Four Way Test Speech Contest


The test, which has been translated into more than 100 languages, asks the following questions: Of the things we think, say or do

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

During the spring semester many Rotary Clubs hold a Four-Way Test Speech Competition. It is a competition offered to high school students where the student must prepare a five to seven minute speech to illustrate the Rotary Four-Way Test.

The student is judged on Content (50%), Organization (30%), and Delivery (20%). The student must follow the Four-Way Test Theme throughout, must relate the speech to his/her own activities, must present a human-interest appeal, and must choose language that is clear, vivid and persuasive. The student must demonstrate organization of thought including an introduction, clear and orderly points and a brief conclusion that drives home the point of application. And finally, the student must be effective in his or her speech delivery including volume, grammar, gestures and attitude toward the audience.

One of the links on this page is the “FAQ” document Tim Dowling, the 2017 District 5930 Four Way Test Coordinator, used in 2014 when running the Corpus Christi Rotary Club’s Four Way Test Competition.  You may find it helpful in recruiting students to participate.  It is designed to state in one place all the information a student needs to know, and Clubs are encouraged to use it.


August 24, 2016

To: Area Assistant District Governors

From: Tim Dowling

2017 District 5930 Four Way Test Speech Competition Chair

Area Assistant District Governors should begin setting up dates for the club and area level contests.  Be sure to have a meeting with judges and time keepers before the contests begin. The Area contests need to be completed by March 22, 2017 before the District contest, which will be on Saturday, April 1, 2017 at Texas A&M University - Kingsville.  Please note that the District competition will not be held at the District Conference. In scheduling the Club and Area Competitions, try not to conflict with students’ UIL (or similar private school) competition schedules.

Again this year the District will be supplying the first place trophy for all Area contests.

The Club that sponsored the winner of the area contest is responsible for providing transportation for the student to the District contest.

On the next section you’ll find a section called ”Rules” which must be followed.  All of the other information items that are included are just suggestions to try to make the contests as uniform as possible throughout the District.

Also at this site are some forms that could be tailored and used by the clubs.

You can send any questions or concerns to tdowling@albmlaw.com.

Thanks everyone – this is always a fun time at all levels and lets us see what great youth we have around us !


  1. Participants must be enrolled in an area High School. All grade levels can compete.
  2. The speech must be between 5 and 7 minutes in length. Even one second out of that range will disqualify the contestant.
  3. The speech must relate to Rotary's Four Way Test.
  4. Contestants will be allowed note cards. The speeches do not have to be memorized.
  5. Any contestant that does not place first at one Club can continue participating at subsequent club contests in the Area if the participating Club permits it.
  6. Past District First place winners are ineligible to compete.
  7. Contestants are allowed to change speeches when competing at different Clubs.


Club Level: Three Judges are suggested. Past Presidents and members with a background in Education, particularly English, Speech or Drama, are recommended.

Area Level: Three Judges are suggested. Try to get Past Presidents or experienced judges from the general membership whenever possible.

It is strongly suggested that the Area have a meeting with all of the Clubs’ judges to make sure that scoring will be as uniform as possible throughout the different Club contests.

It is suggested that judges not sit together and not be introduced until the competition is over.

District Level: There will be five judges. Our intention is to have all judges who have had previous experience in the 4-Way Test Speech Competition.

It is suggested that judges not sit together and not be introduced until the competition is over.

Observers: Usually all persons present at any of the competitions are mentally selecting their favorites. One idea is to place the score sheets at all or most seats so everyone is aware of the actual grading criteria. Most folks are not aware that the Four Way Test portion is half of the score. Also this way the speaker is not sure who is judging and will be more likely to speak to the whole crowd.


It is very important to have a time keeper at all levels of competition communicate with the contestants on a consistent basis. The District level contest will use letter sized placards with the numbers 2, 1 and 1/2 to indicate the time left. It is very important to adhere to the time requirements. A second too short or a second too long will disqualify the contestant. The speeches must be between five and seven minutes. After all have spoken, the time keeper will give the judges all contestants' times.


Awards at the Club and Area levels should be determined by each Club and Area. Some typical award amounts are:

1st Place       $200 - $300

2nd Place      $100 - $200

3rd Place        $75 - $100

4th Place          $25 - $50

Consideration should be given to awarding to every contestant who shows up to the Area Contest some monetary award. The District will be providing plaques for the students that place 1st at Area. The expenses at the Area level should be divided among the Area’s clubs as much as possible.

Assistant Governors:  Please get the Club presidents/boards to agree together on what they want to award to their Area winners.

District level awards:

1st Place


2nd Place


3rd Place


All other participants at the District level will receive $250 for attending and competing.


It is suggested that each Club/Area use whatever method it prefers. If you are holding awards until graduation, consider giving your winners a certificate and letter they can use to claim the award at graduation. It is OK to give the monetary award directly to the students - it does NOT violate their UIL status. Use your own judgment or Club policy on this.

Awards at Area may be given to each club that sponsored the winner or to the winner directly. Suggestion – the treasurer of one of the clubs can bill the other clubs for their agreed portion, and that designated treasurer can distribute all the awards to the students as agreed by all.

The District awards will be sent to the sponsoring Rotary Club to disburse.