How to judge a Kingdom A&S competition

This information will walk you through important considerations when judging Lochac Kingdom A&S competitions, show you how to use the competition forms and help you with how to score. 
This guide also applies to local events where the A&S officer decides to follow Kingdom competition guidelines.

Ideally you’ll have been asked to judge before the event. If this has happened then make yourself known to the A&S competitions co-ordinator when you arrive at the event. The co-ordinator is most likely to be the Kingdom A&S Minister if they are present or the local A&S officer. Agree what time you are expecting to be available for judging, where judging will happen and which category you’ll be judging.

The event’s A&S competitions co-ordinator will provide you with the scoring forms and a quiet space to judge the entries.

When judging you should first look at/taste/smell/interact with the item and consider its quality and workmanship and authenticity. You might form initial opinions on where the item fits in the first four categories of the rubric. You should then read the documentation to see if any questions that you have are answered.

Finally decide how many points you think the entry should have for each category, write on the provided scoring sheet, and provide some comments. Do not give the feedback form to the entrant until the scores have been recorded by the event A&S competitions co-ordinator.

You may also wish to read the instructions on how to organise a competition.

The Role of Judges

Your primary role as a judge is to assess the competition entry against the Lochac A&S competition judging scheme (Rubric) and ensure you give constructive feedback about the entry.

Feedback

When polled on why people enter A&S competitions, the most common response was to receive feedback on their work so they could get tips on how to improve. They were also seeking to get their work seen by other artisans of Lochac, especially visiting Laurels. People rarely entered to win.

Many people shared how they no longer wished to enter competitions as the feedback they’d received was harsh and inconsiderate to their purpose in making the item, their experience and their financial means (period materials and tools can be expensive). Those people decided to never enter a competition again. The comments often expressed frustration with advice being given on an aspect that was clearly explained in the documentation. All projects have limitations, perhaps in terms of budget, access to resources, or level of experience, so try to be considerate of these constraints in your response if the entrant indicates this was an issue for them.

So, as a judge your role is critical. Every item entered, whether or not there are sufficient entries to run a “competition”, must be judged and must receive comments. Also, keep in mind that your words have strength so your comments should be constructive, sensitive and considerate to the experience level of the entrant.

We’ve compiled some specific advice on giving feedback, please have a read before you start judging.

Fair Comparisons

The other part of your role is to judge the items fairly and consistently. This is why we have a judging rubric. It provides guidance on how to score an item across 5 areas, and what to look for to give a score.

Things to know about the mechanics of judging:

  • There are five scoring categories and each category is scored out of 10, for a total of up to 50 points per entry. The final score is the average of all judges’ scores, i.e. the final score is also out of 50
  • You will be given a form on the day to help you determine how to score
  • The form also provides space to record scores and feedback to the artisan. Don’t give the form to the artisan until the total score has been recorded by the A&S co-ordinator
  • Whilst an overall winner cannot be announced until all points are tallied at a Kingdom event, give some thought to whether particular entries are worthy of acclaim. Consider renown of the artisan. Was the entry worthy of renown? If so tell the A&S co-ordinator that particular entries should be announced in court. As a rule of thumb anything that scores higher than 30 may be worthy.

This page has further explanation on Lochac’s A&S Competition judging scheme, or rubric. The Scoring and Feedback Form also sets out the rubric, use it while you are judging.

Potential issues

Issue often faced when judging are:

  • Clearly defining in our own minds how to judge each category
  • How the categories potentially cross over i.e. what is Authenticity and what is Creativity.

Don’t worry if it is hard to separate things when first reading through the rubric. Take your time, maybe move to a different category – you don’t have to work through the rubric in order. Also consider asking for advice from your fellow judges.

Just remember that everyone who is asked to be a judge, regardless of years in the society or their skill, had to start somewhere when judging, and most likely has felt a bit overwhelmed by the task at first. If in doubt ask. No one will think any lesser of you for doing so. There are plenty of people around in the wider community that have judged competitions and that will be able to offer friendly advice.

Even Laurels can feel nervous about judging:
“Extremely difficult to judge fairly, as you’re sometimes asked to judge because you’re a warm body with a laurel medallion, not because you know anything about the topic(s).”

This is why we have a rubric, to help judge entries even when you have limited experience on the topic. In these cases don’t be scared to find someone on-site who does have the knowledge, or even phone someone, to ask them what you should be looking for. Some people don’t offer to judge because they have other commitments at the event, but are happy to answer a few clarifying questions.