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The Format of Policy Debate

The Basic Structure of the Debate

There are three popular types of high school debate – policy debate, Lincoln-Douglas, and Public Forum (a relatively recent addition).  This book is focused on policy debate.

Policy debate is a “team” activity.  Team means that you debate with a partner.  It’s two on two – two people defend the affirmative and two people defend the negative.  Each two person team from a given school or school district makes-up a larger squad that you are a part of.

Each person in the debate gets one constructive speech, one rebuttal speech, is asked questions for three minutes by the opposing side after his or her constructive speech, and has one three minute opportunity to ask questions of the other side.  A debate lasts approximately an hour and a half and is broken down in the following way:

First Affirmative Constructive (1AC)
8 minutes

Cross Examination of the 1AC (by the 2NC)
3 minutes

First Negative Constructive (1NC)
8 minutes

Cross examination of the 1NC (by the 1AC)
3 minutes

Second Affirmative Constructive (2AC)
8 minutes

Cross Examination of the 2AC (by the 1NC)
3 minutes

Second Negative Constructive (2NC)
8 minutes

Cross Examination of the 2NC (by the 2AC)
3 minutes

First Negative Rebuttal (1NR)
5 minutes

First Affirmative Rebuttal (1AR)
5 minutes

Second Negative Rebuttal (2NR)
5 minutes

Second Affirmative Rebuttal (2AR)
5 minutes

Each time also receives a “bank” of preparation time that partners divide amongst themselves in any way that they wish to prepare for speeches during the course of the debate.  The amount of preparation times varies by tournament, but is usually either 5, 8, or 10 minutes.

The responsibilities of each side and speaker are generally discussed in the next section and in more detail in following chapters.

 

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