Kaavya Radhakrishnan, a junior at Langley High School in McLean, Virginia, scored a perfect 36 on the ACT exam this year.

The ACT is a college entrance exam comprised of tests in English, math, reading, and science. Students earn scores between one and 36, reflecting an average score of all four tests.

Radhakrishnan told Inside NOVA she was surprised by her score because she did not spend much time studying before the exam.

“A month prior to testing, I started taking practice tests every other day, and the highest score I yielded was a 34 in that time period,” Radhakrishnan said. “The practice tests really helped me get used to the time crunch required for the exam.”

Around one-third of 1% of students who take the ACT earn the top score, or just 5,579 out of 1.67 million students who took the ACT in the United States in 2020, according to the organization that administers the test.

The high school junior is considering attending the University of Virginia to pursue a degree in computer science.

“It’s in-state and has a terrific computer science program,” Radhakrishnan said. “I’m open to any school with a great computer science program.”


Radhakrishnan said she has always enjoyed challenging herself academically. In elementary school, she began doing advanced work. She did science Olympiad courses in middle school before enrolling in honors Advanced Placement classes in high school.