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How to Win an Essay Contest

Last Updated: February 28, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Daniel Santos . Daniel Santos is a College Admissions & Career Coach and Prepory's co-founder and CEO. Prepory is a leading college admissions consulting firm that has guided over 9,000 students from 35 countries through the US college admissions process. Prepory is a member of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling and a trusted admissions counseling partner to several competitive high schools across Florida. Prior to founding Prepory, Daniel worked at various leading law firms and the United States House of Representatives. Daniel has been featured as a college admissions and career coaching expert across several major publications, including the Wall Street Journal, FORTUNE, and The Harvard Crimson. There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 169,627 times.

If you're hoping to write an essay that will win a contest, there are several ways to make your writing stand out. Before you start writing, make sure you read the essay guidelines so that you're following all of the rules. Come up with a topic that fits the contest's theme and craft a detailed, descriptive, and interesting essay. By making your essay original and error-free, you'll be much more likely to win the contest.

Crafting and Editing the Essay

Step 1 Read the essay contest rules before starting.

  • If you don’t follow one or more of the rules when writing and submitting your essay, your essay may be disqualified, so make sure to read over the rules several times if necessary.
  • It’s a good idea to print out the guidelines so that you can refer to them as you’re writing.

Step 2 Brainstorm essay ideas to pick a topic that works with the theme.

  • It’s super important to stick with the theme when you’re writing and not get off-topic.
  • For example, if the contest asks you to write about a person who has influenced you, make a list of the people that have had a big impact on your life and choose the person who you can write lots of descriptive examples about.

Step 3 Write a draft of your essay to get out all of your ideas.

  • It’s okay if you have several different drafts of one essay.
  • Make an outline of your essay before you start to help you organize your thoughts.

Step 4 Revise the essay to create a final draft.

  • Ask a friend or family member to read over your essay to see if it’s interesting and makes sense.
  • It may help you to put the essay aside for a day or two after you’ve written it so that you can revise it again with a fresh perspective.

Step 5 Proofread the essay carefully to check for any mistakes.

  • It may help to ask another person to read over the essay to see if they spot any mistakes.

Step 6 Submit your essay before the deadline.

  • Check to see when the submission deadline is in the contest’s guidelines and rules.
  • It may help you to put the essay deadline on your calendar so that you don’t forget when it is.
  • If you're sending the essay by mail, make sure you send it far enough in advance that it will reach the judges in time.

Making Your Essay Stand Out

Step 1 Choose an interesting essay beginning to grab the reader’s attention.

  • An example of an attention-grabbing introduction might be, “I held my breath for 82 seconds before I was yanked out of the water,” or “Sarah walked slowly up to the door, her body drenched in nervous sweat, before firmly knocking.”

Step 2 Come up with a creative title.

  • The title should give the reader a glimpse of what your essay is about while leaving them intrigued.
  • For example, if you’re writing an essay about a lemon picker, you might title the essay, "Living with Sour Fingers."

Step 3 Bring your essay to life by using lots of descriptive words.

  • Instead of saying, “The wheelbarrow fell down the hill,” you could say, “The rusty wheels of the wheelbarrow skidded over smooth rocks and sharp blades of grass until it skidded to a stop at the edge of the water.”

Step 4 Be original in your writing to make your essay stand out.

  • Read over your essay and look for sentences or ideas that would likely not be found in another person's essay.
  • If you're having trouble figuring out if you have an original element, have someone else read over your essay and tell you which parts stand out.

Step 5 Format your essay so that it looks neat and professional.

  • Review the essay guidelines to see if there’s a special way they’d like the essay formatted.

Expert Q&A

Daniel Santos

  • If you don't win, take a look at the winning entries if possible and see what they did that you didn't. Try to learn from this and incorporate it into your next essay. Thanks Helpful 18 Not Helpful 2
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help if you have a hard time! As long as your work is original, getting feedback from others is a great way to make your writing stronger. Thanks Helpful 12 Not Helpful 2
  • If you have difficulty understanding the topic or the guidelines, try to get in touch with the judges. Thanks Helpful 12 Not Helpful 2

essay contest tips

  • Failure to follow the format requirements may disqualify your essay. Thanks Helpful 44 Not Helpful 8
  • Be aware of the deadline to ensure you get your essay submitted in time. Thanks Helpful 18 Not Helpful 3

You Might Also Like

Write an Essay

Expert Interview

essay contest tips

Thanks for reading our article! If you'd like to learn more about essay contests, check out our in-depth interview with Daniel Santos .

