Only one in 500 students gets a perfect score in the International Baccalaureate exams.
So a small Auckland school is on top of the world after producing three of the rare top scholars in one year.
Auckland International College executive principal Carolyn Solomon said 107 students sat the IB diploma course last year and three of them - Taehwan Shin, Bao Tran and Nhu Quoc Toan Ngo - came out tops.
Although New Zealand students have achieved perfect scores before - and AIC had two in 2006 - this is believed to be the first time any school has had three students do it in the same year.
Ms Solomon said IB students had to study six subjects, write a 4000-word essay on a topic of their choice, study theory of knowledge and do at least 150 hours of community service to pass.
For a perfect score, they also have to get 45 out of 45 in all of the examinations, a feat achieved by only 0.2 per cent of all IB students around the world.
Taehwan told the Herald it was "great" beating the odds and joked that the accomplishment now put "a little bit more pressure" on his younger brothers.
Ms Solomon said that because of the way the IB programme was designed, achieving a perfect score was more than just academic success, it was about producing a well-rounded student.
"I say the IB student has a smart mind with a good heart - for me that's the epitome of education."
She said the achievement helped to launch the students globally and at least two of them had since won international scholarships to further their studies.
More than 20 New Zealand schools offer the IB programme, including 11 at the diploma level.
Kristin School's 2010 head boy, Lewis Fry, also got a perfect IB score. He studied economics, English literature, chemistry, mathematics, physics, Spanish and theory of knowledge.
Lewis plans to study medicine at Melbourne's Monash University, where he has won a scholarship which includes full fees plus $6000 a year for the whole of his degree.
St Kentigern College offered IB last year for the first time in its history and 25 students sat the exams.
Principal Steve Cole said their median pass rate was 35/45, compared with the world median of 30/45.By Elizabeth Binning Email Elizabeth