Judge Info

General Info

  • Judges may wear anything they like.  Comfortable shoes are recommended!
  • It will be a long day with sporadic periods of downtime throughout the tournament.  Please bring a book, laptop or something else to fill your time during breaks.
  • We will have snacks, lunch and drinks for sale.  However, it is recommended that you bring a good lunch to eat.  Leaving during the tournament will lead to your child being disqualified.  Please plan ahead for yourself and your child/children, especially should you have any special dietary concerns!
  • Know that without your participation these tournaments are NOT possible!  We all appreciate the wonderful opportunity provided to the students of the MPCSD.  Thank you for being an invaluable part of this amazing event!
  • Steps of a debate round can be found under Debate Steps & Tips.
  • Please see the Debate Terms if you are interested in the debater’s language.
  • Judges will receive various printouts and a brief training on Saturday morning.

Judge Requirements

  • At least 18 years old!
  • There is NO assumption you are a debate expert.  Do not feel any pressure, to understand the intricacies of debate or know everything that will be going on.  It is the debater’s job to explain what is going on in the round.  If they do not and you are not clear, then they didn’t fulfill their burden (job).
  • The most important job of a judge is to be as impartial as possible!  The teams do NOT pick what side they are in a debate round and may be forced to argue something, which they may not normally agree with.  Judge them on their logic and the quality of their arguments, NOT the position they took in regards to the topic or your own personal opinion.

Judging Process Outline

  1. All Judges:  Please find your 2 co-room judges and gather in the large multi before the topic is being announced.
  2. After topic is announced:  Please check posting as a group to confirm there are no conflicts of interest in your room.
  3. Judge Conflict:  Please inform Coach Brier as a group!
  4. Students will have 15 – 20 minutes to prepare (prep-time).  Please DO NOT talk to students at this time.
  5. Report to your room at least 10 minutes prior to debate start time.
  6. Select 1 head judge for the round; there must be 3 judges for each debate.
  7. When all 4 students arrived you may begin.  If a team is more than 2 min. late or has prepared the wrong side (gov/opp), please have 1 judge inform Coach Brier.  Otherwise, please start debate promptly.
  8. Prepare Ballots (ask for “Team Code”).  See sample ballot for questions.
  9. *Keep in mind, students WILL SEE written comments on ballot at a later time.
  10. Students are responsible for ALL aspects of the debate (including managing timers).  Please, try to minimize judge interference.
  11. Each round should take no more than 40 minutes (max. 28 min. for debate + 5 min. to fill out ballot + 5 min. feedback).  If you end early, see the FAQ below.
    • 5 min:  Government 1st constructive speech by “Prime Minister” (PM)
    • 5 min:  Opposition 1st constructive speech by “Leader of Opposition” (LO)
    • 5 min:  Gov 2nd constructive speech by “Member of Government” (MG)
    • 5 min:  Opp 2nd constructive speech by “Member of Opposition” (MO)
    • 4 min:  Gov rebuttal by “Prime Minister” (PM)
    • 4 min:  Opp rebuttal by “Leader of Opposition” (LO)
  12. When debate round is finished ask students to step outside of the room.
  13. Judges will fill out their ballot (5 min.) and ask students to return inside (the winner does not have to be unanimous).
  14. Head Judge announces winner and gives brief feedback (5 min. – only head judge speaks).
  15. ALL 3 JUDGES as a Group should immediately return completed ballots to the large multi (Judge Table).  Make sure ALL blanks are filled in and do NOT stop for conversations.  This is critical for keeping the tournament on schedule.
  16. There should be ~30 min. between debates for new pairings and prep-time.

Judging Process Details

  • Debaters Job:  Debaters are adults for the duration of the tournament.  It is their job to write down the topic and know what side (gov/opp) they are on.  If a team is not prepared, that is their own fault.  You may hold that against them.
    Debaters are in control of their Speech time, so it their job to make sure that it isn’t used up by the other side through P.O.I.’s.
    Be respectful in their conduct, both during a debate round and at the tournament.
  • Debaters Age:  Please keep in mind that the debaters are elementary students, who still have a limited understanding of larger concepts about the world.  Don’t be surprised, if there are students that think houses cost around $10,000 to build, or that police make laws.  Feel free to be critical, but also give them some leeway due to their age.
  • Point’s of Information (P.O.I.’s):  Is a way for the side that is not currently giving their speech, to get permission to ask 1 quick & short Question (NOT make a statement)!  Each debater is encouraged to use 2 or more P.O.I.’s per speech (min. 6 during a debate round).
    A debater on the team that is NOT currently speaking may stand, raise their hand and state “Point of Information or P.O.I.”.  Now the debater who is giving their speech has three choices.  They can “Decline” it, “Accept” it or “Accept with a condition”.  If the P.O.I. was declined, the other debater will sit back down.  If the P.O.I. is accepted, the other debater may ask their question.
  • Who Wins:  You may factor in a student’s “presentation” to decide who wins the debate round.  However, debate rounds are not “speech competitions”.  They are to be decided on the quality of the team’s arguments and their ability to persuade you.  The win should not simply go to whoever “spoke best”.
  • Speaker Points:  Are a separate competition within the tournament, which rank a debater’s speaking skills.  Often the individual best speaker is not on the team that wins first place at the tournament.  This is where you will assess and rank each individual speaker’s non-verbal (eye contact, hand gestures, fidgeting – different from “strategic walking”, etc.) and verbal delivery, as well as their overall speaking ability.  Keep in mind, speaker points do NOT factor in if the debater’s team wins or not.  They are NOT team-based.  They are entirely individual.
  • Feedback:  A good rule of thumb is to start by saying something they did well, then something they “could improve on” (positive criticism).  You will have a chance to give verbal feedback at the end of the round.  Please be mindful of your words, when giving written feedback on your ballot, since students might read them.

Judges FAQ

  • What if I discover a conflict of interest in my room?
    ONLY the judge with a conflict!  Please come back to the Gym/Small Multi immediately and inform Coach Brier.  The other judges STAY in the room.
  • What if I run out of ballots?
    There should be enough ballots for 6 rounds of judging.  Please do not take unused ballots with you outside of your room.  If you did not have enough ballots to begin with, please come to the Tab room.
  • When filling out my ballot, do I put who I THINK won?
    YES!  The winner of the debate round does NOT need to be unanimous.  We will double-check each of the 3 votes and note who won overall (split decisions are common).
  • What if we ended early?
    That’s OK.  Students do not need to use all their time.  If they end sooner, it may speed up the process.  Please return all three completed ballots to the Tab room as a group.  Then you are free to take a break!
  • What if I want to see my child debate and I haven’t had a chance?
    Please let us know during prep-time.  We do our best to give everyone a chance to watch their child debate.