  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/brainstorming/
  • ↑ https://mlpp.pressbooks.pub/writingsuccess/chapter/8-3-drafting/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/revising-drafts/
  • ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/writingprocess/proofreading
  • ↑ https://advice.writing.utoronto.ca/planning/intros-and-conclusions/
  • ↑ https://writing.umn.edu/sws/assets/pdf/quicktips/titles.pdf
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/essay_writing/descriptive_essays.html
  • ↑ https://www.oxford-royale.com/articles/write-original-essay/
  • ↑ https://facultyweb.ivcc.edu/ramboeng2/handout_essayformat.htm

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How to Win Essay Contests: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Did you know that you can win prizes with your writing skills? Essay contests are a fun way to turn your creativity and your command of the written word into great prizes. But how do you give your essay the edge that gets it picked from among all of the other entries?

Here's a step-by-step guide to writing essays that impress judges. Follow these steps for your best chances of winning writing contests.

Read the Essay Contest Rules

The first thing that you should do to win essay contests is to read the rules thoroughly. Overlooking one small detail could be the difference between winning the contest and wasting your time.

Pay special attention to:

  • The contest's start and end dates.
  • How often you're allowed to enter.
  • The word or character count .
  • The contest's theme.
  • The criteria that the judges will use to pick the winners.
  • Who the sponsoring company is, and what their branding is like.
  • And any other details the sponsor requires.

It might help you to print out the sweepstakes rules and highlight the most important elements, or to take notes and keep them close at hand as you write.

If you summarize the relevant rules in a checklist, you can easily check the requirements off when you've finished your essay to ensure you haven't overlooked anything.

Brainstorm Your Essay Ideas

Many people want to jump right into writing their essay, but it's a better idea to take some time to brainstorm different ideas before you start. Oftentimes, your first impulse isn't your best.

The Calgary Tutoring Centre lists several reasons why brainstorming improves your writing . According to their article, brainstorming lets you:

"Eliminate weaker ideas or make weaker ideas stronger. Select only the best and most relevant topics of discussion for your essay while eliminating off-topic ideas. Or, generate a new topic that you might have left out that fits with others."

For a great brainstorming session, find a distraction-free area and settle in with a pen and paper, or your favorite method to take notes. A warm beverage and a healthy snack might aid your process. Then, think about your topic and jot down quick words and phrases that are relevant to your theme.

This is not the time to polish your ideas or try to write them coherently. Just capture enough of the idea that you know what you meant when you review your notes.

Consider different ways that you can make the contest theme personal, come at it from a different angle, or stand out from the other contest entries. Can you make a serious theme funny? Can you make your ideas surprising and unexpected?

Write down all your ideas, but don't judge them yet. The more ideas you can come up with, the better.

Select the Essay Concept that Best Fits the Contest's Theme and Sponsor

Once you've finished brainstorming, look over all of your ideas to pick the one you want to develop for your essay contest entry.

While you're deciding, think about what might appeal to the essay contest's sponsor. Do you have a way of working the sponsor's products into your essay? Does your concept fit the sponsor's company image?

An essay that might be perfect for a Budweiser contest might fall completely flat when Disney is the sponsor.

This is also a good time to consider whether any of your rejected ideas would make good secondary themes for your essay.

Use a Good Hook to Grab the Reader's Attention

When it's time to start writing your essay, remember that the first sentence is the most important. You want to ensure that your first paragraph is memorable and grabs the reader's attention.

When you start with a powerful, intriguing, moving, or hilarious first sentence, you hook your readers' interest and stick out in their memory when it is time to pick winners.

Writer's Digest has some excellent tips on how to hook readers at the start of an essay in their article, 10 Ways to Hook Your Reader (and Reel Them in for Good) .

For ideas on how to make your essay unforgettable, see Red Mittens, Strong Hooks, and Other Ways to Make Your Essay Spectacular .

Write the First Draft of Your Essay

Now, it's time to get all of your thoughts down on paper (or on your computer). Remember that this is a first draft, so don't worry about perfect grammar or if you are running over your word count. 

Instead, focus on whether your essay is hitting the right emotional notes, how your story comes across, whether you are using the right voice, and if you are communicating everything you intend to.

First drafts are important because they help you overcome your reluctance to write. You are not trying to be good yet, you are trying to simply tell your story. Polishing that story will come later.

They also organize your writing. You can see where your ideas fit and where you need to restructure to give them more emotional impact.

