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NSDA Last-Chance Qualifier

National Speech & Debate Tournament 2023 Phoenix

The NSDA Last-Chance Qualifier, presented by The Julia Burke Foundation, will be held online on April 27-29, 2023. There is no entry fee to participate. The NSDA Last-Chance Qualifier is an opportunity for students who did not qualify through their district tournament to have a chance to attend the 2023 National Tournament in Phoenix/Mesa. Registration closes April 21, 2023.

The Julia Burke Foundation was established in memory of Julia Burke, a young woman of substance with a passion for debate. We are proud to partner with The Julia Burke Foundation to offer this opportunity in Julia’s memory.

Registration closes April 21, 2023. Visit for tournament details.


To be eligible to register for the NSDA Last-Chance Qualifier, schools must have had at least one entry compete at their district tournament in any event, including Big Questions. Students do not need to have attended the district tournament to enter the tournament, but their school does need to have attended districts. Students may not be registered for the NSDA Last-Chance Qualifier if they qualified in any event at their district tournament. However, students may enter if they have earned a spot on their district’s World Schools team as long as they are willing to vacate their WSD spot in case of qualification. Schools and students must be paid NSDA members to participate. Students must be districts-eligible, meaning they have 25+ NSDA points and have an email address on the NSDA website. Middle schools may not enter the last-chance qualifier; only students in grades 9-12 may be registered.

Students must be registered under the school name at which they are currently enrolled. Students must be under supervision of a supervising adult who is the student’s parent, coach, or school administrator, approved by the school principal. Coaches must acquire a signed Entry Release Form for each competitor prior to the first round of competition and retain those forms through the National Tournament. If entries plan to compete from the same physical room, the school administration must be made aware and approve team protocols for maintaining compliance with school safety requirements. Any entries found to be ineligible per these standards may result in disqualification.

