Why do you want to become a judge?
Before you start investing time and energy into the process of becoming a judge, you should think about why you want to become a judge. If you simply want to test your rules knowledge, you should stop reading this guide and instead read about the DCI's Rules Advisor program.
The DCI has certain expectations towards certified judges, such as a minimum number of tournaments per year. You can find these requirements at www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=judge/resources/info and should consider whether you can meet these requirements before further pursuing to become a judge. Also, you need to be at least 14 years of age to become a certified judge.
If you feel you exhibit integrity and professionalism and have the motivation and required skills to become a certified judge, the DCI looks forward to working with you and getting you certified as a DCI Judge.
Beginning the Process
Becoming a judge is going to take a lot of reading and quite a few trips to tournaments in your area – get used to it! Even after becoming a judge, you will have to do a certain amount of reading to keep up with the most recent rules changes.
During the process of becoming a judge you will most likely use the Judge Center (judge.wizards.com) for your preparations. Some of its functions work only if the DCI has your current contact information available, so you should make sure to update your personal information at webapp.wizards.com/dcimember/ first.
To become a judge, you should follow the following steps:
Play in sanctioned tournaments
Participating in DCI-sanctioned tournaments as a player enables you to see judges at work. You will get to see what kinds of tasks a judge has to perform during a tournament, and you can observe how they interact with other judges, players and staff. Playing in tournaments will let you see what you are getting yourself into and it is also a good opportunity to introduce yourself to the local judges. You can find tournaments in your area through the Tournament Locator at locator.wizards.com.
Rules, Policy, Procedures
Judging means concerning yourself with complex game rules, and equally complex policies and tournament procedures. You will need to study both game and tournament rules thoroughly to be able to perform well as a judge. Specifically, you should study the Magic Comprehensive Rules (www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=magic/rules), the Universal Tournament Rules, Magic Floor Rules, Penalty Guide and the Tournament Organizer Handbook (www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dci/doccenter/home). We would suggest that you read those rules and highlight the parts you know already. Then study the rest over and over, until you can highlight them too.
The Judge Center (judge.wizards.com) offers practice tests which mirror the structure of the actual judge test. Those practice tests can help you identify areas of the rules that you have already mastered and which parts you still need to study.
Mentor under a local judge
In preparation for your judge test, you should talk to a local judge who is running tournaments in your area. Ask them if you can help out at their tournaments. They will be able to assist you with questions about rules, policies and procedures, and while you are helping out at their tournaments, you can learn these things much better than by just studying books. Judging is about being part of a community and about team work, so you really should know the other judges in your area. You can find and contact them by using the Judge Center at judge.wizards.com, or by simply visiting your local gaming store.
Final Step: Certification
When you feel you have prepared thoroughly enough and are ready to take the judge test, you will have to find a judge nearby who is capable of certifying you. Any Area Judge ("Level 2") or higher is able to administer the test. If the judge you're worked with so far is not an Area Judge, he or the local organizer should be at least able to help you find one, or you can use the Judge Center to search for Area or higher judges. Ask the judge who you worked with so far about a written recommendation, and have them also contact the judge you will test under. Then, the actual testing process can begin.
- Arrange with the judge who will certify you to observe you during two or more additional tournaments (maybe less, with a good recommendation from the judge you've worked with so far)
- During an interview, the testing judge will talk with you about rules and policies as well as about your motivations and experiences with judging so far. If you have followed the steps outlined above seriously, you should be able to answer those questions to his satisfaction. The exact structure of this interview is different with each testing judge, so you shouldn't be surprised if this interview turns out different from what you have heard from other judges.
- You also will have to pass a written multiple-choice exam, either before or after the interview. This exam's structure resembles the practice tests in the Judge Center, but will be much longer and also more difficult. However, if you have taken one of those, you already should be familiar with the way questions and answers are worded in this test. You will have to answer a certain percentage of questions correctly to pass your certification. After taking the test, you and your testing judge should go over the results again and discuss any questions you may have answered wrongly.
It is important that you ensure the DCI has your up-to-date contact information, especially email. You can update this information online at webapp.wizards.com/personal.aspx. If you can't login because you forgot your password or never had one, please use webapp.wizards.com/forgotpassword.aspx
Based on his observations, the interview and your written exam, the testing judge will finally formulate a recommendation to the DCI to either certify you or not. The DCI, barring exceptional circumstances, normally follows this recommendation. Within two weeks following your successful test, you should be receive notice of your evaluation by email. You will also be automatically added to the DCI Judge mailing list and receive notice of such. In addition you will appear in the Judge Center under "Recently Advanced Candidates" at judge.wizards.com/info.aspx?topic=Advancements
If you don't get these notifications, login to the Judge Center and see if your interview has been submitted. If is has not, contact the testing judge using the People function. If it has, yet you haven't received notification, ensure the DCI has your up-to-date contact information and then contact the DCI via wizards.custhelp.com. Please make sure to provide your name and DCI number, the testing judge's name and the event you have tested at.
We hope that this guide could answer your questions about how to become a judge, and we would be happy to see you join our ranks!