Policy debate

Policy debate is a form of speech competition in which teams of two advocate for and against a resolution that typically calls for policy change by the United States Federal Government. It is also referred to as cross-examination debate (sometimes shortened to Cross-X, CX, or C-X) because of the 3-minute questioning period following each constructive speech. Affirmative teams generally present a plan as a proposal for implementation of the resolution. However, many teams also partake in alternative forms of argumentative presentation that do not focus on the acceptance or rejection of a specific plan.

High school policy debate is sponsored by the National Forensic League, the National Catholic Forensic League, the National Christian Forensics and Communication Association, or one of the regional speech organizations. Collegiate debates are generally competed under the guidelines of National Debate Tournament (NDT), the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA), and the National Educational Debate Association (NEDA). However, NDT and CEDA have been joined at the collegiate level.


The origins of academic debates in the United States appear to have been initially in intracollegiate debating societies, in which students would engage in (often public) debates against their classmates. Wake Forest University's debate program claims to have its origins in student literary societies founded on campus in the mid-1830s, which first presented joint "orations" in 1854. Many debating societies that were founded at least as early as the mid-nineteenth century are still active today, though they have generally shifted their focus to intercollegiate competitive debate. In addition to Wake Forest, the debate society at Northwestern University dates to 1855. Boston College's Fulton Debating Society, which was founded in 1868, continues to stage an annual public "Fulton Prize Debate" between teams of its own students after the intercollegiate debate season has ended. Other universities continue similar traditions.

Intercollegiate debates have been held since at least as early as the 1890s. Historical records indicate that debates between teams from Wake Forest University and Trinity College (later Duke University) occurred beginning in 1897. Additionally, a debate between students from Boston College and Georgetown University occurred on May 1, 1895, in Boston. Whitman College debated Washington State University, Willamette University, and the University of Idaho in the late 1890s. Southwestern College claims to have hosted the first intercollegiate debate tournament, but does not provide a date in which the supposed tournament took place. Southwestern claims that the first debate held on its campus was between Southwestern and Fairmount College (which eventually became Wichita State University) but that debate could not have occurred prior to 1895, the year Fairmount College began classes.

By the mid 1970s, structured rules for lengths of speeches developed. Each side (affirmative and negative) was afforded two opening "constructive" speeches, and two closing "rebuttal" speeches, for a total of eight speeches per debate. Each speaker was cross-examined by an opponent for a period following his or her constructive speech. Traditionally rebuttals were half the length of constructives, but when a style of faster delivery speed became more standard in the late 1980s this time structure became problematic--the round often turned on whether or not 1AR could cover, or address all relevant issues, because if he or she could, then the 2NR would in turn be overloaded, but if he or she couldn't, the 2NR simply needed to pick the argument most undercovered, and it would be game over. (For an explanation of speeches, please see Event Structure, below.)

Wake Forest University introduced reformed speech times in both its college (9-6 instead of 10-5) and high school (8-5 instead of 8-4) tournaments, which spread rapidly to become the new de facto standards.

Style and delivery


Policy debaters' speed of delivery will vary from league to league and tournament to tournament. In many tournaments, debaters will speak very quickly in order to read as much evidence and make as many arguments as possible within the time-constrained speech. This practice is commonly referred to as "spreading." "Spewing" is a similar term, but can carry negative connotations, such as speeding done poorly. However, in the western United States spewing is the typical term.

This rapid-fire delivery is a sometimes perceived in a negative light, especially by those outside of the debate community. Rapid delivery is encouraged by those who believe that increased quantity and diversity of argumentation makes debates more educational. Others, citing scientific studies, claim that learning to speak faster also increases short and long term memory. A slower style is preferred by those who want debates to be understandable to lay people and those who claim that the pedagogical purpose of the activity is to train rhetorical skills. Others claim that the increased speed encourages debaters to make several poor arguments, as opposed to a few high quality ones. Most debaters will vary their rate of delivery depending upon the judge's preferences. However, with the notable exception of certain regions, most debates no longer include outside perspective as a criterion for judging the debate itself.

