World Schools Debate: A Complete Guide

Due to the fact that World Schools is an incredibly niche format, finding effective information is challenging. In this article, we provide a brief overview of the format.

Instead of a logistical debate about details and statistics, the World Schools format uniquely focuses on the big picture of any given issue. Debaters consider both the principled and practical implications of their topic and analyze a comparative between the two worlds presented.

If you value a format that analyzes the core of each and every motion, World Schools Debate will be a good fit for you.

Individual teams in World Schools are composed of three to five debaters. During a given round, however, there are only three speakers on the bench. Because each team speaks four times, one of the three speakers in a round will give two speeches (either the first or second speaker will give the fourth speech). There are two sides of the debate. The proposition side stands in affirmation of a motion, while the opposition side disagrees with the interpretation of an idea or policy.


The timing breakdown and order of speeches are listed below:

1st Proposition - 8 minutes.

1st Opposition - 8 minutes.

2nd Proposition - 8 minutes.

2nd Opposition - 8 minutes.

3rd Proposition - 8 minutes.

3rd Opposition - 8 minutes.

4th Opposition - 4 minutes.

4th Proposition - 4 minutes.


The first speaker in the round outlines the case and framing presented by their given side. As such, the second speaker refutes the opposing case by analyzing clash points and introduces the final substantive argument for their side. Following the second speeches, the third speakers summarize the round through three key questions that illustrate the major discrepancies of the round. Finally, the fourth speaker, who gives the shortest speech, provides a brief overview of the round and analyzes the principled and practical levels of the round. Throughout the course of the round, the speakers can interrupt a current speech to ask a quick question or comment, also known as a point of information (POI).

The Case

A World Schools case typically consists of three reasons to prefer the side, known as substantive arguments. The first speaker provides two of the substantive arguments in a case, while the second speaker presents the final and third substantive at the end of their speech. A typical case also includes the framing for the round. Framing consists of definitions, a plan, if applicable, and the burden set by your team.

One aspect of World Schools Debate is that it is not limited to a given country, such as the United States. This means that in order to have a productive round, you need a detailed understanding of global issues, such as foreign policy and social disputes. Moreover, your cases should not refer to ideals specific to the United States. For example, in a World Schools round, you can discuss the importance of the right to free speech, but not the First Amendment specifically. Referring to documents such as the Constitution is irrelevant in a World Schools round discussing international issues.

For more information on the content discussed in this article, please visit the World Schools Resource page.