The Experience > What You'll Learn

What You'll Learn

You’ll always learn something different. 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. The more years you participate in Academic Decathlon, the more themes you’ll master. And, since our curriculum team develops these themes with special attention to national content standards, you’ll find you’re becoming not just a more knowledgeable Academic Decathlete, but a stronger all-around student.

The theme for the 2020-2021 Academic Decathlon is The Cold War. 

The U.S. Academic Decathlon is excited to announce that the overall curricular theme for 2020–2021 will be The Cold War. Following is some general information on the topics in each of the subject areas.

  • SCIENCE: The science topic will be an introduction to astronomy.
  • LITERATURE: The literature curriculum will include critical reading, one long work of literature, and selected shorter works. The long work of literature will be Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut J.
  • ART: The art curriculum will include a section on art fundamentals and will largely focus on an exploration of art during the Cold War.
  • MUSIC: The music curriculum will introduce students to various musical works from the Cold War era.
  • SOCIAL SCIENCE: The social science curriculum will introduce students to the history of the Cold War.
  • ECONOMICS: The economics curriculum will cover fundamental economic concepts, microeconomics, and macroeconomics and will also include a thematic section on the economics of the Cold War.
  • MATHEMATICS: The mathematics curriculum will cover general mathematics, geometry, and an introduction to differential calculus.


Please see the full subject area outlines for more details. You can also order study materials through our program brochure. Our team prepares approachable resource guides and helpful practice tests and other tools that you can use with your team to do your best on competition day.