Who are the judges?
Historians, educators, and others interested in history and education serve as judges at the HOTRHF competition.

How does the judging process work?
Each category within each division is usually judged separately by a team of three judges. Time constraints and the number of entries may sometimes make it necessary for some categories to be judged initially by several teams of judges. Runoffs then become necessary. In such cases, the entries judged best by each team of initial judges are judged by a new team of judges to determine the winning entries in the category. The number of entries in a runoff and procedures for runoff judging will vary by contest and category.

Consensus Judging
Judges will not assign a numerical score to each entry; rather, they will rank the entries in their category. Judges are required to consult with each other in determining rankings of projects. Judges are allowed to review the results of their judging to ensure the accuracy of the judging process. As a final step, the judges will assign each entry an overall rating (superior, excellent, good).

The Subjective Nature of Judging
Remember that judges must evaluate certain aspects of each entry by objective standards. For example, were primary sources used? Is the written material grammatical and correctly spelled? Does the project adhere to limits on number of words? But judges must also evaluate interpretive aspects of each entry, and these evaluations are subjective. For example, how well is the historical analysis presented? Are the conclusions supported by the historical data? Is the research balanced, representing all points of view? Each project must demonstrate the topic's significance in history. Historians often form different opinions about the significance of the same data. It is crucial, therefore, to base interpretations and conclusions on solid research. Judges will check to determine whether available primary sources were used, whether all sides of an issue were examined, and if research and presentation make a balanced account of the topic. The annotated bibliography is critical to this process.

The Decision of the Judges is Final
Although inadvertent inequities might occur in judging, judges make the best effort to be thorough and fair. HOTRHF officials want to be informed of any problems, but the decisions of the judges are final.


Historical Quality (60%)
The most important aspect of your entry is its historical quality. You should ask yourself the following questions to help you focus on your historical analysis:

  • Is my entry historically accurate?
  • Does my entry provide analysis and interpretation of the historical context?
  • Does my entry demonstrate an understanding of the historical context?
  • Does my annotated bibliography demonstrate wide research?
  • Does my entry demonstrate a balanced presentation of materials?
  • Does my entry demonstrate use of available primary sources?
Clarity of presentation (20%)
Although historical quality is most important, your entry must be presented in an effective manner. You should ask yourself the following questions to help you focus on your presentation:
  • Is my entry original, creative, and imaginative in subject and presentation?
  • Is my written material clear, grammatical, and correctly spelled?
  • Is the visual material I present clear?
Relation to Theme (20%)
Your entry must clearly explain the relation of your topic to the annual History Day theme. You should ask yourself the following questions to help you focus your topic on the theme and its significance:
  • How does my topic relate to the theme? Why is my topic important?
  • How is my topic significant in history relation to the History Day theme?
  • How did my topic influence history?
  • How did the events and atmosphere (social, economic, political, and cultural aspects) of my topic's time period influence my topic in history?

Rule Compliance - Judges will take into consideration in their final rankings any rule infraction. Failure to comply with the rules will count against your entry. Rule infractions should be corrected before a winning entry competes in the next level of competition.

HOTRHF Note: this page is current and up to date for 2015.