CARY, N.C. (WNCN) – Less than 1 percent of all students who take the ACT earn a perfect score – but a rising Cary senior can check the feat off his list.

Rishik Pavani, who will be a senior this fall at Panther Creek High School, earned the top score, 36, on his recent attempt at the curriculum-based achievement exam.

In order to earn a perfect ACT score, a student’s average score in all categories on the exam (excluding the writing portion) must score a composite score of 36. Meaning, Pavani must hit the mark in the English, mathematics, reading and science sections during the timed test. He scored 36 in all but the science, where he earned a 35, but averaged out to a 36 based on difficulty.

“Earning a top score on the ACT is a remarkable achievement,” ACT CEO Janet Godwin said in a press release. “A student’s exceptional score of 36 will provide any college or university with ample evidence of their readiness for the academic rigors that lie ahead.”

Additionally, the ACT Perfect Score press release said that out of the 1.67 million students who have taken at least one ACT to submit in this year’s college applications, only 5,579 have been perfect.

“Seeing the ’36’ in your results is quite a feeling, my family and I were so happy that day and I still find it hard to believe sometimes that I actually did it,” Pavani said. “I also thought that I had made a few mistakes, enough to come down from a 36, (so) I am proud (that) I will (be able to) continue to work hard for my future.”

Furthermore, Pavani said he is interested in physics, computers and cybersecurity because of his involvement in his cybersecurity club.

So much so that he recently participated in the National Cyber Scholarship Competition and qualified as one of 18 National Cyber Scholars in the nationwide competition. This achievement earned him a $2,500 scholarship and training from the SysAdmin, Audit, Network and Security (SANS) Institute.

“I have always loved science and technology, but it was relatively recently that I discovered the fields of cybersecurity and quantum technologies,” Pavani said. “Quantum technologies combine two fields I truly enjoy, physics and computing; I find it truly mind-blowing that we can do computations or even understand phenomena at a level almost unfathomable for us, at the subatomic level that is.”

He said he is excited to think that he could one day be involved in a world where it is a possibility to not only have faster computers, but a new way of doing computing altogether.

This summer Pavani applied for the Quantum Crytography School for Young Students, a summer enrichment program based on quantum computing and related fields for high school students, and was accepted. He plans to attend the virtual program through the University of Waterloo in Canada.

“I look forward to attending the lectures by the students and faculty of the university that will be given over the course of the program,” Pavani said. “(There are) lectures on topics such as quantum computing, cryptography and optics. They are all interesting topics at the intersection of physics and practical applications, in a cutting-edge field.”

Also upon acceptance, he received a letter of commemoration for his recent accomplishment from North Carolina House of Representatives representative Gale Adcock.

Pavani said he hasn’t begun the formal college application process yet, but has his eyes on multiple North Carolina institutions.

He likes the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, and North Carolina State in the Triangle, as well as Georgia Tech outside of the area.

Pavani hopes his perfect ACT score will put him well on his way to finding the perfect fit for the career path he decides on.