Competitive Event Frequently Asked Questions

A listing of the most common questions as related to HOSA Competitive Events are below:

HOSA does not return rating sheets or scores after the International Leadership Conference. The data from judge rating sheets and test scores are analyzed and used in improving events and tests for the future.

Individual rating sheets would not be helpful to you unless you could see the rating sheets of the other competitors. Competitors know where they finished in the top 10 because the results are posted online. If your event has a Round One and you made the cut after Round One that usually means you finished in the top 50%. We do not post placement or scores beyond the top 10 because we want all competitors to feel good about the process that got them to the ILC, not just the end result.

The best way to improve for next year is to work hard! It is usually very helpful to have practice judges evaluate your performance using the HOSA rating sheet, prior to competition. They can give you direct feedback and suggestions for improvement. You can’t get that kind of information from the ILC rating sheets, and it is continuous feedback from healthcare professionals, educators and others who judge your performance that will be the most helpful to you during your journey of becoming a future health professional.

In most states and at the international level, middle school, secondary and postsecondary collegiate students will compete in the same location, sometimes in front of the same judges, but the scores are always kept separate. Each division is judged against others within that same division, even if they share the same judges in the same room. That is the HOSA policy for state and international competitive events. Middle school students are offered the opportunity to compete in selected events appropriate to their training.

At the ILC, there is a separate awards session for Middle School/Secondary and Postsecondary Collegiate members, and medals are awarded to the top three teams in each of these three divisions.

The answer to that question depends upon the event and the level of competition. In some events, it is permitted for a competitor to reveal his/her name or school.  For example, in Clinical Specialty and Job Seeking Skills, it would be impossible not to include one’s name and school in the documentation required for the event.

For events when the name and/or school is not required, it is generally better to avoid giving one’s name and school at the area/regional and state levels to reduce bias.  For example, a competitor in Prepared Speaking should avoid identifying his/her school when giving a speech.

A general rule to follow is ‘When in doubt, don’t.”  This is because there are judges and event personnel who might interpret the divulging of a name and school as unacceptable.  

This recommendation changes for International events because of the diversity of judges and use of electronic score sheets.  Competitors at the International level will be introduced by name and/or school, in accordance with the GRRs, because that information rarely has any significance for judges, and it helps the judges double-check the name and school that is pre-printed on the event rating sheet.

Yes.  There are no rules that prevent individual or team competitors from changing their event materials from one level to the next.  International competitors in Clinical Specialty, Researched Persuasive Writing and Speaking, and other HOSA events, can change or revise their papers, speeches and videos.  Be sure to follow your guidelines and meet deadlines for events.

The event guidelines contain a test plan, a list of resources and links to those resources to which you can refer. Since the test questions are taken directly from the listed resources, you will do fine if you follow this advice.

Can’t afford so many textbooks? One school made a very specific list of what books they needed, and then found the ordering information on the Event Resources section of the HOSA website. Those lists were sent home, and in 3 weeks, every single book on the list had been donated by parents who saw this as a simple way to make a big contribution. Does your school have a libary? Ask the librarian if they can order the resources for the library, so all students can have access to the resource. Did you also know that you can rent textbooks or purchase books by the chapter? Some publishers have this option. Also, F.A. Davis and Brady Books publishers offer a discounted price for HOSA members. Check out the Event Resources page on the HOSA website.

There are no practice tests available for any of the HOSA events.  HOSA members who are successful on any HOSA test have spent hours and hours studying the recommended text resource AND have a sound general understanding of the concepts to be measured on the test.  It helps to pay attention to the test plan in the guidelines so you will know where to focus your attention. HOSA has provided sample test questions in the guidelines to familiarize the competitor with the types of questions asked.

In Health Professions events, most states give the written test and have a skills portion.  At the International Leadership Conference, a written test is given.  Top scoring competitors quality for the skill portion (Round Two) of the event, which usually involves 1-3 skills.

There are usually 2 victims in CPR – one that needs first aid and one that needs CPR.  You and your partner decide who is Rescuer I and who is Rescuer 2.  Rescuer 1 does the first aid and helps with CPR.  Rescuer 2 starts CPR.

The key to success in this event is learning as much as possible about the topics (medical terminology, HOSA facts, parli pro and medical history) and then lots of practice.  The format of the questions is listed in your event guidelines to assist you with studying.

We can tell you that teams who are successful in this event know a LOT of information, and have learned to anticipate the question.  That is, they start to ring in at the point the moderator is going to give key information.  For example, “What is the medical term for…”  Just at the point when the moderator is going to say “headache” the competitors hit the buzzer. 

