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NSDA Last-Chance Qualifier

National Speech & Debate Tournament - Phoenix/Mesa Arizona 2023

Qualify to the National Tournament

Compete live, online April 27-29, 2023

No entry fee to participate

Registration closes April 21, 2023

Presented by The Julia Burke Foundation

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. 

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.

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

For registration assistance, please email


    • 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 are a qualifier in any event at their district tournament. 
    • Students who qualify at their district tournament may vacate their qualification slot and then register for the Last-Chance Qualifier, but they will not have their district event as a backup if they do not qualify at the Last-Chance Qualifier.
    • Students may register for the Last-Chance Qualifier 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 topic: Resolved: The justices of the Supreme Court of the United States ought to be term-limited.
  • Public Forum topic: Resolved: The United States Federal Government should ban the collection of personal data through biometric recognition technology.
  • Congressional Debate legislation can be found here.
  • Extemp topic areas for both International and United States Extemp: 1) Politics & Elections, 2) Economics & Finance, 3) Conflicts & Wars, 4) Public Health, 5) Laws & Technology, 6) The United States & the World, 7) Climate & Energy (if needed)

ADeadline: Friday, April 21, 2023

    • Entries and judges must be final in
    • Competitors in DI, DUO, POI, HI, OO, and INF must upload script materials to Review script upload requirements here.
  • 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. Entries who qualified at the district tournament must permanently vacate their qualification status in their district event if they would like to compete at the Last-Chance Qualifier. Students cannot compete in the Last-Chance Qualifier with a district event qualifier as a backup option.
  • 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.
  • Schools who are unable to attend the district tournament for reasons outside of their control but would like to compete at the Last-Chance Qualifier may request an exception by emailing before the beginning of 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.

Event Entry Details

    • Entry Cap: 4 entries per event per school in all events except BQ (6 entries per school).
    • Event Minimum: An event must have a minimum of 25 entries to be held.
    • Number of Qualifiers per Event:
      • 25-49 entries = 4 qualifiers
      • 50-74 entries = 8 qualifiers
      • 75+ entries = 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.
      • Elimination rounds will be held until qualifiers are determined. Elimination rounds will not continue after qualifiers are determined.
    • NEW IN 2023: Opportunities for Schools WIth No National Qualifiers
      • After each event’s qualifiers have been determined, a limited number of additional qualifying opportunities will be available for entries from schools that had no national qualifiers before the Last-Chance Qualifier. Our goal is to give schools who otherwise would not be attending access to National Tournament competition.
      • A school is eligible if their school has no pending or accepted national qualifiers in any event from the district tournament, excluding World Schools, as of April 24, 2023.
      • A school remains eligible even if they have students qualify at the Last-Chance Qualifier.
      • After each event’s qualifiers have been determined, an additional number of entries from eligible schools will also qualify in each event.
        • An event with 16 qualifiers will receive 4 additional spots for top-performing entries from eligible schools.
        • An event with 8 qualifiers will receive 2 additional spots for top-performing entries from eligible schools.
        • An event with 4 qualifiers will receive 1 additional spot for the top-performing entry from an eligible school.
      • In an event with 16 qualifiers, for example, we will look at the top-placing entries that were not in the top 16 in order. The next four entries from eligible schools that did not place in the top 16 will also qualify. If seed number 17 was from an eligible school, they would qualify to Nationals in that event, and so on.


    • 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 ADA accessibility or would like to request an ADA accommodation for one of your school’s participants, please contact Paul Porter at

Requirements per Event

    • Debate: 1 judge is owed per 2 entries or fraction thereof. Each debate event has a separate judging pool.
    • Speech: 1 judge is owed per 4 entries or fraction thereof.
    • Congress: 1 judge is owed per 4 entries or fraction thereof.
    • Time Commitment: 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.
    • Hired Judges: A limited number of tournament-provided judges are available for hire at $200 each. To pay for a tournament-provided hired judge, request the hire on the Judges tab of your school’s registration. Payment must be completed by April 21, 2023. To pay, select “Make Payment” on the Fees tab of your school’s registration, log in to your NSDA account, and complete the payment.
    • Find a Judge to Hire: Check out our Judge Board to see listings of judges available for hire. If your school chooses to connect with a judge from the judge board, your school 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.
    • Fines: 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.

Judge Eligibility Requirements

    • 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.

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):


Thursday April 27 (all times are CT) Friday April 28 (all times are CT) Saturday April 29 (all times are CT)

5:00 R1 Policy (CX)

5:30 R1 LD/PF/BQ


5:00 R2 CX

5:30 R2 LD/PF/BQ

5:30 R1 House/Senate

5:30 R1 Speech (EXT draw 5:00)

7:00 R3 LD/PF/BQ/CX

7:00 R2 Speech (EXT draw 6:30)

9:00 R4 CX

9:30 R4 LD/PF/BQ

9:30 R3 Speech (EXT draw 9:00)

9:30 R2 House/Senate

11:00 R5 LD/PF/BQ

11:15 R5 CX

11:00 R4 Speech (EXT draw 10:30)

12:30 R6 LD/PF

We will accelerate all elimination rounds if possible. This is an estimate.

1:00 Elim 1 BQ

1:30 Elim 1 CX

1:30 Elim 1 Speech (EXT draw 1:00)

1:30 Elim 1 House/Senate

2:30 Elim 1 LD/PF

2:30 Elim 2 BQ

4:00 Elim 2 LD/PF

4:00 Elim 3 BQ

4:00 Elim 2 CX

4:00 Elim 2 Speech (EXT draw 3:30)

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

6:15 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 2. National Tournament registration materials are due May 15; make sure to plan ahead! More information about the 2023 National Tournament is available on our Nationals page.