The secret to Jenna Owen's HSC success is a simple one - choose the subjects you enjoy.
"So many people gave me this backhanded compliment saying it was great I was doing subjects that I liked rather than trying to get a high ATAR," she said.
Jenna, 18, on Thursday received an ATAR of 99.6 with subjects such as English extension 2, drama, and society and culture.
"The lesson is do exactly what you want to do. Obviously study, everyone studies hard, I studied hard, but I would have had to study so much harder if I had chosen subjects I was borderline bad at."
The former Smith's Hill High School student was also ranked third in the state for drama, has her English extension 2 major work shortlisted for the Young Writer's Showcase and was one of three students from the school who made it onto the all-round achievers lists for students who scored in the top band for 10 or more of their HSC units.
Her passion is drama, and she plans to defer a media and communications degree next year to spend some time building an acting career.
"I'm thinking I just want to take the year off and pursue some acting and auditions. I'm doing lots of small stuff on screen at the moment and I'd love to get into more theatre," she said.
Her classmate Johnny Wong, 17, also received an ATAR mark he was ecstatic with - 99.
"It was better than what I expected. I was thinking more around the 97, 98 mark," he said.
Johnny finished his maths exam in 2012, giving him less of a workload in this year's exams. He hopes to get into actuarial studies at the University of Sydney.
"Maths just comes naturally to me. I like it, I enjoy it and I'm good at it," he said.