Scoring System

U.S. Figure Skating competitions use one of two recognized scoring systems: the International Judging System (IJS), a point-based scoring structure that was introduced in 2004, and the ranking-based 6.0 system.

International Judging System (IJS)

In the IJS, competitors accumulate points based on the degree of difficulty (base value) of each technical element and how well each element is executed (grade of execution, or GOE). Skaters also earn points based on their overall skating ability and performance level through program component scores.

Technical Panel

A technical panel of five people includes a technical controller, technical specialist, assistant technical specialist, data operator and video replay operator. During each performance, the technical specialist identifies each element and the level of difficulty as defined by the International Skating Union.

The technical controller and assistant technical specialist support the primary technical specialist to ensure all elements are correctly identified. Final decisions on elements and levels are determined by the majority opinion of the controller and two specialists.

Both specialists and the controller are recorded with an audio tape during each program, and video will be available to verify calls. The elements can be reviewed after a skater’s performance, and scores can be changed accordingly. The scores are final once they are posted and announced to the public.


A maximum of nine judges make up the judging panel at a competition. The judges focus completely on scoring the quality of each technical element and the five program components for each skater. A computer keeps track of comparative scores, records results and calculates totals to determine placements.

Technical Score

Each element of the program is assigned a base value, which gives skaters credit for every element they perform. Some elements, such as spins and step sequences, have levels of difficulty on which the base values are established.

Judges grade the quality of each element using a grade of execution score within a range of -5 to +5, which is added to or deducted from the base value. GOEs are proportional to the base value of each element.

The highest and lowest scores for each element are thrown out, and the remaining scores are averaged to determine the final GOE for each element. The GOE is then added to or subtracted from the base value for each element, and the sum of the scores for all elements forms the technical score.

Program Components

The judges will award points on a scale from 0.25 to 10 (in increments of 0.25) for five program components to grade overall presentation. As with GOEs, the highest and lowest scores for each component are thrown out, and the remaining scores are averaged. The final program components scores are then multiplied by a set factor to ensure the technical score and program components score are balanced.

The five program components are:

Skating Skills - Overall skating quality, including edge control and flow over the ice surface (edges, steps, turns, speed, etc.), clarity of technique and use of effortless power to accelerate and vary speed.

Transitions - The varied and/or intricate footwork, positions, movement and holds that link all elements.

Performance - The involvement of the skater physically, emotionally and intellectually in translating the music and choreography.

Composition - An intentional, developed and/or original arrangement of all types of movements according to the principles of proportion, unity, space, pattern, structure and phrasing.

Interpretation of Music - The personal and creative translation of the music to the movement on the ice.

Segment Score

The technical score is added to the program components score to determine the segment score (short program/rhythm dance or free skate/dance). The scores for each segment are then added together to determine the competition score. The skater with the highest competition score is declared the winner.

The IJS is used at events in the national qualifying structure including the U.S. Championships as well as many local competitions at the juvenile through senior levels, including Excel.

The 6.0 Judging System

The 6.0 system has been the longstanding judging system for figure skating. Today, U.S. Figure Skating uses it for Compete USA events and many nonqualifying competitions, particularly at the pre-juvenile level and below.

The basic principle of the 6.0 system is a “majority” system. Each event is judged by an odd number of judges, and the winner of the event is the skater placed highest by a majority of these judges.

For all singles and pairs events and the free dance, judges award two marks: one for technical merit and one for program presentation. The technical merit mark expresses a judge’s evaluation of the quality of the required elements skated. The presentation mark reflects a judge’s assessment of the program as a whole — its composition, originality, use of ice, skater’s style and expression of the music.

The Scoring Scale

Each judge will award marks ranging from 0.0 to 6.0, based on the following scale:

0 - not skated
1 - very poor
2 - poor
3 - mediocre
4 - good
5 - very good
6 - outstanding

How do IJS and 6.0 Differ?

The IJS is based on cumulative points rather than the 6.0 standard of marks and placement. The IJS focuses on the skaters and not the judges. Judges don’t have to use their memory to compare all aspects of every skater and figure out where to place them, but simply evaluate the qualities of each performance.