Sixteen-year-old Seacoast Collegiate High School student Dugan McAdams wasn't expecting too much when he went to take the ACT college-placement test recently.
"My father has been pushing me since eighth grade to take the test," said McAdams, a Sandestin resident.
However, it wasn't his father who ended up influencing his decision to act.
"Our principal, Mr. D'Avignon had this challenge," McAdams explained. "The sophomore who gets the highest ACT score gets $100 — a C-note."
With only a little prep work, McAdams said he was expecting his score to be around 26 — the highest possible score is a 36.
"I didn't know a whole lot about it," he said. "I had taken standardized tests such as the PSAT and FCAT before, but I wasn't sure what to expect. I just took the ACT to see how it feels."
Much to his surprise, McAdams did exceptionally well, landing a total score of 32, but he's not stopping there.
"I'll definitely be taking it again," he said. "My main goal is to at least make a 34."
McAdams, who was a student at Seaside Neighborhood School before entering Seacoast, credits the collegiate high school for creating an atmosphere for students like him to succeed.
"I asked some of my teachers, Ms. Misulia and Ms. McAlpin, for some tutoring in math and science to help me prepare for the kinds of questions in the test," he said. "What's great about Seacoast is that the teachers concentrate on their students and they're always there to help. The school is geared toward success, not just getting through the day."
The ACT is different from the SAT in that each subject is broken up into short time frames. For example, the English section has 75 questions and only 45 minutes available to answer them.
McAdams' advice to first-time test takers is to not worry about content and concentrate on time management, he said.
When it comes time for graduation, McAdams has his sights set on Ohio State University, the alma mater to both of his parents.
"I'm looking into the ROTC program and majoring in actuarial sciences," he added.
While D'Avignon hasn't announced the winner of his ACT challenge, McAdams said he feels pretty confident that he won. So what will he do with the $100?
"Gas," he said with a laugh.