There are four areas of competition in the Miss America Organization. This section will review each phase of competition and explain the judging criteria.
The same panel of five judges will score each area of competition. Each candidate is scored individually, not comparatively and is scored immediately after she completes each phase of competition. The Olympic Scoring System is used. Scores are 1-10, whole numbers only. The high and low scores are dropped. The remaining scores are combined and percentages figured. The total score for each candidate determines the result of the competition.
A note on wardrobe selection in all phases of competition: always choose something that compliments your personality. You are judged on the total look and overall first impression, not the outfit itself or price of the outfit. Choose a style, color, and fit, that is becoming to you.
TALENT Talent is 35% of the total score. The time limit for your talent is ninety seconds. The candidate must begin and finish onstage. No live animals or dangerous props are allowed (fire baton or swords). All props must be functional and an integral part of the talent. No enhanced lighting is allowed. When choosing your talent music and content, keep in mind the values and image of the Miss America Organization. The Miss Washtenaw County Program has the right to ban music, movement, costume, or content deemed inappropriate. The judges are looking for: overall first impression, interpretive ability, technical skill, stage presence, totality of all elements including costume, music, and choreography, quality of the performance, and entertainment value.
PRIVATE INTERVIEW The interview will be conducted on the day of the pageant. It is 35% of the total score. Your wardrobe selection should be age appropriate and could be pants, skirt or dress. Choose something that you would wear for a job interview. You will be introduced as you enter the room and will speak from a podium. The nine and one half minute interview will begin immediately. When the time has elapsed, you will be offered a chance to clarify anything or make a closing statement of up to 30 seconds. Questions are on general topics, current events, items from your resume, and from your social impact essay. This is your opportunity to let the judges get to know you. The judging will emphasize your poise in handling the questions and how well you articulate your beliefs on the issue, not the position you take. The judges are looking for: overall first impression, qualities and attributes of Miss America, positive role model, knowledge and understanding of your Social Impact Initiative (SII), ability to fulfill job responsibilities, confident and commanding presence, personality, appearance and attractiveness, validated opinions and responses, ability to express feelings and defend beliefs, energy, intelligence, and communication skills (speech, vocabulary, and grammar).
ON-STAGE INTERVIEW and SOCIAL IMPACT PITCH This phase of the competition is an extension of the private interview and is worth 15% of the total score. The question is written by the judges after each interview and before the next interview begins. The question will be sealed and asked by a judge during the on-stage portion. The time limit to answer the question is 20 seconds and a timer will be used. Immediately following the Onstage Question, the candidate will deliver a ten- to twenty-second social impact pitch (SIP), which at her discretion can include a statement on the initiative’s importance, her work and plans with the initiative, or other information. Attire is the candidate's choice and can be what you wore to the private interview or something a little "showier," since it is part of the production. This is a chance for you to show your personality through your choice of attire. The judges are evaluating your extemporaneous responses to the onstage question, sense of empowerment, and passion for your SII. Other judging criteria includes poise, confidence, and comfort level in speaking before a large audience.
RED CARPET This phase is 15% of the total score. The contestant’s entire look and stage presence is taken into consideration The judges are looking for: overall first impression, sense of confidence, walk, posture, carriage and grace, personality, stage presence, beauty and sense of attractiveness, appropriateness of the evening wear
In all phases of competition the judges are instructed to evaluate contestants by asking these question:
Does this contestant possess the qualities and attributes of Miss America?
Can she do the job?
Will she be difficult to manage once she has the job?