What do you call the best pupil in a class in a single word? The pupil who has the best grades. I need this word NOT to be pejorative, like nerd, geek, teacher's pet, and so on.
The best match I can think of is the term "valedictorian." This word is only appropriate in the context of a graduating class, but it is the closet single word match I can think of.
According to Merriam-Webster the definition of valedictorian is:
valedictorian - noun - the student who has the highest grades in a graduating class and who gives a speech at graduation ceremonies
Not a single word, but how about, "the star student"? A "star" in this context is recognized as excelling in the academic sense. And by using "the" it indicates that it is the one person with that designation.
It depends a lot on the definition of "the best"...
- The best at extra-curricular activities
- the student exhibiting the best behavior
- the best at sports
- the best because of highest grades
....if the pupil is good at most activities, he/she is an All-rounder.