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Nebraska Academic Decathlon Program. USAD Mission Statement . The purpose of the United States Academic Decathlon is to develop and provide academic competitions, curriculum, and assessment to promote learning and academic excellence through teamwork among students of all achievement levels.

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usad mission statement
USAD Mission Statement

The purpose of the United States Academic Decathlon is to develop and provide academic competitions, curriculum, and assessment to promote learning and academic excellence through teamwork among students of all achievement levels.

what is academic decathlon
What is Academic Decathlon?
  • The premier scholastic competition in America – building “life skills” in students:
    • Teamwork
    • Competitiveness
    • Communication – written and oral
    • Research and life-long learning
the history of academic decathlon
The History of Academic Decathlon

Created in 1968 by Dr. Robert Peterson, who believed student learning was accelerated and more information was retained if a team environment was provided for learners in conjunction with a competition to test their knowledge. His goal was to encourage large numbers of students, schools, and states to participate in this rigorous educational experience.

history of nebraska program the beginning
History of Nebraska Program –The Beginning

After the decathlon became a national

event, Nebraska became involved in 1983

when the Talented & Gifted Program of

Omaha Schools(OPS) ran the program for

its seven schools. After 3 years, OPS

decided it did not want to run a statewide

program. A new sponsor was needed.

the new sponsor optimist clubs of nebraska
The New Sponsor-Optimist Clubs of Nebraska

After several educationally-based organizations

with a statewide mission refused to sponsor the

program, the Optimist Clubs agreed to handle the

task and convinced UNO to join them in a co-

sponsorship role. In 1995, Creighton University

joined the program as a co-sponsor. In 2000,

Creighton became the sole academic co-sponsor.

the birth of the operating company
The Birth of the Operating Company

In order to operate the program, a non-profit

corporation(Nebraska Academic Decathlon, Inc)

was formed. No member of this company receives

a salary and the total work is on a voluntary basis.

Of the 40 state programs, Nebraska is the only

one where an all-volunteer force runs the program

without any state funds.

educational experience
Educational Experience

Based on the model of the athletic decathlon, AD requires participants to prepare for ten academic events. AD does not permit students to “specialize” but rather encourages academic versatility by requiring students to prepare for all ten events. AD stresses educational opportunity and academic excellence.

program overview
Program Overview

Academic Decathlon is a team competition wherein students match their intellects with students from other schools. Students are tested in ten categories:

*Art *Economics *Essay *Music

*Language & Literature *Mathematics

*Science *Interview *Social Science

*Speech (both prepared and impromptu)

competition events
Competition Events
  • Seven multiple choice exams – one in each of the following: Art, Economics, Language & Literature, Math, Music, Science, and Super Quiz
  • Three judged communication events: Speech, Interview and Essay
multiple choice exams
Multiple Choice Exams
  • Art, Economics, Language and Literature, Music, and Science each have 50 questions.
  • Math exam has 25 questions.
  • Super Quiz has 10 questions per round.

Students are given 30 minutes to complete each of the multiple choice exams.

communication events
Communication Events
  • Students are given 50 minutes to complete the Essay exam.
  • Speech – students present one 3 ½ to 4-minute prepared speech and an impromptu speech lasting between 1 ½ and 2 minutes.
  • Interview with a panel of 2 to 3 judges – the interview process usually last between 4 and 7 minutes.
super quiz
Super Quiz
  • Comprised of three rounds –
    • Two students from each competitive level

(Honor, Scholastic, Varsity) answer ten

questions. The rounds start with the Varsity


  • Test items are derived from the Super Quiz Resource Guide – This year’s topic – The

Civil War.

2007 08 super quiz topic
2007-08 Super Quiz Topic

The Super Quiz topic will focus on curriculum

which examines various aspects of the Civil War.

The resource guide will include readings on such

topics as causes of the war, critical battles and

campaigns, the leadership of President Lincoln,

the role of slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation,

and Reconstruction.

language literature
Language & Literature

The language and literature curriculum will include critical reading, one novel and six shorter works. The featured novel will be

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane.


The art curriculum topic will be the art of nineteen-

century America, and the curriculum will include the

study of eighteen selected artworks. The selected

artworks are located in many locations: National

Gallery of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum,

National Portrait Museum, Metropolitan Museum of

Art, and National Museum of American History.


The music curriculum will focus on the music of the

Civil War era. The Music Resource Guide will cover

such topics as public performances and private

amusements, music in African-American life, and

music of the conflict. The curriculum will include

a companion CD, featuring fourteen listening



The science curriculum will focus on the

transmission, treatment, and prevention

of infectious diseases. The Science

Resource Guide will include a case study

on disease and the Civil War.


