PCGS held a few “grading contests” at major shows a few years ago. I never participated, and later regretted not doing so. So when NGC announced they were going to be doing one at the FUN show this year, I signed up right away.
Here is what a grading contest consists of. Basically, you have 10 minutes to grade 15 coins. The coins are both US and coins of other countries. The coins are already in slabs, but without grade designations. To make things interesting, they mix in a few counterfeit coins as well, because professional graders are expected to be expert at detecting counterfeits as well.
You get so many points for grading each coin correctly (i.e. grading them the same as the grading service), and for detecting each of the counterfeits. The scores are totaled up; the top few contestants each receive a gift certificate for free grading, and a slab with a special designation on the label.
Out of 88 contestants, I’m proud to say that I tied for second place. Considering the dealers who also finished in the top few slots, I felt that was quite an accomplishment.
Long story short – I strongly recommend you sign up for one the next time it is offered. It is a lot of fun, and it can be useful to pit your skills against the best collectors and dealers out there.