Of course, this only works if the team knows a lot of medical terminology, and if they time it correctly.  It is a strategy that allows a team a first chance at answering the question.

Truly though, there are no secret lists or shortcuts in HOSA Bowl.  It’s one of those events where the more you know, the better you do.  We know this because the teams who do well on the written test seem to do the best in the buzzer rounds.

You may move things around on your display, but all articles must stay within the dimensions of the display.  Taking radiographs out of a sleeve on the display and putting them in a viewbox could be done within the dimensions of the display, so that is permitted.
What the guidelines prevent you from doing is, for example, taking special goggles from your display and putting them on.  Your head is not within the dimensions of the display.

The answer to your question is no, a poster would NOT be permitted during the speech portion of the Researched Persuasive Writing and Speaking event. 

The rules are designed to give each competitor an equal opportunity for success in the event.  Competitors who are successful in this event have studied the judge rating sheet and know exactly what they will be rated on.  Of course, they practice over and over with parents, teachers, and friends who judge their speech, using the event rating sheet, and give them suggestions for improvement.

When a city is being considered for an International Leadership Conference, the availability of clinical sites for skill events is an important consideration.

A year before the international conference, the state advisor or local site coordinator from the host state makes recommendations for clinical sites. HOSA-Future Health Professionals contacts potential clinical sites, and often, site visits are made by members of the HOSA Competitive Events program staff. A cooperative arrangement is made with the health professionals at the clinical site and HOSA to offer the best possible skill event experience for HOSA members.

The goal in all discussions between HOSA-Future Health Professionals and potential clinical sites is offering the best possible event experience for HOSA members. The challenge is making all skill events work for a large number of international competitors in a short distance from the HOSA headquarters hotel!

Will some sites have perfect facilities for an international conference? Yes, sometimes clinical sites can meet the needs of HOSA competitors and offer an ideal competitive environment. More frequently, sites are almost ideal, and some adjustments are made to provide a fair and challenging Competitive Events program.

For example, at a previous International Leadership Conference, one of the sites had excellent clinical facilities, but minimal holding space. Conference planners determined that the potential for a quality event outweighed the lack of ideal holding space, and the event ran well. (The halls were crowded and there were few chairs, but the actual event facility was excellent.)

When an acceptable clinical site is not available, a skill event may be held in the conference hotel. When this happens, efforts are made to simulate the clinical site as much as possible.

Whether at a clinical site or in the hotel, event planners strive to assure that the guidelines are followed, and that the event is as realistic as possible. The goal is to provide the best possible experience for all state winners, and to treat all competitors equally. 

Many years ago, competitors in most events reported to a holding room, and then waited for their turn to compete – sometimes for hours.

As HOSA grew larger, space for holding rooms became scarce, and competitors complained about the long wait. In response to the needs of HOSA competitors, appointment times are now used for most events.

The appointment times are a “best guess” based on the event starting on time, with no interruptions. Sometimes, events run exactly as planned. Other times, it takes a little longer than planned to assure that the event runs as it should.

Competitors should know that their appointment time is meant to be an estimate of when they will compete. Short waiting periods are normal, and should be anticipated. 

Actually, the dress code IS enforced according to the event guidelines. For each event, the event manager awards five (5) points to every competitor dressed correctly. If you see someone at an event who does not comply with the dress code, the dress bonus was NOT given.

BE SURE you read and understand the specific dress code requirements for your event. That information can be found – in the event guidelines. 

Conference hotels are generally kept very cool in the summer, so that a businessman in a suit and tie would be comfortable. HOSA competitors should always dress accordingly. Suits are a good idea (especially a HOSA uniform) and coordinated blazers or sweaters suggested.  It may be June outside, but the hotel temperature will be a frosty 68-70 degrees.

HOSA-Future Health Professionals does not have a “passing score” for any written tests in HOSA competitive events, because the tests are NOT designed in a way that would make having such a score valid.  HOSA tests are NOT achievement tests. When a teacher designs a classroom achievement test, the test covers content that students had an opportunity to learn, and is expected to know.  The expectation is that a well-instructed student will perform well on the test.

When HOSA designs a test for competitive events, the goal is to spread the scores (produce a clear range) and identify which competitors know more than other competitors.   That requires the test writer to develop a range of difficulty in which most of the questions could be classified as “difficult” or “very difficult.” Consequently, the test is designed so the “average” score varies by test and the body of knowledge to be measured, but should generally fall around 50% at the international level.  That’s the goal. While a score of 50% would not be acceptable for a classroom test, it is very acceptable in large scale, international testing.  A candidate can pass the NCLEX-RN by responding correctly to 50% of the questions, and that’s to qualify for a license to practice nursing.  HOSA members are not qualifying for anything.  Instead, they are having an experience that will prepare them for the time when they are qualifying for something.

