Making a Good Level 1 Judge

Posted in NEWS on June 19, 2008

By Wizards of the Coast

This document is a collection of some ideas on certifying a candidate for level 1. Level 2 Judges have this new responsibility. If you passed the new level 2 test and interview, you can now certify candidate for level 1. These level 2 Judges are trusted to be able to do this. Remember that this process is based on your opinion. This is never wrong or right; the candidate is being tested, not you.

Level 1 Judges are generally local Judges, who oversee local tournaments, run Regular REL premiere events, or aid in larger premiere tournaments. They usually operate in a metro-area. They are knowledgeable of Magic rules, DCI tournament rules, structures, and formats, and are capable of organizing store-level events.

Local Judges are the main envoys to the retail community and work with (sometimes for) retailers. Retailers often inquire about local Judges and will often have local Judges to aid them in organizing, running, and reporting their tournaments. Many retail operators employ local Judges or become local Judges themselves.

Rules and policy knowledge are important, but they are only a part of being a good Judge. The test itself evaluates the candidate's knowledge, but an examiner also has to look for other qualities. Candidates don't always start with all these qualities, but when talking to a candidate, look for the following:

* Involvement in their Magic community
* Motivation to become a Judge
* Initiative to be a quality Judge
* Willingness to improve and learn
* Willingness to participate in community

You want to know what a candidate currently does in their community. Sometimes you will hear that they are Judging, organizing, trying either, or are just a player. To know more about the candidate you want to know why they have taken their particular role. And even more important, ask how they think they are improving the community in the role they now have. In the end you are especially interested in when and where a candidate will be Judging-- a candidate who won't be Judging somewhere doesn't particularly need DCI certification. Knowing a candidate's level of community involvement will help guide you on how to approach training them.

Candidates can be motivated by many things. One motivation is doing the test as a promotion from rules advisor. Another is the motivation to get rewards. A third can be to improve something in the community. A candidate's motivating factors for certification helps guide how you on how to present the Judge program to them, and sometimes this process can include realigning their motivations as they relate to what it means to be a DCI certified Judge. The motivation is the base of all other qualities discussed here, so you want to know why a candidate wants to become a Judge.

The first step a candidate takes is to meet with you and asks how to become a Judge. This is the first test the candidate takes and they immediately pass, obviously, because they took the initiative to come to you. Now you need to motivate and prepare them for the rest. However... you want a candidate to Judge a couple of events first before you go ahead with the test. They need to make sure to come to these events; it is not your responsibility to plan everything for them. A candidate's initiative guides how much time a candidate will need and how well they might do on their own. When you make clear what your expectations are, the candidate will again take the initiative to ask to Judge. If they do, you are sure they are ready to start learning.

Improve and Learn:
The candidate should know that improving yourself is an important aspect of Judging. It is not necessary that Judges always work for promotion, but they need to keep up-to-date on rules and policies. Make suggestions to a candidate to improve and see if they work on them.
A candidate should try to improve on critical feedback and a candidate should seek to learn from you.

Participate in a community:
A new Judge won't start in the worldwide community of Judges; however, we encourage them to be active on message boards or lists. We want to see them fill the role stated in the second part of the definition at the start of this document. A conviction to do it their own way, or not following policy due to disagreeing is harmful for the community, although discussion on all topics should always be encouraged. Make sure the candidate has the means to join the community, like having internet access or live within a normal range of where people play.

The Test...
Recommend that the candidate take the Easy, Hard practice exams before taking the actually test. You can also encourage them to take the Rules advisor test as it will only benefit them while taking the actual Level 1 certification test. Taking the practice exams not only gives the candidate an excellent study guide, but it also shows their willingness to put in the effort, their ability to learn and improve, and can even measure their motivation.

Hold a small interview to talk about the things discussed above. You also want to check whether a candidate has a decent chance to pass the written test. Failing without getting close can be discouraging and time consuming. Once you are comfortable with a candidate's chances, you should administer the test.

After the test, you should go over the questions with the candidate, focusing on the questions they got wrong, and explaining to them why their answers to those particular questions were incorrect. It is very useful for the candidate to know where to improve their knowledge, and it is useful to see if all the errors fall in the same category. It also can be useful to discuss a few of the "harder" questions they got right to ensure they truly understood the reasons for their right answers. Oh, and this process also keeps your knowledge up to date too.

Finally follow up with where the candidate needs to start Judging and working on their rules or policy knowledge. Even after passing, a candidate can improve their rules and policy knowledge; after failing, a candidate can still Judge, and it should be encouraged; event experience will help their chances of passing the test next time. You should keep in contact with the Judge and see them from time to time. Encouraging a candidate to read Judge articles or sign up for a local Judging message board also helps the new person stay connected with the desire to Judge. You also should let candidates know when a store or organizer presents Judging opportunities that they might benefit from.

One last bit of advice: "Don't give up on a candidate unless they've given up on themselves."

Frank Wareman, L3 (with assistance from Scott Marshall, L4)