Cross Examinations

There are two cross-examinations in a debate.

The Neg cross-examines the Aff after the 1AC, while the Aff cross-examines the Neg after the 1NC. Each cross-examination is 3 minutes long.


First, recognize there are three different types of questions: clarification, perceptual, and strategic. Clarification questions are for when you genuinely don’t understand something, perhaps due to not having flowed it. These are sometimes necessary but should be minimized if possible. Perceptual questions aim at making an opponent look silly by pointing out a gap but don’t necessarily advance a strategic objective (for example, questioning a card they are not likely to extend). Strategic questions aim less at making the opponent look silly but instead focus on setting up a strategy. All of these question types have merit sometimes.

Second, strike the right balance between assertiveness and rudeness. Being a doormat in cross-examination is ineffective but being rude is also ineffective and might alienate the judge. Record yourself in cross-examination to get a better sense of how you might be coming across.

Third, go into cross-examination with a plan ahead of time. Try to avoid asking questions that you don’t know the answer to – set traps early and often for your opponent to fall into.