Tournament Details

  • All events will be held live using NSDA Campus with Observers. No asynchronous events will be offered.
  • There is no entry fee for any event at the NSDA Last-Chance Qualifier.
  • No double entry is permitted.
  • Debate: Policy, Public Forum, Lincoln-Douglas, and Big Questions.
  • Congress: Senate and House.
  • Speech: Dramatic Interp, Humorous Interp, Duo Interp (Same Room Only), Program Oral Interp, Original Oratory, Informative Speaking, International Extemp, and United States Extemp.
  • Duo Interp partners must compete in the same physical room and in the same virtual window as their partner.
  • Lincoln-Douglas will use the March/April NSDA topic. Public Forum will use the April NSDA topic. Congressional Debate legislation and Extemp topic areas will be released by April 10.
  • Entries and judges must be final in by Friday, April 21.
  • Competitors who qualify at the Last-Chance Qualifier will automatically vacate their alternate status at their district tournament. Competitors may participate in any event with any partner at the Last-Chance Qualifier, regardless of their participation at the district tournament.
  • There are no alternates at the Last-Chance Qualifier. If a qualifier from the Last-Chance Qualifier is unable to attend the National Tournament, their slot will not be filled.
  • Entries must be districts-eligible and must not have qualified in any event at their district tournament. Students may enter the NSDA Last-Chance Qualifier if they have accepted a spot on their district’s World Schools team as long as they are willing to vacate their WSD spot in case of qualification at the Last-Chance Qualifier. Students must attend a school that had at least one entry at their district tournament.
  • Competing in the Last-Chance Qualifier counts as competing in a district tournament. Students who compete in the Last-Chance Qualifier are eligible to be selected for their district’s World Schools team or as one of the non-qualifying students who compete in supplemental events at Nationals.
  • The entry cap is 4 entries per event per school.
  • An event must have a minimum of 25 entries to be held.
  • An event with 25-49 entries will receive 4 qualifiers. An event with 50-74 entries will receive 8 qualifiers. An event with 75+ entries will receive 16 qualifiers.
  • In addition to the established number of qualifiers per event at the Last-Chance Qualifier, a limited number of top-performing students from schools with no other National Tournament qualifiers will also advance to Nationals.
  • Competitors in DI, DUO, POI, HI, OO, and INF must upload script materials to by April 21. Review script upload requirements here.
  • Elimination rounds will be held until qualifiers are determined. Elimination rounds will not continue after qualifiers are determined.
  • We understand that district tournaments happen on different schedules. Schools may enter students in the NSDA Last-Chance Qualifier if they intend to compete at their district tournament. Schools must drop their entries by the April 21 deadline if their school does not end up attending districts OR if a student does qualify out of their district tournament. Schools will not be able to proceed with the registration process unless the school and students are members.
  • If you have questions about tournament accessibility or would like to request an accommodation for one of your school’s participants, please contact Paul Porter at
  • In each debate event, 1 judge is owed per 2 entries or fraction thereof. Each debate event has a separate judging pool.
  • In speech events, 1 judge is owed per 4 entries or fraction thereof.
  • In Congress events, 1 judge is owed per 4 entries or fraction thereof.
  • If a school owes a judge, they must provide a judge for each day of competition that that event runs. For example, a school-provided debate judge must be provided for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday rounds. If needed, contact the national office to split an obligation between different judges. A different judge may be provided for each day, but one day of judging cannot be split between multiple judges.
  • Judges must be age 18+ and cannot be current high school students. Judges must complete the NFHS/NSDA Cultural Competence course prior to judging.
  • Judges must have accounts.
  • Please mark first year out (FYO) judges as such during the registration process. An FYO judge is one that graduated from high school in 2022.
  • A limited number of tournament-provided judges are available for hire at $200 each. If your school hires a tournament-provided judge, the tournament is responsible for hiring, paying, and communicating with that judge. Your school will not be put in contact with them or arrange payment to them.
  • Schools will incur a $200 fine the first time one of their judges misses or is late to a round assignment. An additional $100 fine will be incurred for each occurrence of a missed or late judging assignment after that. All fines must be paid before Sunday of the National Tournament, June 11.
  • If you have questions about tournament accessibility or would like to request an accommodation for one of your school’s participants, please contact Paul Porter at
  • This plan is tentative and subject to change based on participation numbers in each event.
  • Debate events will be single-flighted if possible. Events with 50+ entries will do six preliminary rounds. All 4-2 or better records will clear to elimination rounds. Events with fewer than 50 entries will do five preliminary rounds and clear all 3-2s or better. Elimination rounds will be run until we reach a number of entries equal to the number of qualifiers.
  • Congress events will do two preliminary rounds. An equal number of entries from each chamber will be advanced to one elimination round. Top-placing students out of that elimination round qualify.
  • Speech events with 50+ entries will do four preliminary rounds. Top ranked students will clear to elimination rounds. Two elimination rounds will be held to determine the top-placing entries.
  • Tentative schedule (All Times are CT):
Wednesday April 27 (all times are CT) Thursday April 28 (all times are CT) Friday April 29 (all times are CT)

5:00 R1 Policy (CX)

5:30 R1 LD/PF/BQ

7:00 R2 LD/PF/BQ/CX

5:00 R3 CX

5:30 R3 LD/PF/BQ

5:30 R1 House/Senate

5:30 R1 Speech

7:00 R4 LD/PF/BQ/CX

7:00 R2 Speech

9:00 R5 CX

9:30 R5 LD/PF/BQ

9:30 R3 Speech

9:30 R2 House/Senate

11:00 R6 LD/PF/BQ/CX

11:00 R4 Speech

1:30 Elim 1 LD/PF/BQ/CX

1:30 Elim 1 Speech

1:30 Elim 1 House/Senate

3:30 Elim 2 LD/PF/BQ

4:00 Elim 2 CX

4:00 Elim 2 Speech

5:30 Elim 3 LD/PF/BQ (if needed)

6:00 Elim 3 CX (if needed)

* all times listed are CT

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Our annual high school National Tournament will be held June 11-16, 2023, in Phoenix/Mesa, Arizona.

Qualifiers from the NSDA Last-Chance Qualifier will be registered for the National Tournament by national office staff on May 9. National Tournament registration materials are due May 1; make sure to plan ahead! More information about the 2023 National Tournament is available on our Nationals page.