FAQs about Trials

When do I need to register for trials?

You must register by midnight on Sunday 18th of February. Check the ‘Trialling for the NSW Team’ page for the registration link and more information about trials.

Can I register through my school?

We prefer for you to register using the link provided on our website. You do not need to register via school. However, it is possible for schools to register multiple students.

What should I wear to trials?

You can wear whatever you like. You do not have to wear your school uniform.

How long does it take to trial?

The trial involves speaking in one debate in front of a panel of selectors and completing a short general knowledge test. You will be given one hour of preparation time. Speeches in the debate will be 6-8 minutes long. A short general knowledge test will also be distributed. There’s more about the general knowledge test at the Sample General Knowledge Test page of this website. All in all, it should take about 2.5 – 3 hours.

Who will I debate with in my trial?

You will be randomly allocated to debate in a team with two other people in a manner that reflects speaking preferences. You will not be debating with people from your own school so it is probable that you will not know your debating teammates. It’s a good opportunity to meet some new, intelligent and eloquent people!

One part of the process of selection is to see how well you fully co-operate with teammates. Although we will be assessing each individual speaker, to perform individually you usually need your team to be performing well.

What does it cost to trial?

In order to trial, participants must pay a $50 fee. NSWDU is a voluntary, non-profit organisation and the fee is designed to help offset the costs involved in administering the workshop and trials, and attending the National Championships.

We do not want anyone to miss out on this opportunity due to the cost. If the cost is a barrier to trial, please do contact us as we are able to offer subsidies where necessary. Send us an email at nswdebatingunion@gmail.com

Can I choose my speaking position?

We allow you to veto a speaking position that you will not speak in. But you may be asked to trial in either of the two remaining speaker positions. This is because it would be impossible for us to accommodate everyone’s favourite position, as well as their time slot preferences. Also, flexibility in the different skills required by the different positions is valuable and something that we like to see!

Who are the selectors?

The NSW Team Coaches, Udai Kamath and Sophie Shead, organize the selection panels. The selectors are all experienced debaters, adjudicators and coaches. All selectors will have been involved in the NSW and Australian Schools debating teams as students and/or have distinguished international records in inter-varsity debating.

What are the callbacks?

After the first round of selections, a number of students will be “called back” to participate in another debate. From these debates twelve speakers will be selected in the NSW Schools’ Squad. You will be notified about callbacks via email following trials.

What is the NSW Schools’ Squad?

The Squad Process is a training process for the 12-15 best debaters selected via the trials and callback process. This training will occur over several weeks. The NSW Coaches will watch squad members debate, provide feedback and other instruction. One feature of the squad process is that it involves an introduction to the format of debate used at the Australian Schools Debating Championships. This notably involves the introduction of parliamentary-style “points of information” and reply speeches. From the squad, a team comprising four speakers and two reserves is chosen to compete at the National Championships.

When and where are the National Championships this year?

Nationals 2024 will be held in Adelaide in late May or early June.

Will being involved negatively affect my HSC/IB?

If you are selected in either the squad or the team, you will be expected to attend a range of training sessions and practice debates. Nevertheless, the schedule is designed in order to accommodate study commitments of students. We would stress that the HSC record of students who have been selected in the team is exceptional. Last year, as every year, our students did outstandingly well. Many agree that the process of high-level debating was actually a useful form of mental training and exam preparation.

Student participation in the NSW Schools Debating Team has also been helpful to students in gaining scholarships and flexible admission into university courses. Moreover, many students who have withdrawn from the process due to study commitments have come to regret their decision later. In the event that you are selected in the Squad or Team we can discuss with you any concerns that you (or your parents!) may have.

It’s better to trial and then decide whether to continue rather than denying yourself the opportunity altogether!

Should I trial if I’m not in Year 12 or haven’t got the most experience?

Absolutely. Trials are open to students any in Years 9-12. The selectors are looking for talent in speakers and the coaches trust their ability to help you improve. We don’t take into account your year level or which team you debate for in your school – in fact, in most instances we won’t have any idea which team you debate for, so you’ve got a clean slate from which to work.

What if I’m not from Sydney?

Unfortunately, due to the limited resources of the NSWDU, we cannot afford to transport anyone to trials. While trials are open to all students studying in NSW schools, all of the selections and training sessions will be held in Sydney. In previous years, we have endeavoured to accommodate students traveling large distances in the scheduling and location of training sessions, such that students who live on the Central Coast and in the Illawarra have been able to fully participate.

We are eager to allow students to participate where possible; students who live in regional or rural areas of NSW should email us at nswdebatingunion@gmail.com to discuss arrangements we may be able to make for their participation in workshop, trials or later squad training.