The young men and women exiting Reddam House Atlantic Seaboard in Cape Town on Thursday couldn't stop smiling when they saw that their hard work had paid off in the IEB national senior certificate exams."I am happy. I did better than I expected. I was aiming for the 70s and got 70s and 80s," said Laylah Osman, 18, from Bo Kaap, who held her results in one hand.Her biggest challenges were avoiding distractions and remaining focused over two months of exams."I tried my hardest," she said.Asked what her next steps would be, Osman said she wanted to study architecture, but would first take a gap year."It’s a structured gap year," her mother Zulfah chipped in with a knowing smile.Proud parents accompanied their children to the school or picked the results up on their behalf.Some pupils opted to brave it alone, like 18-year-old Ethan Davids from Oranjezicht.'Proud of my peers'Davids explained that he had tried hard to keep motivated, despite not being particularly academic.His focus is rapping and his goal is to pursue sound engineering.He buckled down for the finals to ensure he obtained the results he needed to study in that field."My only motivation was, I have got to do this [exams] so I can do what I want."With sound engineering, I can take my music to the next level because I do my own mixing and mastering."Also picking up his results alone was Dylan Maltman, 19, from Cape Town central."It seems as if I have reached my target. I am very happy with my performance," he said, while waiting for his taxi to pick him up.Maltman said he was now much closer to pursuing further studies in Spain."There were a couple of challenges involved: long study hours, early mornings, late nights. But at the end of the day, it really pulled through. Again, I am very proud of my peers."