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BDC Guide for WSDC Format
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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 as well.
  • 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 advantage.
  • 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 point”.
  • 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.


(1) Worlds 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.

  • The burden of proof, while real, is much less significant than in parliamentary debating.
  • In world’s style, both sides present a case line and (usually) three arguments.
  • There 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.
  • The 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.

  • The 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.
  • The 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.
  • The 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.
  • The second opposition has to use four minutes to clash and four minutes to finish the opposition case. This is critical.
  • The third proposition will use two minutes to summarize and rebuild the proposition's case and six minutes to give the rebuttal. This is critical.
  • The third opposition will use one minute to rebuild and seven minutes to rebut. This is critical.
  • The 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 win.
  • The 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 per debate.


(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.

  • The categories are presentation, content and strategy with 40 points for the first two and 20 for the last.
  • Presentation 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.
  • Content 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.
  • Strategy 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.
  • The 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 Totals

1st debater      31              30         15       76

2nd debater     27              28         13       68

3rd debater      30              29         14       73

Reply              15              14                 36


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.


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Created and maintained by Rashedul Hasan Stalin