Finally, a first draft helps you keep your ideas flowing without letting details slow you down. You can even skip over parts that you find challenging, leaving notes for your next revision. For example, you could jot down "add statistics" or "get a funny quote from Mom" and come back to those time-consuming points later.

Revise Your Essay for Flow and Organization

Once you've written the first draft of your essay, look over it to ensure that it flows. Is your point well-made and clear? Do your thoughts flow smoothly from one point to another? Do the transitions make sense? Does it sound good when you read it aloud?

This is also the time to cut out extraneous words and ensure you've come in under the word count limit.

Generally, cutting words will improve your writing. In his book, On Writing , Stephen King writes that he once received a rejection that read: "Formula for success: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%." In other words, the first draft can always use some trimming to make the best parts shine.

If you'd like some tips on how to improve your first draft, check out these tips on how to self-edit .

Keep an Eye Out for "Red Mittens"

In her fantastic book, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio , Terry Ryan talked about how her mother Evelyn used "red mittens" to help her be more successful with contest entries.

As she put it:

"The purpose of the Red Mitten was almost self-explanatory -- it made an entry stand out from the rest. In a basket of mittens, a red one will be noticed."

Rhyme, alliteration, inner rhyme, puns, and coined words were some of the red mittens that Evelyn Ryan used to make her entries pop. Your essay's red mitten might be a clever play on words, a dash of humor, or a heart-tuggingly poignant story that sticks in the judges' minds.

If your first draft is feeling a little bland, consider whether you can add a red mitten to spice up your story.

Put Your Contest Entry Aside

Now that you have a fairly polished draft of your essay contest entry, put it aside and don't look at it for a little while. If you have time before the contest ends, put your essay away for at least a week and let your mind mull over the idea subconsciously for a little while.

Many times, people think of exactly what their essay needs to make it perfect... right after they have hit the submit button.

Letting your entry simmer in your mind for a while gives you the time to come up with these great ideas before it's too late.

Revise Your Essay Contest Entry Again

Now, it's time to put the final polish on your essay. Have you said everything you wanted to? Have you made your point? Does the essay sound good when you read it out loud? Can you tighten up the prose by making additional cuts in the word count?

In this phase, it helps to enlist the help of friends or family members. Read your essay to them and check their reactions. Did they smile at the right parts? Were they confused by anything? Did they connect with the idea behind the story?

This is also a good time to ensure you haven't made any grammar or spelling mistakes. A grammar checker like Grammarly is very helpful for catching those little mistakes your eyes gloss over. But since even computer programs make mistakes sometimes, so it's helpful to have another person — a good friend or family member — read it through before you submit it.

Read the Essay Contest Rules One Last Time

If you've been following these directions, you've already read through the contest rules carefully. But now that you've written your draft and had some time to think things over, read them through one more time to make sure you haven't overlooked anything.

Go through your checklist of the essay requirements point-by-point with your finished essay in front of you to make sure you've hit them all.

And now, you're done! Submit the essay to your contest, and keep your fingers crossed for the results !

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The Write Practice

How To Win a Writing Contest

by Joe Bunting | 33 comments

Want to Become a Published Author? In 100 Day Book, you’ll finish your book guaranteed. Learn more and sign up here.

Writing contests are a great way to practice your writing skills and win prizes. Do you want to learn how to win a writing contest? 

essay contest tips

If you enter a writing contest, there are a ton of benefits. It's a chance to practice your writing. It motivates you to write more and finish  stories.

And, of course, most writing contests come with grand prize winners and prize money.

In this article, you can learn how to enter a writing contest and how to win one. Read on to learn more!

How NOT to Win a Writing Contest

Before you learn how to become a contest winner, it's worth knowing what will prevent you from winning a contest. Let's get the obvious out of the way.

Submitting a proofed entry that is free of writing errors and follows the contest guidelines is  the minimum requirement you need to meet if you want to win a writing contest.

Here are some common mistakes that prevent writers from winning, entry after entry:

  • Don't proofread . Do I really need to tell you to proofread? Personally, I'm lenient when it comes to some typos. If the piece is excellent but has two or three mistakes. I recognize that there is time to fix them before we publish the story. A grammatical error every once in a while won't break your story, but enough that clutters the story will.
  • Knowingly or unknowingly break grammar rules . If you want to win, observe proper grammar . Again, I don't really need to tell you this, do I?
  • Write 1,000 words more than the word count limit . You will  not  win a writing contest if you submit a 2,500 word story to a writing contest asking for contest entries 1,500 words or less. Don't waste your entry fee.
  • Submit a literary fiction masterpiece to a supernatural romance contest . Yes, that's a recipe for failure. Writing contests generally lean toward certain genres. If the genre is not explicitly stated, read previously published stories from the contest to get a sense of what the judges will be looking for.
  • If there is a theme, ignore it . Writing contests often ask for pieces that fit a certain theme or even follow a prompt. A good way to lose a writing contest is to ignore the contest theme requirements and write whatever you feel like.

