National Contest Judging Information

The Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest will be held June 14 – 18, 2015 at the University of Maryland at College Park. National History Day (NHD) is looking for historians, educators, and others to judge student projects at this year’s contest. Judging will take place on Monday, June 15 for the Junior Division (grades 6-8) and Tuesday, June 16 for the Senior Division (grades 9-12).

Students in 6th through 12th grades conduct extensive research on topics related to an annual theme and present their findings in historical papers, exhibits, documentaries, performances, and websites. This year, the theme is Leadership and Legacy in History. We need judges, so please join us and feel free to pass this invitation on to others!

Evaluation and discussion with your fellow judges will be an all-day affair. An orientation session will be held in the Stamp Student Union at 8:30 a.m., prior to judging student projects. In return for your time and effort, we offer free parking and lunch, endless gratitude, and a positive perspective on our nation’s youth.

How to sign up to be a Judge

All judging positions for 2015 are filled.

If you are interested in being placed on the waiting list, please send your contact information with day/category preferences to judges@nhd.org.

If you are interested in the website and/or paper categories, you will be contacted with additional information regarding the specific judging process for those categories.

Please note: this is only for the NHD National Contest. If you would like to judge for your local or affiliate NHD contest, please contact your affiliate coordinator. You can find his or her contact information here.

What to Expect on Judging Day

When you arrive at the University of Maryland, College Park, you will go to the Stamp Student Union, where NHD headquarters is set up during the contest. Check in at the Colony Ballroom on the second floor. Once you have checked in and received your information packet, you will find the table with your judging category, and listen to the Judging Orientation. Once the orientation has concluded, you and your judging teammates will proceed to your assigned judging rooms where you will prepare for your first entry.

Entries are scheduled at specific time intervals, depending on which category you are judging. There will be a lunch break midday. You will receive lunch information based on the building in which you are judging. After your lunch break is over, you will return to your judging rooms and continue with the remaining entries for the day.

Once the last entry in your judging group has finished, you and your judging teammates will return to the Colony Ballroom in Stamp Student Union. There you will find a table and discuss comments and ratings, and come to a conclusion about the final overall rankings for the entries in your group.* You first will fill out your green “Consensus Form” with the top two entries in your group, and turn it into the NHD staff as soon as possible. Next you will complete the orange “First Round Ranking Form,” and turn that into NHD staff. You and your teammates can continue writing comments after these forms are turned in. Once you are completely finished, you must hand in all evaluation forms, process papers, bibliographies, and any other papers you may have to NHD staff.

We sincerely hope that you are interested in judging at the national contest. Please contact us to sign up as a judge today!

*The process described here varies for the website and paper categories. If you are interested in these categories, the process will be explained to you.

Contest Rule Book

National History Day (NHD) has recently made changes to the rules governing the contest. These rules were designed to streamline the contest and clarify what is expected of students in each category. For specific details about each category, contest procedures, other NHD guidelines, click here to see the Contest Rule Book.

Judging Process

NHD relies on consensus judging. That means that instead of giving entries numeric scores, you will be ranking them. You will be assigned to a team of 3 judges, one of whom will be designated as the captain. It is important that everyone on your team agrees on the overall rankings of the entries you judge.

You will be given a packet with important information such as the schedule for your team, evaluation forms, and other contest forms. There will be an evaluation form for each entry you have been assigned to judge. It is recommended that you write comments on the evaluation sheets as you go through the day. You can save the check marks for the end of the day when you and your judging teammates discuss your entries. The comments you write and the ratings you give should be consistent with those of the other judges on your team. You don’t need to give exactly the same ratings for each line of the form, but you should be within range of each other. However, all judges on a team must give the same overall ranking for a particular entry and write comments that are similar and complementary to one another.

Judging Criteria

Historical Quality (60%)
  • Historical accuracy
  • Historical context
  • Analysis and interpretation
  • Use of available primary sources
  • Wide research
  • Balanced research
Relation to Theme (20%)
  • Clearly relates to theme
  • Demonstrates significance of topic in history and draws conclusions
Clarity of Presentation (20%)
  • Presentation, written materials are original, clear, appropriate, organized and articulate
  • Entry is organized; visual impact is appropriate to topic

Below are the Judging Instructions for each category: