BDC Guide for WSDC Format
by Rashedul Hasan Stalin
1. This style of debate
In WSDC format the teams are called “Proposition” and “Opposition”
and the debate is presided over by a moderator. Each debater is expected to deliver a constructive speech and to rebut the
opposing arguments. Points of information are used throughout the debate; each debater is expected to raise two points and
to answer two points during the debate (“give two and take two” is a standard rule in this type of debate).
1st Proposition Speaker 8 min
1st Opposition Speaker 8 min
2nd Proposition Speaker 8 min
2nd Opposition Speaker 8 min
3rd Proposition Speaker 8 min
3rd Opposition Speaker 8 min
Opposition Reply Speech (given by 1st or 2nd) 4 min
Proposition Reply Speech (given by 1st or 2nd) 4 min
2. The Proposition team sits to the right
of the moderator and the Opposition team sits to the left.
The moderator grants the right to speak by introducing the debater. Debaters should
preface their remarks by addressing Madam Moderator. They may acknowledge the presence of the judges, though this is not mandatory.
All references to other debaters should be made in the third person.
3. Points of order, points of personal privilege and heckling
are all prohibited.
4. The Constructive Speeches:
- The first government defines the motion, outlines the government case, announces the case division,
and presents her or his part of the case.
- The first opposition deals with the definition if it is a problem, explains the important differences
between the two team cases, and either outlines the opposition case, announces the case division, and presents her or his
part of the case, or outlines the opposition’s rebuttal case (i.e. the broad themes the opposition will use throughout
the debate to rebut the government case) and expands on it. The difference between these two approaches depends on whether
the opposition is content just to present a rebuttal case, or takes the stronger route and presents its own alternative case
- The second government defends the government definition (if required) and case from the opposition
attacks, rebuts the opposition case, and proceeds with her or his part of the government case. Somewhere around 2 to 3 minutes
into the speech the speaker will turn from attacking the opposition to presenting the new part of the argument.
- The second opposition does much the same as the second government. If the opposition is presenting
its own alternative case as well, this speaker will turn from attacking the government to presenting the new part of the argument
somewhere around 3 to 4 minutes into the speech.
- The third government is going to spend a large part of her or his time attacking the other side.
However, she or he can have a small part of the government case to present – perhaps 1 or 2 minutes at the most. This
is not obligatory, although many teams do it.
- The third opposition is going to spend most of her or his time attacking the other side, rather than
presenting significant new arguments, she or he can have an even smaller part of the opposition case to present, but again
this is not obligatory. Note that the opposition reply follows straight on from this speech, so it is better for the third
opposition to deal with the detail of the government case and leave the broad overview to the reply speech. The reply speeches
are not going to delve into fine detail, but will take a broad approach to the issues of the debate. They should also summaries
their own case either as part the analysis of the issues or towards the end of the speech as a separate section. For obvious
reasons the reply speeches cannot introduce new arguments. Not only is this unfair but it is also a complete misunderstanding
of the role of reply speeches. The reply speech is a summing up of the whole debate, not a chance to introduce new ideas.
5. Summary/Rebuttal Speeches:
Starting with Opposition, the speakers should attempt to summarize the key themes
or ideas that have been put forth in the debate. The summary/rebuttal speech tries to put the debate in context and explain
the “crux” of the issue. The speaker should examine the arguments and internal logic of both cases to convince
the judges why his/her team should win. No new information can be presented in this speech.
6. Points of Information:
- Points of Information (or POIs) are
questions or statements that one makes while someone on the other side is giving a speech. It is a means of gaining tactical
- Every speaker is expected to accept
at least two POIs during the round, and every debater is expected to offer at least two POIs during the round.
- POIs are only allowed during the constructive
speeches, but they are not allowed during the first and last minutes of these speeches (called “protected time”).
- During the round, the moderator will
bang the desk after one minute has elapsed to signal that POIs are now allowed, and again with one minute remaining in a speech,
to signal that time is once again protected.
- POIs should be short and relevant
to what the speaker is saying.
- To offer a POI, a debater should stand
silently, possibly extending an arm. A debater may also simply say “on a point if information” or “on that
- The debater speaking has control over
whether to accept the point. A debater cannot continue with their POI unless the floor is yielded by the speaker. The speaker
may do one of several things :
- Reject the point briefly by saying
“no thank you” or “not at this time” or by waving the debater down without interrupting his/her speech.
- Allow the POI to be asked and then
proceed to address the point. The speaker may choose to address the point briefly and then move on, or the speaker may merge
an answer into what they were going to say, or the speaker may state that they will deal with this later (in which case be
sure to do so!).
- Say something like “just a second”
or “when I finish this point” and then yield the floor at the completion of their sentence or thought.
