Judging Basics

What are BEST Tournaments?

At our tournaments high school students compete in five public speech and debate categories in English – Poetry, Prose, Duo, Oratory, World Schools Debate. You can read more about the events and their rules here. Tournaments are spread over the course of a weekend, usually hosted by a high school, though previous tournaments have been held at the American University in Bulgaria and Sofia University.

What are rounds?

The timeslots during which students are competing are called rounds. In order to be able to fit a tournament over a weekend, we need to hold rounds for some categories at the same time. For example, if there is an Oratory and Duo round from 13:00 to 14:00 on Saturday, that means that there are Oratory students competing in some of the rooms and Duo students competing in other rooms at the same time. You can see the tournament schedule as soon as we release it by visiting the current tournament portal, accessed through our Tournaments page. Bear in mind that you will likely not be required to judge at every round – that time you can use to explore the host city and relax.

What are performances?

Rounds last approximately one hour. During a round, you will either see six individual students (competing in one of Oratory, Prose or Poetry), six teams of two students (competing in Duo), or two teams of three students (competing in Debate) in the room you are assigned to. In the first two cases the students will stand up, face you and the audience, and deliver their performance, complying with the appropriate rules for their category. There is a predetermined order to their performances. In Debate, the two teams will take seats at the front of the room facing each other and conduct a one-hour debate, each team defending a predetermined side of a topic announced in advance.

Why is judging important?

Due to the size of BEST Tournaments we need people fluent in English to help us with judging rounds. The judge’s role is to watch all the performances in their assigned room for the round, take notes, and then rank the students/teams from first to last, or to give the win to one of the debate teams. Judges are also required to provide constructive feedback to all students. All ranking, notetaking and feedback is written down on the judging ballot for the round, which we provide. Judging ballots are given to students at the end of the tournament so they can see their feedback , address the weak points in their performances and improve for the following tournament.

Will my expenses be covered?

BEST reimburses judges’ transport costs if they travel by either train, or car (if carpooling). If you want to travel by car but are alone, you can contact BEST and we will try to connect you to other people from your city, so all of you can travel faster and you can get reimbursed for the fuel costs. BEST also covers judges’ accommodation for the tournament – we will book and pay for your hotel room, bear in mind you might be assigned in a room with another judge whom you don’t know. If you are coming to a tournament with a friend, you can list those accommodation preferences in the judge signup form.

How do I sign up?

For instructions on the process of signing up to judge, as well as detailed policies and answers to some frequently asked questions, please go to our Judging page. The entire sign-up process, complete with familiarising yourself with our five categories and policies, takes around half an hour. We hope to see you at a BEST Tournament!