Here are a couple advice pages written by former decathletes.
I did AcDec both my junior and senior year. I didn’t make the competitive team until senior year. I’m not your multi-award winning AcDec Veteran but Shanasia Sylman knows all about how to survive AcDec. (By the way, you can say Academic Decathlon for like the first week, after that it’s just “AcDec.”) Okay. Here we go (in no particular order):
That’s all I have for you fellow Decathletes. Good Luck and Have Fun.
"If you want to be a Wacadecathlete...."
First of all, AD, Academic Decathlon, and AcDec are acceptable forms of naming this activity we partake in. Call yourselves Wacadec, or Decathletes. Unacceptable names that will earn you ginormous Dutch frowns, from me and my mother: acdeckers, Acadeca, and nerd herd.
Good! You’ve joined the team, started the adventure! After reviewing your basics guides, what should you do? Read the book now. If you don’t do anything else this summer, be a good alpaca and make A Tale of Two Cities your bestest friend.
Another smart move this summer would be to write your speech (to-be-seniors, as extra motivation this could double as your college essay!). I’m not going to tell you what to write, or what is best, or how to win this event, because I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that my biggest mistake junior year was not putting enough effort into speech and interview-- two events that, comparatively, require the least input of time to succeed in. Sierra and I took a long time to figure this out, but once we started listening to Zablocki & Nicholson, we wound up with perfect scores and gold medals in our hands at Regionals. Write your speech early, go over it with Zablocki and Mrs. LeNita Smith, get animated, and grab a stopwatch. As for interview… get a posture like Sierra, and consider what your parents would want to tell their friends about you. Make it stuff you love, too-- college, your dreams, interesting stories from your past. Don’t think what I did last year—that you have to be the perfectly polite, postured, subdued image of an angel. Sure, those things are important, but more so is making sure you leave the room with your judges smiling.
Yeah, you’re probably going to delete all of Zablocki’s e-mails this summer about Super Quiz, Super Quiz, Super Quiz. But take it from a team who spent the weeks before Regionals up into the wee hours of the morning, reviewing material: we would give anything to have those three months back.
I think I’ve done as much as I can to convince y’all to work this summer. Now, for the school year… your free time won’t be lost for Decathlon. Some other schools make their decathletes quit playing sports, or all other extracurriculars, and focus solely on AD. Warren coaches, luckily, believe it’s more important for us to enjoy the full scope of our high school experiences, even if that means falling a few thousand points short of our all-in potential. So duh, we spent our time enjoying senior year. Football games, college applications, goofing off in class—but once Thanksgiving break rolled around, those of us that truly wanted the AD adventure dug in our heels and committed. For those still wavering, Holmes Meet was a definite wake-up call. Gone are your days of a varsity gold for lucking out with a 300 on a nice scantron. You need to figure out your style for approaching Decathlon. For me, this consisted of
*Designing a study schedule three weeks before a major meet (Holmes, Regionals, and State)
*According to the schedule, taking three or so days to meticulously review each resource guide (History, Science, Lang/Lit, Economics, Music, and Art) and write down every fact I didn’t know in a journal
*Finish up the weekend before competition, when I would re-read the novel
*Spend the week before competition completely in love with aforementioned journal. We couldn’t leave each other’s sight for more than a second.
*The night before Subjectives, run through my speech at least once. Write down possible impromptu topics I could carry on about for at least 5 minutes. Review things I want to mention in interview. Review the important quotes I highlighted in the novel the summer before.
*Subjective day: review the quotes, and memorize a few. Run through my speech with a stopwatch, and then stop worrying. Eat some Cheez-its.
*The night before Scantrons: re-read the journal. Review shorter literature selections and music pieces. Stay up as late as possible reviewing (every point counts, but if you can’t function on two hours of sleep, skip this step)
*Before math, sharpen your pencils and relax. Don’t confuse your teammates with trivial mathematics hints :/
*After you’re finished with each test, if you have another immediately, try writing down all the facts you can remember about the next subject on the back of your test. It gets your mind in the right gear.
*Spend maybe 20 seconds at the beginning of break discussing the last test, and then review for your next. Keep looking forward.
*Super Quiz Relay is the time to really show off as a team. Every single person contributes, and no one is going to single you out if you’re the unlucky soul that receives the donut :[. If anything, this should motivate you to plod through that SQ guide again—the chance to help your entire team get recognized at awards, just by answering 5 questions. Also, I just want to mention: I can’t begin to tell you how happy and lucky I felt, and how much I truly loved my team, when I stepped onto the SQ Relay stage at Regionals and saw that I could just go and sit right back down in the audience, because my team was up by 6 questions and we had already claimed 1st place. Wow.
I’m definitely editing this note in the future if more comes to mind. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to cheering for y’all next year. Wacadec 2009 broke down the biggest wall by winning Regionals for the 1st time, but now it’s up to y’all to continue the tradition. I have no doubt you’ll make it, if you want it enough."