Three students in Wagga have exceeded even their own expectations by topping the state in HSC subject this year.
Kooringal High School's Lucy Murphy managed a first in Business Services, while Kildare Catholic College's Patrick Grimson claimed the top result for Digital Technology and Mater Dei Catholic College's Gabrielle Shaw took out the honour for Music 1.
The three students were notified of their stellar result at an awards ceremony in Sydney on Monday.
Having played the saxophone now for 10 years, 17-year-old Gabrielle said she was always aiming to do her best, but didn't expect to finish on top of the state.
Even her nomination for the HSC's music showcase, Encore, did not lead her to presume such a result.
"When I was nominated for Encore I was surprised, but then to hear I was first in the state, that's even more a shock. I'm in disbelief," she said.
For her practical exam, the budding musician performed three pieces, including a jazz number, two classical pieces and a soprano sensation alongside a quartet.
Though she practised in some way every single day, the subject - and the exam - were comparatively "fun".
"I like performing, it's one of my strengths. Music is my stress relief, so this exam was relaxing even, it was certainly more fun than biology or something like that," she said.
Similarly, 18-year-old Patrick said that he felt entirely honoured to receive the top result for a subject he sees as a passion project.
"As a kid at mates' places, we'd play around with old computers and as I found out more about them, I could figure out how to tinker with broken ones to fix it up. It was a good feeling to be able to do that," he said.
Unlike other assessment-based courses, the IT course Patrick completed relies solely on the HSC exam.
Without his marks to fall back on, Patrick said, the pressure was well and truly turned on for his cohort when they entered the examination room.
"It was in the back of my mind the whole way through the HSC, that I wanted to do well, that I wanted to end up here," Patrick said.