Thousands of NSW students will enter the final chapter of their high school lives when HSC exams begin on Monday.
A record number of students - more than 77,000 - will prepare to sit at least one HSC exam this year, according to the NSW Board of Studies.
English is the only compulsory subject, and mathematics is the most popular elective subject, with 57,973 students sittings maths exams this year.
Biology and business studies are the next most popular subjects, followed by personal development, health and physical education and studies of religion.
Exams, starting with English on Monday, will run until November 4.
Students will then face the anxious wait until results are released on December 16.
On Sunday NSW Premier Mike Baird posted a message to HSC students on Facebook reminding them the exams were not the end, but the beginning.
"Back when I was in school, a typical report card said something like 'Mike talks too much in class'," he said.
"Truth be told, I was much more interested in catching waves (and girls) than studying... and my HSC results were average at best.
"Here's the truth of it... Life isn't defined by your exams. It begins after they are finished.
"It's always important to give everything you do your very best shot, but make sure you keep some perspective. When you walk out of that final exam, you've got the world at your feet... And most of us oldies will tell you that your best days are yet to come."