All four merits competitions are split into two parts; PDI and print. The PDI part has three sections monochrome open, colour open and set subject; whereas, the print part has two sections monochrome open and colour open. Details of the set subject for each competition are published in the SPS syllabus and on the SPS website.
A member of SPS assesses each competition; they give each entry feedback (comments) and a mark out of 20. First, second and third places are given in each section. Placed images gain points (first 3, second 2 and third 1) which accumulate towards annual cumulative points competitions. The person with the most points in each cumulative competition is awarded a trophy at the annual exhibition.
- A maximum of eight entries per author in a competition
- A maximum of three entries per author in any section
- A maximum of six entries per author in PDI sections
- No image can have previously been placed in a SPS merit, quarterly or annual competition
- An image can have previously been entered no more than three times in a SPS merit, quarterly or annual competition
- Entries together with an entry form must be submitted two weeks before a competition
- Except for final printing, images must be entirely the work of the author.