ABILENE, Texas -

Not many students can say they earned a perfect score on the ACT. In fact, only one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the test garner a perfect score.

Abilene High senior-to-be Jackson Pybus just became one of them.

The ACT is taken by about 1.6 million high school graduates every year. In the graduating class of 2012, only 781 of more than 1.66 million students taking the test earned the top composite score of 36.

A self-proclaimed hard worker, Pybus said preparing for the test was no exception. Pybus said he took SAT courses to learn valuable test-taking skills and how to pace himself. Then he got the score that will likely change the course of his life.

"I wasn't disappointed," Pybus said. "I was pretty excited about getting the 36."

So were his parents.

"I suppose they were as excited as any parent would be," Pybus said.

His school was also excited.

"They didn't remember the last time someone from Abilene High had gotten a 36," he said.

Jackson is not your typical teen. He marches to the beat of his own drum. Besides being a leader in his school band, he always puts schoolwork first.

"Academics takes up a lot of my life, just because all the AP courses I take are very rigorous," Pybus said.

That's a good thing, because Jackson has some lofty goals.

"I want to go into engineering, [specifically] nuclear power research," Pybus said.

For all that motivation, Jackson has some people he wants to thank.

"My parents for raising me to focus on academics and to prize academic achievement," he said.

Jackson hopes his perfect score will earn him a spot at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology.