Important Dates & Times

Monday January 04, 2021 at 12:01 AM
Friday February 12, 2021 at 11:01 PM
Friday March 05, 2021 at 11:01 PM
Saturday March 06, 2021 at 12:01 AM
Friday March 12, 2021 at 11:59 PM
Saturday March 06, 2021 at 12:01 AM

Contest Rules

Please note that multiple updates and changes have been made to the rulebook.  The most recent rulebook came out in June 2020 and applies to all 2021 History Day contests.  To download the most recent version of the contest rules, please visit

You can also use the new NHD Checklist for your project category to make sure your project follows competition rules.



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Southern Arkansas University will host National History Day Arkansas. We are looking forward to seeing your research this year!


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Communication in History: The Key to Understanding student photo banner  


What to Expect During This Year's Virtual Contest

Southwest Arkansas History Day (Region 5), the NHD Arkansas State Contest, and the NHD national contest will all be held virtually during the 2020-2021 contest year.

We will communicate with contest participants using the email address provided during registration.  We will also share notices, updates, and the virtual contest award ceremony link with teachers.  Please check your email regularly during the virtual contest season! 

Students will post their project entries online through this contest system, much as website and historical paper entrants have done for years.  After the project due date, February 26, the entries will go to the respective category judges to be reviewed.  Two big differences: Judges will meet virtually to discuss the ranking of entries, and judges will be using the new evaluation rubrics introduced this year.  (You can review those new rubrics here under "sample evaluations.")  

In the event that runoff competitions are needed in any category, a different set of runoff judges will view projects, process papers, and annotated bibliographies.  The runoff judges will then meet virtually to determine which projects will advance to the state contest. We anticipate that judging will take place from February 28nd through March 4th. 

The awards ceremony will be held online.  Students and teachers registered for the contest will receive an email with the link to the ceremony, the date, and the time.  

You will be able to view judges' feedback and your evaluation forms by logging into this contest portal during the week following the award ceremony.


Group Documentary
Group Exhibit
Note: You will not need to fill in the "Documentary Link" below. This is not needed for Exhibits.
Group Performance
Group Website
Note: You will not need to fill in the "Performance Link" below. This is not needed for Websites.
Individual Documentary
Individual Exhibit
Note: You will not need to fill in the "Documentary Link" below. This is not needed for Exhibits.
Individual Performance
Individual Website
Note: You will not need to fill in the "Performance Link" below. This is not needed for Websites.
Note: You will not need to fill in the "Performance Link" below. This is not needed for Websites.

 Judging Criteria


Purpose of Judging

NHD's goal is to provide young people with a high-quality educational experience—whether or not they win a prize. It is critical that judges' interactions with the students be fair, helpful, and positive. Judges' spoken and written comments are fundamental to the learning process. Together we succeed or fail based on the quality of the learning experience.  

How Does the Evaluation Process Work?

At NHD contests, each division and category (e.g., Junior Group Exhibit, Senior Paper, etc.) usually is judged as a whole by a panel of judges. Judges do not assign a numerical score to each entry; rather, they will rank the entries in their group. Judges are required to consult with each other in determining individual rankings. Judges are encouraged to review the results of their category to assure accuracy in the evaluation process.

Judging Criteria

Regardless of which category a student enters, the following principles of evaluation will be used in the judging of National History Day entries.

  • This year, student projects reflect the theme “Communication: The Key to Understanding.”  Learn more by viewing this video overview (7 min). 
  • Want to see examples of the new (as of 2021) evaluation forms for judges?  Visit


Historical Quality--80%

This is by far the most important factor in judging a student's History Day project. The judges’ evaluation will rest on the students’ success at conducting historical research, interpreting their research, and drawing conclusions. A superior rating generally reflects positive responses to the following questions:

  • Does the entry offer a well-formulated historical argument supported by thorough analysis?  The entry should not simply recount facts, but interpret them.
  • Is the annual theme woven throughout the project? 
  • Does the entry demonstrate wide research? Does it use a variety of primary and secondary sources, with an emphasis on quality over quantity?
  • Are the primary sources used effectively to develop the historical argument?
  • Does the entry demonstrate an understanding of the historical context of the project’s main event? This includes short- and long-term causes such as widely held ideas and beliefs, economic shifts, political developments, environmental change, etc.
  • Does the entry integrate multiple perspectives (for example, people who supported a particular law as well as those who opposed it)? Does the entry draw on primary and secondary sources created by people with different viewpoints?
  • Is the entry historically accurate?
  • Does the entry draw evidence-based conclusions about the topic’s significance in history? its short- and long-term impact?    
  • Are the student’s ideas, analysis, argument, and conclusions original and persuasive?  

Clarity of Presentation – 20%

Although historical quality is most important, entries must be presented in an effective manner. Do not be carried away by glitz; simpler is often –but not always- better. The following questions will be considered by judges when looking at clarity of presentation:

  • Is the entry original, creative, well organized, and imaginative in subject and presentation?
  • Is the entry effective in communicating the significance of the topic?
  • Is the written material clear, grammatical, and correctly spelled?
  • In exhibits, are the title, sectional divisions, and main points easy to discern?
  • Are photographs and images appropriate in terms of content and location?
  • Is the overall project pleasing to the eye?
  • In a documentary or performance, is the script clear?
  • In a performance, do the students display stage presence?
  • Is the visual material clear and appropriate for the type of entry?
  • Do the students display adequate familiarity with their equipment?



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