How Do Judges Score Beauty Pageants?

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Knowing the scoring and scoring methods of a beauty pageant can be puzzling at times. Sometimes, audience members, or even the judges, walk away from a pageant confused and blank, wondering how the end results came to be. The first step to demystifying pageant judging is to understand the different ways the scoring can take place.

Different Pageant Scoring Ways


The judges have a secret ballot with five lines on it. In every phase of the competition, they put their preferred contestant name or number on line 1, second favorite candidate on line 2, and so on. The auditor will present the contestant on the 

  1. 1st place line 5 points, 
  2. 2nd place gets 4 points, 
  3. And so on. 

The queen (the winner) is the one with the most points. This is comparison judging because the judges are told to compare contestants with each other to decide the ranking of the contestants.

Numeric scoring

Each participant is assigned a score from 1-10. Some pageant rules use a higher scale. Each participant is provided a numeric score from each judge for every category of the competition. The score can be either in decimals, like 5.25, or in whole numbers.

In some pageants, the participants will carry the scores through the pageant. The queen is the candidate with the overall highest cumulative (best average) score.

In other systems, the points that contestants earn during the preliminary competitions decide the top 5. At that point, all previous scores are dropped. The judges are again asked to rank the top 5 in the order they think each candidate should finish.


The expert judges take numerous notes throughout the competition/show. They then go into a closed room and talk about the competition, and all must agree on the ultimate queen and her court. There can be a lot of negotiation with this kind of judging, but not always. You see this form of judging at many festival-level pageants.

The titleholder is chosen by the mean average of all the judges’ scores. To illustrate what could happen at a pageant, let’s say there are five judges on the panel. Contestant number one gets the following scores: 8, 10, 8, 9, and 9. Her average score is 8.9. One of the judges marked her as the winner (one 10), two judges marks her as the first runner-up (9), and two judges as the second runner-up (8’s).

Contestant number two receives one 10 and four 9’s, so her average is 9.2. The crown goes to contestant number two as her average is better.

Quick tips on winning a Pageant:

To get the best scores possible, hold nothing back during the preceding competition, especially with your makeup and hair. You won’t reach finals if you don’t bring your very best during the first round and the preliminaries. Later, when you do make finals, turn it up a notch. You don’t want to drop any of your energy levels.

It often comes right down to it, and so, you need to be at your best all the possible times. Things are forever changing in pageants. 

Directors learn lessons from one event to the next and make changes to make the event better. There are so many potential varieties in how the scoring is done that it would drain you if that’s what you only focused on. Instead, focus on the one thing you know, you. Be the best version of yourself, have fun and enjoy the experience.

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