Skip to main content

Judging Guidelines and Tips

Section - National History Day in South Dakota
Interviews: Best Practices


Evaluations: Best Practices


Disqualifications vs. Infractions

Sample Questions to Ask

  • Why did you pick this topic?  What gave you the idea to do this project?
  • What was your most important source and why?
  • What is the most important point you are trying to convey about your topic?
  • What is the most important thing you learned from this project?
  • As you did your research, what surprised you the most about the topic?
  • What did you find most difficult about doing the research for your entry?
  • How did your primary sources help you understand the topic?
  • How did you come up with the script or design for your entry?
  • What were the most important consequences of the person/event?
  • Why is this topic significant in history?
  • Is there something you were not asked but would like to talk about?

Questions NOT to Ask

  • Do NOT ask about their school, hometown, family background, or economic resources.
  • Do NOT comment on their appearance.
  • Do NOT ask students questions designed to trap or embarrass them—
    • ”Why didn’t you read the most important book about (your topic)?”
    • “How could you leave out/ignore…?”
    • “What makes you think you are entitled to write about this?”


  • Do NOT lecture students about their topics
  • Do NOT tell student how their project compares to the others or overall
  • Do NOT express your opinion about the topic

On the Judging “Floor”

Procedure for Each Entry

  1. Introduce yourselves and say “hello.”
  2. Explain the process to the student.
  3. Ask for and read the process paper and annotated bibliography.
  4. Ask the students to begin (documentary, performance) or begin viewing the exhibit.
  5. Keep the time using the timer provided (NOT your cell phone).
  6. Conduct the interview.
  7. Thank the student(s).
  8. Take notes as you go… in pencil.
  9. Stay on schedule!

*Paper and Website Judges – Please skip steps 3 and 4 (You have already examined these entries



Example Evaluation Forms


Unacceptable NHD Evaluation Form
Unacceptable NHD Evaluation Form v2
Better NHD Evaluation Form
Even Better NHD Evaluation Form