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Is this debate tournament more like a public forum or policy debate?
The IPPF is unlike any other form of debate. It welcomes debaters from across the spectrum of debate and forensic events. Thus, the competition is judged on factors including, but not limited to, well-founded arguments, effective communication and grammar.

Is a school required to have a debate program or team in order to compete?
No, the IPPF is open to all high schools, whether an actual debate team exists or not. Participants and teachers might want to consider making the IPPF a class project. The competition often works well for English and Social Studies classes.

How is the qualifying round judged?
Essays will be judged by the Essay Review Committee, comprised of business professionals, debate coaches, former IPPF champions, and members of the NYU Debate Team. All judging is blind. Papers that receive the highest overall scores will advance to the Elimination Rounds of competition. 
To view the judges' evaluation grid, please click here.

Can homeschooled students participate?
Yes! We encourage homeschooled students to take part in the IPPF. Please team up with at least two other people in your region and submit a qualifying round essay.

Is there a minimum or maximum team size?
There is a minimum team size. We ask that each team have at least three students.

There is no maximum team size. However, each team member listed must have contributed to the essay.

Once teams reach the final rounds in New York, only three students and two coaches (or four students and one coach) per school will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City (additional students may attend at their own expense). Traveling team members must be on the team roster and must have participated in the previous rounds of written work. For further details, please review the Contest Rules.

My school has a large debate team. Can multiple teams from a school enter the contest?
Yes. The IPPF allows more than one entry per school.

How do I confirm my qualifying round essay has been received?
You will receive a confirmation e-mail within 24 business hours of submitting the paper to

What makes a good qualifying round essay?
There is no specific way to write a great qualifying round essay, but to view samples of successful essays, click here. For information on how to format your essay, please view the contest rules.

Tip: To advance to the next round, your essay must include a Works Cited page and in-text citations.

What happens when a submitted essay exceeds the word limit?
The Affirmative/Negative Constructive papers should be no more than 3,000 words. Affirmative Rebuttal papers should be no more than 1,900 words. Negative Rebuttal papers should be no more than 1,600 words.

The title page and Works Cited pages are not counted towards the word limit. Any text over the word limit will be deleted before arguments are sent to the judges.

How and when do teams find out if they have made it to the elimination and final rounds?
All teams who advance to the Elimination and Final Rounds will be notified via e-mail. The top 64 teams will be notified November 6, 2024; the Top 32 teams will be notified January 3, 2025; Sweet Sixteen participants will be notified February 17, 2025; and the Elite Eight participants will be notified on March 30, 2025.

Debate arguments are continually evolving. What happens if a major event requires updates and/or changes to the argument once the essays are submitted?
Debate teams are allowed to update any evidence utilized throughout the Elimination and Final Rounds, as long as the argument remains the same. For specific questions about any needed changes, e-mail the contest director at

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