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How does gymnastics scoring work? What to know about system for U.S. Olympic Trials, 2021 Olympics

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The scoring system for gymnastics may seem as complex as Simone Biles’ floor routine, especially compared to the old 10.0 system. But it’s really pretty straightforward once you know the skills and the execution of them are evaluated separately. Allow us to explain:

Routines are comprised of skills, eight for the women and 10 for the men. (Except vault. That’s just one skill.) Each skill has a pre-assigned numerical value that reflects its difficulty. A back handspring on the balance beam, for example, is worth 0.20 points.

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The first score for a routine is the D score, also known as the start value. This is the sum total of the skills in the routine. So the higher the D score, the harder the routine was. While the D score is, theoretically, open-ended, they’ll range from the 5s to the mid-6s at the Olympics. Occasionally you’ll see someone with a D score in the 7s, but it’s a rarity.

The second mark is the E score, also known as the execution score. This is the grade for how well the skills are done. Starting with a 10.0 (see, the 10 hasn’t gone away completely!), judges take deductions for things like flaws in form (bent legs, crossed feet, poorly pointed toes) and execution (taking a step on a dismount, wobbling after landing a tumbling pass).

Add the D and E scores together, and that’s the score for an event.

Simone Biles practices on the uneven bars at U.S. Olympic trials.
Simone Biles practices on the uneven bars at U.S. Olympic trials.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Gymnastics scoring system explained: What is Olympics' perfect score?