Debate Format

“New for this year’s virtual tournament includes a few changes in the debate format. While the 3 speakers, the role and times for their speeches will remain unchanged: points of information (POIs) have been replaced with a 3 question cross-examination following each of the first four constructive speeches. This aims to provide the same quick thinker direct interaction between debaters that were previously provided by POIs. Debaters will also be required to speak with their webcams on, providing video on the Zoom conference. A full list of changes will be published soon once finalized by the executive committee.”


Category: High School (HS) and Middle School (MS), separately.
Individual Debate Format (Parliamentary Style):


  • Each team consists of 3 members. Each member has a role to play.
  • Proposition defines the topic and unless not debatable, the opposition should accept the definition.
  • The burden of proof lies with the proposition. The opposition does not have to necessarily prove the opposite rather negate the proposition’s case.
  • Each speaker has a role and must be judged based on the fulfillment of that role. Thus the rubric will have a section that reflects this.
  • Individual roles of speakers:
  • 1st speaker defines the topic, which includes defining the key terms and the stance of the proposition, introduces the argument and lays down the structure of the argument. He/She may also argue one aspect/point of the topic.
  • 1st speaker opposition will accept or contest the definition. If the opposition decides to contest the definition they should have a solid reason to do so and to prove why the proposition’s definition is inadequate, inappropriate, unfair or undebatable. Further, the 1st speaker of the opposition should lay down the structure of their argument and lay down their case. He/She must provide rebuttal for the 1st proposition’s argument.
  • 2nd speakers on both sides will have to first offer rebuttals to the speakers before them and then lay down any arguments of their own. They should also reiterate their 1st speaker’s points to strengthen the structure of the argument of their team. Their’s will be the bulk of the argument or case.
  • In the interest of time, we have decided that this year we will combine the 3rd speaker and the rebuttal speech into one. Thus the 3rd speaker will be concluding the speech for their side. In this case the 3rd speaker opposition will go first. The primary job of the 3rd speaker will thus be to summarize the case. They should ideally summarize both sides, crush the case of the opposite side and consolidate their own side. The 3rd speakers may not bring anything new and there may be no interjections in their speech.
  • Each speaker in their own time must give a complete argument for their stance. An argument may not be spread out over two speakers. In other words, each speaker must prove their stance on their own.
  • There must be a clear structure to the team’s argument and the division between the two speakers for their points must be clear.
  • After the first minute, interjections are permitted by the opposing team. To interject, one may stand and say “Point of information”. The speaker is then free to either accept or reject the request. If acknowledged, the questioner may then ask his or her question; otherwise, he or she must immediately be seated. Repeated interjections are allowed; however, no interjections are permitted in the final minute of a speech.
  • Accepting and answering an opponent’s interjections is strongly recommended. This demonstrates the strength of one’s case and self-confidence. However, one is advised against taking too many questions; this drives the speaker off track. The judges should be able to see that the speaker has the command of the floor.

Order and time given for each speaker are listed in the table below

Order Debater Preliminary Semifinal Final
1 1st Proposition 5 5 5
2 1st Opposition 5 5 5
3 2nd Proposition 5 5 5
4 2nd Opposition 5 5 5
5 3rd Opposition/Rebuttal 3 3 3
6 3rd Proposition/Rebuttal 3 3 3



(Subject to Change – Please contact for current format)

Each school may enter up to four teams.
All teams are involved in the preliminary rounds. There will be 3 preliminary rounds. The teams will be paired at random for the first round. However, in the second and the third round, the teams will be paired according to their scores to make the debates more balanced and allow for improvement within compatible teams. This will help increase the quality of the debates and help individual teams to improve their performance. The top four teams for each the middle and high school debates will be selected as semi-finalists according to the cumulative scores achieved in the three preliminary rounds. They will not be selected according to how many wins or losses they had. The two Semifinals for each group will also be held simultaneously in two classrooms based on the preliminary round ranking (see event diagram below).
The topics for the first and second preliminary round will be given out before but the third preliminary round will be impromptu. The topic will be given in the main hall and the debaters will be required to begin as soon as they have made it into the assigned rooms. This will allow them about 5 minutes to establish their stance, work on the structure of their argument and line of reasoning. We believe that the debaters can actually do this and will manage just fine. This will be an extra exercise for them in their mind and will help in the skill building that this debate tournament is all about.

Finals will be held in the main hall.

All MS and HS debates are separate events and they will be held in separate rooms simultaneously, except the Finals. The MS and the HS finals will go on back to back.
Each debate will have a best speaker based on the individual score achieved. An overall best speaker will be chosen based on the cumulative score achieved by the individual debaters.


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