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All Odyssey scores given by the officials are “raw” scores. Long-Term raw scores may be any number up to 200 (before penalties). Style scores may be any number up to 50. Spontaneous raw scores may be any number at all (depending on the problem and the scoring criteria.) Raw scores are then “scaled” (sort of like curving grades.) A TEAM'S SCORE MEANS ALMOST NOTHING BY ITSELF — a score of 120 out of 200 might be the highest or the lowest score of the day. A team won't know how it compares with others until scores are posted after the awards ceremony! Teams will also not know the their spontaneous score until scores are posted: the team is not told its score after they compete in spontaneous. Long-term scores are given to the coach by the Head Judge approximately 1 -2 hours after a team's Long-Term performance. The head judge should explain the scores and answer any questions. The coach will initial the sheet to verify he or she received the scores.

While primary teams present their solution to a judging panel, they do not receive scores. Instead, they receive positive written comments and verbal encouragement.

Two types of scoring

  1. Subjective scoring categories are generally based on creativity, quality, effectiveness, humor, and other areas that are qualitative and an opinion of the judge. These are scored on a sliding scale, such as 1 to 15 points. An example of a subjective scoring category is, “Creativity of the vehicle’s appearance,” and each problem judge would rate it somewhere within the stated point range, depending on how creative they feel the look of the vehicle to be. Subjective scores can never be questioned; officials have given their opinions of a team's creativity or performance, and their decision is final. All style scores are subjective.
  2. Objective scoring categories are based on whether or not the team completes certain requirements of the problem. These scores are absolute, such as 0 or 5 points. An example of objective scoring is, “The vehicle crosses the Finish Line.” The team would receive zero score for not crossing the line and 5 points for crossing the line.All Long-Term judges should give the team the same score (all or nothing – the action occurred or it didn't). Objective scores may only be questioned in the event that an objective score has obviously been averaged. (This isn't supposed to happen: if it does, ask the head judge to check it out!) Objective scores may also be questioned in the event that the coach believes something occurred and the judges didn't see it. In this case, the coach may respectfully ask the head judge to revisit the issue with the long-term judges. However, the judges' decision is final (and video tapes will never be considered in making a judgment call.) If all the officials agree that they didn't see something, it didn't happen (so far as scores are concerned!)

Each problem lists its own set of scoring categories. Generally, if a team does not complete one of the scoring categories, it receives a zero score for that category. Other scoring categories that depend on the first to occur will still be scored. For example, a problem requires a scene set in a specific time period that includes a poem. If the time period for the scene is wrong the scene gets zero score for that category, but the poem is still eligible for full score. Also, if a problem has required scoring elements, such as an original poem, the team can include several original poems in its performance but must designate one to be scored, and only that poem will be scored. Elements in the solution that do not fall within a scoring category will not receive score unless the team lists it as a style free choice.

Calculating scores

The top long-term raw score in a given problem and division is scaled to 200 in the score room. The highest Style raw score is scaled to 50. The highest spontaneous score in the same problem and division is scaled to 100. All other teams' scores are scaled accordingly. All penalties are deducted in the score room from the final, scaled total score. A team that places first in all three categories, with no penalties, would have a scaled total score of 350. This is very rare! It is much more usual for one team to be top in spontaneous, another to be top in Long-term, and perhaps a third team to be top in style. Thus, you can see that until all the scores are scaled and entered into the computer, looking at your scores only tells you what the judges liked (relatively good scores) and what they perhaps impressed them less (relatively lower scores.) Each team is really competing against its own personal bests, and working to be as creative as they possibly can.

Scoring examples

Long term Style Spontaneous
Team A Raw Scores 162 37 95
Team B Raw Scores 149 43 125
Team C Raw Scores 122 49 100

When the teams' scores are scaled, the final scores (and totals) will be as follows:

Long term Style Spontaneous Total
Team A Scaled Scores 200 37.76 76 313.76
Team B Scaled Scores 172.84 42.14 100 314.98
Team C Scaled Scores 150.62 50 80 280.62

Reacting to scores

It is extremely important that all teams understand that much of the scoring at an Odyssey tournament is subjective. Teams cannot, therefore, control all of their scores, except that they can do their best in solving the problem and perform as well as possible. A team that has given its best effort will be a winner, regardless of score, because they will have won self-esteem, a sense of accomplishment, the ability to take risks, mastery of skills they have learned, and a general realization of talents and abilities that will serve them well in all of life! Even failure is a positive in Odyssey of the Mind, because, in the words of one former Odyssey participant, “you learn more from failure than you ever learn from success” and Odyssey of the Mind is about learning, above all else! Look at scores as FEEDBACK to lead to improvement.

Questions about scoring

Should a team question a scoring element, it should discuss it with the Head Judge and, if necessary, the Problem Captain. If the question involves an interpretation of the rules and if the team is not satisfied with the explanation given, the team may ask that a tribunal be convened. A tribunal usually consists of three persons who have a thorough knowledge of the problem’s rules. The tribunal will review the rule in question and, if necessary, talk with the coach, team members and/or judges involved. Once the tribunal makes a decision, its decision is final. Tribunals will not be convened for questions regarding subjective scores or questions in areas such as whether something or someone was across a line or within a certain area. In short, a tribunal is to be convened only when the question regards a rule infraction. Issues that arise as to whether or not something happened or did not happen during a team’s performance are not eligible for a tribunal. In no case will a videotape be used to make a decision. Results are official once the tournament has ended. If there is an objection, the concern must be submitted to the local Regional or Association Director. That person may pursue the inquiry or make a final ruling. Results from Association Tournaments will not be overturned by CCI. CCI will work with teams and associations to help evaluate the situation; however, the association has the final say. Remember, scores in subjective areas will be different for different people and at different tournaments. Getting a higher score at one level of competition does not guarantee it will remain as high at the next level of competition.

Using scoring for improvement

When teams are speaking to judges, judges are not allowed to give direct feedback relating to the team's solution. However, if a team advances to a next level of competition (states or worlds), the team may make changes to their performance (changing the skit, building/repairing props, switching style items, etc). Look at scores to find the strong and weak portions of the performance - what style item was scored lowest? Could that item be replaced with something else? Why do you think the judges scored performance quality 6/15? Generally, concentrate improvements on the scoring areas with the lowest scores.


Several different types of awards are given at tournaments in addition to a team's score. In many regions and states, receiving a Ranatra Fusca Creativity Award allows a team to advance to the next level of competition.

A note on good sportsmanship

The emphasis in Odyssey of the Mind is on competing with the team’s own personal best to achieve all a team is capable of achieving. While scores are important feedback for evaluating a team’s performance, remember that scores are often subjective and that subjective scores are not open to question. If a coach inquires about an objective score or a rule, they must remember that officials are volunteers who are doing their best to make this a positive experience for the kids. Officials are also responsible for keeping the playing field level, and are told they MUST assess penalties if rules are not followed, in order to be fair to teams who were careful to follow all the rules. Coaches set the tone for discussion and questions…please exhibit good manners and good sportsmanship at all times! Teams watch their coaches.

A team (or coach) may never question another team’s score, or whether another team received a penalty, etc. Each team’s scores are discussed only with the team that receives them. Coaches will have to trust their officials. It is possible for officials to make errors (last time we looked, all judges were members of the human race!), but it is unsportsmanlike for any coach or team to question an error unless they believe it may be one made to their own team’s scores.

scoring.txt · Last modified: 2015/07/07 22:38 by michaelb