Despite such a challenging year, in less than a week Gunnedah's year 12 students will be starting their Higher School Certificate (HSC) exams.
This year can without a doubt be considered one of the toughest for our local students, with COVID-19 forcing them to tackle their final year at school online for a few months.
For Gunnedah High School's Maddie Coombs, and St Mary's College's Emma Jerrett and Deagan Marchant, it's been an emotional rollercoaster, but the looming exams spell the beginning of the end of the dramas.
All three students thought at the beginning of Zoom classes that it would be great, but they soon changed their minds.
Emma said that they were doing classes at home for two months during a "critical time" in their final year.
"It was just before trials, we'd just got into our year 12 classes and got in the groove of things, and then we went home," she said.
"It was so hard. I didn't have people around me, I couldn't just walk to a classroom and talk to my teacher, I had to schedule a Zoom meeting, and it seemed a little pointless to me to be doing it at home because we didn't really have the resources."
She said technology proved a drama for her, too.
"I live in a place where there's not great WiFi or service so a lot of my Zoom meetings were interrupted and stuff like that," Emma said.
"When we went back we did hash over what we learnt during isolation but it was a whole section of work that we couldn't redo."
In response to the pandemic's disruptions, the NSW Education Standards Authority, or NESA, gave all HSC students an extra week of study, but to the three Gunnedah students, this wasn't enough.
"The extra week was lovely but it really doesn't seem like that much considering how much time we missed," Emma said.
"They say they will mark lightly and will give consideration, except after trials I find that hard to believe."
If you fail a few exams in the HSC and you want to go to uni and study even law or medicine or something, you can take a bridging course even if what's on your ATAR is an asterisk.Deagan Marchant
But school continued, and months later, the English exam is the first up in the 2020 HSC exam timetable, on Tuesday, October 20.
Maddie is very nervous about this exam, as she wishes she had a little bit more time to prepare.
"I don't really have a study schedule but I try and sit down for half an hour periods because I don't have a long concentration span, so I sit down for half an hour then have a break then go back to it," she said.
Emma is more worried about her maths exam, on October 26.
"I'm not good at maths and have never been good at it. I work hard and I get it in class but then in an exam every formula I've ever remembered just walks out of my brain, so maths is definitely the one I'm most nervous for," she said.
"I get really nervous in exams so I just need to take a breath and hope that I know it because there's not much else I can really do."
Stress and pressure has been a big part of all of them this year, with everyone agreeing that there is a lot of pressure put on them to succeed.
Deagan said he even had a mental breakdown during the break saying he 'couldn't do it anymore'.
"When I was at school and leading up to exams it was intense. I would get home and do four hours straight away and then have a one hour break and then studied basically till I collapsed," he said.
"They put a ridiculous amount of pressure on us when the HSC ... is just a test, and it will not determine the outcome of your life.
"If you fail a few exams in the HSC and you want to go to uni and study even law or medicine or something, you can take a bridging course even if what's on your ATAR is an asterisk."
The HSC is important and you should definitely work hard and try to get the best result you can, but at the end of the day, as long as you're happy with the person you are, it doesn't matter.Emma Jerrett
Luckily for Deagan, he's managed to relax a lot more, as he received early entry into the University of Wollongong for a bio-medical engineering degree.
"The past six years I've been a complete mess with my stress but thanks to this early entry I'm just like 'finally I can let go'," he said.
"Usually I'm an insomniac but lately I've been able to get to sleep."
Maddie is hoping to work in a field related to sport after exams are finished, so a degree in exercise and sports science is what she's aiming for.
"I want to become a swim coach because I'm getting my 'Learn to Swim' accreditation now so I'll be able to teach kids and stuff like that and then one day maybe I'll open my own swim school and have the whole program going from 'Learn to Swim' all the way up to squad," Maddie told the NVI.
"I've been offered a job at the pool in the kiosk and then after the HSC I'll be doing my lifesaving certificate to be a lifeguard and I planned on staying here for the first semester anyway, because I thought about deferring and then I got the scholarship through the school but you lose the scholarship if you defer."
Emma is planning on a gap year to "get my head back together and have a break", but after this, will decide on a social work or culinary/catering path.
"I like the idea of social work but I also want to do catering and culinary because I really like to cook, so I've applied to different universities and I haven't heard back about early acceptance yet but I'm hoping to go to the University of Newcastle for one of those courses," she said.
Despite it all, they all gave future HSC students some sage advice.
"The HSC is important and you should definitely work hard and try to get the best result you can, but at the end of the day, as long as you're happy with the person you are, it doesn't matter," Emma said.