Almost 90 students at St Mary's College and Gunnedah High School sat their first Higher School Certificate (HSC) exam on Thursday morning.
Students including the high school's Cameron Gale and Lucy Moore, and St Mary's' Bella Gallagher were closeted away for more than one-and-a-half hours as they tackled English paper one.
A common theme was a wish for more time.
Lucy said she wasn't able to get everything done, which was disappointing, but she was happy about the essay questions and felt well prepared.
"I made my flash cards last night and read them all morning so they'd be in my head," she said.
Lucy didn't get much of a chance to unwind, diving into her Primary Industries exam in the afternoon.
NVI also caught up with Cameron and he said he felt "pretty calm" before the exam because he had "dealt with many unseen text questions before" and invested a lot of time into study during the trial exam period.
He did find it difficult to divide his time between the questions but is feeling ready for English paper two on Friday.
Bella said she had a case of the nerves but "tried not to think about it too much because it is what it is and you can only do the best you can do".
"I prepared the best I could and I had most texts embedded in my brain from my practice," she said.
"Time is usually an issue for me because I like to write a lot but I finished all the components within time but I was writing right up to the last minute.
"I wish I'd had more time."
Bella said paper two was "hard to prepare for" because it was the first year HSC students will be tested on their ability to adapt to different styles of writing including creative, discursive, informative and persuasive writing.
"Module C is definitely the most challenging ... It's very broad in what will be asked ... It's trying to get it less route learned and get people thinking more on the spot," she said.
"We have to do lots of practice and focus on stylistic ways authors have written, rather than the characters.
"I think it's the one everyone's struggling with for sure."
The three teens said their study routines were working out well and they were studying a number of subjects each day.
"I've done well in all my subjects so I don't feel like I need to do excessive amounts of study [but] I will still dedicate a fair amount of time to each subject and make sure I cover everything," Cameron said.
Bella had originally planned to stick to a school timetable but found "it didn't exactly work for me".
"I had to adapt a different way to study. I ended up allocating a few hours a day on a few subjects and rotating them," she said.