The Level Three Advancement Process

Posted in NEWS on May 29, 2003

Regional Judges (L3s) are the leaders of premier organized play and the judge communities in their regions. They generally operate in large areas, provinces, and countries. They are recognized as regional leaders and are respected in their communities. They mentor L1s and L2s in becoming better judges. Regional Judges are expected to have a presence in their community and on mailing lists, web forums, etc. They are expected to conduct judge reviews, be Team Leaders at major events, and provide feedback on judges to the Judge Program.

(For more information about the Level 3 advancement process, visit the Testing Manager's blog.)

    Qualities of Regional Judges

Regional Judges are expected to show strength in the following areas:

  • Rules and Policy Knowledge: Regional Judges are the leading experts in the rules of Magic and tournament policies. They have studied the Comprehensive Rules, the MIPG, the JAR and the MTR. They can make rulings on complex situations correctly and without significant delay to the tournament.
  • Leadership, Presence, and Charisma: Regional Judges command the respect of players and other judges as authorities on the practice of judging and the ways in which they accomplish judging-related tasks. They have an understanding of effective leadership in a broader context both within and outside of tournaments. They are trusted by the judges whom they lead. A deficient judge may lack leadership capacity, or may confuse authority granted by a position (e.g. Head Judge) with leadership in general. He or she may have problems commanding the respect of players or judges in his or her local community. An exemplary judge is one who is acutely aware of his or her leadership capacity and capabilities. The judge is able to exert his or her influence on the community in a supportive and positive way, often subtly and through the orchestration of others. He or she inspires other judges and motivates them to work toward the goals of the Judge Program.
  • Mentorship: Regional Judges improve the judging communities in their local regions through active recruitment, training, and mentoring of other judges. This mentorship is tailored to the needs of the judges being mentored and results in measurable improvement in those judges. This is accomplished directly at events, but can also take shape outside of events through a variety of channels (forums, mailing lists, IRC, direct dialogue with other judges, etc). A deficient judge shows little to no active mentorship, or mentorship that is clearly ineffective. He or she shows little effort to develop his or her local community. An exemplary judge has demonstrated particularly broad, diverse, and effective mentorship capabilities. His or her influence as a mentor likely extends beyond a local community of judges.
  • Teamwork and Diplomacy: Regional Judges understand that organized play requires teamwork with other judges, players, stores, organizers and venues. They can follow as well as lead. They are worthy ambassadors of the Judge Program who work closely with their Regional Coordinators and the Judge Manager. They are recognized as fair and firm arbiters of disputes and display significant diplomacy in disagreements, both in person and in other venues such as the internet. A deficient judge may display difficulty in working with others, or a lack of teamwork when not in a leadership role. He or she may have lapses of diplomacy and tact, either in person or in internet-based venues. An exemplary judge is equally comfortable in both leading and supporting roles, and can work well with judges, players and others in a variety of settings. He or she is highly regarded for diplomacy and tact in disputes, and is an excellent ambassador for the Judge Program and Magic in general.
  • Penalty and Policy Philosophy: Regional Judges understand the underlying philosophies that inform the MTR, the MIPG, the JAR and other policies relevant to tournament operations and judging. They can effectively critique these philosophies and policies in the context of improving the Judge Program. Regional Judges know the importance of adhering to policy, but can also identify circumstances where policy is unclear, absent, or contrary to the spirit of the Judge Program's practices. A deficient judge applies policies incorrectly or has philosophical views regarding policies that run contrary to the Judge Program's most basic principles. He or she may be unable to explain policy to players and other judges, and may have little to no grasp of why policy is written the way it is. An exemplary judge has an impressive knowledge of penalties and policies and demonstrates a careful consideration of their underlying philosophies. He or she is capable of offering critical analysis of policies and judge practices that is particularly constructive and helpful.
  • Communication Skills: Regional Judges can communicate well enough in English to be able to effectively lead a judge team at an international event and participate on international judge mailing lists. Regional Judges can clearly express themselves in their native language without causing confusion or frustration in the audience. They are able to deliver penalties and rulings in a manner that is respectful, properly justified, and unapologetic. A deficient judge may not have sufficient English-speaking ability to express him/herself effectively. His or her native-language communication skills may confuse, frustrate, or mislead others. An exemplary judge is a highly effective communicator, one who is consistently clear, concise, and eloquent in both verbal and written communications.
