- At a figure skating competition, each move in an ice skater's program is given a base value and a skater gets credit for every element correctly attempted.
- Jumps, spins and footwork all have an assigned level of difficulty, but it is up to the technical specialist to assign a level of difficulty to each element.
- Judges give a "grade of execution" (GOE) for each element by giving plus or minus grades (+1, +2, +3, -1, -2, -3). A fall automatically gets a -3.
- The plus or minus values are then added or deducted from the base value of each element. This is how the skater's technical score for each element is determined.
- The scores for all the elements in a skater's program are then added up. That is how a skater's total technical score is obtained.
The technical score is part of the new ISU Judging System (IJS) for figure skating that was implemented shortly after the 2002 Olympics. It is similar to the "technical merit" score that is given in the 6.0 figure skating judging system.