When Dapto student Jordan Hyam walked out of the HSC maths advanced exam he said he felt like a "weight had been lifted off his chest".
Across Illawarra, Year 12 students arrived at school with their calculators ready to sit their mathematics exams on October 16.
Jake said overall the exam flowed really well although there were a few tough probability and graph questions at the end of the exam.
"The last couple of questions were a little bit iffy, but I feel like they were very doable," Jordan said.
The students of Dapto High School were among 56,595 across NSW who sat the mathematics advanced, standard one, standard two, and extension two papers on Monday.
Year 12 student Sienna Donovan said she felt pretty comfortable and prepared with the advanced maths exam question but there was one question that startled her.
"There was one graph that was a bit out there because it kind of combined two trig[onomotery] concepts together and so that one kind of startled me, but we had looked at something like that before," she said.
Nathan Herring agrees there were "a couple of shocking questions toward the end", his strategy was to start with the multiple choice and spend some time at the end to check over the paper.
"I'm feeling relieved and pretty excited. It's the final advanced maths paper ever. I feel pretty confident after that one too," Nathan said.
It's not the final maths exam for Nathan though who will be sitting the extension one maths exam on Friday, October 20.
Their advanced maths teacher Meghan Lake said her "students prepared really well, they're a really good group that collaborates well together".
HSC 2023 enrolment in maths courses by gender
While Dr Ben Zunica a lecturer in secondary maths education at the University of Sydney said there has been a decline in students picking high-level HSC maths courses, he believes the bigger concern is basic numeracy skills.
"We need to make sure every student leaves high school with functional numeracy ... I don't think you can get on in this world anymore without [it]," he said.
When asked whether maths should become a compulsory subject in HSC similar to English, Dr Zunica suggests students instead sit a numeracy test in year ten.
There's a larger cohort of advanced maths students at Dapto High School this year with seven year 12 students taking the extension one course and two students in extension two, Ms Lake said.
She believes if the HSC maths advanced subject is "in your wheelhouse" there are benefits for the students' future.
"You're just so much better prepared for tertiary education even if it isn't in STEM, it's just that skill of perseverance," Ms Lake said.
More than 120 HSC exams are scheduled over the next three and a half weeks, ending on November 3.
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