How to Judge a World Schools Debate?

Coach Mike
Post by Coach Mike
How to Judge a World Schools Debate?


Taking part in a World Schools Debate is all very well, but without judging it is an incomplete experience! Yet there are many people who are not sure how to judge a World Schools Debate. Read on to find some advice for what to do when adjudicating in the World Schools Debate format.

The Elements of World Schools Debate

World Schools Debate has three main elements that a judge should be looking out for: Matter, Manner and Method. All three are crucial elements that you need to understand if you want to judge a World Schools Debate.


Matter refers to the content of a speech – arguments, examples, impacts, and rebuttals. What debaters say is obviously extremely important, so the first thing the judge in a World Schools Debate will do is look at what the two teams are saying. Matter is worth 40% of each debater’s score.


Manner refers to the delivery of a speech – style, clarity and confidence. Manner in World Schools Debate may refer to verbal delivery, such as how loud or quiet a speaker is, how fast or slow they speak, how much variation they have in their voice, their use of pauses and emphasis to draw in the listener – but it may also refer to non-verbal elements of delivery such as eye contact, posture and hand gestures. Like Matter, Manner counts for 40% of a speaker’s overall score.


The final element of World Schools Debate is Method – sometimes called Strategy. This refers to things like time management, organisation and so on. Many aspects of a speaker’s Method can be considered under other headings like Matter, but World Schools Debate encourages judges to think about these skills in separate categories so that all of them are considered when coming to a decision in a debate. Method accounts for the remaining 20% of a student’s score.

How to judge a World Schools Debate in a tournament

If you are new to judging a World Schools Debate, you would likely be assigned as a panel judge rather than a chair, but the essence is the same no matter your role. At the start of the debate, you would ask the debaters to write their names on the board (or in the Zoom chat) so that you can fill out your ballot with the correct names. During the debate, ensure you keep careful notes so that you have a clear understanding of the debate, but also so that you can offer feedback if you are asked for it.

Once the debate has finished, you should look over your notes, remind yourself of the key points in the round, and come to a preliminary view on the debate. In many World Schools Debate tournaments you may have the opportunity to confer with other judges just to clarify anything in the debate that you might have missed or not understood, but you will still be asked to fill out your own ballot and it is perfectly possible that the chair would be outvoted in a split decision – that is part of debate!

After the decision has been reached and announced, debaters may approach you for feedback. Part of learning to judge a World Schools Debate is providing useful feedback to debaters, so don’t skip this part.

World Schools Debate scoring system

You can find the World Schools Debate scoring range online. Generally you should give scores for each speech between 60 and 80, with 70 being the average score. Ensure you do not give scores outside this range, as the organisers will come to ask you why you gave such as score if you do!


There you have it, some of the basics on how to judge a World Schools Debate. Remember, the key is knowing the rules of World Schools Debate, careful listening during speeches, thoughtful weighing of the key clashes in the debate, and a willingness to give feedback to debaters after the round. Good luck!


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Coach Mike
Post by Coach Mike