WITH an offer to study at university already in hand, Callum Duncan-Keen could have taken it easy when he sat his Higher School Certificate exams last year.
But, ever the high achiever, the Scots All Saints College student gave the exams his all and was aptly rewarded for it.
Callum received the highest possible Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR), 99.95, and also received band 6 results in 10 units of study, making him a NSW Education Standards All-Round achiever.
Some results for the HSC were leaked on the NSW Education Standards website ahead of the official release on Thursday.
Callum learned from that leak that he had achieved band 6s, but even with that knowledge didn't expect to receive the ATAR that he did.
"Originally when I was coming out of my exams I didn't think I did too well. I wasn't confident, I never really am going out of exams," he said.
"... Then when I saw all of my subjects were band 6s - thankfully - I was really relieved, but even after that I never expected it would be that [ATAR]."
He will be studying neuroscience at the Australian National University (ANU), with the goal of being a researcher and then one day a professor.
"I hope to go into treatments and medicines for neurodegenerative diseases, so stuff like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other neurological conditions, and I hope once I can contribute to that as much as I can that I can become a teacher or professor," he said.
Several other universities have extended offers to him, but he knows that ANU is the place for him.
He feels that there are a lot of similarities between Canberra and Bathurst, which appeal to him more than universities in Sydney.
Despite receiving his offer to ANU in August, Callum maintained his excellent work ethic and study habits when it came to his exams.
"[The offer came] right at the start of our in-school trials. Even at that point I could have just given up and started not trying, but I guess I just wanted to use the effort I'd put in and not let it go to waste," he said.
While Callum led the way for SASC, the cohort as a whole performed exceptionally well in the HSC, seeing the school ranked as the 10th regional school by the Sydney Morning Herald.
Callum said he was proud to see his classmates achieve high ATARs as well, acknowledging that they had all pushed each other to do well.
"All of the people at the top, and all around the school, are really good friends of mine and I'm really happy for them," he said.
"We worked together for so long and its been competitive, but we've all come out and done really well."
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