"Pens down" has been called on the first of the written Higher School Certificate (HSC) exams, and students are breathing a sigh of relief before hitting the books.
Year 12 students across the region sat their first HSC English paper on Tuesday morning, launching a massive month of written exams.
Oxley High School captain Olivia Collison was nervous heading in, but said walking into the hall - and then out - with her friends has given her confidence for the next few.
"We were all up in the car park and we walked down together looking over our notes, and it was really nice to go in with my friends," she said.
Olivia, Calrossy student Hannah Wilson and Farrer pupil Walker Harrison spoke to the Leader after booklets were closed, and the trio agreed waiting for the HSC to roll around was worse than the actual thing.
"I felt pretty good actually, it was a massive relief more than anything," Olivia said.
"It was nice to get into the swing of it and have that mentality of, 'oh, this is for real'."
Olivia - like the thousands of other students sitting exams amid COVID-19 - had to go through a health and safety process at the school.
"We had to get there quite early and then we had to get our temperature taken as we walked in and we got asked three questions ... and we were all quite spread out," she said.
"I was quite nervous about the whole process, but going in now, it feels less daunting."
Olivia was headed home to unwind, before jumping back into study for the second English exam on Wednesday. Hannah was keen to do the same.
"I'm going to go home and take a nap, honestly, then I'll have to learn more stuff for tomorrow," Hannah told the Leader.
"I feel better now after the exam is over but I was very nervous in the morning ... the first one is the worst one."
The students said the English paper was okay, with a couple of tricky short answer questions in the mix.
Walker is a boarder at Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School, and said his teachers had helped guide him through the challenges of a very strange Year 12.
"The teachers have been realistic with me, telling me to hook in, and they've made me feel more comfortable," he said.
"There is that stress of the first one off your shoulders."
HSC exams will wrap up in NSW on November 11.