These are  obvious, right? I would like to believe that they are, but I've judged enough writing contests to know that many people  don't  seem to understand these tips.

Now, on to the bulk of this article: how to win a writing contest.

Note: These are just the base requirements. Following them will only ensure that your piece is considered, not chosen as the winner.

How to Write a Winning Short Story Idea

How do you write a story that could win a writing contest? And how do you find a really great short story idea? In this coaching video, Joe gets coached by author Sarah Gribble, the #1 bestselling author of SURVIVING DEATH.

She helps Joe workshop his short story to turn it into what will hopefully be a winning short story. If you've ever wanted to win a writing contest, this is absolutely going to help you.


5 Tips to Win a Writing Contest

When it comes to winning story contests, follow these five tips:

1. Recognize you are human

This may be a strange way to begin a list of tips on how to win a writing contest, but let me explain.

Stephen King once said, “To write is human, to edit is divine.” But instead of the word “edit,” you could substitute the phrase “judge writing contests,” because editors and writing contest judges play a similarly godlike role.

To Write Is Human, To Edit Is Divine Stephen King

To scrutinize the actions of the judges of a writing contest is impossible.

All writing is subjective. A judge attempts to say, “This story is good,” or “This story is bad,” but really, they are just choosing based on their own idiosyncratic taste. Winning comes down to a judge's experience—and luck.

What is the writer to do, then? Submit your piece, pray it wins, and then go write your next story (and find a new contest to submit to). Nothing else can be done for a creative writing competition.

This is why winning—although ideal (it comes with cash prizes or an honorable mention)—isn't the only reason you should enter a writing contest. There are other benefits like getting constructive feedback and giving yourself a time commitment that will motivate you to finish writing your story.

In a real life writing career, you have to keep writing and submitting based on the guidelines. A contest is great practice. 

2. Your main character must be fascinating

What fascinates humans the most is contrast.

Light vs. Darkness. Good vs. evil. A good character trait for a hero battling the evil in the world. A normal person battling the evil inside themselves. An evil person drawn, despite themselves, to a moment of goodness.

Life vs. death. A woman's struggle against cancer, against a villain that wants to kill her, against the deathly banality of modern life.

Love vs. loss.

Neat vs. messy.

Contrast fascinates readers. Does your main character have contrast? If you want to win a writing contest, they should.

3. Surprise endings

I love surprise endings. All judges do. However, I hate  out of the blue endings.

A good surprise ending can be predicted from the very beginning, but the author skillfully distracts you so that you never expect it (the traditional method of distracting the reader is to use red herrings ).

Red Herring

Bad writing is creating a surprise ending that cannot be predicted and feels like the writer is simply trying to give the reader something they would never expect.

Instead, surprise the reader. Don't make up the most shocking ending without providing the clues to this ending earlier in the story.

4. Repeat with a twist

In the last few lines of your story, repeat something from earlier in the story with a twist. This echoed ending will reverberate with your reader giving closure and emotional power.

For example, you might repeat the opening image . If the snow is falling in the first lines of the story, you might say, “As night closed, the snow continued to fall. He thought it would fall for all his life.”

You might repeat an action . If your character is eating at a diner with his wife in the first scene, perhaps in the last scene he is eating alone at the same diner all alone.

You might  repeat a character . If your heroine has a meet-cute with an attractive man early in the story, you can end the story with him unexpectedly showing up at her workplace.

Repeating with a twist gives your ending an artful sense of unity. It's also really fun!

5. Write what you know (even if what you know never happened)

In one writing contest, I read a story written by a Brazilian writer about American kids driving around, eating hamburgers, and going to prep school.

“Write what you know,” I wrote to her over email. “I'm sure there are fascinating stories where you live. But don't regurgitate stories you see on American television. You will never know that world as deeply as you know your own.”

On the other hand,  Ursula Le Guin said this about the advice to write what you know :

I think it’s a very good rule and have always obeyed it. I write about imaginary countries, alien societies on other planets, dragons, wizards, the Napa Valley in 22002. I know these things. I know them better than anybody else possibly could, so it’s my duty to testify about them.

