GOE stands for Grade of Execution. It is the score the judges award to each element based on certain criteria and rules that they must follow. The scale for GOE marks goes from negative 3 to positive 3. To put it into perspective using a more widely recognized scale of grading: Negative 3 and negative 2 are considered Needs Improvement. Negative 1 and 0 are considered Satisfactory. Plus 1 is considered Good. Plus 2 and Plus 3 are considered Excellent.
When determining GOEs, judges must assess the positive qualities of the element first, then apply any reductions. The positive qualities that one might see in an element are called “bullets”. In order for a judge to award a plus 1 GOE, there must be two-three bullets exhibited. In order to award a plus 2 GOE, there must be four-five bullets and to award a plus 3 GOE, there must be 6 or more bullets. To see a list of all bullets, see ISU Communication 2000.
GOE reductions are applied based on any mistakes made or just for bad quality of the element. To see a list of errors that call for GOE reduction, see ISU Communication 2000.
For example, a skater performs a sit spin that had clearly more than required number of revolutions (bullet number 4) and was matched to the musical structure (bullet number 8). But, when the skater was trying to stand up from the sit spin, she put her free foot down very quickly. With two bullets, the element would be assessed at a plus 1, but with a reduction of -1 for putting her foot down, the element would receive a 0. If another judge didn’t think the element was matched to the musical structure, but it did have clearly more than required number of revolutions, there is not enough bullets to give the element a plus one. Then, maybe that judge thought that the skater putting her foot down was a bigger deal than the first judge. So, this judge was at a 0, considering one bullet, then reduced by -2 for putting the foot down so the final GOE for the element would be -2. This is an example of how much judges scores can vary while they are all still following the same guidelines. Neither judge is wrong, they just have different opinions and that is why a minimum of three judges are on a panel.