The Academic Decathlon is a scholarly competition in which teams from each participating school compete in ten academic events. The ten events measure on the students’ performance in each of ten different areas, these are: art, economics, essay, interview, language and literature, mathematics music, science, social science, and speech.
Eligibility and Scoring
Each participating school submits a realm of nine students. The students come from three different levels: three “A: or Honors students, three “B” or Scholastic students, and three “C: Varsity students. Students are placed in these categories based on their cumulative GPAs. Honors students have cumulative GPAs of 3.75-4.00; Scholastic students have GPAs of 3.00-3.74 while Varsity students have GPAs of 0.00-2.99. A student can compete in a division that corresponds to a higher GPA than his or her own, but cannot compete in one that corresponds to a GPA lower than his or her own.
Each team member competes in all of the events. Then, according to the cumulative scores, the two highest scores are counted from each division. Thus, a total of six scores (2 Honors, 2 Scholastic, and 2 Varsity) count for the school’s overall standing, and the other points are not considered.
Each year’s competition has a theme; the theme dictates the material that is covered in the “Superquiz” and also in some of the other areas such as art, language and literature, and science. The theme is released well in advance of the competition and competitors are encouraged to study topics related to the theme. In addition, the United States Academic Decathlon, the non-profit organization that sponsors the event, release study materials and resources on the topics. These materials outline the entire curriculum that the students are expected to know for the competition.
The Academic Decathlon is a very challenging competition. Most of the teams start preparing 6 months before the competition. During the summer break, students gather information, study and practice as a team. This learning process is very difficult, especially during the school year, because students have to learn to utilize their time wisely after school. Despite the final result, most of the participants say that it is really worthwhile, because the knowledge they have obtained in preparing for the competition exceeds what they can learn in school.