The economics curriculum will focus on fundamentals

of economics, including general topics in macro-

economics, microeconomics, international trade and

global economic development. The economic

curriculum will also include a thematic section

focused on slavery and the economics of the U. S.

Civil War.


The math curriculum will cover topics in the fields of general math, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and differential calculus.

levels of competition
Levels of Competition
  • Local scrimmages (November and December)
  • Regional (Third Saturday in January) at

various locations across the state.

  • State (Third full weekend in February) at Creighton University in Omaha.
  • Nationals (Garden Grove, California) in


  • Participation Ribbon
  • Year Bar
  • Medals
  • Plaques
  • Trophies
  • Scholarships
national competition april
National Competition – April
  • Student compete in all ten events
  • One team per state advances to Nationals
  • Teams compete with 40 other states (three divisions – schools are placed in a division according to their school population)
regional competitions
Regional Competitions

At this level, schools of similar size compete against each

other. There are four size categories in Nebraska(Large,

Medium, Small, and Very Small). A Regular Team

composed of six members (two students from each

competitive level) and an Alternative Team of up to six

members (two students from each competitive level) can

participate. Regular Team members participate in all

seven events and the Alternate Team members participate

in six events. At this level, the Essay, Interview, and

Speech events are not held.

regional state awards
Regional & State Awards

Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are awarded for individual event winners in each division (Honor, Scholastic, and Varsity). All Regular Team members of

the first, second, and third placed teams

at the Regional and the two divisions at

the State Final earn a scholarship.

the team
The Team

The Regular Team consists of six full-time students from 9th – 12th grades of the same high school. Each team is made up of two students from each competitive level. Each school is encouraged to have an Alternate Team of six

students. The GPA standards are:

  • Honor 3.75 – 4.00 GPA
  • Scholastic 3.00 – 3.74 GPA
  • Varsity 0.00 – 2.99 GPA
how to form a team
How to Form A Team
  • Identify a Coach (need good motivator)
  • Discuss with students the idea of forming a team
  • Recruit additional teachers to help with other subjects
  • Recruit your students at all competitive levels
  • Prepare - Let teachers in the classes that cover Decathlon topics know what you are working on
team selection
Team Selection
  • Open up to all students - give tests (USAD scrimmage or other) to determine qualified students
  • Get recommendations from teachers or other students
    • Talk to Counselors
    • Get leads from other students
    • Survey teachers for names of students
    • Check test scores, IQ, standardized tests, etc.
    • Talk to Gifted & Talented Coordinators
    • Hold general meeting - discuss advantages/disadvantages of AD; determine student’s availability; review course work as it relates to current Study Guide topics.
    • Student Characteristics - intelligence, brain power, motivation (desire), coachability, peer acceptance, team player.
team recruitment
Team Recruitment
  • Year round effort
  • Coach is salesperson
  • Talk it up in your schools and classrooms
  • Active recruitment may be necessary to secure “varsity” level students
  • Be honest with amount of time required
  • Be alert to extra-curricular activities (especially jobs)
  • Balance the team (freshman through seniors)
  • Test students with last year’s Practice Test or this year’s scrimmage tests from USAD; have students write an essay test for writing ability
coaches responsibilities
Team Recruitment

Team Selection

Secure Resource Materials

Staff Involvement


Team Preparation

Register Team

Verify GPA’s

Make Travel Arrangements for Competition(s)

Communicate with State Director

Chaperone Team

Coaches Responsibilities
why academic decathlon
Why Academic Decathlon?
  • Creates a climate on high school campuses which supports and cheers a program devoted to the achievement of intellectual strength.
  • Teachers from various disciplines and experts from public and private sectors work together in preparing the team.
  • The “C” student – becomes empowered.
  • The “A” and “B” students are given the chance to research and enrich learning.
  • Music and Art appreciation study come alive.
  • Encourages public interest and awareness of outstanding programs in American schools.
how to get started
How to get started!
  • Contact John R. Anstey, Ph.D., Volunteer Executive

Director of the Nebraska Academic Decathlon Program – call 402-498-0798 or email at:

  • Contact USAD at: 866.511.8723 or 712.366.3700
  • Select a coach
  • Use the official Study Guide and visit the USAD website @
  • Meet with interested students
  • Begin research according to the Study Guide outlines
  • Recruit faculty and community co-coaches
  • Select students for the team
  • Prepare and practice
  • Compete!