Having a strong support network and the discipline to occasionally turn down time with friends is the secret to success for a student who received top marks and a full university scholarship.
Former Huanui College head boy Richard Young is off to study engineering at the University of Auckland next week after receiving A* (over 90 per cent) in all four of his subjects in his final year at school in 2015.
Fellow high-achiever Reka Norman, in Year 13 at Huanui this year, topped the country for her year in the Cambridge examinations for chemistry and maths, as well as having the top average score across her four subjects.
Principal Peter Ackers said he was proud of both students and emphasised the fact that Reka was among the top students in the country.
Reka, 17, said the best way to prepare for exams was to go through past papers. She also planned to study engineering on completion of Year 13 this year.
Mr Young studied biology, chemistry, physics and maths and spent up to eight hours a day swotting for his final exams.
"I'd set goals for what I wanted to achieve throughout the day ... I think the most important thing from your whole school life is the support - having people around you that encourage you to do well, and friends who are understanding when you say 'sorry, I can't come to that'," he said.
Huanui College has its students sit Cambridge International Examinations as opposed to the NCEA system run by most schools. Cambridge scores rely entirely on end-of-year examinations, as opposed to smaller internal assessments through the year, and are more internationally recognised than NCEA.
Mr Young said he liked the system: "It gives extra opportunities in terms of going overseas, and it's more about long-term memory."