Dramatic Performance

How an NHD Asia Entry Is Judged

Regardless of which category a student enters, the following principles of evaluation will be used in the judging of National History Day entries.

Historical Quality01 Banner

The most important aspect of an entry is its historical quality, which determines 60% of the total evaluation. The judges’ evaluation will rest on the students’ success at conducting historical research, interpreting their research and drawing conclusions. A superior rating generally reflects positive responses to the following questions:

  • Is the entry historically accurate?02 Historical Quality
  • Does the entry provide analysis and interpretation of the historical data in addition to an accurate description? The entry should not simply recount facts but interpret them.
  • Does the entry demonstrate an understanding of the historical context–the intellectual, physical, social, and cultural setting of the topic?
  • Does the entry reflect historical perspective–the causes and consequences of an event, for example, or the relationship of a local topic to larger events?
  • Does the annotated bibliography demonstrate solid research?
  • Does the entry demonstrate a balanced presentation of materials?
  • Does the entry use a variety of viewpoints (e.g., those who suffered as well as those who benefited, males, females, people from different racial or ethnic socioeconomic groups, as appropriate to the topic)?
  • Does the entry demonstrate the use of available primary sources and secondary sources?


Clarity of Presentation01 Banner

Although historical quality is most important, entries must be presented in an effective manner. This section is worth 20% of the total evaluation. Do not be carried away by glitz; simpler is often–but not always–better. The following questions will be considered by judges when looking at clarity of presentation:

  • Is the entry original, creative, well organized, and imaginative in subject and presentation?04 Adherence to Theme
  • Is the entry effective in communicating the significance of the topic?
  • Is the written material clear, grammatical, and correctly spelled?
  • Are photographs and images appropriate in terms of content and location?
  • Is the overall project pleasing to the eye?
  • In a performance, is the script clear?
  • In a performance, do the students display stage presence?
  • Is the visual material clear and appropriate for the type of entry?
  • Do the students display adequate familiarity with their equipment, if any?


Adherence to Theme01 Banner

The entry must clearly explain the relation of the topic to the annual National History Day theme. This section is worth 20% of the total evaluation. The topic should be placed in historical context, and the entry must 03 Clarity of Presentationdemonstrate the student’s understanding of the significance of the topic in history. The entry should not confuse fame with significance. In other words, the entry should answer the questions, “So what? Why was this important?” It should not be just descriptive. The relationship of the entry’s topic to the yearly theme should be explicit and should be integrated into the entry itself.

Rules Compliance

Every entry to the competition is a work in progress. We are judging a snapshot ofDramatic Performance - Rules Compliance students’ efforts to demonstrate their learning. If an entry is otherwise superior but is slightly outside of the limit of rules compliance, then the entry is not automatically disqualified. The rule of thumb is, has the violation of compliance materially contributed to to this entry being superior to other entries? If not, then it is acceptable to advance the entry.

NHD Dramatic Performance Rubric

2016 NHD Theme (PDF)

2015 NHD Rulebook (PDF)

The below video is Samantha Irvine’s performance of The Luddite Rebellion: Progress vs. Preservation, which won first place in the Senior Individual Performance category at the National History Day NHD competition in Washington D.C. in June 2012. The theme that year was Revolution, Reaction, Reform in History.

This performance is the “best of the best,” and was not as good at regional competition as it was at nationals. While this piece can be considered a finished product, we will be witnessing works in progress. Those performers who advance from NHD Asia will have months to perfect their research and their craft.That being said, the video is a fine opportunity to practice one’s judging skills. Please feel free to download the judging form, the 2014 theme (Rights and Responsibilities in History), and the dramatic performance rules. Using this performance as practice to prepare for Saturday’s event is the best way to get ready to judge!

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