HOSA-Future Health Professionals is not a certification agency. HOSA’s goal is to engage and motivate members and put them in positions to make good, informed career decisions. HOSA desires to provide positive learning experiences for students who participate as members.

The goal with HOSA Competitive Events is perfection. Many hours are spent in preparing for the best possible event experience for HOSA members. Sometimes, the local folks who promise to help and bring supplies don’t follow through, and then we find ourselves moving to Plan B. Every year, 95% of our events run extremely well, and something strange happens to the other 5%. We never expect things to go wrong, and hope that next year, we achieve 100% perfection.

Remember, too, that HOSA’s vast number of volunteers help to keep our costs at a reasonable level. Our number one priority is to offer a quality Competitive Events Program for our students, and we plan to continue to work toward achieving that goal.

Holding rooms were taken away many years ago because competitors asked for it. Competitors were frustrated at spending hours in a holding area, and felt that it adversely affected their ability to perform and succeed.

In the General Rules and Regulations, the rule states: “Appointment times are used in many HOSA events to avoid detaining competitors in holding rooms for long periods of time. Professional ethics demand that competitors DO NOT discuss or reveal the secret topic or scenario for ANY event until after the event has concluded.”

The truth is, we rely on HOSA members to practice professional ethics – before, during and after their competition.

There are 48 different states that sponsor state competition, and as a result, all skills are used somewhere prior to the International Leadership Conference (ILC).

The skills chosen to be performed at the ILC are usually based on what will work best in the clinical setting available. As a national organization, we do not want to restrict what skills states can select, nor do we wish to disclose the skills that will be performed at the ILC.

Our hope is that when HOSA members come to the ILC, they are competent to perform any and all the skills in Health Professions and Emergency Preparedness events at a mastery level of skill proficiency – which is defined as 70% or above for almost all skills. In other words, we want ALL competitors to have been evaluated in local and state competition on all of the skill procedures, such that it really would not matter what skills are chosen – since the HOSA member is highly qualified to perform every one of them.

Be aware that at the International Leadership Conference, usually 1-3 procedures are selected for each event.

All good questions. Once again, we do try to secure the best possible hotels and convention centers for holding the International Leadership Conference. For most events, the conditions are excellent. For some, there is noise down the hall, or people too close together testing, or just not enough rooms to allow each preparing team to have their own room. What we do have is the best possible environment that we can secure – and an equal playing field for everyone in the same event.

Please be sure and check with your state advisor for policies in your state. At the ILC we DO require a photo ID to check in for each round of competition. See Appendix G in the General Rules and Regulations for more info.


IRB approval is not required.  HOSA competitive event projects are designed and presented as educational activities and do not meet the definition of research with human subjects, therefore, do not fall under the purview of the Institutional Review Board (IRB).  The IRB is also known as an independent ethics committee, ethical review board, or research ethics board.  It is a type of committee that applies research ethics by reviewing the methods proposed for research to ensure that they are ethical.  The intent of HOSA competitive events is not contributing to the health professions knowledge base.  Presentations using the data compiled are not available to the public and individual participants are not connected to data provided.


The local classroom instructor who serves as the chapter advisor is positioned to review the project design proposed by HOSA members to review and ensure the class project is conducted ethically.  The classroom instructor is responsible to coach HOSA members to eliminate unethical or inappropriate practices. 


Even though an IRB review is not required for a HOSA competitive event, the following essential principles are encouraged to protect participant rights and avoid unethical behavior:

  • All activities must provide for the safety, health, and welfare of every participant. Rights, including the right to privacy, must not be infringed.  No participant should be exposed to unreasonable risk to health or well-being.
  • A participant has the right to withdraw from a project at any time or can refuse to participate without loss of benefits. Further, a participant has the right to receive appropriate professional care, to enjoy privacy and confidentiality in the use of personal information, and to be free from undue embarrassment, discomfort, anxiety, and harassment.
  • The direct or potential benefits to the participant, or the importance of the knowledge to be gained, must not preclude consideration of the inherent risks to participants.
  • The confidentiality of information received from participants in experiments or respondents to questionnaires or surveys shall be fully protected, both during and after the conduct of the project.
  • Participation in a project must be voluntary. Informed consent must be obtained from all participants and must be documented.
  • In a competitive event, involving more than minimal risk or substantial stress or discomfort, such risk, stress, or discomfort shall be carefully explained to the participant before his or her participation and justified by the expected benefits of the project. The HOSA member and advisor shall be satisfied that the explanation has been understood by the participant.