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2021 Season Judge Registration Now Open!

Registration to serve as a judge for the 2021 CMHF Regional Contests in February and March 2021 is now open! Visit our Virtual Judging page for more details.

Share our 2021 History Fair Judge Brochure widely!

The Chicago Metro History Fair expresses our sincere and profound gratitude to all of our face-to-face and virtual 2020 History Fair Judges!

Click here to visit our zFairs contest page and begin the judge registration process!

Judging Materials

Note that as of the 2020-21 school year, all CMHF projects, both Junior and Senior Division, will now be evaluated in accordance with the official NHD Rule Book using the official NHD Project Evaluation forms.

Although these changes will be an adjustment for our experienced judges, using the NHD materials means that students who advance to State and National competition no longer need to compete under different rules at each contest. This helps teachers show that their instruction aligns to national standards, expands opportunities for our judges, and ultimately gives our Chicagoland teachers and students the best chance of success at all levels of competition!

Judges who wish to preview judging materials and previous History Fair project examples are welcomed to do so.

Click here to visit our zFairs contest page and begin the judge registration process!

History Fair Judging FAQs

Please note that this section is still being updated for the 2021 History Fair season.

Who are the students?
Students come from both public and private schools in the city of Chicago, suburban Cook, Lake, and DuPage Counties. They are in grades 68 (Junior Division) and grades 912 (Senior Division).
What qualifications do I need to judge?
While there are no formal requirements, a volunteer History Fair judge has an interest in history, a commitment to support student work, and a willingness to give constructive feedback. Our diverse pool of volunteer judges includes teachers, retired and active business persons, nonprofit organization staff, graduate students, professors, and parents.

  • Novice judges are paired with veteran judges.
  • We can assign you to the category that best suits you: read text and images in exhibitions or websites; listen and watch performances or documentary films; or read historical research papers.
  • You will need to be comfortable with basic online computer-based tasks such as opening and sending email attachments, viewing multimedia links, filling out online forms, etc.

Do I need to attend an orientation before I sign up to judge?
No, an orientation will be provided via webinar (LIVE judging events) or in a video sent via email (OFFLINE judging events). If you’d prefer to get a preview of what judging entails, scroll down this page for project examples from past years and the judging criteria.
What is the judging process?
Although the logistics will vary depending on whether you are participating in a LIVE or OFFLINE judging event, the general procedure for judging any History Fair project is:

  • Receive the orientation.
  • Each volunteer is assigned a partner and projects to judge.
  • Judges evaluate projects.
  • They confer with their partner and then write final evaluations.

How does the overall competition work?
Volunteer History Fair judges view student projects at the CMHF Regional Contests. The student projects evaluated for History Fair have been selected by their schools as their top projects. Projects selected at CMHF Regional Contests have an opportunity to advance to Illinois History Day (state), and National History Day contests.
How does paper and website judging differ from the big events?
With the change to virtual contests, website and paper judging will take place in the same format as the other categories. All five categories are available to judge either LIVE or OFFLINE.
Where does judging take place?
All History Fair judging for the 2021 History Fair season will take place online. THERE WILL BE NO IN-PERSON GATHERINGS for the 2020-21 History Fair season. See our Virtual judging page for more information.
What if I can no longer participate in the session(s) I signed up to judge?
Please give us as much notice as possible by emailing us at [email protected] Different judge attendance affects the quality of the experience for your fellow volunteers as well as the students. Please sign up for the day(s) you will commit to judging rather than to the days in which you may be available.
May I bring a friend to judge too?
Yes, please! Be aware that we cannot assign friends/spouses to judge together as it unintentionally blurs the evaluations, and therefore can affect students—who are our main concern. We ask that you respect the assignment given to you and consider that you and your friend will have twice as much to share when you meet up again after judging your projects!
How are the winners selected?
Chicago Metro History Fair judges are responsible for working with their judging teammates to arrive at a consensus ranking of the projects that they view. Based on these rankings and the capacity at the next level of competition, CMHF will determine which projects will advance and notify the students.
How do I find out which projects have advanced?
On Saturday April 3, 2021, CMHF will host an online awards presentation where advancing projects are announced. They will also be posted on the CMHF website.

Ready to volunteer? Visit our Virtual Judging page for the specifics on getting set up as a VIRTUAL judge for the 2021 school year!

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