The Simulated Congressional Hearing


After studying the Constitution using "We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution" textbooks, participating classes may choose to compete in simulated congressional hearings. In a simulated congressional hearing each member of the class becomes an expert witness on one of the six units in the textbook and then testifies in small groups before a panel of judges acting as U.S. Congressional representatives. 


Preparing Your Class

  • A class is divided into six groups, based on the six units of the curriculum. Each group has 3-6 students depending on the size of the class.
  • Each group works collaboratively to prepare answers to the unit questions selected for this year's competition.
  • Students utilize the We the People textbook, along with other primary and secondary resources, to prepare a 4-minute response to the question for each unit and to get ready to answer follow up questions.

Hearing Format

  • At each competition, every school will be assigned its own hearing room. Per the hearing schedule, judges will rotate and hear each unit's presentation.
  • When the judges enter the room, everyone should stand until the judges take their seats. The judges will then invite everyone to sit down.
  • Before the hearing starts, the judges will introduce themselves, and then the students on the unit panel should introduce themselves and their coach.
  • The judges will proceed to read the unit question aloud. When the first student starts speaking, the stopwatch starts on their 4-minute statement.
  • At the conclusion of the four minutes, the students must remove their notes and the judges are allowed to ask six minutes of follow-up questions. 
  • The judges assess the prepared oral presentation and the responses to the follow up questions using a scoring rubric. 
  • Judges score students on their understanding of the question, their constitutional application, their reasoning in answering the question, their supportive evidence with historical and contemporary examples, their responsiveness to the question, and their participation.  
  • At the end of the hearing, total scores are added up for each school competing. Teachers will receive copies of the judges' score sheets to provide feedback to students. 

How to Participate in We the People Competitions

In Virginia, schools must compete at one Regional Competition before advancing to State Finals in Williamsburg in January. Regional Competition dates and locations are listed in the sidebar at the right. Schools are welcome to choose which Regional Competition they would like to attend.
Schools must compete in all six units in order to be eligible to advance to State Finals. The top 10 scoring middle school teams, and top 10 scoring high school teams from across the state will be invited to attend State Finals. The state champion high school team will advance to the National We the People Competition held in Washington, DC in April. 
Schools may bring up to 2 classes to a Regional Competition, but only the top scoring of the two classes will be eligible to go on to State Finals.
Schools that prefer to compete fewer than the full six units are welcomed and encouraged to participate in Regional Competitions. Presenting before judges is still a great experience for your students and a helpful way for a new coach to ease their way into the program.
In Washington, DC, schools compete at Citywide Finals held in February. The Citywide champion high school team will advance to the National We the People Competition held in April. 
Schools interested in competing during the 2015-2016 School Year must fill out this Intent to Compete Form, no later than October 9, 2015.
Any questions about We the People competitions may be directed to Emily Voss, VA and DC We the People Coordinator, at or 540-308-2063.


Virginia Hearing Questions

State Hearing Questions for 2015-2016 will be released at the end of August. 

Both High School and Middle School students will be asked STATE LEVEL questions for both Regional and State Competitions. 


District of Columbia Hearing Questions

State Hearing Questions for 2015-2016 will be released at the end of August. 

Both High School and Middle School students will be asked STATE LEVEL questions at the Citywide Finals. 

2015-16 We the People Competitions 

2015 Virginia Regional Competitions

December 12, 2015 (Sat.)
Northern Virginia Regional
9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
36811 Allder School Road
Purcellville, Virginia
December 14, 2015 (Mon.)
Southwest Virginia Regional
9:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
110 Shenandoah Avenue
Roanoke, Virginia
December 15, 2015 (Tue.)
Central Virginia Regional
9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
2880 Mountain Road
Glen Allen, Virginia
December 16, 2015 (Wed.)
Southeast Virginia Regional
9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
1584 Wesleyan Dr. 
Norfolk, Virginia


2016 Virginia State Finals

January 29, 2016 (Fri.)
High School Finals
310 South England Street
Williamsburg, VA 23187
January 30, 2016 (Sat.)
Middle School Finals
Same Location


2016 DC Citywide Finals

February 16, 2016 (Tue.)
High School Finals
Georgetown University Law Center
600 New Jersey Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
February 17, 2016 (Wed.)
Middle School Finals
Same Location