IT'S a nerve-wracking day for many year 12 students across the region, as the results of years of study and exams are revealed.
On Thursday, Victorian Certificate of Education students received their ATAR scores.
It was an especially big occasion for Marist College Bendigo students.
The school is celebrating its first year 12 graduating class.
Declan Hovenden, with a ATAR score of 94.85, was the school's inaugural dux.
"I feel surprised really," he said. "You can never really expect what score you're going to get.
"You leave the exams feeling unsure because you have to wait a month for the results.
"But when the results came out I was ecstatic."
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Principal Darren McGregor said it was a special day for the college.
He said some students had already gained apprenticeships or full-time work, while others would look for a university offering.
"We need to remember that a student with an ATAR of 75 who will comfortably gain entry to his first preference at university is as happy and as proud as the college dux," he said.
"Our college is proud of every year 12 student and today is another opportunity to celebrate each and everyone of our VCE and VCAL graduates."
Samuel Angove was the dux of Catherine McAuley College for 2019, receiving an ATAR of 99.60.
He also received a perfect study score of 50 in biology and physics, and a raw score of 48 in specialist mathematics.
"I feel pretty happy," he said. "I did a little better than I was expecting in everything."
It was a family affair for Mr Angove, with his mother Tania and brother Matt teaching him specialist maths and physics respectively in year 12.
"I'm incredibly pleased," Mrs Angove said. "The whole class did really well.
"It's always a challenge being the parent of a VCE child but having him in my class probably worked well.
"He couldn't say he didn't have any homework when I knew he did. So that worked out well!"
Students Blaze Houlden and Ruby Kane also topped the class at Catherine McAuley College, with scores above 97.
About 14 per cent of the cohort got an ATAR score above 90, while 29 per cent got above 80.
"That's really great," deputy principal Ben Fitzpatrick said. "We've had a quick look at the numbers and that's the best figures we've had in recent times.
"We're really proud of the students. As a cohort, they have faced some challenges this year but they've done a really great job. It's a reward for 13 years of education."
At Girton Grammar School, Satya Jhaveri topped the school with an ATAR of 99.70.
He said he was really surprised to receive the score.
"I definitely didn't expect anything this high," he said. "But it feels good now that it's over. A lot of stress has gone away."
Fellow students Jordan Rogers, Evelyn Crawford, and Abbey Saxon all received scores above 98.
Mr Rogers, who received a score of 99.15, said he was relieved the year of hard work was over.
"Year 12 is a hard year for a lot of people," he said. "I just tried to stay on top of it and keep doing my passions and what I love so I had a work-life balance.
"It really helped in making school less stressful."
About 20 per cent of the Girton's year 12 students received an ATAR score above 90.
At Bendigo Senior Secondary College, 25 students achieved ATARS above 90.
The school also had an increase in both ATARs above 90 and study scores above 40.
The school's dux for 2019 is Isaac Alderton with an ATAR of 99.1.
He received study scores of 45 in physics, 44 in systems engineering, 43 in math methods, 42 in English, 36 in specialist maths, and 34 in economics.
Mr Alderton lives in Gisborne and travelled for hours each day to get to his VCE classes.
"I feel incredible," he said. "It's only just sunk in. It wasn't unexpected but I wasn't getting my hopes up that I would achieve such a high ATAR. I'm just over the moon."
BSSC students Caitlin Jackson and Tilly Munro-Lawrence also received scores above 97.
"This year was really full on," Ms Jackson said. "I definitely had to keep an eye on getting burnt out but I really learnt the importance of surrounding myself with really amazing people who helped me through."
BSSC principal Dale Pearce said the school was proud of all of the students who completed their studies.
"I think every year when you look over the results, you're always really pleased for students who have worked hard and got the best out of themselves and are now ready to take the next step," he said.
"I think we're also mindful of the students who haven't perhaps quite got to where they need to go. I think all schools have those supports in place for those students."
Victory Christian College dux William Kenny said he was relieved when he saw his ATAR of 87.3.
"I was nervous last night," Mr Kenny said. "I didn't get much sleep but when I got up at 7am and looked at the scores I was very happy."
At East Loddon P-12 College, three of the nine year 12 students received an ATAR above 90.
College captain Stephen Verley was the dux with a score of 97.25, while fellow students Jess Demeo and Macey Martin also received scores about 91.
"The student cohort were such a hard-working group," senior sub school leader Sarah Byrne said.
"In the end, you just hope that their exceptional dedication enables them to get the ATAR results they deserve and need to enter their selected university courses."
About 12 per cent of the year 12 students at Sacred Heart College Kyneton received a score above 90, while 28 per cent received a score of 80 or above.
The college dux was Ellen Smith with a score of 97.35.
"Congratulations to Sacred Heart College's Class of 2019 on their outstanding results in the VCE and VCAL," principal Dr Darren Egberts said.
"Their hard work, along with the support provided by their teachers and parents, will allow many doors to be opened for them in the world of future learning and careers."
There were 45,465 students across the state awarded an ATAR, with almost 50,000 students enrolled in at least one final-year subject.
The average ATAR was 67.74, with girls achieving a slightly higher result on average than boys:
A total of 37 students attained the highest possible ATAR of 99.95, 29 of them male and eight of them female.
This year, nearly 21,969 study scores of 40 or more were awarded.
A record number of students - 13,942 - completed their Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning.
"Completing VCE is an incredible moment and I congratulate the class of 2019 for reaching this milestone," said education minister James Merlino.
"Thank you to the parents, friends and teachers across the state who provided encouragement and guidance to help this year's VCE and VCAL students reach this educational milestone."
"For some students, this may not be the result you wished for but just remember that your results do not define you. There are many pathways to success including higher education, TAFE, traineeships and full-time work."