Self-evaluation guide

All you need to know to pre-select the cards to send

Preliminary check: why doing a pre-evaluation.

This page was born with the aim of giving all the debut collectors some indications to be able to autonomously carry out a preliminary card check, that is a pre-evaluation (or self-evaluation) of the cards.

Pre-evaluating means observing your own cards to establish at least a likely grading range which that card is destined to receive. If you want to receive high grades, in fact, you need to avoid sending cards that already at this first check that you are going to perform autonomously (self-evaluation) end up having slim chances. And the same is true if you don't want to waste the opportunity to certify good cards that are destined to have good grades.

In fact, there are some conditions that can make one believe that a card is good but actually it is not, or on the contrary they can make one believe that a card is ruined so as to receive a very low grade, and maybe it is not. You could have a card to which you would give 6 which instead can be 8 or a card that you value as "good" that is actually destined to have a grade of 3.

Following this guide you will avoid surprises and you will be able to send the cards to be certified with awareness. The self-evaluation therefore must be carried out before sending the cards.


Good light source

To carry out a pre-evaluation use a good source of light, possibly natural light or a fluorescent lamp. In fact our team use fluorescent lamps that reproduce the tone of natural light.

Remove the protection

The card's protection must be removed, be it a sleeve, or a top-loader or other forms of protection, because the pre-evaluation must be carried out on the naked card, in order to verify the existence of any element that will affect the final grade.


When removing the protection, especially for cards in good condition, it is very important to be very careful. Use latex gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints, make sure you are delicate and careful, when you are finished place the card immediately in its case.

Basic self-evaluation indications

New or used

The first discriminating factor to evaluate is whether the card is new or used. A new card is a card that when it was extracted from the package was protected and was not used to play nor tampered in any way and was immediately placed in a protection. It is therefore clean and perfectly intact. It can also be a card of many years ago, but it is considered new (as if new) if it has never been used and has no sign of wear or scratches on edges and surfaces. If instead a card has been used to play or has been preserved in unprotected conditions (in a drawer, for example) it always has signs of wear, more or less visible. Even though at first sight it looks in very good conditions, at the inspection of the magnifying lens it shows evident signs of wear on the edges, small folds of the corners, edge chipping and other small marks that have affected the perfection of the surfaces of the front or back.

Print lucidity

Another aspect that you need to consider is that the print appears with a lucidity specific of newly unpackaged cards, both on the front and the back. Try to compare the card you're pre-evaluating with a card that is new, just unpackaged. If the lucidity is compromised, even in an area only or worse in several points, the card will not be able to aim for maximum grades. Also consider that, especially in the case of cards printed for sets of many years ago, lucidity tends to get lost in large areas if the card has not been preserved in perfect conditions.

Manufacturing and printing defects

An important point to evaluate is the presence of printing errors and card cutting defects. The card could in fact show cutting errors at the corners or other irregularities. These are quite rare, but it's good to check. Moreover, more often, you can find printing errors (defects in shape or color shades) that compromise the integrity of images or other elements of the card.


Last important aspect to evaluate is the accuracy of the centering of the image which, at least to the naked eye, must be good. GRAAD performs a measurement of the centering to the tenth of a millimeter but when pre-evaluating, it will be enough to establish whether the centering is good or there is a slight centering defect visible to the eye or if it is evidently incorrect. In this case it means that the percentage of the disproportion of the centering is high and its impact on the final grade becomes probably enough to lose maximum grades.

Consider the final formula

In the pre-evaluation you must therefore take into account all these elements because the purpose of a pre-evaluation of the cards is to try to avoid unexpected assessments. For this reason it is important to consider that the weighted average formula of GRAAD calculates a final mathematical value (grade) obtained by evaluating the number of defects, the severity of each one and the different weight of each in the final evaluation. However, here are some general indications to predict the grade, indications that in most cases (they are not absolute) should allow you to predict the final grading range.


5 or lower range

The card ends up in this range when it has many defects, all more or less evident or serious, or different evident signs of wear such as cuts, folds, tears, peeled corners, spots and incrustations...

range between 6 and 8

If the card is used but in good conditions, so that it shows no excessive wear of the edges and various defects even if mild, or it shows a single severe defect on the surface of the front already to the naked eye, or the centering is seriously wrong while everything else is good, it will probably go to this grading range.

range between 9 and 10

If you don't find any of the reported defects it is likely that the card will have a well-deserved grade of 10. If you find only one, not too serious or minimally visible, the card could reach 9. If you find more than one, or a very serious one, or various defects at various levels of gravity, it is likely that the card drops below 9.

Other indications to get high grades

Brand-new cards

To those who want to avoid low grades we recommend sending brand-new cards, just extracted from decks, boxes and other packages, and above all never used to play. The wear conditions that decrease a lot the possibility of getting grades of 9 and 10 can occur after the first game. Brand-new cards naturally aim for grades of 9 and 10. It must be said for clarity that the only conditions that can determine a grade of 9 are generally linked to the printing and centering quality, because brand-new cards, regarding cleanliness and wear, are perfect. If you want to have some cards certified and have the certainty of a high grade the best advice we can give you is to check the centering and printing quality and then insert the card into a top-loader immediately after finding it to then prepare it for the shipment.


The first fundamental thing is that the card must be as clean as possible because a very dirty card could take low grades. GRAAD works on the cards just as they are when they arrive, only dust is removed, but spots are not cleaned nor any incrustations. If you send a dirty card, it will be certified also considering dirt and spots, which will certainly lower the grade.

Since the card cleaning is a very delicate operation, unless you are real experts we advise you not to perform cleaning treatments with any product. Otherwise it is possible that your attempt to clean the card worsens the quality status of the card.


The packaging that you will perform for the protection of the cards during transport is very important to avoid disappointments and unexpected grades. In fact, if the transport takes place in total protection, following the directions on how to protect the cards for the shipment (link), the cards will reach us in the same conditions in which you sent them. If instead you package them badly or with little attention, you risk sending cards that will be ruined during transport losing grades and value.

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