With students up and down the country receiving their A-level results, teenagers at Ellen Wilkinson School in Acton, west London, shared their experience.
Melissa Henry finds out if she has the grades to study at UCL
Girls at the single-sex comprehensive anxiously made their way into the foyer, where teachers were handing out the results in brown envelopes.
Some decided to open theirs in full view, flanked by their friends for support, while others wanted some privacy before running back into the foyer with shrieks of relief.
Many frantically dialled their mobile phones to let their parents know the news.
Melissa Henry, 17, was planning to do psychology at University College London.
She took out the sheet slowly and looked stunned as she soaked in the results.
"Oh my god, I've got 3 As - I didn't think that was possible.
"I wasn't very confident because my media exam didn't go that well and it only takes one thing for it to all go wrong.
"My mum owes me a car and now she has no excuse.
"My birthday is in a couple of week and this is the best present I could have asked for."
Dealing with adversity
For others, Thursday morning brought relief following a particularly difficult year.
Hannah Webster's grandmother had passed away in Scotland, and so for much of the year she had to look after her younger sister, while her mother was away taking care of affairs north of the border.
Hannah Webster looked after her sister while studying for her exams
Although it was a challenging time, the 18-year-old found going to school a useful distraction.
She said: "When I came to school, I forgot about the problems I had at home.
"I really looked forward to school and was involved in things like drama productions - it was a great way of escaping the reality I was facing."
She got the A, B and C grades she needed to study psychology at Kent University and plans to visit her granddad in Italy before term starts.
For Parita Modi, 18, Thursday was an anxious time.
She had failed to get the necessary results to study biochemistry at her first choice, Surrey University, which meant she had to go through the clearing system.
She said: "I was really upset at first, because not getting the grades was completely heart-breaking.
"I had set my heart on going to Surrey, as the course seemed good and I liked the people I met there.
Parita Modi has gone through clearing to find a university place
"The new clearing system is really easy to use, and my friends have been helping me call up different universities and I've now got at place at Westminster.
"I hope to do research for a pharmaceutical company to cure diseases like cancer."
Chris Sydenham, the head teacher, was pleased with the results.
"The results have improved from last year and this year nearly 50% of them got As and Bs
"The AS-level certainly gave the girls a good wake-up call, that there is a big gap between GCSE and A-level, and that made them realise they had to work harder."