How to Avoid Penalty Points

Let’s face it, anyone who has ever done a written event has heard about penalty points. Maybe you’ve heard about how penalty points make a big difference in scoring, how they are so tricky that not even your veteran advisor is able to catch them or how if the format isn’t just perfect, your dream of going up on the stage at the International Career Development Conference will remain just that, a dream.

Penalty points are no joke – they can make or break your presentation. They can ruin what you’ve been working so hard on during all this year, and believe me, it is not easy on judges to let an exemplary written project go to waste exclusively because of penalty points.

To brighten your day, here is how to make sure you avoid these penalty point traps:

  1. First, don’t stress too much about them! Approach finding penalty points as a stress-free activity whenever you have time and go paragraph-by-paragraph, page-by-page to make sure everything is in the right format.
  1. Use the Written Event Checklist prepared by DECA Inc. Make sure you check that list out! DECA Inc. has taken the time to create this list to ensure all competitors have an equal playing field. Go over all of the parts of the checklist three times just to be sure.
  1. Make sure to have the Written Event Statement of Assurances and Academic Integrity forms; they account for 15 points of your presentation.
  1. Do not try to make your presentation stand out by using a different folio than the official DECA written event folio; they will cause a deduction of points in your presentation. Only use official DECA folios! And remember, no sheet protectors either.
  1. Limit the number of pages in your presentation as specified. Written event projects require a maximum number of pages, so make sure to check that your presentation does not go over. Remember that the title page and the table of contents do not count in the limit for number of pages.
  1. Major content has to be double-spaced. Items like the Title Page, Table of Contents, Executive Summary, Bibliography, Appendix, long quotes, footnotes, and lists may be single-spaced.
  1. Make sure to check out the current year’s event guidelines as they vary from year to year.
  1. Every entry must be in typed or word-processed, any marks in pencil, pen, or marker will cause penalty points; only graphs and charts may be handwritten.

Don’t get too scared of penalty points – they are there to help you write an awesome project! Take into account that judges are going over many presentations, they want to be equitable to all DECA members.

All judges are looking for are projects that are easy to read and understand, so give them just that by following all the guidelines!

 Follow Monica on Twitter @monica­­_cabellog.

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