday.
But across the state, they numbered more than 61,000. This year's graduating class also pioneered a new exam format.
Streamlining the essay component, this year's students completed their first English paper in an hour-and-a-half, instead of the previous two hours.
"It's always been the way, but having the English paper up first really helps the students get aware of the exam process," said the head of senior school, Catherine Clarke.
"The first is always the trickiest to get through, but they went in smiling, which is good."
This year's HSC students will also be the first to trial the completely computerised science extension exam later this month.
"We've got two students doing it here [at Wagga Christian College]," Ms Clarke said.
"I like that they've started with an extension course, so it's a relatively small group to begin with. It seems like a lot of time has gone into getting the technology right."
Based on location and experience, each school's access to technology and internet connectivity will vary, but Ms Clarke is confident the Board of Studies has taken the various situations into account.
"At one of the meetings we had with them at the beginning, we asked, 'What happens if the whole of Wagga's internet goes down that morning', and they had a backup plan," she said.
"The last resort will be going to paper, but they have a plan A, B, C and D before that."