Some unskilled debaters slur words together making their speeches nearly unintelligible at times. Many critics are willing to prompt debaters by yelling "clear!" or variants when they can no longer understand. Most judges will deduct from the speaker points of a debater whom they consider unclear.

See the following for a discussion of the issues.

  • Dr. David M Cheshier (2003). "Debating Faster Teams". The Rostrum 77 (5): unnumbered. available at
  • Paul Harens (2003). "To exist or not exist- that is the question". The Rostrum 77 (7): 55. available at


Debaters utilize a specialized form of note taking, called flowing, to keep track of the arguments presented during a debate. Conventionally, debater's notes are divided into separate flows for each different argument in the debate round (kritiks, disads, topicalities, etc.). There are multiple methods of flowing but the most common style incorporates columns of arguments made in a given speech which allows the debater to match the next speaker's responses up with the original arguments. Some refer to this as the "civil war reenactment" style of flowing. Certain shorthands for commonly used words are used to keep up with the rapid rate of delivery. For example, the abbreviation 'HR' may be used to denote 'Human Rights'. HR can also stand for "House Resolution." The abbreviations or stand-in symbols can and do vary between debaters.

Flowing on a laptop has become more and more popular among high school and college debaters. While certain schools, tournaments, and judges may have reservations about the effect such practices have on the activity, more and more laptops are utilized for flowing. Some debaters use a basic computer spreadsheet; others use specialized Flowing Templates, which includes embedded shortcut keys for the most common formatting needs. The increasing use of laptops has shed light on new debate within the debate community regarding fairness, education, and competitive equity. A large portion of opposition is out of the fear that some debaters may use a school's wireless internet network to research during a round. There are several disadvantages to flowing on a laptop. Debaters must either find an electrical outlet into which to plug the laptop or risk their battery dying. A laptop may crash, eliminating any flows or additional evidence.


It is important to note that while there are many accepted standards in policy debate, there is no written formulation of rules. The "theory argument" comes into play here when debaters debate about what is actually best for policy debate.

Burdens of the affirmative

Stock issues

One traditional policy debate theory states that the affirmative team must win certain issues, called the stock issues. The affirmative team must demonstrate a harm in the status quo, present a plan that solves the harm, and prove that there is a inherent barrier that prevents the plan from happening in the status quo. While these three issues usually frame the structure of the first affirmative speech, it has become a minority view among debaters that the affirmative must win one hundred percent risk of each issue.


Other external benefits that are created in addition to solving the harms addressed by the affirmative are called advantages. While an affirmative team isn't required to present any advantages in their case in order to fulfill the affirmative burdens, they are often included for strategic reasons to prove the affirmative case is preferable over the status quo. It is difficult to win on the affirmative side without advantages. The negative team will often present disadvantages which contend that the affirmative plan causes undesirable consequences, so the affirmative team often needs countervailing advantage to generate a net positive outcome. It is helpful to mitigate the disadvantages run by the neg. Like disadvantages, advantages often have exaggerated or unrealistic impacts, such as causing world peace and ending racism forever.

The teams may also present a decision calculus for the judge to decide the case: for instance, they may insist that the judge examine the case in a deontological rather than consequentialist framework. A deontological framework implies that the judge should examine certain impacts or actions of the case before other impacts. Consequentialism is a framework in which the "ends justify the means". In other words, as long as something good comes of an action, anything bad done on the way doesn't matter. An example would be if one team says that the judge must prevent famine before anything else but the other team says that they prevent more deaths and that is what the judge should vote on, no matter how those deaths happened.

Negation theory

Negation Theory is a theory of how a debate round should be decided which dictates that the negative need only negate the affirmative instead of having to negate the resolution. The acceptance of negation theory allows negative teams to run arguments such as Topical Counterplans, that may affirm the resolution, but they still negate the affirmative plan.