  • Attitude and Maturity: Regional Judges maintain a positive attitude when interacting with other members of the Magic community and demonstrate a solid and consistent work ethic. They are mature, trustworthy, punctual, and enjoyable to work with. They are rarely, if ever, regarded as being difficult to work with, negative, tardy, lazy, etc. A deficient judge may have a history of negativity, tardiness, poor work ethic, or reliability. He or she may display a problematically low maturity level that affects his or her performance at events. An exemplary judge is frequently sought after by fellow judges and tournament organizers for his or her exceptional attitude and contribution to events. He or she is generally regarded as a pleasure to work with.
  • Self-Evaluation: Regional Judges are self-reflective and capable of assessing their own strengths and weaknesses. They can effectively identify areas for their own improvement beyond superficial practices such as rules knowledge, and they demonstrate insight regarding their own judge practices. A deficient judge's self-reviews lack depth, detail, or accuracy. He or she may be unable to assess his or her own performance in meaningful ways. An exemplary judge is one who enters self-reviews into the Judge Center regularly, shows deep insight into his or her own judging practice, and is able to identify specific strategies for improvement.
  • Assessment of Other Judges Judges evaluate and formally review other judges on a regular basis. The reviews they write are professional, constructive, detailed, and helpful to the judge reviewed. Regional Judges can observe and assess a wide variety of skills, attitudes, and abilities in their fellow judges, including those of higher level. A deficient judge is one who reviews infrequently or assesses other judges very superficially. His or her reviews may lack substance, depth, and detail. The reviews may show evidence that the judge only ever assesses a very small selection of skills in other judges. An exemplary judge is a prolific reviewer, is consistently detailed in their reviews and feedback, and merges evaluation of other judges with mentorship of them seamlessly. The judge is also insightful and constructive when reviewing or critiquing judges of higher level.
  • Program Construction and Philosophy: Regional Judges can describe the roles of Level 1, 2, and 3 judges and the qualities that make good judges at those levels. They have expectations for judges at each level that are consistent with the philosophies of the Judge Program. They are aware of and understand recent developments and changes within the program. A deficient judge has expectations and views of the Judge Program's structure that are incorrect or inconsistent with the program's philosophies. The judge may have expectations for other judges that are significantly out of step for one or more of the judge levels. The judge may be unaware of or misapplying recent developments in the Judge Program. An exemplary judge is one who, in addition to understanding the structure and philosophy of the Judge Program, is also able to offer constructive opinions on how to improve the program going forward. His or her views reflect an understanding of the current needs of the program and areas where deficiencies or areas for improvement may be worth exploring.
  • Stress and Conflict Management: Regional Judges can perform under pressure, maintaining a calm and focused demeanor at all times. They can handle leadership duties without allowing stress or pressure to adversely affect performance. They are capable of managing conflict as it arises between players, judges, event staff, etc, and they can do so without displaying signs of stress, doubt, or panic. A deficient judge is unable to handle the varied demands of an event while in a position of authority without having stress or pressure affect his or her performance. When under pressure, the judge may become noticeably affected, unable to maintain his or her composure or focus. He or she goes "on tilt" easily. An exemplary judge is one whose performance actually improves under stress. He or she thrives when under pressure, making effective decisions while maintaining attention on numerous aspects of the tournament. He or she rarely, if ever, appears to be negatively impacted by the pressures of an event and all its challenges.
  • Investigations: Regional Judges can identify instances where an investigation for potential cheating, fraud, etc. is appropriate. They can ask probing questions in a timely and productive manner, and arrive at an appropriate conclusion that protects the integrity of the event and shows respect and professionalism to the parties involved. When a disqualification is warranted, Regional Judges are capable of issuing one efficiently, unapologetically, and without disruption to the rest of the event. A deficient judge does not investigate beyond the basic resolution of the situation presented during a judge call, or investigates ineffectively. The judge may take an excessive amount of time, or may arrive at decisions that are inappropriate to the situation. An exemplary judge is highly effective at investigating a player's intentions. He or she is acutely aware of situations and cues during a judge call that indicate a need to pursue further investigation. Questioning is effective and efficient, and the judge is able to effectively assess a situation using information beyond the basic testimony of players involved (e.g. non-verbal cues, game state, player motivation, etc).
    The Advancement Process

