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LD – Lincoln Douglas Debate Format

Lincoln Douglas is arguably the most dynamic debate event. With the judging pool ranging from soccer mom’s to technical debate legends there will always be a disagreement on the “correct” way to do things. The only variable that remains constant is the Lincoln Douglas debate format.

Lincoln Douglas Debate Times

6 minutes – 1AC or AC – First affirmative constructive

3 minutes –  CX – Affirmative cross examination (Neg asks Aff questions)

7 minutes – 1NC or NC – The negative constructive

3 minutes –  CX – Negative cross examination (Aff asks Neg questions)

4 minutes – 1AR – First affirmative rebuttal

6 minutes – NR – The negative rebuttal or negative summary

3 minutes – 2AR – Second affirmative rebuttal

Prep Time

The debaters will also have 4 minutes of individual prep time. This can be used between speeches and does not have to be used all at the same time. For example the negative can take 2 minutes of prep before the NC (Negative Constructive) and another 2 minutes prior to giving the NR (Negative Rebuttal). Be sure to keep track of both you and your opponent’s remaining prep time to avoid any future problems that may arise.

Who Should Time?

In my opinion 2-3 timers should always be going; the affirmative, the negative’s, and the judge’s. I can’t tell you how many horror stories I’ve both witnessed and heard of where the debater that was “timing himself” proclaimed, “I forgot to start the timer” or “my phone died.” If that’s the only running timer you’re in for a nightmare of troubles!

A lot of judges (myself included) hate it when someone is giving their speech with 10 seconds left and the opponent’s timer starts wailing. It’s inconsiderate, annoying, and just downright unfair. To avoid these moments I encourage debaters to either set their timers for a couple seconds longer than their opponent’s speech time or have the timer count up as to negate the incessant beeping that occurs when counting down.

After a couple of rounds the Lincoln Douglas debate format and times should become second nature. Before that happens though feel free to chant the times in your head while walking to school or around the house, 6, 3, 7, 3, 4, 6, 3. People may think you’re insane, but you’re a debater it comes with the title.

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