Negative strategy

After the affirmative presents its case, the negative can attack the case with many different arguments, which include:

  • Stock Issues: There are five stock issues often given the acronym SHITS: solvency, harms, inherency, topicality, and significance. The negative can claim that the affirmative does not uphold any of the above burdens. Certain judges believe that the affirmative must uphold each of the issues, or they lose the round. Since the late 1980s, attacks on inherency and significance have fallen out of favor. In some cases, such as when a negative team wishes to win in a Disadvantages debate but has no good solvency turn (i.e. nothing that proves that the Affirmative plan actually causes or aggravates the harms the Affirmative team cites), the Negative will attack Significance or Advantages, especially when the Affirmative team cites a critical Advantage or colossally bad Harm. Most debates that are "on-case" (that is, directly responsive to the Affirmative plan), however, are Solvency debates.
  • Topicality: In particular, of the Stock Issues, Topicality arguably sees the most play in technical high school debate. The Negative will attempt to argue that the Affirmative team does not fall under the rubric of the resolution and should be rejected immediately regardless of the merits or advantages of the plan. This is a type of 'meta-debate' argument, as both sides then spend time defining various words or phrases in the resolution, laying down standards for why their definition(s) or interpretation(s) is superior (including arguments such as referring to the amount of argumentative "ground" either team would have under their or the opposing team's definition or interpretation of the resolution), and even spend time discussing what Topicality is and whether or not it is a relevant burden! Most yearly topics have at least one or two commonly run Affirmative cases (such as landmines during a weapons of mass destruction topic, holistic medicine during a mental health topic, racial profiling and reversing the Supreme Court policies that led to internment during a privacy topic, or similar) that are only arguably topical, so Topicality is often justified as a check or deterrent on and against such plans, which usually have quite strategic components (such as critical impacts or advantages normally beyond the scope of the topic). Topicality is also often considered a leveling factor in high school debate: A Negative team that is less well-funded, prepared or skillful or facing a case that they are not prepared for can use Topicality to win, or at least force the Affirmative to spend substantial amounts of time rebutting (in this case, Topicality is known as a "time-suck"). For this reason, many arguments have come into vogue arguing that topicality is theoretically or critically repugnant: Perhaps Topicality as a timesuck is unfair and should be punished, or perhaps language is so vague that the Negative team is simply imperially attacking an unconventional and creative Affirmative, or perhaps the Affirmative is discussing something so important that Topicality should be ignored. Most judges seem to reject these arguments, though they must still be rebutted.
  • Disadvantages: The negative can claim that there are disadvantages, or adverse effects of the plan, which outweigh any advantages claimed. The basic structure of a Disadvantage includes the Uniqueness, or the current situation which indicates that the disadvantage will not occur in the status quo; the link, which states that passing the affirmative's plan would reverse the uniqueness; and the Impact, which is the final effect of the affirmative plan. In order to outweigh any positive effects of the affirmative case, impacts are often unrealistic and exaggerated, exceeding what would be expected as outcomes of a real world policy action. Both sides are usually guilty of using exaggerated impacts, but in general they are acceptable.
