Leave your messages of support and celebration here.
Zac Groth’s efforts during the “hardest year of my life” have paid off, after he achieved a near perfect university admission score.
The Merewether High dux, 18, received an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank of 99.85, which is understood to be the highest in the region.
“I’m feeling really excited and relieved, it’s great to know that it’s all paid off,” Zac said.
“I had a sign in my room that read ‘work smarter, not harder’ but I changed it to ‘smarter and harder’.
“I ran downstairs to check the website and when I saw my ATAR I just sat there for a bit.
“I was not screaming or anything, it was more quiet reflection.”
Zac is one of five Merewether High students to receive an ATAR above 99. Josephine Goldman, Ella Cannon and Jenna Lindbeck received 99.15 and Jonathan Hickson received 99.05.
St Paul's High School, Booragul, students Keely Duggan received 99.65 and Mia Negline received 99.5.
St Philip’s Christian College student Abigail Slater achieved a 99.10, the only student at her school to exceed the 99 mark.
Tasman Fell of Hunter School of the Performing Arts achieved 99.35 and Bridget Marshall of Hunter Valley Grammar School received 99.25.
Lauren Merritt of Newcastle Grammar achieved 99.2 and Zoe Barton of Macquarie College received 99.05.
Zac gave up cricket, hockey and all extra-curricular activities except for playing guitar to focus on his schoolwork. He did not have a study timetable, but would spend up to 20 hours a week on maths alone.
“I’m passionate about maths and science and really enjoyed them, so it was not like I was forcing myself towards the desk each day.
“I’d use Mathematics Extension 2, Chemistry and Physics as my reward subjects for getting Biology and English out of the way.
“I’m very fortunate that no-one was else was putting pressure on me besides myself. My parents were actually telling me I was studying too much.”
In the weeks leading up to his exams, Zac spent completed about 17 Mathematics Extension 2 past papers, 17 Mathematics Extension 1 papers, and five papers each for Chemistry, Physics and Biology.
As well as his impressive ATAR, he came eighth in the state for Biology and was included on the Board of Studies’ All-round Achievers list, which names students who have achieved a result in the highest band possible for 10 or more units of study.
Zac hopes to combine a mathematics and science degree at the University of Newcastle and work as a physicist and then a high school maths teacher.
The Universities Admissions Centre said 16.5 per cent of students received an ATAR of 90 or above, 32.7 per cent received at least 80 and 48.1 per cent at least 70.
The median ATAR was 68.7, slightly lower than in 2014.
The maximum rank available under the ATAR system is 99.95, not 100 as was awarded to the best in the state under the previous Universities Admission Index (UAI) system.
UAC will make its main round of university offers on January 20, 2016.
ATAR Enquiry Centre: 1300 692 827.