Standard NSDA rules for extemporaneous speaking, available on the NSDA website (, will apply: contestants will have thirty minutes to prepare and seven minutes to deliver a speech addressing one of three topics. Each round will be themed; topic areas will be posted to the TOC Extemp website on April 22, 2019.

All questions will be taken from newspapers and magazines between January 1, 2019 through the day of the event.

Laptops will be allowed in the prep room.  To ensure fairness, all laptop users must comply with the following rules:

  1. Students using computers must do so in the prep room; computers may not be used to prepare in other locations.
  2. Internet access will be allowed. However, students may not use the internet to gain help from coaches, other students, or any person, such that it would prevent the speech from being the original work of the competitor.
  3. Students are prohibited from accessing outlines and speeches that have been written prior to their draw time.
  4. Any student using a computer must be prepared to show prep room staff what they are accessing at any time.

The TOC Extemp reserves the right to disqualify any student that is found in violation of these rules or that resists a reasonable request by prep room staff.  Schools using computers are encouraged to provide one for each student, as multiple students from the same school may draw at the same time.  Speaking order will not be adjusted to accommodate computer use.


Please be aware that representatives from the tournament will be watching rounds at random points throughout the event to record and verify sources. Any student found to be using a source inaccurately in order to manipulate the audience will be disqualified from the tournament.


Competitors are guaranteed six preliminary rounds. Rounds I through IV will be randomly assigned, while rounds V and VI will be seeded. Each round will be evaluated by two judges, each of whom will rank competitors 1st through 5th. The lowest ranking for each contestant will be dropped, and the top contestants will advance to elimination rounds. Advancement will be based on (1) best cumulative rankings (2) reciprocals.


Those contestants advancing to the first elimination round will be announced on Sunday morning. Elimination rounds will be seeded, and sectioning will not be broken to avoid placement of contestants from the same school in the same rounds. The tournament will include cross-examination in elimination rounds. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be evaluated by five judges each. The top three contestants in each section will advance to the next round.  Advancement will be based on (1) best cumulative rankings (2) judges preference (3) reciprocals (4) preliminary rankings. Each break is clean; no previous results will be considered except in the case of an otherwise unbreakable tie. The final round will be evaluated by seven judges and will be open to the entire tournament and the Northwestern community.


Additionally, we will be hosting impromptu as a secondary event on the second day of the tournament. All students, including those who advance to eliminations rounds in extemp, may compete in impromptu. Students must opt into impromptu; students are not entered into impromptu by default. There is no entry fee for impromptu. However, there will be a fee for impromptu entries that are added/dropped on Sunday morning.

In impromptu, contestants will have seven minutes to both prepare and deliver a speech improvised from a provided prompt. Topics will vary by round and section, and each speaker in the same section will speak on the same topic. There will be two preliminary rounds, and the top six contestants will advance to a final round.


All students attending the tournament must be supervised by an adult — a parent, teacher, team coach, or coach from another school. This chaperone should have all required school and parental authorization for travel and medical leases. Neither the Tournament nor Northwestern University can assume responsibility for any emergencies or expenses.