- Structure of policy debate
In all forms of
policy debatethe order of speeches is as follows:
*First Affirmative Constructive (1AC) :*Cross-examination of First Affirmative by Second Negative
*First Negative Constructive (1NC) :*Cross-examination of First Negative by First Affirmative
*Second Affirmative Constructive (2AC):*Cross-examination of Second Affirmative by First Negative
*Second Negative Constructive (2NC):*Cross-examination of Second Negative by Second Affirmative
*First Negative Rebuttal (1NR)
*First Affirmative Rebuttal (1AR)
*Second Negative Rebuttal (2NR)
*Second Affirmative Rebuttal (2AR)
In high school, all constructive speeches are 8 minutes long and rebuttal speeches are 5 minutes; in college they are 9 and 6 minutes long respectively. All cross-examination periods are 3 minutes long in high school and in college.
Traditionally, rebuttals were half the length of constructives, 8-4 in high school and 10-5 in college. The now-prevailing speech time of 8-5 in high school and college was introduced in the 1990s. Some states, such as Missouri and Colorado, still use the 8-4 format at the high school level.
The first affirmative constructive (1AC) is the first speech given in a round, presented by the affirmative team.
Almost universally, the 1AC will contain a "plan" a textual advocacy which the affirmative team will advocate throughout the entire round. A plan is thus generally carefully worded to prevent the negative team from capitalizing on ill-considered words, most notably through the plan inclusive counterplan (PIC).
The 1AC is pre-scripted because the affirmative has infinite preparation time to prepare their case.
The 1AC is also the speech in which the Aff team must present all advocacies, therefore preventing any abuse in the debate round.
The first negative constructive (1NC) is the first speech given by the negative team, the second speech in the round, given by the first negative speaker.
The 1NC will generally present all of the
arguments which the negative plans to make in the debate. The typical agruements that are introduced in the 1nc are off-case such as a disavantage, kritik, topicality, and or a counter plan
The second affirmative constructive (2AC) is the second speech given by the affirmative team.
The 2AC must answer all of the arguments put forward by the
1NCand generally will not make any other arguments not in response to 1NC arguments unless it has considerable time remaining. If arguments are not addressed, they are considered dropped and cannot be picked back up by the affirmative team in the rebuttals.
The second negative constructive (2NC) is the second speech given by the negative team, the fourth speech in the round, given by the second negative speaker.
It is the first part of the negative block and thus will only cover part of the 2AC.
Often the 2NC will bring up new arguments, in order to require the 1AR to cover more arguments in their 5 minutes. However, it is typically considered abusive to add new off-case arguments, as the affirmative only has five minutes to respond.
The first negative rebuttal (1NR) is the third speech given by the negative team, the fifth speech in the round, given by the first negative speaker.
Because it is the second part of the
negative block, it usually takes arguments not covered by the 2NC. The 1NR can also take arguments which the 2NC did not finish answering or which the 2NC realises that it accidentally dropped during the cross-examination.
The 1NR undoubtedly has the most
preparation timeof any speech given in the debate. It can often start prepping during the 2AC, and always has whatever prep time is taken for the 2NC, the 2NC, and the cross-examinationof the 2NC to prepare (after cross-examining the 2AC). This amounts to a minimum of 11 minutes in high school and 12 minutes in college even if no preparation time is taken for the 2NC (rare). Theoretically, the 1NR could spend a few minutes preparing and then give the speech (subvocally) twice before having to speak.
As a result, the 1NR will often answer the 2AC arguments which are more preparation intensive (arguments to which the negative does not already have prescripted blocks). Although, the 1NR is the first speaker to be done with speeches in the round, a good 1NR will continue to flow the rest of the speeches to protect the 2NR and retain a more accurate flow to have more information for future rounds.
The first affirmative rebuttal is the first rebuttal speech given by the affirmative, the sixth speech in the round.
The 1AR must respond to the entirety of the
negative block. The ratio of negative block time to 1AR time is 13:5 in high school and 5:2 in college. A 1AR may make strategic concessions or undercover certain positions to gain a time trade off to compensate for this apparent inequity. The 1AR is also in many ways a shadow speech for the 2ARand the community consensus between what constitutes shadow coverage and what leaves legitimate room for 2AR extrapolation is still contested.
Almost all judges will allow the 1AR to read new pieces of evidence and make new arguments, especially in response to new arguments during the negative block.
The second negative rebuttal (2NR) is the fourth speech given by the negative team, the seventh speech in the debate, given by the second negative speaker.
The 2NR will often take the remainder of the negative's
The 2NR will usually only go for some of the arguments presented in the
1NCalthough community norms prevent it for going for 1NC arguments which were not extended in the negative block. Especially in rounds with experienced debaters, the 2NR will usually try to win the round with as few arguments as possible enabling it to effectively cover all relevant 1AR arguments while gaining a substantial time trade off. However, sometimes the 2NR will go for multiple positions, allowing it to win the round in multiple worlds, if it believes it can effectively pressure the 2AR. This is risky because the 2AR, in that situation, will most likely go for the arguments which the 2NR covered the least.
The 2NR also has to "close doors" for the 2AR by predicting the areas in which the 2AR will attempt new extrapolation. The 2NR can caution the judge to reject new 2AR arguments but this is less effective than preempting such arguments with "even if" statements.
The second affirmative rebuttal is the second rebuttal speech given by the affirmative, the eighth and final speech in the round.
The 2AR generally only answers the arguments made by the
2NR, going to other flows only when the affirmative believes the negative has made a strategic blunder on that piece of paper. In general, the 2AR may not make new arguments that were not in the 1AR. However, because the negative does not go for arguments that the 1AR had to answer, the 2AR is almost always bigger than the portion of the 1AR it represents. Invariably, the 2AR will try to make as many new arguments as it believes it can get away with. Some arguments are never new, like certain forms of extrapolation from 1AR arguments and impact calculus(although many judges prefer it earlier in the round).
The 2AR will almost never present new pieces of evidence but often will refer to pieces of evidence read earlier in the round by their citation, especially if the affirmative wants the judge to read that piece of evidence after the round.
Following each constructive speech, there is a three minute cross examination period in which the opposing team questions the team which just spoke. In theory, the cross-examination is conducted by the opponent who will not speak next of the speaker who just spoke, but in practice most cross-examinations are open, that is: either partner may ask or answer questions.
In addition to speeches, policy debates may allow for a certain amount of preparation time, or "
prep time," during a debate round. NFL rules call for 5 minutes of total prep time that can be used, although in practice high school debate tournaments often give 8 minutes of prep time. College debates typically have 10 minutes of preparation time. The preparation time is used at each team's preference; they can use different amounts of preparation time before any of their speeches, or even none at all. Prep time can be allocated strategically to intimidate or inconvenience the other team: for instance, a 1AR often requires prep time, so a well-executed "stand up 1AR", delivered after no prep time, could intimidate the negative team and take away from time that the 2NR would have used to prepare.
Alternate use time
Some tournaments have neither cross-examination time nor preparation time. Rather, each team is given 16 minutes of alternative use time. Alternative use time can always be used as prep time but after a constructive speech it also doubles as cross-examination time. Thus, if the 2AC needs 6 minutes to get ready after the 1NC, the first affirmative speaker would get to cross-examine the first negative speaker for those 6 minutes while the second affirmative speaker is preparing. Alternative use time may not be used for cross-examination after rebuttal speeches.
*Seeland, Lisa. (2000). [http://debate.uvm.edu/NFL/rostrumlib/SeelandJan%2700.pdf Practical Refutation and an Effective First Affirmative Rebuttal] . "Rostrum". Retrieved December 31, 2005.
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