World Schools Debate Rules

Coach Andy
Post by Coach Andy
World Schools Debate Rules

What is World Schools Debate?

World Schools Debate, also known as WSDC, is one of the most common debate formats in the world. It is most typically used in schools debating, hence the name; it is the format of debate used in the World Schools Debating Championships, which take place every year.

Over time, World Schools Debate has grown to become arguably the most widespread schools debating format in the world. But many people are uncertain of the World Schools Debate rules. In this article, we will look at some of the most important World Schools Debate rules and how to understand them so that you will be ready to compete in a World Schools Debate competition.

World Schools Debate Rules - Before the debate

  • World Schools Debate format is one of the most common formats in the world – used in the World Schools Debating Championships (WSDC), our own World Schools Debating League (WSDL), and many other tournaments.
  • WSDC debates take place between two teams, the Proposition (or Government) and the Opposition debating on a topic, or motion, which they are given beforehand.
  • WSDC teams comprise between 3 and 5 members (up to 7 members in WSDL). In any given round, only 3 students will speak, although the other 2 join them during prep time. Teams often rotate their lineup from round to round, in order to give everyone a chance to speak or to rest.
  • Some competitions may have prepared rounds where the topic is announced before the tournament, giving teams the chance to prepare in depth. Most rounds are impromptu rounds, where the topic is given to debaters 30-60 minutes before the debate.
  • During prep time, all the students on the team can participate even if they are not speaking in the debate. No use of internet or phones is permitted during prep time except for online communication with each other, and there should be no contact with

World Schools Detate Rules - During the debate

  • At the end of prep time, the debate will begin. Coaches and non-speaking team members are not allowed to help or speak to debaters during the round, although giving visible time signals to speakers is permitted if they wish.
  • Speech times in WSDC are a maximum of 8 minutes in length, except for reply speeches which are maximum 4 minutes. There is no minimum length for speeches, but speakers should fill as much of their time as possible.
  • Speakers may offer Points of Information (POIs) – short questions to their opponents. The debater currently speaking has the right to accept or refuse as many or as few POIs as they wish; typically they should aim to accept 1-2 POIs during their speech.
  • Once the POI has been made, the speaker should then respond to the point before continuing with their speech. POIs may not be offered in the first or last minute of a speech, nor in Reply speeches.

World Schools Debate Rules - After the debate

  • Once the debate has concluded, all team members should leave the room (or wait in the online debate room) while the judge deliberates. If there are multiple judges in the round, they will have a brief discussion on the debate and then vote independently on the result.
  • Once the judges have conferred, the teams should return to the room to hear an oral adjudication, normally from the chair of the judging panel, which will announce the result and give brief reasons for the decision.
  • Afterwards, debaters are encouraged to approach adjudicators for individual feedback on their speeches and cases. This should in all circumstances be done politely and respectfully!


There you have it, some of the main World Schools Debate rules that you should know to do a World Schools Debate. Hopefully this will help you navigate your next WSDC debate with confidence! Feeling ready? Get involved in the World Schools Debating League today!

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Coach Andy
Post by Coach Andy