Frequently Asked Questions

What will be debated?

A list of topics for the debate competition have been posted to the topics page. Topics were selected to provide a range of debates on current political and social affairs that can be engaged by the motivated middle school student.


What happens after topic announcement?

Before each scheduled round debate, a topic will be announced. Debaters will have 15 minutes of preparation time to review their notes, speak with their coaches and teammates, and copy notes or other information for use in the upcoming debate.


What materials and assistance may be accessed during the preparation time?

Before a debate tournament or competition, or during preparation time, students may review any and all information that would help them prepare for a debate. They may review books from the library, current event articles in newspapers and magazines, websites, class notes, and written records of debate meetings and previous debates. They may speak to teachers, coaches, teammates, parents, friends, and others.


What notes and materials may be referenced once the round has begun?

During preparation time, the debaters are encouraged to write any notes they wish to reference during the round.  Only materials generated during this preparation time may be used once the debate round has begun.

Once the debate begins, students may not employ any materials, even hand written notes, that were created prior to the start of preparation time. In particular, students may not read a manuscript written in advance.  Students may also not access electronic resources (cell phones, computers, etc.) during the round.  The use of prepared materials is a serious violation of the rules and may result in forfeiture.


What does a debate round look like?

The proposition team is expected to support the topic with argumentation and answer any argumentation offered by the opposition team. Conversely, the opposition team's objective is to offer counter-argumentation to address the proposition team's arguments and/or the topic in principle.

Each debate team is comprised of 3 students. One student takes on the role as the first speaker for their team; another student contributes as the second speaker for the team; and the third student is the team’s rebuttal speaker. Each round is a competition between 2 debate teams.              


What are “Points of Information?”

One of the conventions of parliamentary style debate is the Point of Information.  A Point of Information (also known as a POI, pronounced “P-O-I”) is a brief, yet direct challenge to the speaker  in the form of single comment or question. Points of Information are an expected form of engagement by both proposition and opposition teams.

A POI offered by an opponent after the first and before the last minute of each constructive speech, may be accepted at the discretion of the speaker holding the floor. The speaker accepts only a single point at a time. The person making a Point of Information may not interrupt the speaker’s answer to the point, make a two-part question, ask a follow-up question, or make any other comment unless the speaker agrees to it by accepting an additional Point of Information. Highly effective POI's are articulated in 15 seconds or less, as these serve to communicate specific intentions, strategies or argumentation to the audience, judge and speaker.


When is new argumentation appropriate?

The first four speeches are considered constructive speeches. In these speeches, each team is expected to construct, or build, arguments that support their side (proposition or opposition). New arguments welcomed in any of these speeches.

The strategic purpose of the final speaker for each team is to offer rebuttal and summary comments. In these speeches, the speaker is expected to evaluate the arguments made by both teams and communicate how in comparison their team has offered the more salient, relevant and substantive argumentation. Any new argumentation offered by either rebuttal speaker will simply be disregarded by the judge. A new argument is defined as an argument that has no foundation in the proceeding constructive speeches.