No matter how well you do in the HSC, there is usually someone who has done better.
Except, however, if you're part of this elite group of 53 students, who sit atop the 2017 HSC pyramid.
A record 68,816 students qualified for their HSC in 2017, which would go close to filling ANZ Stadium. This group, however - the top 7 per cent of the top 1 per cent - could fit on one bus on the way to Homebush.
For some students, simply qualifying for the HSC is an effort to be celebrated. Others are over the moon at receiving a high score in their favourite subject.
Then there are those who achieve high scores in all of their courses. The All Round Achievers list of students with Band 6/E4 results in 10 units of study grew this year to a record 1394 students. It reflects a breadth of ability across a range of subjects.
But another measure of knowledge is depth, which is where the Top Achievers list comes in. Published for each HSC course, these lists record the top students in each HSC course; 789 students featured in 2017.
It's when you combine the Top Achiever and All Round Achiever lists that the real high-level performers emerge. Only 244 students managed to achieve that combination, and the number gets even smaller for multiple winners.
"I'm in a dream and I think I'm going to wake up tomorrow," said Cassidy Ainsworth-Grace, who got a state ranking in economics (sixth) and modern history (14th).
"It's insane, I just can't believe it really, it's just incomparable to anything I've ever felt before.
"It's not real, is it? Everyone dreams of it but I don't think anyone expects it really."
The Ascham graduate was one of several high achievers at the Edgecliff school, which was the only non-selective in the top 10 of the 2017 HSC school rankings.
"I'm really thrilled for the whole school, too," she said.
"All the teachers have been congratulating everyone in the year.
"I've been talking to all the other girls and they're really pleased.
"It's such a huge jump from 18th to 9th."