  • Politics: This is a subset of the Disadvantage, but worth noting independently, because of many complex and controversial theory/critical arguments that reference Politics and its admissibility. The general format has to do with other policies in the real world that the plan would ostensibly affect. For example: An Affirmative plan may be such a sharp change or shift from a generally conservative Senate that the Senate feels that it must rally its hardline conservative base with a policy that the Negative argues has titanically bad results (typically nuclear war, ecocidal extinction or similar levels of disadvantage). Politics Disadvantages are unique in a few ways: They typically require up-to-the-moment Uniqueness (as political climates are constantly changing), which generally favors larger or better funded squads as they are more likely to have the resources and time to acquire the newest Uniqueness. Unlike many other Disadvantages, they change substantially from year to year and even month to month, as new bills are considered and others defeated. Further, while most Disadvantages are accepted (at least theoretically if not critically), Politics face common theoretical and critical objections. Many argue that Politics Disadvantages are fiat confusions: They deal with HOW the plan passes, not whether it SHOULD pass. Other arguments allege that the focus or style of Politics Disadvantages lull debaters into an elitist mindset, or distort reality beyond recognition, and should be rejected on those debits.
  • Kritiks (i.e., Critique): The negative can claim that the affirmative is guilty of a certain mindset or assumption that should be grounds for rejection. Kritiks are sometimes a reason to reject the entire affirmative advocacy without evaluating its policy; other times, kritiks can be evaluated within the same framework for evaluation as the affirmative case. Examples of some kritiks include ones against biopower, racism, centralized government or anthropocentric viewpoints. Critiques arose in the early 1990s, with the first critiques based in deconstructionist philosophy about the intrinsic ambiguity of language. The affirmative team was forced to prove that language had meaning before their case could be considered.
  • Counterplans: The negative can reject the status quo in favor of a different policy action, which provides better advantages, or fewer disadvantages than the plan, also known as net benefits. The affirmative team may argue against the competition of the counterplan by permuting the CP, that is adopting some portion of the counterplan in addition to their plan. A successful permutation may be grounds to remove the CP from consideration, or grounds to narrow the scope of the debate to only the mutually exclusive part of the CP.
  • Theory: Sometimes the subject matter of the affirmative's case will create an uneven playing field from the beginning. In these cases, the negative can resort to making objections as to the procedure or content of the affirmative case. These objections often are "theoretical" in that they try to make objections based upon what bad can/has come to debate from the infraction, or what would make debate better if it were true. The Affirmative team may also make theoretical objections to negative arguments: For example, some Counterplans or ways of arguing Counterplans face common theoretical objections.
  • Narrative: Narratives are emotionally delivered speeches generally given at the opening of a speech. They are usually personal in nature, and call for the judge to approve of a specific policy option based on a situation. A case that would solve for world hunger might include a narrative about a starving African child.
  • Performance: A song, dance, poem, or other method of expression other than rhetoric that is used in the round. For example, a dance about freedom may better represent freedom than actual discourse. This technique was introduced subsequent to 1998. However, in recent times performance arguments have been criticized for being abusive, irrelevant, or bigoted in some way or form. Most judges will agree that some Performance arguments have meaningful weight in a round. For example, if a negative team runs a Kritik, or attack on the Affirmative's permeation of bad mindsets or social beliefs, this could be justified. Kritiks have "alternatives," or other courses of action advocated instead of the minset of the Affirmative that "links" into the Kritik. If an alternative of "breaking down social barriers," for example, was proposed, the Affirmative team might breakdance or do other things to show they are breaking free of society's constraints, thus avoiding the implications of the Kritik.


