After spending a portion of the year in lockdown, and managing social distancing in and out of the classroom, exam room conditions have felt like the norm for the graduating class of 2020.
At least, that is the way year 12 student at Wagga Christian College, Bailey Cox felt walking into his HSC English Paper 1 exam on Tuesday morning.
"Everything has been distanced all year, so that feels normal now," he said, of the separated desks in the exam room.
"What was harder this year was all the learning from home. That was a struggle to stay motivated to study and remember that today [the first exam] was coming."
Freed from the exam at 11.30am on Tuesday, students felt an overwhelming sense of relief. Even though Eden Pappiah from the Christian College didn't quite finish her paper, she said she still felt "confident about what I wrote".
"I think because the rest of my exams are three hours I forgot that English wasn't," she said.
"I didn't quite finish my conclusion but the rest of what I wrote, I feel confident with."
With ink marks all over her right hand and a "bruised ring finger", the 18-year-old returned home on Tuesday afternoon to begin studying for one of her biggest days on Wednesday.
"I have two exams [on Wednesday], English paper 2 and then music," she said.
"I feel more prepared for the second paper and music is aural so I feel good about that one. My hand is pretty sore, but one good night's sleep and I can do it all again tomorrow [Wednesday]."
On the other side of the city, at Wagga High School, students faced slightly different exam conditions.
Following the NSW Department of Education's recommendation to keep examination rooms small, the students were divided into smaller rooms.
Advanced English students were on a separate side of the school to the standard English students.
"It's a mental thing when you go into the exam room, you have to treat it the same in your mind whether it was 100 people around you or just five," said 18-year-old Sam Trood.
It was a similar strategy adopted by 17-year-old Harshil Rawal.
"Your mentality has to be to get the exam done, you can't focus on what's going on around you," he said.
Given the many changes graduating students have experienced this year, Wagga High School principal Chris Davies said he was proud to see the students adapting so well.
"I just want to complement them on how positive they've been able to stay over this year," Mr Davies said.
"They were upbeat, in some ways even excited [before the exam]. Maybe it was nervous excitement, I'm not sure, but there was an excitement to begin the exams that will bring [their school time] to an end."