Poetry Out Loud - Judges - Southwestern Illinois College

Welcome Judges

Judges at all levels of competition must judge recitations based on the official Poetry Out Loud evaluation criteria, for in-person and virtual contests. For more detailed information about this criteria, please refer to the Judge’s Guide.

Please note: This year’s contest is a virtual VIDEO SUBMISSION CONTEST! 

Important dates

For this year’s virtual program — Judging begins at 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 10th


February 4th

Submission form will open on February 4th.


February 10th

Make sure to have your submissions in by 2 p.m. on February 10th.


February 10th

Judges will start judging at 4 p.m. on February 10th.

Prepare to judge

1. Read Poem Options

Read students’ poem options to make sure you are familiar with them. No judge other than the accuracy judge should be following along with the text during recitations.

2. Download and read the Judges Guide

3. Watch Training Video

4. Familiarize yourself with evaluation and scoring

Familiarize yourself with the evaluation criteria and scoring rubric

5. Practice Judging

  • Pick a recitation from last years event and practice judging

6. While judging

Make sure to score each category independently and to watch the student, not the score sheet.

During the competition instructions

  1. Judges must not convene to discuss their scores—they should rate recitations independently and then immediately turn in their evaluation sheets. This practice not only keeps the contest moving, but also ensures that judges are scoring independently, based on merit only. Warn judges that they will not be able to revisit scores after they turn them in.
  2. After each recitation, the score tabulator or an assistant will collect the completed contest evaluation sheets. The accuracy judge’s score will be added to each evaluation sheet as scores are tabulated. Scoring is cumulative; the scores from each round should be totaled to determine the winner.

Accuracy Judge

Assign a separate person to serve as an accuracy judge. The accuracy judge will mark missed or incorrect words during the recitation. For in-person contests, print out the accuracy score sheets before the contest, and fill in the names of the participants and the titles of the poems they will recite. For virtual contests, fill out the names of participants and titles of the poems in the PDFs. Have these in the order of recitation before the competition, and give one set to the accuracy judge. The accuracy judge will also need a notebook or PDF with a large-font copy of each poem, in the order of recitation, so they may follow along with recitations and assign accuracy scores. The accuracy score is added to the contest evaluation sheet of each judge.

Any questions concerning your duties as a judge or the judging process, contact Amy.Brockman@swic.edu.