Top 8 Tips from the Judges

All participants will receive individual feedback from the judges when the results are out, but this time we also asked the judges if they had any general feedback to share with you after grading your Task One policy memos for “Rethinking Drugs”. These tips will help you improve your papers and bring you a step closer to Budapest:

  1. Respond to one scenario: Choose one scenario and make sure that your analysis and recommendations actually respond to that scenario. One judge said that “some participants indicate that they are working on one scenario but many of their arguments actually address another scenario.”
  1. Compose a good title: As one of our judges said, “the title is such a good opportunity to tell the reader exactly where you are going right from the start.” So choose a title that delivers your key message in a memorable way. According to the judges, “most titles were generic or did not really relate to the overall message of the memo.”
  1. Use a clear structure: Structure your policy recommendations as clearly and as visibly as possible. One judge said: “Many of the papers hid their recommendations in the middle of paragraphs, making them easy to overlook.”
  1. Be specific about your policy recommendations: It’s good to be enthusiastic about your ideas, but judges found that many papers did not “give a clear or implementable road map to a solution.” It’s better to stick to a few recommendations and make a substantial case for those, than to come up with a long list.
  1. Be specific about the country you are addressing: One judge pointed out that the best papers made very country-specific analyses and recommendations: “I would encourage participants to study the particularities of the problem(s) in their chosen country and to then tailor their recommendations to that particular case.”
  1. Use APA in-text citation: There’s no denying it—citing correctly is crucial. But as one judge pointed out, “almost nobody used APA 100% correctly.” To improve your score, spend some time getting familiar with the APA citation style.  Not citing correctly puts you at risk of being accused of plagiarism, in which case your paper will be disqualified. As one of our judges pointed out, “this is an easy 20 points if you get it right!” Check out the updated Task Two Writing Guidelines for how to use APA in-text citation.
  1. Explain your graphs and figures: Graphs and figures can be a good way of getting your point across, but if you use them, include them in your analysis by referring to them, explaining them, and drawing conclusions from them. As one judge says, “There is no added value in a graphic without explanation.”
  1. Format your paper nicely: Formatting your paper makes it easier for readers to find what they are looking for and also helps you structure your ideas. As one judge stated, “memos that included relevant headings and key recommendations in bullet points really stood out.” Formatting tools that can be helpful are headers, sub-headers, highlighting (using bold, italics, underline), bullet-points and numbering.

We hope this was helpful for you! If you have any questions, please reach out to us at

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