WHILE 73,000 of the state's school leavers kicked back over Christmas after receiving their final results, more than 300 other students spent the break anxiously waiting.
The group who opted to study the International Baccalaureate diploma program instead of the Higher School Certificate can now collect their results.
Alice Knight, from SCECGS Redlands, did not mind having to hold on. ''It's almost a little bit better because you can go through Christmas blissfully unaware,'' she said.
The number of IB graduates has been increasing steadily across Australia over the past 20 years. Yet numbers are still relatively low in NSW, with only 340 IB diploma students in NSW and the ACT last year. Victoria, in comparison, had about half of Australia's 3000 IB graduates.
Antony Mayrhofer from the Association of Australasian IB Schools said that was due to the program's absence in NSW public schools.
''NSW is the only state or territory in Australia where the government doesn't allow [public] schools to offer [IB] programs,'' he said. ''Worldwide, the vast majority of schools running IB programs are government schools.''
Students who study the IB say it offers a more holistic curriculum than the HSC and is ideal university preparation.
Some hope it will improve their chances of studying overseas.
''The IB gives you so many opportunities overseas that the HSC, being more Australia-specific, can't,'' said Ms Knight, who hoped to study political science in France.
The IB diploma is offered to more than 120,000 students in more than 130 countries. An Asia-Pacific IB representative, Sebastien Barnard, said the qualification gave students a competitive edge when applying to international institutions.
The IB is also accepted by all universities in Australia and students can have their score, out of 45, converted to an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank equivalent.
Katriana Milne from Kambala said IB marks converted favourably to a high university entry rank.
''As long as you put in the effort, it's difficult to get a bad grade in the IB,'' the 18-year-old said. ''If you're an average student, you would probably end up with a much higher ATAR than you would in the HSC but you also have to put in a lot more work.''
The top IB score of 45 converts to the highest UAC rank of 99.95. An IB score of 33 converts to 90.55. A candidate with an IB score below 24 fails to receive a diploma.
But even IB advocates agree it is not for everyone.
IB students must study six subjects including English, a second language, maths, a science subject and a humanities subject. They must also complete a 4000-word research essay, study a subject called the theory of knowledge and undertake community service.
The director of career development at MLC School, Loretta Toole, said the program suited students whose strengths were more generalist rather than specialist. A student who struggled with maths or science, for example, might find the IB challenging.
''The strength of the HSC is its flexibility and the strength of the IB is its comprehensiveness,'' she said.