Penn State Graduate School Penn State Penn State Graduate School

Judging the Performances

  • Judges are assigned at random and therefore, it is likely that judges will be evaluating performances in media that are not in their areas of expertise.
  • Graduate students know that judges are randomly chosen.
  • A panel of judges will evaluate each performance, and the same panel will evaluate all entries in order to standardize scores.
  • Each performer has prepared a short written statement on his/her presentation that is included with the program.
  • Immediately after each performance, judges should jot down notes about the strengths and weaknesses of the performance, paying careful attention to the judging criteria. At the end of the program, judges will decide on the final score for each graduate student.
  • While judges are making their final decisions, there will be a short break for a reception and following the break, the winners will be announced.

Criteria for Judging the Performances

Music Performance
Theatre Performance

Artistry (50 points)

  • Artistic and stylistic interpretation
  • Empathy/Emotional quality
  • Rhythmic clarity and articulation of phrasing
  • Engagement of performer with the work
  • Abstract:  Grammar and Clarity

Technique (30 points)

  • Physical aspect of performance
  • Extent to which performer's technique enhances the interpretation
  • Technical skill

Engagement with Audience (30 points)

  • Work showcases student's abilities
  • Connection with audience
  • Appropriate selection for venue


Judges should utilize the scoring range for each of the performers, as they would in academic testing, and should avoid "grade inflation" or assigning similar scores to all performers. A successful performance should receive a score of 85; a truly outstanding presentation should be ranked in the 90s.

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