It's been weeks since most Year 12 students received their end of year results, but the wait has just ended for a select group of high schoolers.
For Melbourne student Brittany Read, an early morning phone call from her school telling her she received a near perfect end-of-year score triggered a torrent of emotion.
"I just started crying immediately," she laughed.
"It was amazing. I didn't feel like it was real, I felt like I was dreaming."
With a score of 44 out of 45, Brittany is among the higher achieving students in the 2017 International Baccalaureate Diploma Program - an alternative to more traditional study paths such as the HSC or VCE.
Her school, Tintern Grammar, is among 71 Australian institutions where students have the chance to tackle a broad, internationally-minded suite of subjects that cover language, the arts, and community awareness.
"It's a very rigorous program," explained Nola Brotchie, Tintern Grammar's IB coordinator.
"But what we find is it develops independence, organisational skills, international mindedness, and that belief in themselves that they can do whatever it is they set out to do."
'A lot of sleepless nights'
Australia is one of 150 countries that offers the program, where alongside six academic subjects students are also required to complete a critical thinking course, and projects that reflect on creativity, community service, and staying active.
Student Alison Yang earned a score of 42 out of 45, which she believed would be enough to secure her a dream path to study medicine.
"The IB program is more of an independent learning system, more than the VCE," she said.
"I think it relies more on building up habits that are helpful for a good study routine, making you ready for university and ready for the life beyond."
Her classmate, Ben Schneider, admitted the IB program's workload proved a challenge at times.
"It was definitely very tough, a lot of sleepless nights," he said.
"But the teachers were so helpful to get us through. Because the IB is non-competitive, we all came together as a team and helped eachother push through."
Another downside was having to wait longer than other students to receive his final score, which ended up being 34 out of 45.
"Last night felt like the night before Christmas, but a lot worse because of the anxiety about what I was going to get," he laughed. "It turned out to be a great surprise."
IB students on the world stage
Australian students have consistently ranked highly in IB results compared to other countries, which Nola Brotchie said was due to the hard work of both students and teachers.
"It's a big jump from Year 10 because we're really proceeding and assessing at a Year 12 level," she said. "It's quite challenging to initially get marks that perhaps aren't what they're used to.
"But they learn quite quickly it's not an immediate reaction. It's a two-year program to develop the skills required and they all say to me that they feel connected to each other as well as the staff because we work together during those years."
Tintern Grammar Principal Brad Fry said a third of the school's 2017 crop achieved marks of above 40 out of 45, putting them well on track to realising their dreams, whether at home or abroad.
"The IB certainly builds world awareness in a way that the rest of the state qualifications don't," he said. "My belief and the belief of many other people is that will be a very important capability in the future."
In Sydney, Trinity Grammar School’s IB Diploma results show an average overall score of 36.9 (equal to an ATAR of 95.85).
One student even received a perfect score of 45 (equal to first in the world, and an ATAR of 99.95), while a further five students scored 44 (ATAR of 99.85).