‘Pretty good’: After a sleepless night, Flynn wakes to six band sixes

The moment Flynn Broom, Dux of Patrician Brothers College Blacktown opens his HSC results with his mum nearby.

The year 2020 has taught high school students to expect anything and survive disappointment. But it couldn’t curb Flynn Broom’s jitters the night before HSC results were released.

“I’ve been a bit edgy this week,” the student from Patrician Brothers’ College in Blacktown said. “It only really hit me this week, that results were coming.”

Flynn had been hoping for mostly band sixes, and the odd band five. “There was probably one exam I wasn’t too confident about but everything else should be all right,” he said.

His restless thoughts were put at ease at 6am on Friday, when about 66,000 students received their Higher School Certificate marks online or through text message. Within seconds, a range of emotions spread across his face.

The nervousness which had kept him awake most of the night quickly changed to hesitation as he absorbed the six band sixes on his laptop screen. Then the smile emerged. “Pretty good,” he said, as he read through his results. His best mark was 98 for Society and Culture, followed by 48 out of 50 for English Extension 1.

The results, paired with the release of Australian Tertiary Admission Ranks (ATARs) at 9am, capped off one of the most challenging final school years in recent history.

The Universities Admissions Centre has revealed 48 students - 15 girls and 33 boys - received the top rank of 99.95 this year.

Akina Li and her mother, Ying Liu, react as Akina gets her 99.95 ATAR result. Credit: Janie Barret

Trembling with anxiety, Akina Li started counting down the minutes and seconds on Friday morning until her computer screen revealed she had scored the highest entry rank.

The 18-year-old Pymble Ladies College student from Eastwood was hoping for 99.95 to secure her chances of getting into medicine at the University of Sydney. Since the age of three, she has wanted to be a doctor or a dentist and in recent years set her sights on neurosurgery.

“I’m actually going to cry,” Akina said, before starting the final count down from nine to zero. The moments her computer took to load were brief but agonising. And then the result.

“Oh my God, oh my God,” she cried. Her mother, Ying Liu, hugged her while crying.

Ying was a dentist before she left China to complete a PhD in pathology in Japan, where her husband, Xiao Li, completed a Masters degree in education.

Akina’s mother, Ying Liu, always taught her the importance of having balanced hobbies and good social relationships. Credit: Janie Barret

After studying for 21 years, Ying recognised her long years of study had reduced her confidence with interacting socially.

So when she and her husband arrived in Australia in 2006, unable to speak English, they encouraged Akina to develop broader interests in art and music from a young age, to find a better balance.

“I wanted her to find a hobby so she could be used to dealing with a group of people. It is very important,” Ying said. Akina plays the drums and piano, and has also developed interests in chess, school debating, dancing and reading literature.

Flynn’s mother, Katie Broom, appeared more emotional about the youngest of her three children achieving the educational milestone. “This is my last and knowing that’s it now,” she said. “And excitement for him to get what he needs ... after the year they had.”

Flynn Broom with his mother, Katie Broom, gets his HSC results at 6am in Kellyville. Credit: Janie Barret

Flynn, who was also school captain of the western Sydney school, said the year had been “pretty tough” for many of his peers.

“It was a bit weird – all of my speeches were done virtually,” he said. “It was a different type of year; it was never going to be the same once COVID hit. But everyone showed resilience and good promise – it helps when everyone bands together.”

Flynn studied four units of English and a range of humanities subjects for his HSC, including legal studies, business studies, society and culture, and studies of religion.

Flynn Broom received his HSC results this morning. Credit: Anna Patty

“The humanities just capture my interests the most – the law caught my eye since I was in my junior years at school,” he said. He achieved a mark of 93 for legal studies and wants to further his interests by studying law and arts at Sydney University next year. He achieved an ATAR of 98.90.

ATARs, which determine which university courses students are eligible for, were released to 54,894 eligible students. Seventeen per cent of students received a rank above 90, about one-third received at least 80 and about half will receive 70 or above. This year’s median ATAR is 70.15 - slightly higher than last year’s 69.75.

Kim Paino, UAC’s general marketing and engagement manager, congratulated students on finishing 13 years of schooling and reminded them that many would be eligible for extra adjustment factors

“If your ATAR is not what you’d hoped for, don’t lose heart. You can still leave your first preference in place because lowest selection ranks change from year to year,” she said. More than 15,000 students have already received an early offer for university.

Learn more about Patrician Brothers Catholic College Blacktown