Member Login
Select Page

NSDA Last-Chance Qualifier

National Speech and Debate Tournament Logo

Qualify to the National Tournament

Compete live, online April 25-27, 2024

No entry fee to participate

Registration closes April 19, 2024

Presented by The Julia Burke Foundation

The NSDA Last-Chance Qualifier, presented by The Julia Burke Foundation, will be held online on April 25-27, 2024. 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 2024 National Tournament in Des Moines. Registration closes April 19, 2024.

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 will open on January 8, 2024.


    • 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 and World Schools (school-based teams only).
  • 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.
  • World Schools teams must be composed of 3-5 students that attend the same school. No hybrid entries will be permitted.
  • 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 topic.
  • Public Forum will use the April topic.
  • Congress legislation, Prepared World Schools motions, and Extemp topic areas will be announced here by April 5.

Deadline: Friday, April 19, 2024

    • 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. 

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*
      • *World Schools will be capped at 8 qualifiers due to space limitations at the National Tournament.
      • 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 19 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.

    ADA Accommodations

    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

    Required Judge Meeting

    • All judges are required to attend a 30 minute meeting on Wednesday, April 23, at 7:00 p.m. Central Time
    • A make-up judge meeting will be held on Thursday, April 24, at 4:15 p.m. Central Time.
    • Judges who do not attend either meeting will be removed from the judging pool, and the school who provided them will be charged a $200 fee to cover their obligation. The fee must be paid before students from their school can participate in the Last-Chance Qualifier.

    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 5 entries or fraction thereof.
      • Congress: 1 judge is owed per 5 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 19, 2024. 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 16.

    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. After the course has been taken, judges must certify in that they have completed the training by selecting the “Judge Certifications” button under the Judging header on their account.
      • 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 2023.

    ADA Accommodations

    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 24 (all times are CT) Thursday April 25 (all times are CT) Friday April 26 (all times are CT) Saturday April 27 (all times are CT)
    Required Judge Meeting at 7:00 p.m. 4:15 Make-up Judge Meeting

    5:00 R1 Policy (CX), WS (Prepared)

    5:30 R1 LD/PF/BQ

    6:15 WS Motion Announcement/Prep Begins

    7:00 R2 LD/PF/BQ/CX

    7:15 R2 WS (Impromptu)



    5:00 R3 CX, WS (Prepared)

    5:30 R3 LD/PF/BQ

    5:30 R1 House/Senate

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

    6:15 WS Motion Announcement/Prep Begins

    7:00 R4 LD/PF/BQ/CX

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

    7:15 R4 WS (Impromptu)


    9:00 R5 CX, WS (Prepared)

    9:30 R5 LD/PF/BQ

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

    9:30 R2 House/Senate

    10:15 WS Motion Announcement/Prep Begins

    11:00 R6 LD/PF/BQ

    11:15 R6 CX, R6 WS (Impromptu)

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

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

    12:30 Elim 1 LD/PF

    1:00 Elim 1 BQ

    1:30 Elim 1 CX

    1:30 Elim 1 WS (Prepared)

    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

    3:00 WS Motion Announcement/Prep Begins

    4:00 Elim 2 WS (Impromptu)

    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)

    5:30 Elim 3 WS (Prepared, if needed)

    6:15 Elim 3 CX (if needed)



    * all times listed are CT

    Share your message with

    3,500 High Schools

    600 Middle Schools

    5,200 Coaches

    140,000 Students

    Extend your reach at the Nationals

    7,000 Attendees

    6,500 Tournament Books are Distributed to Coaches and Teachers

    7,000 Access the National Tournament App from their Phone or Device

    We can design your ad!

    It’s quick, easy, and affordable. For $125, we will create a beautiful, print-ready ad just for you!

    Our annual high school National Tournament will be held June 16-21, 2024, in Des Moines, Iowa.

    Qualifiers from the NSDA Last-Chance Qualifier will be registered for the National Tournament by national office staff on April 29. National Tournament registration materials are due May 15; make sure to plan ahead! More information about the 2024 National Tournament is available on our Nationals page.