Judge Training

We want you to join the team and become a judge for our Speech and Debate team! You can choose to judge either Speech or Debate.

Getting Started

Judge Training and Background Checks

Before you can actually attend a tournament and judge, you have to be trained and pass a background check. Follow these  steps to get started:

  1.  Get trained. We will offer virtual judge training at the beginning of the school year and also provide online materials on this page which you can use to train yourself.  You choose to get trained in Speech or Debate.
  2. Complete a Asheville City School Background Check. Each parent that travels to the tournaments must complete a background check. Please click Secure Volunteer and select Chaperone when you are filling out form. You will receive a confirmation email once you have successfully passed the background check. Please email that confirmation to Will Smith at will.smith@ascgmail.net. You will receive a SecureVolunteer VERIFIED card from Asheville City Schools in the regular mail after you pass the background check.
  3. Create a Tabroom account. Watch How to create a Tabroom account video

    Training Materials and Videos

    New Judges

    The idea of judging students in Speech and Debate can sound intimidating. But once you get trained and attend your first tournament, judging moves from serious to mirthful. Judging is fun and we encourage you to participate. The following links train you for any type of judging:

    Judging Virtually Using Tabroom

    The 2020-2021 Speech and Debate tournaments will be held virtually through Tabroom. Everyone, parents and students, should watch the following instructional video on how to see your virtual Tabroom in which you will judge and compete.

    How to see your virtual round from Tabroom

    How To Use Online Ballots

    You use an online ballot to judge Speech and Debate events.  The following links will show you how to use an online ballot for the type of event you choose to judge:

Judging Speech Overview

This overview was originally written for in-person Speech judging. It will vary for the virtual world.

In speech, a typical round will contain six different contestants, although this number can fluctuate depending on how many students are entered in the event.  Prior to the start of the round, the judge will pick up a set of ballots from the tournament organizer. These ballots are where judges will record their thoughts on each performance, suggestions for improvement, and general feedback for the performer. At the end of the tournament, each school will receive all the ballots written about their competitors so contestants can use your feedback to improve!

The judge will meet the students in the assigned room and watch the entirety of the round, which usually lasts for one hour. During each speech, the judge will make notes on the ballot, keep the contestant’s time, and ensure the round runs smoothly.

Students will occasionally ask for time signals, it is up to you whether or not you would like to honor that request. Time signals are a simple system that let competitors know how much time they have used throughout the speech. The most common time signals are to alert the student when they have two minutes remaining by holding two of your fingers in the air, like a peace sign, and to alert them when they have one minute remaining by holding one finger in the air. Please note you do not need to give time signals when virtual judging.

In speech, it is common for competitors to enter in more than one event for the tournament, this is called being cross-entered or double-entered. Student’s who are double-entered should be allowed to speak earlier in the round if they have another event to go to, and should be excused for entering the round late if they were competing in a different event in the same round.

At the end of the round, the judge will evaluate the speakers and rate them on a scale from one to six, with the best performance receiving the one ranking. Depending on the tournament, you may be asked to assign competitors speaker points, typically on a scale from 90-100, with 100 being outstanding. After the rankings are complete, judges should return their ballots to the tournament organizer.

During preliminary rounds of the tournament, there is usually only one judge per round. However, when students begin competing in elimination rounds, rounds will have more than one judge. This is called a panel.

Sample Paper Ballots:

Judging Debate Overview

Public Forum (PF) and Lincoln-Douglas (LD)

In debate, each round will have two debaters, or two teams, depending on the event.  Prior to the start of the round, the judge will pick up a ballot from the tournament organizer. The ballot is where judges will record their thoughts on each performance, suggestions for improvement, and general feedback for the performer. At the end of the tournament, each school will receive all the ballots written about their competitors so contestants can use your feedback to improve!

There are two sides to every debate, one side supports the resolution being debated, the other side negates the resolution. In Policy Debate and Lincoln-Douglas Debate, the sides will have been decided before the round. In Public Forum Debate sides are determined by a coin flip at the beginning of the round.

All debate events have a unique order to the round, divided into three parts: speeches, cross-examination, and prep time. Speeches are where the bulk of the debating is done, with each team presenting and reinforcing their arguments while refuting their opponents. It is common for judges to flow a debate, which means the judges will take notes about the speeches in order to keep track of the debate.

Cross-Examination is a period of time where debaters can ask each other questions. There are some differences between kinds of debate, but the purpose of cross-examination remains the same; asking questions that will allow the debater to make stronger arguments. It is up to you whether or not to flow this part. Typically, this is not a time for debaters to be making arguments, instead, it is to clarify their opponents positions.

Each event gives debaters a set amount of prep time, where competitors can take a moment to prepare for the next part of the debate. Competitors can take prep time between speeches and should notify the judges when they begin and end prep.

The judge will watch the entirety of the debate and then decide which side won. Depending on the tournament, judges can give an oral critique or disclose the results of the round. An oral critique is when the judge provides the debaters with immediate feedback by talking with both sides after the debate. Similarly, a disclosure is when the judge reveals which side won the debate right after the round.  Neither of these are necessary, and, be sure to check with the tournament organizer before giving oral critiques or disclosing. When filling out the ballot, you may be asked to assign competitors speaker points, typically on a scale from 20-30, with 30 being outstanding. After the decision has been made, judges should return their ballots to the tournament organizer.

During preliminary rounds of the tournament, there is usually only one judge per round. However, when students begin competing in elimination rounds, rounds will have more than one judge. This is called a panel.

Sample Paper Ballots:

Lincoln Douglas Paper Ballots:

Public Forum Paper Ballots

Judging Congress

Congress debate is a mock debate where students debate as if they were representatives.

Written Instruction and Sample Paper Ballots

Look here for written instruction on judging Congress and sample Congress ballots: Congress Written Instruction and Sample Ballot

Congress Judge Training Videos

Please watch the following videos in the order they appear on the screen.

Start Judging

Once you are trained and pass the background check, you can judge in tournaments. To judge, follow these steps:

  1. Select which tournaments you want to judge. See the  2020-2021 AHS Speech and Debate Tournament Schedule
  2. Sign Up for tournaments: Our Judging Coordinator will send out an email requesting judges for each tournament. Use the Sign Up Genius link to sign up. https: Tournament Signup Genius Form
  3. Attend Tournaments.  Tournaments for the 2020-2021 Speech and Debate season will be held virtually. Join us on Tabroom and judge students from the comfort of your living room, home office or COVID-safe cafe. No, you don’t get to judge your own child. But you get to spend the day with students and see what an amazing activity in which your child has chosen to be involved.