Extemporaneous Speaking is an event that tests an individual’s ability to think on their feet and communicate complex arguments about today’s most pressing topics of discussion. Contestants do not know the exact questions they will be asked to respond to until they are at the tournament itself. Then, in a large meeting area called Extemp. Draw, the student will draw three questions, choose one, and prepare a response for 30 minutes. At the completion of this time, the student will find their room for competition and present their response to a judge. The response takes the shape of a speech that must be no more than 7 minutes in length.
Extemporaneous Speaking is divided into three categories in which CSA Speech competes: Domestic Extemp., Foreign Extemp., and Novice Extemp. The first two are divided by area of focus:
- Domestic (or US) Extemp. contains questions of United States policy, economics, and social issues.
- Foreign Extemp. (or International) Extemp., on the other hand, focuses on foreign policy, economics, and social issues.
Novice Extemp. is a tiered-system in Austin, where students are asked to understand only one area of content at a time: one tournament will focus on domestic political questions and the next might focus on domestic social questions.
Some tournaments — like Harvard — do not divide up the varsity category of extemp., and contestants are expected to be able to respond to either foreign or domestic questions.