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History Day Judge FAQs


How do I sign up to become a judge?


You can sign up to be a judge by filling out the online form. You will receive a confirmation email about two weeks before the event with further instructions, and a reminder e-mail a few days before the event.

I’ve never judged at History Day before.  Is that ok?

Absolutely!  We welcome new and veteran judges.  There will be a thorough orientation before judging begins, as well as time for questions and answers.

What qualifications are needed to be a History Day judge?

There are no required qualifications to judge at History Day other than a willingness to follow instructions and to give of your time. One does not need a history degree, or to be a teacher or practicing historian.  However, judges should possess an interest in history, have a critical eye, and be comfortable interacting with students and their fellow judges.   You should be willing to make decisions and provide students with constructive feedback.

What is the time commitment to be a judge?

Judges should be prepared to commit at least four to six hours (7:30 a.m. to roughly 1:30 p.m.)  A continental breakfast and lunch are provided to judges and volunteers.

What do judges do during History Day?

The basic task of judges is to evaluate the students’ entries and provide both the positive and the constructive feedback that is essential to the learning process. Judges begin the day with an orientation where they review the day’s timeline, learn how to use the National History Day scoring sheets, discuss consensus judging, and meet their fellow judges and judge captains.  There will be time for questions and answers.  Judging teams will consist of two or three members, with a mixture of veteran and novice judges.

Judges evaluate the student entries in 10 to 15 minute intervals, with time to interview the student(s) about their project.  Judges fill out the score sheets and come to consensus on the winning entries. For more information on expectations of judges, visit here.

What kinds of questions should I ask the student(s) during the interview?

Questions asked during the judging process should give the student the opportunity to tell you what they learned while creating their project.  The judge should never talk more than the student or make them feel as though they have not done enough research.  Questions about their research process, sources used, inspirations for the topic, and what they liked about the project are all appropriate questions.  Please do not ask students what city they live in or what school they attend.  Sample questions will be provided during the judges’ orientation on the day of the competition. 

What is the second/finals round and do I have to stay for it?

There is a second round of judging for several categories.  You are not required to stay for this, however if you would like to be part of the judges who participate in this final round of judging please indicate so when you register.  This judging group will decide who is advancing to the state competition. 

What happens to the judging score sheets after the competition?

The judging score sheets will ultimately be given to the students whose project you evaluated.  Ideally, the information on the score sheets will allow them to make revisions and improvements to their project if they are moving on to the state level competition. If they did not place, and wish to participate in History Day again, the advice and scores on the sheets can help them when they are creating their project for next year.  Please keep this in mind when filling out the score sheets.

Who do I go to for help if I have a question during the competition or an unforeseen problem occurs?

First approach your judge captain, who you will meet during orientation and who will be stationed in your judging area.  If they cannot be found, return back to Judge Headquarters.

Is there information that I can review beforehand to help me be an effective judge?

Judges are responsible for knowing the rules and criteria for evaluating each entry.  Please review the following information:

I want to volunteer for History Day but do not want to be a judge, is that possible?

Volunteers are critical to maintaining a well-run event. They help with registration, room monitoring, and other assorted duties.  Please sign up using the judge registration online form.

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