Other Forms of Debate

There are many different types of debate, and if you're just starting out, it may be worth learning more about different forms. Below is just a short guide introducing you to some of the differences, but for more in-depth detail check out the National Forensics League's list of debate events.


 Type of DebateFormat TopicsMiscellaneous Advice
Lincoln-Douglas (LD)- 1 vs. 1
- An average round takes an hour
- Topics change every two months
Topics tend to be focused on moral, philosophical questions. Occasionally topics will discuss issues of public policy.LD is a good blend between a lot of other forms of debate. It requires effort and research in order to be adequately prepared, but the amount of work isn't overwhelming. One of the big factor that separates it from other types of debate is that it's the only real style of debate that forces you to debate alone.
Policy (CX)- 2 vs. 2
- An average round takes 1.5 - 2 hours
- Topics change once a year
In CX, topics focus around a central issue of public policy and the debaters propose a plan of action that they debate the utility of.Policy debate is the most intense form of debate there is. Teams go very in-depth when making arguments, and as a result a lot of research is required. Be prepared to do a lot of work if you choose policy debate.
Public Forum (PoFo)- 2 vs. 2
- An average round takes about an hour
- Topics change every month
The topics usually have to do with issues that are currently relevant and are the types of topics that come to mind most generally when people consider debate.While Public Forum is a very comfortable form of debate for a lot of people, many people find it overly easy and unrewarding. That being said, if you just want debate to be a fun activity to do with a partner, PoFo may be the choice for you.
Student Congress- Each person has a chance to give 2 or 3 arguments
- 6 winners in a room advance
- New topics are given in each session
In Congress, debaters simulate a mini-session of Congress. They are given a bill and give arguments in favor or against that bill.Congress requires the least preparation given that most of your bills are presented at the start of the tournament. Student Congress is much closer to speech than it is to debate given that there is very little interaction between speakers, but it provides a good introduction to the basics.



Created: May 23, 2011 Last Edited May 24, 2011
Nikhil Bhargava
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