Levels of TSA Competitions and Rules


A. The following breakdown of grades is used to designate categories for curricular event entries. Each level has its own unique competitive events guide.

Middle School/Junior High School—Grades 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

High School—Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

Ninth graders must compete at the level in which the chapter affiliates. For example, if the ninth grade is housed in a high school 9-12, the student must compete in high school events. If the ninth grade is housed in a 6-9 or 7-9 school, ninth grade students must compete in middle school events.

B.  If  the  school  has  a  K-12  configuration,  or  a  configuration other than the examples above, contact the CRC chairperson or national TSA for clarification and approval regarding the appropriate school designation.


A.   It is the intent of TSA, Inc. to involve as many different TSA members as possible in competitive events and provide recognition in a setting of fair play practices using TSA event guidelines.

B.   Other than for the VEX event, TSA members, advisors, and chapters must be currently affiliated with TSA to enter any competitive event.

C.  TSA membership rights extend through the year of graduation.  It is permissible for students who graduate midyear to compete at the national conference that immediately follows their end-of- year graduation.

D.  Students must be registered and be in attendance at the national TSA conference in order to enter and become a finalist in any event.

E.   It is the individual responsibility of each participant to obtain all rules  and  guidelines  for the  events.  Lack  of knowledge or understanding about a particular event is neither reason nor excuse for an individual to request an accommodating adjustment or change.

F.   It is essential that students and advisors routinely check the TSA website www.tsaweb.org for updated information about TSA competitive events. This information is found on the website under Competitions/Updates and Clarification. When students participate in any TSA competitive event, they are responsible for knowing of updates, changes, or clarification related to that event.

G.  The event limit is six (6) per conference participant, individual and team events combined.

H.  Team  members  must  be  affiliated  with  the  same  chapter. To enter a team event, the chapter designates only that it is participating; names of the individual team members are not necessary. Unless otherwise designated in a competition’s eligibility guideline, the maximum size of a team is six (6) members.

I.             Entries (projects and/or products) may be submitted for one (1) year, and one (1) competition, only. An infraction of this rule results in disqualification.

J.             Entries must be started and completed during the current school year. All entries must be in English. Unless otherwise specified, no identifying information—other than an ID#—is to be included on an entry.

K.   Unless otherwise noted, for all events that require a display, the size of the display may not exceed 15" deep x 3' wide x 4' high.

L.   Participants must provide—and bring to the test site—two (2) pencils (sharpened standard #2/HB grade with an eraser, or #2 mechanical with an eraser) for any competition that involves a written test.

M. For all events that require a notebook/album, the following applies: the cover page is on the outside of the notebook/ album, and the title page is the first page inside the notebook/ album.

N.  For all applicable competitive events, written work—including citations or references—must follow MLA (Modern Language Association) style.

O.  All entries must be the original work of the student participant or student team. All ideas, text, images, and sound from other sources must be cited, including anything that is from the public domain. References and resources are to be cited using MLA (Modern Language Association) style, the most current edition. If  copyrighted  material  is  used,  proper  written  permission must be included. Failure to follow this procedure results in disqualification.

P.   All competitive events with a semifinalist component will have a minimum of twelve (12) semifinalists. Semifinalists (individuals or teams, as applicable) will compete against one another to determine the top ten (10) finalists in an event.

Q.  Students must check in and pick up their event entries at the time and place stated in the conference program or announced at the national TSA conference.

R.  TSA is not responsible or liable for any personal property, equipment, or materials brought to a national TSA conference for use by a participant or attendee.

S.   In case of a scheduling conflict that may prevent a member from participating in an event, the participant has the right to decide which event is eliminated.

T.   In the case of a documented emergency in team events that involve written and semifinalist segments, team member substitution will be allowed if approved by the event manager and coordinator.

U.  All events are judged in accordance with the stated criteria for each event as shown in this competitive events guide. Completed official rating forms are the property of national TSA, and the information they contain is confidential and may not be disclosed. Concern about any event during the national TSA conference should be submitted in writing to the Rules Interpretation Panel (RIP) as soon as possible and preferably during the conference. Whenever possible, the Rules Interpretation Panel renders a decision at the conference. The decisions of the RIP at the national conference are final. (For more information, refer to Rules Interpretation Panel section at the end of this guide.)

V. Hazardous materials, chemicals, lighted or open flames, combustibles, wet cell batteries, and other similar substances are not allowed at the national TSA conference. Competition entries or presentations by participants must not include racial or ethnic slurs/symbols; reference to gang affiliation; vulgar, violent, subversive, or sexually suggestive language or images. In addition, entries or presentations should not promote products that students may not legally buy, such as tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs. Images of guns, knives, or other weapons are discouraged and may be  cause for disqualification.

W.  Recording devices are not allowed in certain competitive events.  CRC manager and event coordinator approval is required before any event may be recorded.

X.   Out of courtesy to other competitors and to avoid any perception of impropriety, no electronic communication devices of any kind are permitted during competition. Cell phones, iPads/tablets, electronic readers, etc. must be turned off.

Y.   Everyone who wishes to attend the conference must complete conference registration. All adult advisors, chaperones, and student participants must be in attendance for the entire conference.

Z.  Because of the possibility of the controversial nature of topics from which students may select, national TSA bears no responsibility for the content of entries. Topics are selected at the local level and entries are evaluated on the basis of the event’s official rating form.

AA. Rules violations and disqualifications: A rules violation that gives a contestant an unfair advantage will result in a twenty percent (20%) deduction of the total possible points. The manager of an event has the right to disqualify a contestant when such contestant violates the spirit or intent of a contest. The event manager must sign off on both a twenty percent (20%) deduction and a disqualification.

AB. TSA may choose to keep national TSA conference student entries.  Such entries  become  the  property  of  national TSA and ultimately may be used by national TSA for promotional purposes. Should that occur, credit for any such entry would be noted by TSA.