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Articles > Speaker scores

Speaker scores

Speaker scores are like wins and loses except for the individual. They are an indicator of how well a single person debates and are tallied up at the end of the tournament to determine your individual ranking.


Speaker Scores: A Misguided Rating System

Speaker scores are like ratings. A speaker score is a number out of 100 given to a speaker that says how good or bad a speaker individually performed. Key word- individual. Speaker scores tell you how good you are, not your team, or your partner, or your school. Also, they're the only indicator given by the MSPDP as to how well you're doing as a speaker.

Now, just because it's out of 100 doesn't mean that an average speaker gets a score of 50. Far from that. It is actually, to be honest, the most unfair, skewered, and subjective grading system out there. Click this link to see the actual judging rubric.

As you can probably see, this doesn't really look like it's out of 100. More like from 69-85. And that's how it is in tournaments.

Some Numbers:

  1. 75- The average score for a debater in a real tournament
  2. 89- The highest ever score given in a tournament
  3. 62- The lowest ever score given in a tournament
  4. 68-0- A bad debater
  5. 69- A bad score
  6. 70-73- A mediocre debater
  7. 74-75- An average debater
  8. 76-77- A good debater
  9. 78-79- A great debater
  10. 80- A superb debater
  11. 81-85- A lucky debater
  12. 86-100- No such thing

As you can see, it really isn't out of a 100. Most scores tend to hover in the 70s range. And despite what it looks like, most scores are actually 73s, 74s, and 75s. So if you do happen to get a 77, though the real judging rubric may say differently, you've done a great job in the debate. And even if you get a 74, consider yourself an average debater. Anything higher than an 80, and consider yourself crazy lucky.

And, by the way, the parts of the rubric higher than "80-84" are non-existant. Just cross them out. There's no such thing in a judge's mind, and there's nothing you can do about that.

You hopefully see by now that the grading scale depends upon your judge tremendously. Each judge has their own inherent, internal grading scale. Some may hand out 80s like their nothing, while another stingy judge may consider a 69 an incredibly high score. This can and always does skewer results in the end at the awards ceremony, and there's really nothing that you can do as a debater except ask the judge why you got such a bad and unfair score. That is why you shouldn't take these things to heart. Even though this is "your score", it really is just a shot-in-the-dark and doesn't reflect at all upon your actual skill.

*Key lesson* Don't let low scores discourage you.


A Well-Known Myth:

Many people assume that whichever team has the higher speaker score wins the debate. However, this isn't true. Speaker scores have no correlation with who wins or who doesn't win a debate.