So the day you’ve been working toward has finally arrived – you’ve chosen your topic, researched, developed your thesis and selected your project type. Unlike a typical school project, your work is not done. You now have the opportunity to present your project to a panel of judges, typically two or three, and answer questions about what you’ve learned.
You’re probably nervous – that’s OK! Your classmates and other students are, too. Here you’ll find helpful hints for contest day to make it run as smoothly as possibly for you.
If you have any questions about your project or would like additional feedback, reach out to the NHDI team. They are here to help. Keep in mind it can take a few days to get back with your. If you ask for feedback just day before the contest, it’s likely it will not be addressed in time. Think ahead!
Do some mock judge interviews with family, friends, or anyone willing to help. Use the sample questions in the last section of this page titled “Sample Questions” to prepare Keep in mind, judges might not ask all of these exact questions. They may skip some or use some of their own. Either way, mock interviews will help prepare you.
Consider everything you will need to take with you to the contest a week in advance. Use the checklist below as a guide or create a more detailed one with your specific project needs!
__ Your project
__ 4 copies of your process paper
__ 4 copies of your annotated bibliography
__ Props and costume
__ Trash bag(s) to cover exhibit/props/costumes (we can’t always predict the weather!)
__ Change of clothes for after your performance
__ Any technical equipment, such as back-ups of your documentary
The day of your NHDI contest can be a fun day to share all you’ve learned with your judges. You are now the expert in the room when it comes to your topic. It’s also a great day to spend with your friends who are presenting their own research.
Keep it Fun
The day can be hectic. Here are some tips to keep it fun:
Don’t Leave Anything Behind
Make sure you have everything your need. Along with yourself and anyone you want to bring with you, have these with you:
When You Arrive
Go to the registration desk where you’ll be given the lay of the land.
Your judging time is when you finally get to share what you’ve learned and gotten out of your project. Your interview with the judges is important, but remember, they’re just people. They’re also really excited to be there to see your projects and learn from you!
Who are the judges?
Judges are volunteers who love history. They can be historians, teachers, lawyers, college students…the list goes on. They might not be experts in your topic, but they are experts are research. They will be judging your projects, but this is also an opportunity for you to teach them something. Ultimately, everyone is here to learn and have fun.
Expect to have two or three judges reviewing your project.
If the judges ask you a question and you don’t know the answer, just tell them that you don’t know. Be honest! Say something like, “I’m not sure about that, but I do know…” or “I will have to look into that…”
When the judges ask you a question, don’t just answer “yes” or “no.” Elaborate!
If you are in a group, make sure all of your partners have a chance to speak. It’s never good if only one group member does all of the talking. That makes it look like they also did all of the work.
Thank the judges at the end and shake hands. Most importantly, have fun!
After the judges interview you, they will review your paperwork thoroughly and discuss your project among themselves in a designated room. There, they carefully go over all of their comments in order to determine how to score your project.
They will tally up all the scores to figure out placing for the projects in their groups. Sometimes this can take a while!
The following are sample questions that the judges might ask. These are not all the questions or the only questions you could be asked, but this will give you an idea of what to expect in the interview.
Brainstorming and exploring your interestsLearn More
Suggestions and strategies on research and analyzing your researchLearn More
Piecing it all TogetherLearn More
How to make an argumentLearn More
Figuring out what's right for youLearn More
What do NHDI projects look like?Learn More
“Tip:”- Whichever style you choose for your History Day project, be consistent! The judges will appreciate it.