Evan Browne decided not to check his Higher School Certificate marks when they were released yesterday, intending to wait until today when university entrance ranks are revealed.
However, the former Illawarra Grammar School (TIGS) student's plans were derailed when he learnt he was one of NSW's top achievers, earning a spot on the Board of Studies' all-round achievers list.
The news that he had performed so well came as a shock to the 18-year-old.
"I was really surprised because I was disappointed in how I performed after my exams for the most part, so it was quite funny to see that my exam marks were higher than my assessment marks," he said.
"So it shows that you never really know how you're going to do. I'm definitely relieved and it's good to know that all my hours of hard work have paid off."
Evan was one of 14 Illawarra and South Coast students who were named on the all-rounders list, which recognises students who have achieved the top band in at least 10 units of their HSC courses.
Six students from Smith's Hill High School earned a place on the prestigious list, with pupils from St Mary Star of the Sea College, Bulli High, Nowra High, Edmund Rice, Nowra Anglican and Bowral's Chevalier College also listed.
Another former TIGS student, Kishan Wijesinghe, learnt he had been named as an all-rounder alongside Evan when his grandmother, anxious to know his marks, called him at 6am.
Sleepily digesting the good news, Kishan was especially pleased about earning a physics mark in the high 90s after struggling with the course at the start of year 12.
"I think people should remember not to ever give up in the HSC, because my first term wasn't that great and I almost failed physics but I ended up coming second at the end of the year," Kishan said.
"I realised that I could sit down and mope or work hard and improve myself."
Both Kishan and Evan today hope to receive an Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) that will allow them to study medicine at university next year.
Pictured: From left to right, Illawarra Grammar School students Kishan Wijesinghe, Rosemary Davis, Daniel McNamara, Evan Browne and Lisa Fernandes all earned a spot on the NSW Board of Studies' distinguished achievers list. Photo: GREG TOTMAN