As of 2020, there will be two methods to qualify to the Pennsylvania State Tournament:

    1. The previous method of qualifying through each respective District Qualifier Tournament will remain largely unchanged, including event participation thresholds for qualifiers.
    2. A new method will be introduced called the “Bid System,” which will grant competitors the ability to qualify to the State Tournament for consistent, exceptional performance in tournaments throughout the school year.

The hope of the new system is to give more people the opportunity to participate in the PA State Tournament by providing flexible options for all competitors to qualify.

Earning & Awarding Bids

A competitor from any PHSSL Member School is eligible to advance to the Pennsylvania State Tournament by earning at least three (3) bids in a single event during the respective school year. To earn a bid in a given event, that event must meet the minimum qualification requirements for awarding a bid. All tournaments are eligible (tournaments outside of PA are subject to approval by the PHSSL Board) to have events that award bids – qualifications are event-specific not tournament-specific.

The minimum requirements for an event to award bids are as follows:

    • there must be at least five (5) entries in the event that compete during all preliminary rounds of competition,
    • there must be entries from at least three (3) schools that compete during all preliminary rounds of competition,
    • the event cannot be designated as “JV” or “novice,”
    • the event cannot be judged by current high school students or competitors,
    • there must be at least three (3) rounds of competition in the event.

The number of bids in any given event are as follows:

# EntriesPlaces Earning a Bid
5 to 91
10 to 162
17 to 233
24 to 304
31 to 405
41 to 496
50 to 69All semifinalists (up to 12) in Speech and top 12 in Debate/Congress supersession
70+All quarterfinalists (up to 24) in Speech and top 24 in Debate/Congress supersession

 In debate, if there are 41-49 entries and the tournament breaks to quarterfinals, all quarterfinalists will receive bids.

 In congressional debate, each chamber counts as its own event unless a super session is held, and each chamber earns bids according to the above ratios. If a super session is held, the final places from that session will follow the above ratios. If the entries in Congress exceed 50, a supersession (up to 24) must be held to earn the higher level of bids.


Ties: There may not be a tie for the last place to earn a bid in any event (e.g. if there are 18 competitors in Public Forum, there cannot be a tie for 3rd place). Any ties must be broken and announced as such at the tournament, otherwise none of the tied competitors will receive a bid.

JV: If there are both a varsity and JV events in a tournament, the number of JV competitors will count towards the total competitors in the Varsity event (e.g. if there are 21 competitors in Varsity PF and 20 competitors in JV PF, the total number of students counted in PF would be 41, and the top 6 places from varsity PF would earn a bid). It is important to note from above, no competitors in JV events are eligible to receive bids at a tournament.

Multiple Entry: A competitor may only earn one bid per event per tournament, however, if a competitor is entered in multiple events at the tournament, that competitor may earn a bid for each event.

Combining Bids: Bids from separate events may not be combined.