As the clock hit five in the evening in Seoul, hundreds of test takers started walking out of the front gates of one the city's high schools ready to enjoy their newfound freedom.
"I feel good like I've accomplished something great. A bit dazed at the same time. I don't know just want to go home and relax."
This year, the 'Suneung', South Korea's annual college entrance exam was held in December, having been postponed two weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid the third wave of the virus, over 490-thousand people took the exam across the country in some 1380 test centers but a record setting 13 percent of applicants were absent for first period.
Hospitals and treatment facilities served as test sites for those infected and were monitored by proctors in full PPE suits.
Thanks to such facilities 16 COVID-19 patients in Seoul managed to take the exam.
Meanwhile, those in quarantine took theirs at separate test sites.
Anyone at regular test centers who showed symptoms were moved to segregated classrooms, away from others, to prevent any possible outbreaks.
Test takers also wore masks throughout the exam except during ID checks and when eating lunch.
The measures have attracted attention from foreign media outlets due to how it was possible that the test was able to go ahead amid the pandemic.
But health authorities are advising test takers and their families to refrain from celebrating as a precaution.
College hopefuls may have to stay indoors for now but with the exam out of the way, their minds have never been more relaxed.
"With all the stress and anxiety now behind them, test takers head home to their families and await the results coming two days before Christmas on the 23rd. Han Seong-woo, Arirang News."