Evidence in debates is organized into units called cards (because such evidence was originally printed on note cards, though the practice has long been out of favor). Cards are designed to condense an author's argument so that debaters have an easy way to access the information. A card is composed of three parts: the tag, the cite, and the body. The tag is the debater's summary of the argument presented in the body. A tag is usually only one or two sentences. The cite contains all relevant citation information (that is, the author, date of publication, journal, title, etc.). Although every card should contain a complete citation, only the author's name and date of publication are typically spoken aloud in a speech. Some teams will also read the author's qualifications if they wish to emphasize this information. The body is a fragment of the author's original text. The length of a body can vary greatly—cards can be as short as a few sentences and as long as two or more pages. Most cards are between one and five paragraphs in length. The body of a card is often underlined or highlighted in order to eliminate unnecessary or redundant sentences when the card is read in a round. In a round, the tag is read first, followed by the cite and the body.

As pieces of evidence accumulate use, multiple colors of highlighting and different thicknesses of underlining often occur, sometimes making it difficult to determine which portion of the evidence was read. If debaters stop before finishing the underlined or highlighted portion of a card, it is considered good form to "mark" the card to show where one stopped reading. To otherwise misrepresent how much of a card was read—either by stopping early or by skipping underlined or highlighted sections—is known as "cross-reading" or "clipping cards" which is generally considered cheating. Although many judges overtly condemn the practice on their paradigms, it is hard to enforce, especially if judges permit debaters to be excessively unclear. Opponents will generally stand behind a debater whom they believe to be "cross-reading" or "clipping", as if waiting to take a card (see below), and silently read along with them in an attempt to get their opponent to stop or the judge to notice.

As cards are read in round, it is common for an opponent to collect and examine even while a speech is still going on. This practice originated in part because cards are read at a rate faster than conversational speed but also because the un-underlined portions of cards are not read in round. Taking the cards during the speech allows the opponent to question the author's qualifications, the original context of the evidence, etc. in cross-examination. It is generally accepted whichever team is using preparation time has priority to read evidence read previously during a round by both teams. As a result, large amounts of evidence may change hands after the use of preparation time but before a speech. Most judges will not deduct from a team's preparation time for time spent finding evidence which the other team has misplaced.

After a round, judges often "call for cards" to examine evidence whose merit was contested during the round or whose weight was emphasized during rebuttals so that they can read the evidence for themselves. Although widespread, this practice is explicitly banned at some tournaments, most notably National Catholic Forensic League nationals, and some judges refuse to call for cards because they believe the practice constitutes "doing work for debaters that should have been done during round". Judges may also call for evidence for the purpose of obtaining its citation information so that they can produce the evidence for their own school. Opponents and spectators are also generally allowed to collect citations in this manner, and some tournaments send scouts to rounds to facilitate the collection of cites for every team at the tournament, information which is sometimes published online.


Judging policy debate can be challenging. The total time available is short, the issues are complex and the judge may have personal beliefs that cloud impartiality.

Speaker points

The judge is charged not only with selecting a victor, but also must allot points to each competitor. Known as "speaker points" or "speaks," their goal is to provide a numerical evaluation of the debaters' speaking skills. Speaker point schemes vary throughout local state and regional organizations particularly at the high school level. However, the method accepted by most national organizations such as the National Forensic League, Tournament of Champions, National Catholic Forensic League, Cross-Examination Debate Association, and National Debate Tournament, use values ranging from 1–30. In practice, within these organizations the standard variation is 26–29, where 26s are given to extremely poor speakers, where a perfect score is considered incredibly rare and warranted only by an outstanding performance. Most tournaments accept halfpoint gradiations, for example 28.5s. Generally, speaker points are seen as secondary in importance to wins and losses, yet often correlate with a team's win/loss rate. In other words, the judge usually awards the winning team cumulatively higher speaker points than the losing team. If the judge does not, the decision is considered a "Low-Point Win". Low-point wins usually indicate that the debate was poor, as neither team spoke well; or that the team which lost was ahead overall, but lost on a technicality or minor issue, or by a very slim margin.

In some smaller jurisdictions, the judge ranks the speakers 1-4 instead of awarding them speaker points. Either speaker-point calculation may be used to break ties among teams with like records. Some areas also use speaker rankings in addition to speaker points in order to differentiate between speakers awarded the same number of points.

At a majority of tournaments, debaters also receive "speaker awards," which are awarded to the debaters who received the greatest number of speaker points. Many tournaments also drop the highest and lowest score received by each debater, in order to ensure that the speaker award calculations are fair and consistent, despite the preferences of different judges. The amount of speaker awards given out varies based on the number of debaters competing at any given tournament. For instance, a small local tournament might only award trophies or plaques to the top three debaters, whereas a widely attended "national circuit" tournament might give out awards to the top ten or fifteen speakers.

Judge qualifications

The use of community judges, also known as "lay" judges, is a source of great controversy in policy debate.

Some people see judges recruited from the community as an important part of the debate educational experience. They believe that debaters will benefit more from the type of debating they need to do in order to convince an individual with no debate experience to vote for them. Lay judges often value speaking skills, presentation, and logic, whereas more experienced judges might get caught up in the technical aspects of a debate round, such as speed and the ability to refute each and every point made by the opposing team.

