You are here

2024 ArcGIS Online Student Competition Judging Criteria

Note: Arizona's competition is governed by Esri's National Competition Rules. Submissions must follow these rules in order to be eligible for consideration. 

AZ AGOL Student Comp Judging Rubric PDF

VIDEO: AZ AGOL Student Competition Judging Rubric

Topic (5 points): The topic is clearly stated. The topic answers an Arizona-based question, proposes a solution to an Arizona-based problem, and/or addresses an Arizona-based issue.

Map Presentation (10 points): The presentation is logically organized to answer an Arizona-based question, propose a solution to an Arizona-based problem, or address an Arizona-based issue. Relationships and patterns in data are clearly explained. Includes an explanation of how and why the data presented supports the claims that are introduced.

Cartography (10 points): The maps effectively highlight relationships and patterns in data which support the claims introduced. The composition, visualization, and interplay of layers (display scale, transparency, classification, symbolization, pop-ups, charts, tables, labels, filtering, legend appearance) facilitate the viewer's grasp of individual elements of the topic and story.

  • Classification: Data is presented using some form of classification such as population density, median income, etc.
  • Symbolization: The data has been symbolized by shape, color or size.
  • Filtering: Data has been filtered to show specific characteristics.

Imported Data (5 points): The data selected is appropriate, includes the most important elements, does not leave out any obviously important elements, and does not include irrelevant elements.

Student-Created Data (5 points): Five points are set aside to specifically reward students who create important data. Data created by the student(s) should be documented on the Details page. Points awarded from 0 to 5 based the significance of the data created.

Geographic Analysis (10 points): The student(s) effectively used at least one type of geographic analysis. Here are some possible types of analysis:

  • Geoanalysis: The geographical distribution of the data has been analyzed and the pattern explained. Some examples of patterns and relationships to explore:
    • What’s nearby 
    • What’s inside
    • Most and least
    • Areas of concentration
    • Change over time

Documentation (5 points): Documentation in the item Details page is clear and complete:

  •  All non-original content (images, videos, text) are appropriately referenced and/or linked.
  •  Original content is described and/or linked.
  •  Documentation identifies processes used to analyze the content.
  •  All persons who assisted in project are identified (including specifying if no one did)


Excellent = Student(s) demonstrated the highest level of accomplishment. It would be difficult to improve upon.

Satisfactory = Student(s) demonstrated a competent level of achievement which could be improved upon.

Incomplete = Student(s) did not address all the requirements.

Missing = Student(s) failed to include the requirements of this category.


Project Tips

  1. This is a "map competition." Entries should address an identified issue/ puzzle/ challenge, not just documenting what's where, but looking at "why it's there, and so what." Entries should be analytical in nature, map-centric rather than photo-centric or relying on too much text. Use of videos or static images generated by anyone other than the team members must be carefully documented, and such media should be used sparingly; outside content generally detracts in national judging. The project must emphasize student work; professionally generated GIS data generally does not detract from national scores this way. A good way to judge project balance quickly is to identify the amount of time a viewer would spend consuming the entire project; map-based time and attention should be at least two thirds. It is a great idea to review previous Arizona submissions and the previous national contest winner's submissions for context and ideas. 
  2. Good projects gently help even a viewer unfamiliar with the region know quickly the location of the project focus. Requiring a viewer to zoom out several times to determine the region of focus detracts from the viewing experience. (Pretend the viewer is from a different part of the country, or a different country.)
  3. Maps should invite interactive exploration by the viewer, not be static ("images"). The presentation should hold the attention of the viewer from start to finish.
  4. Maps should demonstrate "the science of where" -- the importance of location, patterns, and relationships between layers. There is an art to map design; too much data may feel cluttered, but showing viewers only one layer at a time may limit the viewers' easy grasp of relationships.
  5. Care should be taken to make "popups" useful, limited to just the relevant information. They should add important information, and be formatted to make the most critical information easily consumable. These popups can include formatted text, key links, images, data presented in charts, and so forth.
  6. Document the project thoroughly. The previous state and national award winners highlighted for documentation, and preceding national winners, show good documentation: organized and thorough.


Arizona Geographic Information Council © 2012. All rights reserved.