Judging Criteria and Insights

  • The same panel of five to seven judges will score each area of competition. The adjudication guidelines used by judges are as follows:

    • Each candidate is scored individually, not comparatively.

    • Each judge immediately scores a candidate after she completes each phase of the competition.

    • Judges use the Olympic Scoring System. Scores are 1-10, whole numbers only, and drop the high and low scores. 

  • A note on wardrobe selection in all phases of competition:

    • Always choose something that suits your personality!

    • Judges score on the entire look and overall first impression; not the outfit itself or its cost. 

    • Choose a style, color, and fit that is becoming to you.

    • Like any other job interview, this is a time to put your best foot forward!

  • In all phases of competition the judges are instructed to evaluate competitors by asking these questions:

    • Does this candidate possess the qualities and attributes of Miss America or Miss America's Outstanding Teen?

    • Can she do the job?

    • Will she be eager to listen or difficult to direct once she has the job?

Jasmin Courthouse Steps 92 Landscape .jpg


to create and learn


to impact everyone she encounters


to educate and advocate

Competition Categories for Miss Candidates​

Please note the categories and their percentages listed below are confirmed since the new criteria for the Miss America Competition took place on December 19th, 2019. Thank you!

Talent / 35% of total score
  • The time limit for talent presentation is ninety (90) seconds. The candidate's entire performance must be completed on the stage from start to finish. 

  • No live animals or props that impose a risk are allowed (I.E. fire batons or sharp objects).

  • All props must be functional and an integral part of the talent presentation. 

  • When choosing talent music and content, keep in mind the values and image of the Miss America Organization, as well as the personal style she wishes to project. This is a family-friendly event.

  • The Miss Hastings Scholarship Program has the right to ban music, movement, costumes, or content deemed inappropriate. 

  • The judges are looking for: overall first impression, interpretive ability, technical skill, stage presence, the totality of all elements including costume, music, choreography, use of the body, presentation, execution, quality of the performance, entertainment value, and how relatable it is to the audience.

Private Interview / 35%
  • Judges conduct interviews in the afternoon of the competition.

  • The candidate's wardrobe selection should be age-appropriate and could be slacks, a skirt or a dress. She will choose something she would wear for a job interview. The judges are looking for the face of the Miss Hastings Scholarship Program. 

  • The judge chair makes the introductions as she enters the room and take her place behind the podium for a press-style interview.  

  • The nine-and-one-half (9-1/2) minute interview will begin immediately. When the time has elapsed, she is notified and given 30 seconds to clarify anything and make a closing statement. 

  • Questions are on general topics, current events, items from your resume, and from your Social Impact Initiative proposal. The interview is her opportunity to let the judges get to know her. 

  • The judging will emphasize her poise in handling the questions and how well she articulates her beliefs on the issue, not the position she takes. 

  • The judges are looking for: overall first impression, qualities and attributes of Miss America, positive role model, knowledge and understanding of platform, ability to fulfill job responsibilities, confident and commanding presence, personality, well-presented appearance, validated opinions and responses, ability to express thoughts and defend beliefs, energy, intelligence, and communication skills.

  • Good speech, vocabulary, and grammar skills are essential.

Red Carpet (AKA - Evening Wear) / 15%
  • This category gives the candidate an opportunity to make a statement about herself in the evening wear of her choice.

  • Candidates may choose an evening gown, cocktail dress, or slacks suitable for a formal evening event.

  • The judges are looking for: overall first impression, stage presence, confidence, personality, expression, comportment, polish in self-presentation, and tastefulness in attire.

Social Impact Pitch & Onstage Question / 15%
  • This category gives the candidate an opportunity to make a brief "elevator pitch" statement about her Social Impact Initiative (SII).

  • The time limit to make her statement in this category is thirty-five seconds.

  • The candidate's Onstage Question may or may not be on her SII. 

  • The judges are evaluating her extemporaneous responses to the onstage question, poise, confidence, and comfort level in speaking before a large audience. 

  • The question is asked by the judge who asked the first question in the private interview.

  • The question asked is the one the judge would have asked next in the private interview.

  • The candidate has twenty seconds to answer.


The question isn’t

who is going to let me;

it’s who is going to stop me.

Ayn Rand