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What is the Academic Decathlon and Pentathlon?

The Academic Decathlon is a national scholastic competition designed to stimulate intellectual growth, develop critical thinkers and create lifelong learners. Here in Alaska, both the Decathlon (high school) and the Pentathlon (middle school) programs:

  • Create our state’s future leaders
  • Reward academic achievement
  • Challenge students to do their best as individuals and as a members of a team comprised of students of all GPA levels
  • Award $49,000 in scholarships annually to more than 30 students

​​The Alaska Academic Decathlon (high school) and Pentathlon (middle school) programs are among the premier scholastic competitions on both the state and national level. Aligned with National Standards and Alaska’s Educational Challenge, the curriculum for both programs transfer across core content areas to increase student performance in Literature, Mathematics, Science, Social Science and the Arts (other subjects for high school students include Economics, Essay, Speech and Interview).

Each team is comprised of students with varying abilities and GPAs (Honors: 3.8+, Scholastic: 3.2-3.8, Varsity: 0-3.2). Students compete individually against students in their same category and as a team. Each year the curriculum is based on a different theme.

Each program holds a State Competition where students can earn medals, trophies and scholarships. The winning teams represent Alaska at the U.S. Academic Decathlon and Pentathlon National Competitions. Decathletes and Pentathletes with the highest overall scores are eligible to earn thousands of dollars in scholarships, including scholarships specific to the University of Alaska.

2023-24 Theme: Technology & Humanity

Each year, the Academic Decathlon selects a new theme for teams all over the country to explore. The theme shapes an entire course of studies and brings it all together. Since the curriculum team develops these themes with special attention to national content standards, students learn relevant material aligned with national and state criteria.

Subject areas include science, literature, art, music, social science, economics and mathematics along with writing essays, preparing and delivering speeches and taking part in professional interviews.

"The confidence students gain through their participation in Academic Decathlon is immeasurable. The thematic connections among the subject areas combined with public speaking and interviewing gives our rural students a wider world-view and a greater confidence that I have not seen replicated in any other program to date."
- Bering Strait School District Coach

"The Academic Decathlon not only provides an opportunity to delve deeper into and improve in academic areas but also offers an opportunity to experience and improve the soft skills necessary to work independently. Students learn to set goals and develop tactics to reach them; they learn strategies to make them better public speakers and impressive interviewees; and they become a part of a group that gives them a sense of belonging that bolsters confidence and perseverance."

- Hutchison High School Coach

"The Academic Decathlon program aids in fostering critical thinking, cooperation, and teamwork in our young adults, giving them the confidence and skills they need to transition into adulthood. I have seen transforming growth in our students in leadership skills, personal confidence, and personal hope for their own futures."

- IDEA Coach

"Students who live in small towns have few opportunities to see the world. The Academic Decathlon has been a way in which my students can expand the view of what it means to be not only a high school student, but a member of both a local and global society. The experiences, the learning, and scholarships that students can attain with this program are amazing. Without this program, many of my students would never have moved out of the shadows and learned how to take on new adventures - both academically and socially."

- Craig Coach
Alaska Academic Decathlon is a program of

SERRC - Alaska's Educational Resource Center