I think sponsors of nail competitions should reconsider using the 30-point system (sometimes called the “international” system) and instead use the 10-point system. Only the 10-points system is truly fair, impartial, and helps competitors learn and improve.

In the 30-point system, which most of the big competitions use, judges walk among the competitors’ models and look at the nails. The number of judges ranges from three to five, and can be as high as nine. One judge is named head judge in advance. The scores of the head judge are used in the event of a tie. Each judge awards six or seven different “places”. They decide who of all the competitors is the best and they give that person 30 points (first place, in their opinion). They give the next best 29 points, and so on through fourth place, which gets 27. Then, they choose the next three best sets of nails and each of those gets 26 points. Five or six people could wind up with the same score and all be ranked sixth or seventh in the competition.

When all the judges are done, the scores are calculated, checked, and “rectified.” The head judge is in place to make sure that the points are being given consistently.

This scoring system doesn’t necessarily ensure that the best technical nails win. Most judges do not pick up models’ hands and look at them closely. How can they really judge the consistency, the arch, or the C-curve?

Also, because of the open forum, there is room for unfairness because a judge knows whose nails they’re judging. If the judge has a friend among the competitors (or an enemy) they can play favorites. Of course, the rectification process is designed to prevent that, but it doesn’t always happen.

But I think the biggest flaw of this judging system is that you never get your score-sheets back. You don’t get any comments from judges that might include helpful hints for your next competition. How do we learn from this scoring system?

The 30-point system was originally designed to judge hair competitions. Let’s leave it where it works best for nails and use the 10-point, closed curtain system.

Darlene Feric is a nail technician at Awesome Nails in Grayslake, Ill. She is also a top competitor, ranking 12th on the 1999 NAILS Top 25 competitors list.

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