How to Win a World Schools Debate

World Schools debate can be a tricky format to learn. There are a variety of conventions practiced in American debate formats that don’t apply in World Schools. For example, in technical debate, a dropped argument is a conceded argument. That is not the case in World Schools. In fact, teams are expected to let go of points that aren’t critical and instead focus on answering the most pressing points in the round. 

In addition, another major difference between American formats and Worlds is that debaters are supposed to take their opponents at their highest ground. In other words, you are expected to respond to the best version of the argument that your opponents put forwards. It is commonplace in American formats for debaters to call out inadequacies in argument construction / missing internal assumptions that weren’t justified. In Worlds, however, debaters should be charitable to their opponents and imagine a better world than their opponents to respond to. Taking your opponents at their best and strategically omitting moot/minor points are both critical skills to win debates in World Schools. 

Overall, to win a round in World Schools, you need to win “the comparative.” This is shorthand for the comparative world that is established between the two sides in the debate. Explicit characterization of how both sides improve the lives of humans needs to be made. This can come in a variety of ways. Some like to highlight the comparative by isolating the benefits of their world (greater freedoms, more lives saved) and subsequently comparing the harms of the other side. Others prefer to break down the comparative by impact area: who wins on economic impacts, environmental impacts, foreign-policy impacts.