HAFS Debate Conference Rules (Updated as of 5th June 2021)


  • By registering, parents and students participating in the conference agree to the following rules and agree to accept any decision of the organizing committee in the interpretation and application of these rules.

  • The HAFS Debate Conference format is based on Asian Parliamentary style, with reduced speech times.

  • Each debate consists of two teams of three students each, with the affirmative side (Proposition/Government) proposing the motion and the negative side (Opposition) opposing it.

  • The speech times for each speaker are as follows:

1st speaker of the Proposition: 6 minutes

1st speaker of the Opposition: 6 minutes

2nd speaker of the Proposition: 6 minutes

2nd speaker of the Opposition: 6 minutes

3rd speaker of the Proposition: 6 minutes

3rd speaker of the Opposition: 6 minutes

Reply speaker of the Opposition: 3 minutes

Reply speaker of the Proposition: 3 minutes

  • The reply speech of each team should be made by either the first or the second speaker.

  • Each speaker has 30 seconds of grace period to finish the speech. If the speech does not end by the end of the grace period, the adjudicator may stop the speech.

  • Speakers are allowed to raise points of information (POIs) in the speeches of the opponent side. In order to raise POIs, speakers should stand up and say, “Point of Information.” The speaker at the podium chooses to either accept or reject the POI. No POIs may be raised in the reply speeches.

  • Points of information may not be entertained during the protected time, consisting of the first and last one minute of the speech, excluding the grace period.

  • The first speaker of the proposition is expected to provide definitions of the terms in the motion that are reasonably close to the plain, common-sense meanings of the terms and allow room for both teams to debate.

  • The first speaker of the opposition may challenge the definition, if the definition set by the first speaker of the proposition is unreasonable or does not leave room for debate. This right should be exercised only in extreme circumstances.

  • Individual speeches will be judged on three criteria.

Matter: Contents of the speech, which accounts for 40 percent of the score. This includes elements such as the depth of engagement, effectiveness of explanation, and persuasiveness.

Manner: Style in which the speech is presented, which accounts for 40 percent of the score. This includes elements such as eye contact, vocal control, clarity, and effective hand gestures.

Method: Other factors in making the speech more effective, such as organization of the speech, time management, points of information, and speaker role fulfillment.

  • HAFS Debate Conference will have seven rounds. Teams will be assigned random opponents for the first round. The remaining rounds will follow power-matching.

  • Teams will be ranked by (1) wins, (2) combined speaker scores, (3) margin, (4) combined speaker scores with the scores from the highest and lowest combined rounds dropped, (5) margin with the highest and lowest combined rounds dropped, and (6) result against the tied team. Awards will be based on these rankings.

  • All rounds are impromptu. Teams will have at least 30 minutes of prep time. Teams are allowed to have (1) one paper dictionary, (2) one almanac, and (3) blank paper provided by the conference. Blank papers used during preparation and debate time should not have any notes written on them before the motions are announced. Articles, newspapers, magazines, and books are strictly banned.

  • All electronic devices except for single-function timepieces or watches are prohibited both in preparation and debate time. Prohibited devices include computers, tablets, cell phones, PDAs, electronic dictionaries, mp3 players, or any other electronic devices other than single-function timepieces. Participants must leave their prohibited devices under the care of either their parents or the staff members in their designated debate rooms during the preparation and debate time.

  • Students may not contact their parents, coaches, or anyone other than their own teammates and the staff members during preparation and debate time.

  • Parents and coaches are not allowed to observe any rounds, nor install a video camera or recording device in the debating rooms. Parents are welcome to attend the opening ceremony and the awards ceremony. 

  • If debaters disobey the aforementioned rules, they may be disqualified, forfeit the round, or receive a warning by the decision of the organizing committee. Debaters may also forfeit a round if they are not present in the debate room 5 minutes after the announced start time. Teams forfeiting more than one round may not receive awards. Teams must attend the awards ceremony to receive participation certificates.

  • All decisions of the organizing committee are final. The organizing committee consists of the convener, chief adjudicator, and faculty advisor.