There are five areas of competition in the Miss America Organization. The total score roughly breaks down into one-half speaking ability, one-third talent, and one-forth modeling and poise. This section will review each phase of competition and explain the judging criteria. Please note that the final ballot is no longer a part of the scoring system and the percentages for scoring have changed.
The same panel of five judges will score each area of competition. Each contestant is scored individually, not comparatively. Each competitor 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.
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 30% of the total score. The time limit for your talent is ninety seconds. The contestant 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. 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 during the day of the pageant. It is 25% 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 platform 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 platform, 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 QUESTION This area is worth 20%. Questions will be on general topics, not platform.
The judges are evaluating your extemporaneous responses to the onstage question, poise, confidence, and comfort level in speaking before a large audience.
EVENING WEAR This phase is 15% of the total score. The contestant’s entire look (not the price of her gown) 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, and appropriateness of the evening wear.
SWIMSUIT This area of competition is worth 10%. The swimsuit can be a one or two-piece suit of your choice. If the contestant’s selection is a two-piece suit, it must have full or moderate rear bottoms. The top must be a full coverage style with straps from front to back or a halter strap. The straps must be permanently attached to the suit, not tied. Remember this is a family oriented show. The Miss Washtenaw County Program has the authority to ban swimwear that is deemed inappropriate. The footwear for this competition is sandals or shoes of your choice. Contestants may not use oil or glitter on their bodies.
The judges are looking for: overall first impression, beauty of face and figure, walk, posture, poise and grace, does the suit compliment the young woman wearing it, statement of physical fitness and health, sense of confidence and comfort in your ability to compete in this phase of competition, display of energy, charisma, and expression.
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?