The Academic Decathlon (Acadec) is a student-centered, powerhouse academic competition that motivates students to stay empowered and to own their learning. The competition drills down on seven subjects, keeping participating decathletes well attuned to rigorous assessments or otherwise preparing them for competing in a group environment. With Acadec’s first major competition starting in December, here are some reasons this program is worth joining:
1. It prepares you for test-taking:
A cornerstone metric that many students are required to face is standardized tests, this especially applying to older sophomores and juniors who are juggling various academic and extracurricular activities along with studying for these tests. Most test prep classes in the Bay Area are expensive, and while M-A offers a crash course for standardized testing, many students don’t take advantage of this opportunity. The Academic Decathlon gives each student member strong study skills, along with critical reading comprehension, mathematics, and essay writing tools free of cost. Its clearly structured setup enhances long-term study skills that are useful even in college.
2. It strengthens teamwork and empathy:
Most team sports focus on working together, but sometimes academics can become competitive as they may seem to drive each student for themselves. Acadec is one place that fosters teamwork to win the Nationals. In order to level the playing field, Acadec creates three subgroups of the team to accommodate everyone’s academic level. This makes students feel less competitive against one another and more responsible for each other’s scores. The fact that there are many students working under the same curriculum but at different learning levels stimulates a strong sense of community in order to catch everyone up to speed on the most recent study concepts. The students are further empowered because they run their own sessions. Team member Max Joyce said, “I think the thing I enjoy the most about Acadec would be the team. I didn’t really know anyone when I started, but we’re now all really close after being part of the team for so long. We’ve bonded over the large amount of studying we do, but also just through daily things we do for fun.”
3. It masters study habits, and you just learn a lot:
The team starts their training immediately by reading through hundreds of pages of material, taking small practice quizzes and writing essays in order to prepare for upcoming tournaments. In addition to these metrics, speech prep and judged interviews are also two very important aspects of the program. Acadec meets three times a week and is a hidden knowledge base that builds very strong study habits that are crucial later in life. Khoa Dao, the teacher who brought Acadec to M-A, wisely stated, “Slow and steady wins ribbons. A rigor has been created at M-A that most students feel fine stepping outside their comfort zones and pushing in a longitudinal study program like this.”
4. There are scholarships involved:
You and your team did fantastic in the competition? Plan to stay in Academic Decathlon for two years? Your dream college appreciates decathletes? Your grade point average consistently goes up due to studying at Acadec? Around three hundred colleges offer Acadec scholarships just for enrolling in them. Some of them are Seattle University, University of Massachusetts, Lowell and University of Montana. These are sizeable scholarships and do not involve essays.
And if you need a break from studying, here is a playlist made by the Acadec team that fits with the current theme of the competition: the 1960s.