State Officer Blog: Using LEAP To Your Advantage

Sam Catania's picture

Let’s be honest. None of us love LEAP. There is a wide gamut of opinions about to what extent different individuals agree with it, but the general consensus of TSA members seems to be one more of dissent rather than support.

However, since dislike of LEAP is so widespread, it is possible to give yourself a potentially significant competitive advantage just by putting extra effort into it. In many events, LEAP resumes and their associated interviews can count for as many as 10% of the event’s total points. That is easily the difference between a first and a second, or maybe even a 10th and a 3rd.

To earn the highest amount of points on the LEAP portion of an event, rubrics state “The team’s efforts are clearly communicated, fully-detailed, and convincing; identification and/or incorporation of the SLC [Student Leadership Challenges] Practices and Behaviors is excellent.” 

TSA is looking for you to directly relate your experiences in your event to their idea of what makes a good leader. Thus, the first step in preparing a head-turning LEAP is to read the SLC practices and behaviors. It’s about 20 pages, but it will be time well spent. You can find it here.

Many of you will likely recognize the five practices as they are on the LEAP resume form. They are model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act and encourage the heart. On the document I linked above, you can read more about what each of these things actually means, so you don’t have to play a guessing game and dissect the words yourself. 

Rereading the rubric, we notice, however, that we’re not really being awarded points for our actual usage of SLC strategies, but for our effective communication. Even if your team has done few things that legitimately align with SLC tips, by taking special care to clearly communicate (in detail) the few things you have done, you should be able to score the maximum amount of points. Furthermore, linking the things you have done to their appropriate ‘official titles’ is of critical importance.

The simplest things can act as examples for the LEAP resume. For example, a new member on your team who had never competed in your event before–– one you had to teach–– can easily act as a topic.

Above all else, be sure to write genuinely. Judges will be able to tell if what you’re writing didn’t actually happen. It’s better to take something small and communicate it well than make something big up.

So use LEAP to your advantage! Other teams may neglect it, but it’s of critical importance. Your LEAP interview is what the judges will remember you by. Don’t make your resume limit what you can say in your interview! I wish you all the best of luck on your LEAPs and events in general, and can’t wait to see you at states!


Sam Catania
PA-TSA Reporter