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Deborah Ross: You didn't think just anyone could give marks for an Oscars frock, did you?

If you ask me...

If you ask me, you may well be asking your own selves, amid the fashion frenzy that is the Oscars, if you require special training before you are allowed to place ticks and crosses on the frocks, or can anyone have a go? A passer-by, perhaps, or your local newsagent, or that lady waiting at the bus stop? The answer to this, as well as other commonly asked questions, is dealt with below:

Do you need special training to put the ticks and crosses on the Oscar frocks?

Yes. On average, the training takes seven years, plus another year if you wish to take an MA and be a serious contender for work of this type and fill numerous newspaper pages. (Always aim for 62 on the day after, and 47 pages a day for the rest of the week.)

Wouldn't it be quicker to become, say, a doctor?

Yes, but a doctor will never be licensed to put ticks and crosses on Oscar frocks. If you ever encounter a doctor who says he or she is permitted to do so, you should report them to the General Medical Council. Unlicensed practitioners can do untold harm by awarding the wrong mark, which may later prove difficult to remove. (It is possible with new laser techniques, but it is a painful procedure and the mark may not disappear entirely.)

Is there a difference between ticks/crosses and thumbs up/thumbs down?

In the fifth year of training, students can choose to specialise either in the ticks and crosses or the thumbs up and thumbs down. There is no material difference, but for the former you will need a marker pen of proven quality and durability. (Most experts recommend a Sharpie.)

By what criteria are the dresses actually judged?

Very strict criteria, as laid down by the governing body of the Red Carpet Ranking Association (RCRA), which meets annually in Geneva. This is why such judging is never random, idiosyncratic, dependent on a whim, or just completely mental.

But how can the criteria be strict, when a gown might achieve a cross in one publication and a tick in another?

You can guarantee one of these marks was awarded by an unlicensed practitioner, perhaps even a workie on a fashion desk, who imagines anyone can do this sort of thing.

How many newspaper pages will Angelina's terrifying right leg fill from here on in?

Sixteen a day until June, plus a special Grazia souvenir issue every month until 2027.

Where can I receive training?

Warwick University does a respected RCRA-approved course, as does the LSE. Competition is stiff, and you will need three A-stars at A-level, preferably in the sciences, this being a science-based subject.