Debate Format

Policy Debate
Policy debate is a form of research-based speech competition in which teams of two advocate for and against a resolution that typically calls for policy change by the United States federal government; it is for this reason that this debate is unique to the United States. It is also referred to as cross-examination debate (sometimes shortened to Cross-X, CX, or C-X) because of the 3-minute questioning period following each constructive speech. Affirmative teams generally present a plan as a proposal for implementation of the resolution.

In all forms of policy debate the order of speeches is as follows:

  • First Affirmative Constructive (1AC)
  • Cross-examination of First Affirmative by Second Negative
  • First Negative Constructive (1NC)
  • Cross-examination of First Negative by First Affirmative
  • Second Affirmative Constructive (2AC)
  • Cross-examination of Second Affirmative by First Negative
  • Second Negative Constructive (2NC)
  • Cross-examination of Second Negative by Second Affirmative
  • First Negative Rebuttal (1NR)
  • First Affirmative Rebuttal (1AR)
  • Second Negative Rebuttal (2NR)
  • Second Affirmative Rebuttal (2AR)

In high school, all constructive speeches are 8 minutes long and rebuttal speeches are 4 or 5 minutes; in college they are 9 and 6 minutes long respectively. All cross-examination periods are 3 minutes long in high school and in college.

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