Marty said he was interested in pursuing data science and artificial intelligence in the new year, but was still “vacillating between a couple of different courses”.

“I’ve got a couple of tough decisions to make in the next couple of days,” he said.

Marty Schwarz got a perfect score.

Marty Schwarz got a perfect score.Credit:Emma Anvari

Marty is one of 38 students in Victoria who achieved an ATAR of 99.95, the highest possible rank.

“It’s kind of timely with New Year’s Eve, so we can celebrate tomorrow night,” he said.

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This year, 98.3 per cent of students successfully completed their VCE, up slightly from 98.1 per cent last year.

The average ATAR across all 46,000 students was 68.14.

Female students had a slightly higher result on average than their male counterparts – the average ATAR for females was 69.45, while for males it was 66.60.

Lakeview Senior College’s Bethany Kashani was hesitant to open her results at first.

After some encouragement from her mum, Donna Gorman, she was able to make that final click.

“It’s a lot better than I thought. I was so stressed for nothing!”

Year 12 student Bethany Kashani and her mother Donna Gorman.

Year 12 student Bethany Kashani and her mother Donna Gorman.Credit:Chris Hopkins

“I told you,” her mother said.

Bethany exceeded her own expectations, achieving an ATAR of 82.25. “I’m literally shaking.”

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It should mean guaranteed entry into a bachelor of arts at either the University of Melbourne or Monash University. She hopes to pursue politics and international studies.

Getting through VCE despite of the city’s lockdown was not easy, she said. “I think I did more SACs [school assessed coursework] online than I did in person.”

“When we got back to school, I felt like I didn’t remember how to write, it was so difficult.”

Pushing through with her studies was even more difficult without a formal or graduation ceremony. “It’s done,” she sighed. “I’m happy.”

The year 2020 has taught students to expect anything and survive disappointment. However, for some, Wednesday morning was one filled with disappointment after a tumultuous year.

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“It’s a bit gut-wrenching,” said Caroline Chisholm Catholic College student Elis Bilal. “It’s not what I needed. It’s low.”

Elis and her friends had been up early, texting all morning, feeling nauseous before receiving their results.

She said the disruption of her studies by the coronavirus pandemic and remote learning had been severe. Her school was closed early in July after a positive case was detected. “I think it had a big impact on how well I did in the classroom and how prepared I was in exams,” she said.

While she had hoped to be able to study an arts/law degree at Monash University, Elis will now turn to other pathways to study. “I’ve got ACU guaranteed which is good. I’ll just focus on that now.”

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“It’s done now, there’s not much I can change.”

Melbourne Grammar School student Alistair McLennan had been feeling increasingly anxious over the past week after a challenging year, but his mood changed to one of relief when he opened his results this morning and saw that he had achieved an ATAR of 96.40.

“Throughout the year it was pretty difficult to stay motivated, especially during that first lockdown … It was difficult to start your day off and follow your same routine consistently,” he said.

“I was hoping for this result. I was not necessarily expecting it, but I was definitely hoping for it.”

Alistair plans to study a bachelor of biomedicine at the University of Melbourne and then a masters of engineering.

With additional reporting by Ciaran O’Mahony and Bianca Roberts, Harry Gell and Anna Prytz

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