How we select our teams

How We Select Our Teams

In previous years, teams have been selected through a process that evaluates the students based on criteria that covers more than merely the ability of students to speak well. Our comprehensive process is spread out over a period of a few months, enabling selectors measure not only the potential of a student at a given point in time, but the development of the students over a period, and their ability to add value to the team holistically.


Workshop and Training

Initially, when new schools join the fold, trainers from the Indian Schools Debating Society (ISDS) who have debated in the WSDC format engage them in workshops to teach the format to the students. WSDC alumni also take up the initiative to train students in their own schools, and set up debating clubs in their schools. ISDS specifically focuses on teacher training programmes, in order to equip the school structure with the skill to pass debating on for years to come.

Online Rounds

After the pool of students is selected, students go through a rigorous process online, where the first round of eliminations are made. Students have to submit well researched written tasks, as well as a video of them delivering a first proposition speech on a given topic. These tasks are evaluated by Team India alumni, and based on the scores, around fifty students proceed to the next round.

ISDS has represented India in several international debating competitions, including the World Schools Debating Championship, since its inception in 2008.

Debating in the League

Schools involved with ISDS meet once in two weeks to do two rounds of debating. The preliminary rounds of this league last over three months. Individual speaker scores are tabulated based on this league, and a minimum cut off is set. The debaters that meet this cut off proceed to the trials.

More recently, the league format has been transformed into a tournament format to enable more schools to participate and send students to trial. The same process is followed to pick the debaters that proceed to the trials.

The top speakers from other tournaments in different regions following similar formats will also be invited to the trial. In 2015, the top speakers from the National Law School Debate Juniors, Bangalore, were invited to participate in the trial process to select an ISDS team.

These debates are adjudicated by teachers trained in the WSDC format, and they provide constructive feedback that enable the debaters reflect upon their performance and improve continually. This aspect of the process offers unparalleled depth and scope for improvement to the students that shorter processes do not allow for.

Intensive Workshop

Over 2 weeks, shortlisted applicants are trained further in the WSDC format of debating. They are evaluated on the following –

      • How well they speak
        (content, style, and strategy)
      • How quickly they grasp and apply teaching
      • How much improvement they show
      • How knowledgeable they are
      • How seamlessly they can work in teams


(*This is not an exhaustive list)

These qualities cannot be judged through debates alone, and therefore, a series of strategies are adopted to evaluate the abilities of the students, including setting quizzes on various topic areas, observing preparation time before debates, etc.

By the 10th day, the cut is made to the top 24 students.

Final Selection

In the final stages of the trial, the top 24 students are trained rigorously and observed closely by the best WSDC coaches from India and around the world. This process allows the students develop their full potential, and tracks their improvement.

Students come from diverse age groups, also enabling younger students hone their ability for future years. At the end of this process, the top 5 students are selected to represent the ISDS debating team, in addition to the identification of reserve speakers if necessary.

ISDS has consistently provided intense coaching in debate to hundreds of students, with the ultimate aim of inspiring organized thought and speech in the minds of children between the ages of 13 and 18.