World Schools vs PF Debate - What's Best for You?

Coach Andy
Post by Coach Andy
World Schools vs PF Debate - What's Best for You?

World Schools vs PF Debate

World Schools Debate and PF Debate (or Public Forum) are two of the most popular debate formats in the world, particularly at High School level. However, it can be difficult to choose between them, or understand the similarities and differences between these two popular debate formats. In this article, we will consider World Schools vs Public Forum – which one is best for you?


The first big difference between World Schools and PF Debate comes in the preparation for topics. In Public Forum debate, you will typically have the same topic for a couple of months or perhaps even an entire semester. This allows you to go into a lot more depth in your research for the topic – taking time to scour the internet for suitable facts, statistics and quotes, and carefully building your case based on the available evidence.

In World Schools debate, by contrast, it is quite normal for tournaments to be completely impromptu – in other words, for topics to only be announced at the competition. Even where there are prepared motions in WSDC debate, they only form one or two rounds of the whole competition – so while preparation and research is important, it is not the be-all and end-all, as it is in PF debate.

Role of Evidence in World Schools and PF debate

Another big difference comes in the role of evidence in these common debate formats. Public Forum is an evidentiary format of debate – in other words, your performance in a PF debate stands or falls on the quality of your evidence. Is it recent? Is it persuasive and authoritative? And is it relevant? These are crucial questions, and a debate can easily be won or lost on a single excellent – or shoddy – piece of evidence.

In World Schools debate, on the other hand, evidence plays a much smaller role. Even in a prepared motion, any facts and statistics you may gather are there only to illuminate and explain the logic and reasoning in your argument. Citing an expert, or dropping an interesting stat during your speech, will certainly help your credibility – but it will not win you a World Schools debate. Only sound reasoning and important impacts will do that.

Debate Format

The final major difference between World Schools debate and PF debate comes in the format of the debate itself. Most crucially, PF debate speeches are significantly shorter – just 4 minutes for a constructive or rebuttal speech, and then 3 and 2 minutes for the summary and final focus speeches respectively.

But if you are doing a World Schools debate, you may have up to 8 minutes to present your case. This is an opportunity but also a danger – because it’s easy to try to cram too much into a long speech and end up with something that is messy and hard to follow. Structure and organization are important in all formats of debate, but particularly in WSDC debate.

Finally, there is a crucial difference in engagement with the opponent in these two formats. In PF debate, you will engage in a period of crossfire after each pair of speeches, with debaters having three minutes to fire questions and answers at each other across the floor. In World Schools debate, there is no such feature – instead, you can ask Points of Information (POIs) at any time during your opponent’s speech – but it’s up to them whether they take it or not.


That’s an overview of some of the key differences between World Schools Debate and PF Debate – but there are others. Take a look at some debate videos and decide which you prefer! To learn more about competing in World Schools Debate head over to our WSDL website, or check out our courses below!

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Coach Andy
Post by Coach Andy