MOST students in New South Wales spent the morning stressed, weary and frazzled in preparation for today's HSC examinations.
By comparison, 25 of Queanbeyan High School's students looked relaxed and focused.
The school has structured their HSC program so that the six subjects were divided evenly across both years 11 and 12.
In the set curriculum three subjects are completed in year 11, with the remaining three left for year 12.
Principal John Clark attributed the student's sense of alertness to the unique HSC design that had been adopted by the school since 2005.
"There was some speculation that maybe the Year 11 students were not mature enough to handle it. This was not true. We have noticed that they perform just as well as the Year 12 group," Mr Clark said.
The year 11 students studied the same texts and dedicated as many hours as the HSC demanded.
"We've witnessed higher results, and a higher per cent of students gaining entry into university as a result," Mr Clark said.
But now the structure is not so unique, with approximately 40 other schools having copied their arrangement. And for a smart reason.
Clinical psychologist, Sally-Anne McCormack, warned stress can have a negative impact on performance.
"What happens with stress is that chemicals start surging through our body. Some stress is actually good for us. It helps us to get focused and helps us to perform well," Ms McCormack said.
Although she indicated too much stress can impinge upon student's memory access.
"When the stress hormones are racing through our body, the usual pathways of being able to access memories do not work properly," she said.
The standard HSC structure, where six subjects are studied in year 12, means that a student's future can all come down to the results of one day.
"Our structure reduces stress and pressure for students significantly," Mr Clark said.
He recalled that the year 12 students who had experience from the HSC exams last year has a strong understanding of the process and what was required of them.
For the year 11 cohort, he admitted natural nerves were building, but having another chance the following year and only half the workload improved student's confidence.