- Judges will be instructed to penalize
speakers who do not accept POIs during their constructive speeches. How well debaters incorporate the rough and tumble of
offering and accepting POIs in the round is one of the criteria for this style of debate.
style debating differs from Parliamentary debating significantly even though the format appears, at first
blush, to be similar. There are two sides (called proposition and opposition) and three debaters per side. The proposition
advances definitions and a case with three arguments. The proposition speaks last. Rebuttal takes place.
(2) The differences
are, however, much more striking than the similarities.
burden of proof, while real, is much less significant than in parliamentary debating.
world’s style, both sides present a case line and (usually) three arguments.
are two (count ‘em) two cases on the floor – The most compelling case wins. There are no ties and the proposition
does not carry a significant burden. In practice, if the proposition makes a clear and prima facie case in the first speech,
they have fully discharged the burden of proof.
debate is concluded by the reply speeches (not rebuttals) – starting with the opposition team. The first or second speaker
per side will deliver the reply speech. The reply speech is not a rebuttal - but an attempt to put the arguments in a proper
context by outlining the underling logic of each case line.
(3) Each speaker has 8 minutes
to accomplish different tasks.
first proposition speaker has to define the terms – always straight (no squirreling) and to establish the case line
and to give the case division (who covers what points) normally the first speaker deals with arguments 1 and 2 while the second
speaker covers the 3rd argument. The point is that the first speaker must make the team’s approach crystal clear.
first opposition speaker must allow only two minutes to clash with the points just made by the first proposition and use six
minutes to advance the case line, case division and the first two arguments of the opposition side. This is critical.
second proposition has two to three minutes to clash with the opposition case to use five or six minutes to finish the proposition
arguments. This is critical.
second opposition has to use four minutes to clash and four minutes to finish the opposition case. This is critical.
third proposition will use two minutes to summarize and rebuild the proposition's case and six minutes to give the rebuttal.
This is critical.
third opposition will use one minute to rebuild and seven minutes to rebut. This is critical.
opposition (first or second speaker) gives a four-minute reply speech. The reply speech is distinct from the just-completed
rebuttal). It demonstrates an alteration in mood and power. The reply speaker tries to put the debate in context. The debater
explains the ‘crux’, or the internal logic of both cases and explains why, on this basis, the opposition has to
first or second proposition debater gives the reply speech. This is the concluding speech in the debater.
(4) Each debater (with the exception
of the reply speeches) will be subjected to points of Information (POI’s)
in the middle six minutes of their speeches – the first and last minute being ‘protected time.’ It is expected
that each debater will accept at least two POI’s during his/her remarks. Each debater on the opposing team should offer,
at least, two POI's to the debater delivering the speech. Adjudicators are instructed to deduct one or two marks if the lower
limits are not attained!! How well a debater handles themselves in the rough and tumble of offering and accepting POI’s
is key in world’s style debate.
(5) There are three adjudicators
(6) Team standings
are based on the win/lost record with the number of adjudicator ballots (number of judges voting for the team
over the course of the competition) as the first tiebreaker. For example if two teams are tied with a 5 (wins) and 1 (loss)
record over a six event tournament and the first team as received a total of 13 adjudicator ballots (out of a possible 15),
and the second team has only 11 ballots, the first team is placed above the second. If the two teams are still tied, total
points are used to decide their relative standing.
(7) The marking
scheme is: based on 100 per debater with effective (allowed) cores being between 60 and 80.
categories are presentation, content and strategy with 40 points for the first two and 20 for the last.
is marked from a purely public speaking perspective: How did the debater actually deliver the speech? Was the tone correct?
The rate of speech? The pitch? The pauses? The eye contact? The confidence? Etc. The presentation mark is between 24 and 32
with a score of, 24 being very weak and a mark of 32 being spectacular.
is also marked out of a possible 40 points. The content mark is scored as if the speech was submitted in essay form. It has
everything to do with logic, preparation and analytic skill and has nothing to do with the presentation. A mark of 24 is indicative
of very little success and the score is truly and unusually outstanding.
is marked on 20 points with the range being between 12 and 16. Strategy refers to the success the debater has in clashing
with the arguments of the opposing team. Has he/she thoroughly understood the presented arguments and have they responded
effectively, logically and comprehensively in refutation.
reply speech is, of course, also marked on presentation, content and strategy with the effective mark range between 12 and
16 for both presentation and content and between 6 and 8 for strategy. The reply speech is therefore marked out of 50 points
--- 20 points presentation, 20 for content and 10 for strategy.
Example of the WSDC ballot:
Presentation Content Strategy
1st debater 31 30
2nd debater 27 28
3rd debater 30 29
Reply 15 14 7
The team above would have scored 253 out
of a possible 280. If this total exceeds the total for the opposing team, they are awarded the win.
For the hypothetical debater referred to
above, a 76 (out of a prefect 80) is considered a very good mark. A score of 68 is considered a relatively weak result. A
mark of 73 is somewhat above average. The reply mark counts in terms of the team score but is not counted vis-a-vis the individual
rankings since only some debaters will give these speeches in the course of a tournament.