Others see lay judges as an important part of the "game" aspect of debate. They argue that the ability to adapt to different audiences is an important skill for debaters to have. They may see a team that is unable to change the way they argue in order to account for judges' biases and limitations as a less competent team than another that is able to do such things.

Other circuits see lay judges as hampering the debaters' ability to tackle complex ideas that the general public isn't familiar with. For instance, because lay judges are not trained to deal with speed, debaters are unable to make as many arguments with a lay judge as they would be able to make in a round where their judge was able to follow speed. Judges who have been involved in debate for several years are also more likely to be knowledgeable about obscure theories and philosophical authors, which allows debaters to reference scholarly material that wouldn't make sense to someone who wasn't familiar with popular debate authors.

It is occasionally argued that community judges are more likely to have biases than judges who have experience in debate. For instance, a community judge might think that capitalism is the best economic system available, and they might automatically dismiss a Marxist criticism. In this view, an experienced judge is thought to have had more practice looking at both sides of an issue, and they are more likely to have been exposed to similar arguments in the past.


Experienced debate judges (who were generally debaters in High School and/or College) generally carry a mindset that favors certain arguments and styles over others. Depending on what mindset, or paradigm, the judge uses, the debate can be drastically different. Because there is no one view of debate agreed upon by everyone, many debaters question a judge about their paradigm and/or their feelings on specific arguments before the round.

Not every judge fits perfectly into one paradigm or another. A judge may say that they are "Tabula Rasa," or willing to listen to anything, but draw the line at arguments they consider to be offensive (such as arguments in favor of racism). Or, a judge might be a "policy maker," but still look at the debate in an offense/defence framework like a games playing judge.

Examples of paradigms include:

  • Stock Issues: In order for the affirmative team to win, their plan must retain all of the stock issues, which are Harms, Inherency, Solvency, Topicality, and Significance. For the negative to win, they only need to prove that the affirmative fails to meet one of the stock issues. These judges are more likely to dislike newer arguments such as kritiks and some theoretical points.
  • Policymaker: At the end of the round, the judge compares the affirmative plan with either the negative counterplan or the status quo. Whichever one is a better policy option is the winner.
  • Tabula Rasa: From the Latin for "blank slate", the judge attempts to come into the round with no predispositions. These judges typically expect debaters to "debate it out", which includes telling the judge what paradigm they should view the round in.
  • Games Player: Views debate as a game. Judges who use this paradigm tend to be concerned with whether or not each team has a fair chance at winning the debate. They usually view the debate flow as a gameboard, and look at arguments according to an offence/defense structure.
  • Speaking Skills/Communications: This type of judge is concerned with good presentation and persuasion skills. They tend to vote for teams that are more articulate, and present arguments in the most appealing way. These judges usually disapprove of speed.
  • Hypothesis Tester: In order for the affirmative to win, they convince the judge to support the resolution. Conversely, the negative must convince the judge to negate the resolution.

Competition and debate life


Most high school debaters debate in local tournaments in their city, state or nearby states. Thousands of tournaments are held each year at high schools throughout the US.

A small subset of high school debaters, mostly from elite public and private schools, travel around the country to tournaments in what is called the 'national circuit.' The championship of the national circuit is usually considered to be the Tournament of Champions, also called T.O.C, at the University of Kentucky, which requires formal qualification in the form of two or more bids to the tournament. You get these by competing in high-level, very competitive tournaments.

UIL Debate

The University Interscholastic League (UIL), the governing body for interscholastic events in the state of Texas, provides high school policy debate tournaments throughout the state. The 97th Annual State Tournament hosted the top two teams from 32 districts throughout the state. C-X debate is one of several UIL events for which students can compete for a state title.

Urban Debate


High school
There is some dispute over what constitutes the "national championship" in the United States per se, but two tournaments generally compete for the title: The Tournament of Champions held at the University of Kentucky, and the National Speech and Debate tournament sponsored by the National Forensics League.

