What Happens During a DECA Competition – Local, Regionals, State, Internationals

Going into your first DECA competition can be scary! Knowing what to expect and how to prepare can be very helpful. In this guide, I will break down what happens during various DECA competitions.

Role-Play Events

To begin, during DECA competitions there are two main events: role-play and written events. Of course, there are a few other smaller ones, but these are the main two. Role-play events take place at all competitions, and written events typically only take place at state and international competitions. Role-play events can seem intimidating, but the best way to prepare is to practice and know what to expect. Role-plays are broken into two parts: the exam portion and verbal portion. Although times can vary from competition to competition, typically during the exam portion you are given 90 minutes to answer 100 questions. You are in a room with other competitors in your event and are given a packet and scantron. Typically, you can not leave the room until everyone else is finished with the test.

For the verbal portion of the role-plays, you are given 10 minutes to take notes and 10 minutes to present to a judge. Note-taking time increases if you are in a team event, but for individuals it is typically 10 minutes. You are given a packet with the prompt, and read and take notes for ten minutes. Then, you walk up to the judge, give them your identification sticker and begin presenting. At the end of your presentation, the judge may ask a few questions. In general, role-plays tend to be pretty standard.

Written Events

Written events tend to be pretty straight forwards. Some events have an exam, and some are just the presentation. Typically, during the exam you have to answer 100 questions in 90 minutes on a scantron. For the presentation, you have access to a computer or I-Pad for presenting, a clicker, a poster-board, hand-outs and whatever else you may need. Presentation lengths vary per event, but are typically in between 10 and 20 minutes. It is important to be well prepared for written events, as you are given no preparation time before presenting.

What is the DECA Competition Dress Code?

Before competing, it is important that you adhere to the DECA dress code. Failing to meet the dress code can result in anywhere from a point deduction to complete dismissal depending on the severity of the violation. Boys should wear a suit and dress shoes. Girls should wear either nice pants or a skirt below the knees (yes it should ACTUALLY be below the knees), and a nice blouse with a blazer. Additionally, anything “loud” should be taken off/covered, including distracting jewelry and nail polish (neutral nails are okay).

What Happens During Local DECA Competitions

Most DECA chapters offer a local or “mini” competition. These competitions tend to be pretty informal. While you still may need to dress up, there is generally less pressure in the air as only a few school are competing. For local competitions, your chapter leaders may be running them. You are typically given a time to come in, and present to a judge as normal. Prizes are given in a few meetings, that include certificates or medals.

What Happens During Regional DECA Competitions

Regionals competitions are typically an exciting time. Typically a large portion of your chapter will advance to regionals to compete. During regionals you are typically limited to one conference center, and everyone follows dress code. There is a schedule with your events posted, and you must attend your events a few minutes early. It is possible that events run early, so you do not want to be late! After competitions are finished, there is typically a mini-awards ceremony and a grand awards ceremony. During these ceremonies you are awarded medals for placing top three in different categories. To make state, it is up to your chapter advisors. Your results at regionals are not dependent on making the state team (unless your advisor adds a requirement).

What Happens During State Competitions

State competitions is really where DECA gets EXCITING! Although every state competition is different, I compete at the Illinois State Competition. State is typically 2 nights at a convention center. Competitions run through both days, and are usually divided by written events and role-plays. It is important to arrive at your events early, as a missed event disqualifies you. Aside from your events, there are usually fun activities, banquets, performances, and other entertainment. There is also a grand awards, where competitors are called to the stage to receive plaques.

What Happens During International Competitions (ICDC)

ICDC is the most exciting DECA event of the year! This 4 day conference is exciting, intense, and super fun! You will most likely get a lot of free time, just because you will only be competing once or twice. Be prepared for early mornings spent traveling to the convention center. Aside from competing, there is lots of entertainment, excitement, and relaxation. The grand awards ceremony is fun, but can get very very long! There is also typically a college fair happening.

If you want to MASTER role-plays check out How to Master DECA Role-Plays – taking notes, performance indicators, strategies

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