How the Events Work
As a Decathlete, you'll participate in five different types of events. Below are the rules and guidelines you'll need to master them, one team practice session at a time.
The five different types of events are the Super Quiz™, Speech, Interview, Essay, and Tests of Knowledge.
In the Super Quiz™, you and your teammates will take turns solving tough multiple choice challenges in front of a live audience. At the national finals, you'll collaborate with two of your teammates to figure out the best answer to each question before time runs out. (You'd better have a plan for when you disagree!) The exact format of the Super Quiz™ varies from state to state, but it is always the last event, the loudest, and the most intense: a high-stakes celebration of all the subjects you've learned.
In the prepared speech, you'll speak for up to four minutes on any topic you'd like. A word of advice: choose early, practice often. Afterward, you'll be asked to speak off the cuff for up to two minutes on a topic you haven't seen before. If you've never given a speech, don't worry: you're not alone. Many Decathletes cite learning to speak in public as one of their most transformative experiences in the program.
In the interview, you'll have seven minutes to answer questions about a subject you shouldn't need to research very much: yourself. Learning to listen closely and to present yourself in a compelling way is another skill that will benefit you for the rest of your life, whether it's during your college interviews, on the job, or at dinner with your future parents-in-law. Be ready to answer questions about your background, your interests, and your goals, and never forget to thank your judges for volunteering.
The theme for the 2016-2017 Academic Decathlon® is World War II.
You'll have fifty minutes to write the strongest paper possible. To get ready, you'll want to practice outlining and writing compelling arguments related to six of the seven Academic Decathlon®subjects—excluding only math. The more clearly you can learn to write, the more persuasive you'll be—and the more you've studied the theme, the more evidence you'll be able to cite on whatever topic you face on competition day.
Tests of Knowledge
The Decathlon is more a marathon than a sprint. To round out the events above, you'll take seven multiple choice exams, one in each of the Academic Decathlon® subjects: Art, Music, Social Science, Science, Economics, Language and Literature, and Mathematics. You'll find yourself developing better critical thinking and test-taking skills that will serve you well on everything from the SAT to your college finals. In the short run you'll also have the chance to win something much shinier: medals in every subject. The more well-rounded you are, and the further you go outside your comfort zone, the more you'll win—a chance, even in a team sport, to demonstrate individual excellence.