There is no single unified national championship in college debate; the National Debate Tournament (NDT), the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) and the American Debate Association (ADA) all host national tournaments. The NDT committee issues a ranking report for automatic advancement to the NDT in early February. The report roughly determines a regular season champion called the Copeland Award which is on par with a national title.


While once attended by only highly competitive policy debaters, many high school students now attend debate institutes, which are typically held at colleges in the summer. Most institutes range from about two to seven weeks.

Some of the more popular summer institutes include:

Many institutes divide students into work groups, or "labs", based on skill level and experience. Many even offer specialized "advanced" or "scholars" workshops, to which acceptance is highly limited.


A resolution or topic is a statement which the affirmative team affirms and the negative team negates. Resolutions are selected annually by affiliated schools. Most resolutions from the 1920s to 2005 have begun "Resolved: that The United States federal government should" although some variations from this structure have been apparent both before the NDT-CEDA merger and with the 2006-2007 college policy debate topic, which limited the affirmative agent to the United States Supreme Court.

At the college level, a number of topics are proposed and interested parties write 'topic papers' discussing the pros and cons of that individual topic. Each school then gets one vote on the topic. The single topic area voted on then has a number of proposed topic wordings, one is chosen, and it is debated by affiliated students nationally for the entire season (standard academic school year).

At the high school level, 'topic papers' are also prepared but the voting procedure is different. These papers are then presented to a topic selection committee which rewords each topic and eventually narrows down the number of topics to five topics. Then the five resolutions are put to a two-tiered voting system. State forensic associations, the National Forensic League, and the National Catholic Forensic League all vote on the five topics, narrowing it down to two. Then the two topics are again put to a vote, and one topic is selected.

  • The 2008-2009 college resolution is:

Resolved: that the United States Federal Government should substantially reduce its agricultural support, at least eliminating nearly all of the domestic subsidies, for biofuels, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, corn, cotton, dairy, fisheries, rice, soybeans, sugar and/or wheat..

  • The 2008-2009 high school resolution is:

The United States federal government should substantially increase alternative energy incentives in the United States.

  • The NCFCA policy resolution is:

That the U.S. should significantly change its foreign policy toward India.

Event structure

The times and speech order are generally as follows:

Speech Time (high school) Time (college)
First Affirmative Constructive (1AC) 8 minutes 9 minutes
Cross-examination of First Affirmative by Second Negative 3 minutes 3 minutes
First Negative Constructive (1NC) 8 minutes 9 minutes
Cross-examination of First Negative by First Affirmative 3 minutes 3 minutes
Second Affirmative Constructive (2AC) 8 minutes 9 minutes
Cross-examination of Second Affirmative by First Negative 3 minutes 3 minutes
Second Negative Constructive (2NC) 8 minutes 9 minutes
Cross-examination of Second Negative by Second Affirmative 3 minutes 3 minutes
First Negative Rebuttal (1NR) 5 minutes 6 minutes
First Affirmative Rebuttal (1AR) 5 minutes 6 minutes
Second Negative Rebuttal (2NR) 5 minutes 6 minutes
Second Affirmative Rebuttal (2AR) 5 minutes 6 minutes

In addition to speeches, policy debates may allow for a certain amount of preparation time, or "prep time," during a debate round. NFL rules call for 5 minutes of total prep time that can be used, although in practice high school debate tournaments usually give 8 minutes of prep time. College debates typically have 10 minutes of preparation time. The preparation time is used at each team's preference; they can use different amounts of preparation time before any of their speeches, or even none at all. Prep time can be allocated strategically to intimidate or inconvenience the other team: for instance, normally a 1AR requires substantial prep time, so a well-executed "stand up 1AR", delivered after no prep time intimidates the negative team and takes away from time that the 2NR may have used to prepare the parts of his/her speech which do not rely on what the 1AR says.


See also

External links

High school debate websites

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