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Academics 2021 Spring Contest Plan FAQ

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What if my school is unable to participate in the 2021 spring contests due to COVID?
Schools unable to compete in one of the three spring meet plan options may request to receive digital copies of district materials. These materials may be utilized in whatever manner works best for a district level competition, with no advancement to the region level. UIL will provide electronic access to testing materials following the last day of the district week, currently scheduled to end March 27, and extemp topics following the conclusion of speech events on April 3. Coordinators from schools requesting 2021 At-Home Experience materials should email
Do students have to have the option to take the test at their home campus or does it depend on the format approved by the District Executive Committee?
The decision is up to the DEC.  UIL is allowing localized testing as an option the DEC may approve. The flexibility is meant to allow as many students to compete as possible, with the stipulation that they are being supervised in person by a staff member.
Is there a virtual option where the questions go into a Google Form (or some other option) and students complete the test at their home?
There is not a digital option. Students may not complete the test at home and be eligible for district honors or advancement to the next level of competition.
May we adapt contest materials for test-taking events to a virtual or computerized format for contestants in the traditional, localized, or pod format? (added Feb. 5, 2021)
Contest materials may not be uploaded, adapted to a virtual format or disseminated to students in an electronic format.
What are the spring academic contest dates and where do I find them?

Please refer to the official UIL calendar posted on the UIL website at:
March 22-27 District Academic Meets
March 22-April 3 District Speech events
April 3 One-Act Play District/Bi-District Certification deadline
April 14-17 Region OAP
April 16-17 Region Academics and Speech
April 29-May 1 State OAP and Academics
May 25-26 State Speech
If we choose option 1 for a traditional meet and circumstances change, for example due to worsening COVID numbers, would we be able to change to another format such as pods?
The District Executive Committee has the authority to make changes to the format selected.
For a localized district meet, can each school in the district select their own days and times during the district week to conduct their contests? (added Feb. 8, 2021)
No, the meet schedule must be coordinated so that each contest is happening on the same day at roughly the same time for all schools in the district. From the Spring 2021 Contest Plan: “Districts selecting a localized or pod contest format shall follow a contest schedule so that all students in each contest from that district are participating at a similar time on the same day.”
At a traditional meet, is there any possibility of extending verification to allow just one school in at a time in order to limit the number of people in verification?
Districts have full flexibility to determine how they handle verification and grading.
Is it permissible to schedule writing events in localized format, test-taking events in traditional format and speech events in virtual format?
That structure is acceptable, provided it is consistent for all meet participants in each event. The meet director may request materials for localized events in digital format. Those documents can be emailed to the schools for each contest location so they can be printed and provided to contestants. Materials may not be disseminated to students in an electronic format.
Can we create specific rooms or spaces in our building that each school can use as their home base or study space rather than gathering everyone in the cafeteria?
This is an excellent solution and is encouraged.
What are Spelling & Vocabulary pronouncer options?
Because of the unusual circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, an audio file will be available that can be used as a substitute for an in-person pronouncer.
Can we send writing event papers to judges electronically as either scanned documents or digital files? (added Feb. 3, 2021)
It is permissible to electronically send documents to judges. Testing prompts may not be shared electronically with contestants. Entries for the following contests should each be graded by the same panel or individual for each event: Ready Writing, Journalism, Computer Applications, the essay sections of Social Studies and Current Issues & Events (at least the top 8), and the essay section of Literary Criticism (if necessary due to ties). Districts have flexibility in how to complete the grading process. It is not required that each event’s judges be together while judging – they may deliberate via phone or video conferencing.

Computer Science

Do we have to participate in hands-on programming?
Participation in hands-on programming is required for team placement, points and advancement. If a school chooses not to participate in programming, Computer Science contestants from that school can still earn individual placement, points and advancement, which is based solely on written exam scores.
Are we required to use multiple computers for programming this year?
No. The spring 2021 rule modification allowing for the use of multiple computers is intended to provide flexibility for districts and regions to incorporate COVID-19 risk mitigation in structuring their contests. It is not a requirement.
Can we run the Computer Science written test and hands-on programming in different competition formats?
Yes. For example, it is permissible to run the written test in a localized format and programming in a pod or traditional format.


Do journalism papers still need feedback written on them?
Yes, feedback is imperative for students, especially for those who are advancing.
We use two sets of judges for our journalism contests. One set judges news and features. One set judges the other three contests. Is that OK?
Yes, you can have two different sets of judges as long as all of one contest is judged by the same set. For example, all of the feature entries need to be judged by the same set of judges. All of the news entries need to be judged by the same set, etc.
If we need help finding journalism judges, what can we do?

First check our journalism judge database at:
If that doesn’t help you, email Jeanne Acton at


If we are hosting in-person Prose and Poetry contests, may we allow one performer into the contest room at a time to promote safety protocols?
We want to host an in-person district speech meet and have been accustomed to using Joy of Tournaments as our management system. Does SpeechWire provide similar functions?
Yes. SpeechWire includes user-friendly registration, scheduling, electronic ballots, tabulation, results posting and technical support via email or phone.
How do we gain access to SpeechWire to manage our speech/debate contests? (added Feb. 4, 2021)
The steps are easy:
• Go to
• The homepage has a link near the top of the screen: “Place Your Order Now”. Click the link.
• When you fill out the order, be sure you include UIL somewhere in your tournament name AND in the "notes" section of the order form to obtain a reduced fee.

One-Act Play

See the Theatre Resources & Forms page for a Spring 2021 OAP Planning Guide and FAQ.