Member Login
Group of Black Millennials at Office
Students Gathered Together at Home

The National Speech & Debate Association’s Honor Society recognizes middle school and high school students for participation in speech and debate activities.


    • Students may earn points by participating in a number of speech and debate activities including interscholastic competition, public speaking events, and service activities.
    • Points are entered regularly by the team’s advisor or autoposted directly from a tournament for approval. 

Why Merit Points Matter

As members earn points in our Honor Society, they also earn new degrees marking increasing levels of distinction. Earning points can provide motivation for students to keep building their skills in the face of obstacles. Plus, earning points also determines eligibility for special NSDA awards which we’ll cover in the Awards lesson. Below is a visual example of the path a student may take toward achieving Premier Distinction, the highest degree level in our Honor Society.

Road To Premier
    • Coaches earn 100% of the points earned by their students. Forms of coach recognition and awards will also be covered in the Awards lesson. 
    • Points and degrees don’t just matter for students; they impact your program at large! Degrees are used to determine charter status. Becoming a charter chapter is the highest honor for high schools in the NSDA. A chapter is chartered after enrolling at least 50 degrees within a three-year period of membership. Small schools with 9th-12th grade enrollment of fewer than 500 students must enroll at least 25 degrees within a three-year period.
    • Additionally, each degree from an active, paid student adds another point to a school’s strength, which determines Club awards and impacts the number of entries a high school can take to the district tournament. 

Point Values

Point values vary between events. Below shows a breakdown of how points are structured for events and wins versus losses.


    • Public Forum, Lincoln-Douglas, and Policy Debate are recorded in the “Debate” category, and are worth 6 points per win and 3 points per loss or non-decision. Only one win/loss is recorded per round, so for a panel of judges, the prevailing decision is entered. 
    • Congressional Debate or other assembly speaking is recorded in the “Congress” category. Students earn 1-6 points per speech or per complete hour of presiding (so a panel of judge scores must be averaged). 
    • Non-Association debate events, such as Mock Trial, Parliamentary Debate, or Spontaneous Argument are recorded in the “Debate” category, and are worth 4 points per win and 2 points per loss or non-decision. 
    • Public speaking or interpretive events are recorded by their individual category name. Student ranks, or rank equivalents (conversion for point totals or alternate systems) are used. 
    • Only one rank or round placing may be entered for a panel of judges. For elimination rounds prior to a final round, an average of a panel’s ranks may be used. For the final round, tournament placement is the rank. 
    • Main Association events may earn 6 points per 1st rank, 5 points per 2nd rank, 4 points per 3rd rank, 3 points per 4th rank, and 2 points for ranks of 5 and below. Those events include Extemporaneous Speaking, Original Oratory, Informative Speaking, and Humorous, Dramatic, Duo, and Program Oral Interpretation. 


More detailed instructions for point values can be found in the NSDA Unified Manual

Entering Merit Points

    • Points can only be entered by an advisor or coach with designated permissions via your NSDA Account. To log in, visit and visit your school roster. To assign points to a student, they must first be added to your roster. Students can be added to rosters and given points before they are made members by paying the fee, and can earn up to 75 points before the advisor decides to purchase their membership. Instructions for adding a student or transferring them from another school (including a middle school) are available under the How do I add or transfer a student section of the NSDA FAQ

There are ways to make points entry for multiple students more efficient.

1. Entering points in partner events: Add a row and provide information for one student, then use the Clone a Row (icon: two overlapping boxes) function on the far right of that row to create a new entry for which you only need to change the student’s name to their partner’s.

Need a Visual?  Click here to watch our brief tutorial!
(The GIF will loop continuously; there is no audio.)

2. Entering all the points for one event at once: Add a row and provide the event and coach to whom the points will go, then click the Bulk Add button to select all the students who competed in that event for whom you want to apply points. Once you’ve added all the students, use the Clone to All (icon: the blue group) on the far right of the first student’s row to apply the event and coach information to all the entries. Then enter the appropriate points for each student, hit Finish, and you can do the same thing for another event.

Need a Visual?  Click here to watch our brief tutorial!
(The GIF will loop continuously; there is no audio.)

3. Entering service points for a group: Follow the same steps you would to enter several students in the same event, but also complete the service description and results to apply all the information to the students you’ve submitted in Bulk Add at once using the Clone to All function.

Need a Visual?  Click here to watch our brief tutorial!
(The GIF will loop continuously; there is no audio.)


    • The most efficient way to enter student points is with the autoposting feature.
    • If you connect your NSDA roster, points for tournaments hosted on the tabulation software or SpeechWire are available for autoposting within two weeks of the tournament date. To connect your roster on, follow these instructions
    • Advisors can log in and confirm pending autoposted points rather than calculating them and entering them manually. Instructions for how to confirm pending autoposted points are available on our FAQ page.