Last Minute #DECAICDC Competition Tips & Tricks

Photo courtesy of @panthersdeca on Instagram.

Many of you are already starting to prepare for the upcoming International Carer Development Conference in hopes of to make it onto the international stage this year in sunny Anaheim, Calif.

You may be thinking, “How do I ace my competition?” What last minute concepts should I study? To speed your competition prep, I’ve compiled a list of DECA-essentials that are likely to appear on your exam and as performance indicators in your role-play.

These business basics are divided into their respective clusters; however, they are interconnected, so I recommend going through all of them. I have also included some role-play and exam tips for when you are in the competition!


  • Marketing mix (4 P’s of Marketing: Price, Product, Place, Promotion)
  • Product life cycle: development, introduction, growth, maturity, decline
  • Effective communication o Active listening, verbal/written communication skills, nonverbal communication
  • Preparing a report (organizing, researching, editing, formatting)
  • Business ethics: confidential information disclosure, privacy rights, copyright/trademarks/patents, workplace heath & safety
  • International business customs
  • Software and their functions: spreadsheets, presentations, database, groupware
  • Channels of distribution & respective functions (producer, wholesaler, retailer, agent, consumer)
  • Market research: methodology, how to interpret and analyze results
  • Promotional channels (word of mouth, commercials, print ads, trade shows, exhibitions) Finance
    • Professional correspondence: email openings/closings
  • How to prepare a SWOT analysis
  • Reach, frequency, exposure; most/least effective promotional channels


  • Financial statements: income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statement
  • Basic economics:
    • Supply/demand (graphs, changes in S+D, equilibrium)
    • Economies of scale
    • Competition
    • Business cycle
    • Market structures (monopoly, monopolistic competitor, oligopoly, perfect competition)
  • Debt financing vs equity financing
  • Cost/profit relationships, law of diminishing returns
  • Financial assets: stocks (preferred/common), dividends, bonds, mutual funds
  • Accounting ratios
  • Basic business law knowledge, key laws (Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes Oxley, etc.)
  • Different types of risk
  • Impact of global trade
  • Methods of payment: credit, debit, cash, cheque
  • Types of currency: (paper money, coins, banknotes, government bonds, treasury notes)
  • Functions of money (medium of exchange, unit of measure, store of value)
  • Sources of income (wages/salaries, interest, rent, dividends, transfer payments)
  • How to prepare basic financial statements
  • Personal finance: budgeting, monitoring expenses
  • Tracking flow of money

Business Administration

  • Inventory systems
  • Channels of communication within a company (vertical, horizontal)
  • Different types of customers (slow/methodical, how to deal with difficult customers)
  • Teamwork — what characteristics make a good leader?
  • Purchasing activities
  • Conflict resolution strategies
  • Production: costs, productivity
  • Career planning: job seeking, interview skills, resumé/cover letter
  • Management/leadership styles
  • Human resource development: orient/plan/staff/lead employees Hospitality and Tourism

Hospitality and Tourism

  • Position company/product to achieve desired brand image
  • Telecommunications in hotel and lodging
    • PBX system, call accounting system, automatic call dispensing, voicemail systems
  • Cleaning and maintenance responsibilities
    • Housekeeping standards, frequency schedules, fixed and variable labour (staff)
  • Functions of different departments within the lodging operation
    • Food and beverage, maintenance, marketing/sales, accounting, HR
    • Room availability, status, payment options, reservation policies
    • How to resolve booking conflicts, handling customers
  • Check-in/check-out procedure
  • Forecasting: maximizing occupancy
  • Safety: how guests are protected to minimize liabilities

I hope that these key concepts will help you get your studying on its way! Below I have included some tips for when you are in the competition!

Role-Play Tips

  • Wearing a watch allows you to keep track of your time during preparation and the actual presentation.
  • Make use of scrap paper! Organize your notes so you can easily access information you’ve written down.
  • Give yourself 30 seconds at the end of the prep to review everything you have before meeting with your judge.
  • Props are 100% personal preference. Some people have done extremely well with them, and others have done well without them. Only use them if you know they will enhance your presentation. (Graphs/charts can be useful in visually presenting your ideas) *Remember that no props can be pre-made!You must create your props during your role-play preparation time.
  • BONUS: Keep up with recent news! There’s always something you can use for role plays.

Exam Tips

  • Fill in every question. If you don’t know the answer, take a guess!
  • Pace yourself — don’t spend too much time on one question; mark it down and come back to it later.
  • Use all the multiple choice tips you’ve learned from test-taking in other classes! (process of elimination, grammar checking, go with your gut, etc)
  • After you’ve finished, go back and double check questions you were uncertain about.
  • If you have time left, don’t leave! Go through your exam as many times as possible.
  • If you want a good score, complete as many exams from previous years as you can. Questions do indeed repeat.

I want to wish you all good luck and I hope to see many of you on stage at #DECAICDC!

Follow Emily on Twitter @decavpemily.

Categories: Exam Prep, Home Page Compete, HS Competitive Events, Role-Play, Strategies, Written Prep