Canberra's class of 2021 were finally able to close the chapter on their school careers when ATARs were released on Tuesday.
The rankings, which are used by universities to help select students for courses, were delayed after the COVID lockdown pushed back the ACT Scaling Test and NSW Higher School Certificate.
In 2021 there were 4,724 students who achieved an ACT senior secondary certificate and 62 per cent of students opted to receive an ATAR.
Dickson College graduates Cate Dyer, 17, and Elliot Lester, 18, received outstanding ATARs of 99.1 and 96.9 respectively - the highest possible score is 99.95.
Miss Dyer said it was a strange moment to see those four digits appear on a screen at the end of 13 years of schooling.
"There's obviously a lot of pressure put on us to get a good ATAR and I think part of that pressure is a little unfounded because there are multiple pathways into university there are multiple pathways through life without going to university," she said.
"So it's almost a bit anti-climactic getting the results."
Last year's cohort had to contend with remote learning, cancelled practical classes and changing assessments to work around COVID-19 restrictions.
"Personally, I work very well individually and I'm very self-motivated and driven so being in lockdown and having constantly changing working environments was something that I adapted to very well," Miss Lester said.
"I can imagine it it would be very different and much more difficult for other people."
The delay in the ATAR release has caused uncertainty for some students who were hoping for a particular rank to get into a course.
Many students took up early entry offers at University of Canberra or the Australian National University while others will be anxiously waiting to secure an offer and accommodation at an interstate university.
But some, like Miss Dwyer and Miss Lester, have opted to take a gap year before going on to further study.
Miss Lester was looking forward to taking a break from study to work, visit family and decide on a university course for 2023.
"I would really like to enjoy university at its full capacity and be able to see people on campus and not have to do any online courses."
The pair said the key to success in year 11 and 12 was to make use of all of the supports available at school or college and to talk to the year coordinator in case any personal problems or illnesses arise.
The ACT system is more forgiving as the final results only take into account the best three semesters for each subject and the system of continuous assessment is more flexible in case of disruptions.
They suggested students choose subjects they're passionate about or need as a prerequisite for university, not ones they assume will scale highly.
"Work smarter, not harder," Miss Dyer said.
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