To become a Regional Judge, you will be assessed on the above qualities via a three-step process:

  1. Candidacy Prerequisites
  2. Pre-event Interview
  3. Written Test and Panel Interview
    Step 1: Candidacy Prerequisites

To be considered as a candidate for advancement to L3, you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Must be an Area Judge (L2) in good standing for at least 12 months
  • Must have scored at least 80% on a Level 3 Assessment Exam in the last 6 months
  • Must have acted as Head Judge or Team Lead for at least 5 Competitive/Professional REL events, managing at least 2 other judges, including at least 2 such events in the last 12 months
  • Must have acted as Head Judge for at least 20 other events, including at least 5 such events in the last 12 months
  • Must have participated extensively in the pre-certification training and mentoring of at least 2 judges who certified for level 1 in the last 12 months
  • Must demonstrate English competency sufficient to operate as a Team Lead at an international event and to participate on international mailing lists and projects
  • Must demonstrate participation in the judge community on a regional or global level beyond just being on staff at events (examples include mailing lists, seminars, articles, projects, etc.
  • Must have written a general (i.e. non-event-specific) self-review in the last 12 months, covering ALL of the Qualities of Regional Judges listed above as Strengths or Areas for Improvement. If that self-review is more than 6 months old, your application must include a brief update indicating progress on the Qualities of Regional Judges.
  • Must have written at least 10 reviews in the last 12 months (certification reviews count here, self-review does not)
    • Must include reviews of judges from both inside and outside of your region
    • Must include reviews of judges of higher, equal and lower level
    • Must demonstrate the ability to point out both strengths and areas for improvement
  • Must have received written recommendations from at least two of the following categories:
    • Your Regional Coordinator
    • An L3+ judge within your region
    • An L3+ judge outside of your region
  • Must have received a written recommendation from an L4+ judge within the last 36 months indicating success in a Team Lead position at a Grand Prix where the recommending judge was the Head Judge
    Recommendation Requirements:
  • The three required written recommendations listed above must come from three different people.
  • If your self-review is more than 6 months old, a brief update indicating progress on the Qualities of Regional Judges
  • You may not begin requesting recommendations until at least one year after your L2 certification date.
  • You may not begin requesting recommendations until your self-review is written and approved by the Verification Committee.

While you are encouraged to keep track of your progress on the Candidacy Prerequisites as early as you deem fit, the recommendation stage of the L3 advancement process is reserved for those candidates who have been L2 for at least a year, and who have taken an active role not only in the community, but in improving their craft and investing into their own development. Before requesting recommendations, you must send a copy of your self-review to both your Regional Coordinator and the Testing Manager. Once you receive notification that your self-review has been approved by the Verification Committee, you may ask for recommendations from any L3+ judge. Any request for a recommendation must include a copy of your self-review and must be cc-ed to your Regional Coordinator.

If you believe that you have met all of the Candidacy Prerequisites, send your application to both your Regional Coordinator and the Testing Manager. This application must be detailed and specific; make sure that it contains explanations of the ways in which you have met each of the requirements. Your application must include:

  • Review IDs for advancement reviews (even if you were not the certifying judge), self-review, recommendation reviews, and other relevant reviews
  • Exam ID for your L3 assessment exam
  • Event dates for the Competitive/Professional REL events for which you acted as Head Judge or Team Lead
  • Specific examples of your participation in the judge community

Your application will be reviewed by the Verification Committee.

Candidates who wish to return to L3 after an absence of no more than five years may do so via a slightly modified list of Candidacy Prerequisites.

    Step 2: Pre-event Interview

Passing the Candidacy Prerequisites does not make you a Regional Judge. Instead, it gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your ability level in each of the Qualities of Regional Judges.

After you have met the Candidacy Prerequisites, you will be contacted via email by an L3+ judge who will serve as your initial evaluator. Your evaluator will ask you a series of questions about you and your experiences as a judge. The evaluator's goal is to begin documenting your strengths and weaknesses with respect to the Qualities of Regional Judges listed above. You should expect your pre-event interview to last several weeks.

In certain cases, the Judge Manager and/or Testing Manager may choose to speed up the interview process by skipping your pre-event interview and sending your answers straight to your panel lead. In such cases, the panel interview will be longer to ensure that all necessary content will be covered regardless of the format of your interview.

    Step 3: Written Test and Panel Interview

After your pre-event interview, you will be scheduled for a written test and a panel interview, most likely at a Grand Prix event. Interviews will be scheduled based on the needs of the Judge Program and the availability of experienced judges who can act as panelists. The Judge Program will make reasonable efforts to schedule your interview in a timely manner, but does not guarantee that you will be scheduled for an interview at your next Grand Prix. In general, a Grand Prix event will have the capacity for, at most, one L3 interview. This means that you will likely not be able to request testing at a particular Grand Prix. If your Candidacy Prerequisites lapse while you are waiting to be scheduled for an interview, this fact will not be held against you. (For example, if your passing L3 Practice Test score becomes more than six months old while you wait for your interview, this will not affect your testing process.) The Judge Program will endeavor to give you at least two weeks advance notice about whether or not you will be testing at an event you attend.

The L3 written exam is a difficult 50-question multiple-choice exam covering Magic rules and tournament policy. The passing score is 80%.

An L3 panel interview is an intensive one- to two-hour discussion with, generally, one L4+ judge and one or more L3+ judges. In this interview, the panel will complete the investigation of the Qualities of Regional Judges listed above, covering areas that were not previously covered by your evaluator. One or more role-playing scenarios may be used, although this will not be necessary for all candidates.

If your panel decides that you have a major deficiency in one or more of the Qualities of Regional Judges, or that you have minor deficiencies in three or more of the Qualities, you will remain L2. Otherwise, your panel will recommend promotion to L3. If you are not promoted, then shortly after your interview, you will receive from your panel and your evaluator a list of Supplemental Activities. These are the activities you will be expected to complete to continue on your path to L3.

At the conclusion of this process, your panel will provide you with a detailed and specific review. Regardless of whether you are promoted to L3, this process will provide you with targeted guidance on how to continue your development both as an individual judge and as a valued asset to the Judge Program.