Sunday, February 03, 2008

Academic Decathlon

Sorry I haven't posted in the past few weeks. I blame it on the Academic Decathlon competition which just finished on Saturday. See, I kind of had to start studying for it so I could give our school some pride, and I didn't have time for petty things like reading RSS feeds and blogging. However, now that the Decathlon is over, I have time again to blog and keep you all posted on the latest happening in science and open source! However, I'll tell you what it was like at the Decathlon.

First competition happened the Saturday before last, so on January 26. It was where we were did what are called the three "subjective" tests. The speech, interview, and essay. Different schools have different schedules. Mine turned out with the speech first. In the speech, I gave a prepared speech and an impromptu speech of their topics. I had a pretty interesting speech about the incident at Columbia University involving Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. My prepared speech was about a distant memory (the movie Contact). Both speeches I cut the time REALLY close, so that's something I'll need to improve on in the coming year.

The next was the interview, where judges basically conduct an interview to see how interesting you are. They have a sheet outlining your interests, and ask you questions, such as "Why did you join Academic Decathlon?" and other various topics. I think I did pretty well on it, though I'll have to wait for the scores to find out.

Essay was basic essay writing. We got four prompts about the Civil War, and had to write an essay about them. The one I chose was "What personal qualities of Lincoln strengthened or weakened his policy as President" or something to that degree. That was... interesting, but I managed to write, in my opinion, a pretty strong essay, even though I listed Lincoln's only personal drawback as being dead.

One week later was the objective portion. This involves about five hours of taking scantron tests about the various topics (Math, History, Science, Music, Art, Economics, Literature) at UCLA. Those were actually not that bad. I've never seen test taking move so smoothly. However, an interesting thing that I saw was that during the break, there were actually people at UCLA who played Magic. Unfortunately, I didn't bring a deck, so I didn't join them. But I was still surprised to see that game still thriving at a University. That day reinforced my confidence in humanity a little while.

Lastly came the Superquiz, which are ten measly questions. They hardly mean anything to your score. However, they're broadcast on television and shown to the public. So, even though it means next to nothing, it's incredibly important for PR. Several schools study ONLY for the Superquiz and neglect the other material because it isn't as publicized. We aren't one of them. While the Superquiz seems easy doing an armchair analysis, there really IS a lot of pressure, and that affects your performance. Your entire team and everyone on TV is watching you. In addition that pressure, you only have 7 seconds to mark your answer. So, as I said, it's TOUGH. I only got half of the questions right, and I was surprised at what I got wrong.

Well, at the end of the Superquiz, we had 38 points out of 60. Now that doesn't sound all that good, but it suffices for our purposes (beating certain rival schools). And of course, we aren't hardcore like the really competitive schools (who get 56). They do TONS of studying, like studying after school until 8 PM and on weekends. Even I have some sliver of a life and other things to do than study for Academic Decathlon. But, all-in-all, we're satisfied with our score. Don't bother us. And expect more activity later on here... our responsibility has finished!


Joe Smith said...

Nice job, and good to have you back :)

And yes, Magic is still played at college. I went with a bunch of friends to the Morningtide Pre-Release at Pomona a few weeks ago. Have you ever gone to a pre-release?

cactaur said...

No, actually I haven't. What are those all about?