TRIUMPHANT smiles marked the end of the first Higher School Certificate (HSC) exams in Griffith on Monday.
Just after 4pm relieved students put their pens down after completing their English (Standard and Advanced) papers.
Students embraced the concept of belonging during the two-hour paper, which was the first of two English exams.
It was set in three parts, requiring students to complete a short-answer comprehension section, compose a piece of creative writing based on one of several images provided and write an essay based on studied texts.
Griffith High School captain Brenton O'Brien said it felt good to have the first exam behind him.
He hoped the months of preparation and countless hours of study had paid off.
"It was what I'd prepared for so it was good," he said. "I could have used a bit more time though.
"I've been studying so much my head felt like it was going to explode, so it was good to be able get it onto paper.
"I'm relieved that one is down, it's a good feeling."
Classmate Jorja Zanotto said she was pleasantly surprised by the exam.
"It was better than I expected," she said.
"I worked right until the last second, literally. My hand was killing me."
English teacher Linda Fox, who has been a HSC marker for 13 years, called it a fair paper.
"I believe the paper is fair and reasonable and if they have done their work they should be fine," she said.
The second English exam will be taken today.