Writing a Self Review

Hello and welcome back to the Road to L3 blog posts! Nate is our guest author for this article and he introduces us into one of a couple changes to the L3 Checklist coming in the next little while.


Nate Hurley is an L3 judge living in Houston, Texas in USA-South.  Nate is the Verification Committee Lead, and tries to make sure that L3 candidates get good and actionable feedback in a timely manner following any submissions to the VC.  Outside of Magic, Nate enjoys spending time with his wife, Ayrea, and with their two cats, Jaya and Kiora.



Today, we announced a new method for submitting Self-Reviews and Checklists to the Verification Committee (VC).  If you haven’t seen this, you should check it out!

Along with a new method for submitting materials to the VC, I’d also like to talk a little about why self-reviews are a part of the Level 3 Advancement Process, and what we expect in a self-review.

Self-reviews are a great way to benchmark your growth as judge.  They’re a bit like marking your height against a doorframe; a year or two later, you can look back and see how much you’ve grown.  However, in the scope of the Level 3 Advancement Process, self-reviews are used to show that you understand your own abilities and that you have a plan for improving them.  While it is not the only way to show your ability in Self-Evaluation, your self-review is one of the primary ways in which you’ll be graded on that quality.

Submitting a self-review is the first official step on the Level 3 Advancement Process.  It is read by a number of members of the VC, who then vote on whether to accept it or not.  Let’s look at what the L3 Advancement Page says about a self-review:

Must have written a general (i.e. non-event-specific) self-review in the last 12 months, covering all of the Qualities of Level 3 judges listed above, graded as Strengths or as Areas for Improvement. If that self-review is more than 6 months old, your application must include a brief update indicating progress on the Qualities of Level 3 judges.

Let’s break that down a little, and I’ll add some points to it.

  • Must have written a general, non-event-specific self-review in the last 12 months
    • The self-review shouldn’t be tied to any particular event. While writing a self-review about a single event can be a great thing for personal growth, this self-review needs to have a depth greater than a single weekend can give.
    • While this self-review should cover more than one weekend, it should have been done somewhat recently.  A fresher self-evaluation gives your mentors, your Pre-Event Interviewers (PEI), and your Panel a better and truer start.  The line we draw is that your self-review should have been written and submitted in the past 12 months, with a focus on material from the 6 months prior to writing.
  • Covering all of the Qualities of Level 3 judges
    • If you need to look at what those are, see here.
    • There are articles dedicated to each Quality.  I highly recommend that you read them and reread them as you write your self-review.  You should probably also look over them a few more times at other milestones in the L3 Advancement Process.
  •  Graded as Strengths or Areas for Improvement
    • There’s a dropdown in JudgeApps when you write a review- yes, you should use that for each Quality.  Let’s talk a little more about what this should entail.
    • Where are you?  How do you rate in that Quality in comparison to what’s expected an of L3? Again, go back to those Quality articles and see where you fit.
    • Where were you? How have you grown in that Quality?
    • Where are you going? What are your specific plans for improving that Quality?
  • If that self-review is more than 6 months old, your application must include a brief update indicating progress on the Qualities of Level 3 judges.
    • As I said above, a fresh review gives your PEI and Panel more accurate/better information to work off of.
    • The 6-month update can be fairly brief- tell us the significant things that have happened in several categories, and your plans for the future since you submitted your self-review.

A few other points that should be said:

  • In writing your self-review, it is important to show the Qualities to the reader.  This can even be future you! Good, clear examples and concrete steps towards improving are essential.
  • Your self-review should show serious introspection.  It should show that you’re serious about pursuing L3.  It should be both honest and realistic.

There are two points where the VC will check your self-review.  The first time is before you request L3 Recommendations. The second time is when you submit your formal L3 Application, commonly known as the L3 Checklist.  As mentioned above, the L3 Checklist needs a self-review written in the past 12 months, and with a brief update if it’s over 6 months old.

Now, all of this sounds like a lot.  However, a lot of candidates spend a long time “writing” their self-review without ever finishing it.  This self-review should *not* be a novel. Starting now, the recommended length for self-reviews is 400 words per section, or 3,600 words overall.  Self-reviews should be capped at 500 words per section, or 4,500 words overall. We hope that instituting this cap will make writing the self-review easier for candidates, and will make it easier for mentors and members of the VC to give good, efficient feedback to the candidate.

I hope that this takes some of the mystery away from a piece of the L3 Advancement Process, and I hope that this inspires you to write your own self-review.  If you have any questions, feel free to reach me at l3.testing.manager@gmail.com.  Otherwise, I look forward to seeing your new self-review!