Swapping studies for sport kept two Auckland schoolboys on track to score this year's highest marks in the national secondary exams.
Josh Hansen and Chris Hagan, who studied alongside each other in almost all the same classes at Westlake Boys' High School last year, were named yesterday among the top students to sit New Zealand Scholarship.
Scholarship is sat at Year 13, over and above NCEA Level 3, and carries grants for university studies of up to $30,000.
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With five "Outstanding" grades, Josh is at the top of the list of Premier Award winners, the 10 highest-ranking students in the country.
Interrupted at his job mowing lawns in the hot Auckland sun, the 18-year-old said he was surprised to learn of the results, particularly his "top of subject" status for art history.
"I didn't think I'd get that, but we had an awesome teacher for the past two years and it made the class really enjoyable," he said.
His friend and sometime-rival Chris, also 18, gained seven scholarship subjects in total, with four at outstanding level.
Both young men juggled studying and demanding sports commitments that included trips overseas.
"I learned a lot about time management over the last two or three years," said Chris, who plays tennis and was in the school football first XI.
"But when you have study all the time sport is a good escape to clear your mind."
Josh, who was the school cross-country captain, said he was studying for up to six hours a day before exams, but made time to get outside.
"I found sport really helpful. It made it more enjoyable to break it up," he said.
Principal David Ferguson said he was extremely proud of the boys, as well as the 167 other school students who gained scholarship subjects.
He felt the Premier Award results, in which eight of the 10 winners were from boys' schools, showed single-sex schools worked well for young men.
Of the 10 Premier Award winners, only one was female. Hanseul Nam from Rangi Ruru Girls' School gained six scholarship subjects, three of them outstanding.
Throughout the country 2276 students were awarded subject scholarships yesterday. The top 10 receive $30,000, provided they study and do well at a New Zealand university. Outstanding Scholars, who gain at least three subject scholarships, with at least one at "outstanding" level, each receive $15,000.
Chris Hagan will forgo his scholarship money and study commerce and liberal arts at the University of Sydney where he has another scholarship. Josh Hansen is going to Wellington to study law and arts at Victoria University.
Students who registered to view their marked scholarship exam papers online will be able to do so from today.
• Shintaro Fushida-Hardy, Whangarei Boys' High School
• Christopher Hagan, Westlake Boys' High School
• Joshua Hansen, Westlake Boys' High School
• Jonathan Hart, Auckland Grammar School
• Aaron Keesing, Elim Christian College
• Hanseul Nam, Rangi Ruru Girls' School
• Rahul Sood, Auckland Grammar School
• Nicholas Ward, Lindisfarne College
• Nicholas Cropp Wilson, Shirley Boys' High School
• Joshua Woolley, Wellington College