How an entry is Judged
Regardless of which category a student enters, the following principles of evaluation will be used in the judging of NHD entries.
The most important aspect of an entry is its historical quality, which determines 60% of the total evaluation. The judges' evaluation will rest on the students' success at conducting historical research, interpreting their research, and drawing conclusions. A superior rating generally reflects positive responses to the following questions, which you may ask students conversationally:
- Could you explain more deeply this one element of your research? Why was this important? How did you come to these conclusions?
- What elements of historical context (intellectual, physical, social, and cultural) affected the event or person whom you researched? How so?
- How do you feel you have represented the causes and consequences of an event, or the relationship of a local topic to larger events?
- Explain some of the sources you have listed in your annotated bibliography. Why are these important to your research? Are they credible?
- In what ways have you demonstrated a balanced presentation of sources and materials?
- How have you presented a variety of viewpoints in your project?
- Was it difficult to find primary or secondary sources on your topic? Why or why not? Where did you look for your sources?
Clarity of Presentation
Although historical quality is most important, entries must be presented in an effective manner. This section is worth 20% of the total evaluation. Do not be carried away by glitz; simpler is often –but not always-better. The following questions will be considered by judges when looking at clarity of presentation:
- Is the entry original, creative, well organized, and imaginative in subject and presentation?
- Is the entry effective in communicating the significance of the topic?
- Is the written material clear, grammatical, and correctly spelled?
- In exhibits, are the title, sectional divisions, and main points easy to discern?
- Are photographs and images appropriate in terms of content and location?
- Is the overall project pleasing to the eye?
- In a documentary or performance, is the script clear?
- In a performance, do the students display stage presence?
- Is the visual material clear and appropriate for the type of entry?
- Do the students display adequate familiarity with their equipment?
Adherence to the Theme
The entry must clearly explain the relation of the topic to the annual National History Day theme. This section is worth 20% of the total evaluation. The topic should be placed in historical context, and the entry must demonstrate the student's understanding of the significance of the topic in history. The entry should not confuse fame with significance. In other words, the entry should answer the questions, "So what? Why was this important?" It should not be just descriptive. The relationship of the entry's topic to the yearly theme should be explicit and should be integrated into the entry itself.