Extemp Content and Strategy

Charts & Graphs

In this article, we go over a few handy charts and graphs to help any extemper

Extemp is all about resources. It’s essential for any extemper to have countless articles, book summaries and more all saved to your computer or printed out in a binder. However, the amount of articles you can reference in a round is limited by the fact that you only have 30 minutes of time to prepare. Because of this, it’s essential to have sources that not only contain great information and emanate ethos, but take only a little bit of time to reference as well. Here are a few charts and graphs that can come in handy in any extemp round, along with explanations of how to use them. Enjoy!

An Economic Emphasis

WorldPopulationReview’s 2021 GDP rankings

GDP is one of the most important economic statistics for a country. It’s a way of indicating how much a nation produces every year. This chart, taken from UN and International Monetary Fund Statistics,  ranks every country according to its GDP (per capita is included, too!) Since it includes countries grouped by continent, it’s easy to see how a country stacks up compared to its neighbors.

The Wall Street Journal/Heritage Foundation Economic Freedom Index

Every year, the two aforementioned institutions rank every country in the world on how economically free they are. This is a compilation of how free citizens are to use their own resources, how easy it is to compete in a free market, etc. Economic freedom says a lot about a country. If it scores highly on the index, this means that (according to some economic theorists) conditions may be ripe for more growth. If it ranks lowly, that means that business may be restricted or the government could run most of the economy.

Freedom House’s Freedom in the World report

Freedom House is a think-tank devoted to protecting and researching civil liberties across the globe. Every year, they carefully analyze every country in the world and give it a score from 0 to 100 in terms of how well political rights and civil liberties are preserved. While these statistics by no means capture all the complexities and nuance surrounding political rights in any country, they do a decent job at capturing how free a country is through political and civil liberties.

The International Crisis Group’s global overview

Let’s face it, our world has a lot of things wrong with it. It seems as though every day we hear about more and more crises and catastrophes occurring across the world. Every month, this group analyzes and reports on certain areas of the world that are facing dire circumstances. The overview is pretty lengthy, but gives concise and reliable information on a list of dozens of crises across the world. If you draw a question on a crisis in a country you don’t know much about, try using ctrl-f/command-f to find the country you’re after. There could very well be some great information on the matter. This is the group’s end of March report. I’d recommend filing the page at the end of each month for a summary of what happened then.


Now that we’ve gone over some graphs, let’s find a way to use them in a practice question! 

Will new Oil Wealth be a Blessing or a Curse for Cambodia

Let’s start by getting some information about Cambodia and work from there. Our first graph shows that Cambodia has a gdp per capita of only around $1,730 per year, conveying that the country could really use an extra source of wealth. However, the Economic Freedom Index ranks Cambodia as #118 out of 160 countries. Freedom House gave them a dismal score of 24 (not free) for political liberties. This raises some real concerns about whether oil wealth will really aid the people of Cambodia. They lack economic freedom and have a pretty repressive government. Crisisgroup didn’t have any information on Cambodia for this month. 

Using these graphs, we already have 3 interesting sources to cite and some good statistics to impress judges with, while only spending one or two minutes acquiring them. Preparing an Extemp speech can be a daunting task, so it can really come in handy to have good information that’s readily referenced. This article is a compilation of a few of my favorite charts, which is by no means a definitive list! What other charts are great to use in a round? Let us know in the comments!   

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