The Escolas Especiais are marked by 40 different judges in 10 artistic categories and can score a maximum of 10 points from each judge. A perfect score would be 400. In 2007 Beija Flor scored 399.3 to win by 1.4 points ! The scoring categories are:

Alegorias e Adereços    The phalanxes of marches.

Bateria    The Band.

Comissão de Frente    The school's leading float / phalanx. 

Conjunto    Togetherness.

Enredo    The theme.

Evolução    The school's progress along Avenida Sapucaí

Fantasias    Costumes.

Harmonia    Harmony.

Mestre-Sala e Porta-Bandeira    The King and Queen of the school and Flag bearers.    

Samba Enredo The Samba music.

If you join a school and march in the parade you'll most likely get put with the Alegorias e Adereços. There's little chance of getting put on a float unless you are seriously buffed ! There have been complaints in the rank and file of some schools that they are loosing valuable point by allowing foreigners (who don't know what they are doing) to march. If you do march make sure you follow your instructions precisely and practice with the others in your section. Remember, the parade is a serious competition. You'll not receive thanks for dancing like an idiot whilst filming yourself. Mangueira, which is popular with foreigners, was 1.9 points off the pace in 2007 so there is perhaps a grain of truth in the moan.