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 2018 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.


  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.

Recommended guidelines for contests:

  1. Assistant District Governor can assign an Area Coordinator or he/she can assign himself/herself to be the Area Coordinator. Each Area Coordinator needs to make sure that every Club in the area has a Club contest coordinator.
  1. Area Coordinator along with the Assistant District Governor should make contact with Club presidents and Club contest coordinators plus the school contest sponsor.
    1. Review contest rules and procedures
    2. Review contest dates (local/area/district) (try to avoid conflicts with UIL (or similar private school) competitions
    3. Review time keeping procedures
  1. Local and Area competitions should be completed in time to send information to the District
    1. Club coordinator needs to submit 1st and 2nd place winners contact information: full name, e-mail address, mobile phone, club affiliation to Area Coordinator. CLUBS should complete their contests by March 24, 2018.
    2. Area Coordinators need to submit their 1st and 2nd place AREA winners’ contact information to the District chair, Tim Dowling, along with the name of the Rotary Club sponsoring Area winner. This must be provided to Tim by April 10, 2018. Area competitions should be completed by April 7, 2018. Tim’s email address is, and his phone number is (361) 884-4981.
  1. The District competition will be held at the District Conference at South Padre Island Convention Center on Saturday, April 21, 2018 starting at 9: 00 am; need to arrive by 8:15 am.
  1. Area Coordinators are responsible for making arrangements for transportation and lodging (if necessary) of the Area winners to the District competition. 
  1. The Sponsoring Club is financially responsible for student’s transportation and lodging expenses at the District Conference. The Club might also consider covering mileage, lodging and meals for parents and a school sponsor.  The District will pay for lunch for all contestants, and two guest of the student.

Other recommendations:

  1. Scholarships recommendations:
    1. Winners should receive a letter (from contest coordinator) stating their award level for future reference in collecting the award, especially if the winner is a freshman, sophomore or junior.  The letter should contain competition date, Rotary club name, and award level.
  1. All contestants should receive a certificate of competition for their participation in the contest at the Club and Area levels.
  1. Time Keeping
    1. Any speech less than 5 minutes or longer than 7 minutes is disqualified.
    2. Time keeper should hold up a sign with a number “2” at the five-minute mark and a number “1” at the 6-minute mark and a “1/2” at the 6.5-minute mark. This means that the student has 2 minutes, and then 1 minute, and then 30 seconds left in the speech.
    3. The numbers “2” and “1” and “1/2” should be letter size (11” x 8.5”) big.
    4. Time keeper should let everyone know the times of the contestants only after they have all finished.
  1. Contestants or coordinators should never disclose the Club names or the schools that a contestant represents until the end of the competition, at which time each contestant can introduce himself/herself, tell the Club his or her future plans for college, and introduce anyone accompanying him or her to the competition.
  1. It is very important that the Judges be Rotarians who are familiar with the contest and the Four Way Test.  A brief (10 to 15 minute) meeting should be held by the contest coordinator with the judges at the Club, and Area and District contests to review the rules and procedures and to answer any questions they may have.  There should be between three to five judges at each of the competitions.