The Academic Decathlon (also called AcaDec, AcaDeca or AcDec) is the only annual high school academic competition organized by the non-profit United States Academic Decathlon Association (USAD). The competition consists of seven multiple choice tests, two performance events, and an essay. Academic Decathlon is designed to include students from all achievement levels. Teams generally consist of nine members, who are divided into three divisions based on grade point average: Honors (3.75–4.00 GPA), Scholastic (3.00–3.74 GPA), and Varsity (0.00–2.99 GPA). Each team member competes in all ten events against other students in his or her division, and team scores are calculated using the top two overall individual scores from each team in all three divisions. Gold, silver, and bronze medals are awarded for individual events and for overall scores. To earn a spot at the national competition in April, teams must advance through local, regional, and state competitions.
The ten events require knowledge in many academic disciplines. Students must take seven multiple choice tests in art, economics, language and literature, math, music, science and social science. These topics, with the exception of math, are thematically linked each year. One of the multiple choice events, alternating between science or social science, is chosen for the Super Quiz. In addition to the seven objective events, there are three subjective events graded by judges: essay, interview and speech.
Burke has participated in the Academic Decathlon competition every year since the 1996-97 school year, and has been the Nebraska state champion 8 times. Burke holds the record for the highest overall team score by a Nebraska team (48,337), set in 2008. In 2009, the Burke Academic Decathlon team placed second in Division I and fourth overall at the national competition.