How to (Really) Win a Writing Contest

There is, of course, no guaranteed way to win a writing contest. All you can do is write your best piece, follow the contest rules and submit. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts.

All that's to say, don't over think this.

If You Want a Little More Help…

10 Questions for Better Story Ideas

In case you're feeling stuck, we offer a free guide to help you come up with better short story ideas, and thus have a better shot at winning writing contests.

You're welcome to download the guide, for free, here:

Click here to get 10 Questions for Better Story Ideas free »

I hope you enjoy the guide, and most of all, I hope you write some really great stories.

Want more tips? Here are a few good resources:

  • Upcoming Writing Contests from The Write Practice
  • Ten Secrets To Write Better Stories
  • How to Write a Short Story With Deep Structure (And Win a Prize for It)
  • How do contest judges pick the winners?
  • 20 Tips For Winning Writing Contests

Have you ever entered a writing contest? How did it go?  Let us know in the comments section .

As you prepare for your next writing contest, get a free copy of our 1-page guide, 10 Questions for Better Story Ideas here »

Spend fifteen minutes creating two characters with high contrast (see Tip #2). Write one paragraph describing the first character and another paragraph describing the second.

Then, post your two paragraphs in the Pro Practice Workshop . And if you do post, please be sure to give feedback to your fellow writers.

Have fun and happy writing!

essay contest tips

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Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris , a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

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WSJ Bestselling author, founder of The Write Practice, and book coach with 14+ years experience. Joe Bunting specializes in working with Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, How To, Literary Fiction, Memoir, Mystery, Nonfiction, Science Fiction, and Self Help books. Sound like a good fit for you?



I haven’t entered many contests before but am trying for the flavor of the month contest on unigo. I am stuck with finding a unique and captivating story idea because it has to be under 250 words.

Gary G Little

To win? Yes that is a goal. However, more than that I would absolutely love feedback from the judges. That was one thing that as a swim referree I ALWAYS had to do. If I disqualified a swimmers race, I absolutely had to talk to the swimmer and explain why I called what I called.

I miss that here. I get great feedback from the group, but I would love to hear why my story fell in the place it fell. It’s ok, if it lost the toin coss … uh … coin toss. That means it was close and the next time it might be me. However, if I have a writing habit that will always get my story tossed in the round file, I want to know that, even more so.

I do appreciate always getting published, but I’d love to see the judges crib notes on my submittals.


thank you so much I just got an idea how to end my story while reading this. concerning writing contest to be honest I never did the how to loose rules but didn’t do the how to win either so I need to work on that. thank you again

George McNeese

I’ve never entered a writing contest. One reason is that I haven’t really researched writing contests. I assume that most contests are not in my genre like sci-fi or horror. I guess that’s what make them “Creative Writing” contests. The overlying reason, however, is fear of rejection, and I’ve never submitted anything. When I read literary magazines, I get so envious o what others write, I doubt myself as a writer. I get everyone has their own style and voice. I guess I’m not confident in myself to enter a contest.


I can relate to everything you’re saying here. I entered the Becoming Writer contest (associated with this blog) because the email came to my inbox and it includes 6 weeks access to the critique group forum. (I promise I’m getting no kickback for plugging their contest.)

I haven’t submitted my story yet. They’re not due until the 20th, and we get to workshop them first. I’ll be posting it for feedback today. We’ll see how it goes.


I’ve never entered a competition before, until the short story one you have going now. I’ve written for myself all along though and only in the last year or so have thought of publishing. I love the fact that we can all have critique and be published, no matter who wins. I have no allusions as to winning though, as you say, writing is very subjective so you never know. Not all subject matter is everyone’s ‘cup of tea’

Thanks for all the tips…. Though I’ve written my short story and put it on the site and can’t see any major changes I will make. Next time…….


The United Authors Association has one going this summer. Any genre. Prizes totaling $500. Visit http://www.TheUAA.ORG if you are interested.

Joe Bunting

Thanks Robert.

I’m doing the Becoming Writer contest largely because I got the email in my inbox. And because it includes 6 weeks access to the critique group forum. I’m more interested in trying out the community, but the contest will be fun too.

Very cool Ric. Have fun!

Kenneth M. Harris

What’s interesting to me is that I have just signed up for entering this contest. I had mentioned to Joe that I’m so so scared and I am. But, I believe that it’s normal to be scared sometimes and admit this. As long as you confront the fear. At my age, I’ll always remember what Roosevelt said. The only fear that you have is fear itself. KEN Thanks again, JOE

Honestly, I get scared about this kind of thing all the time. The fear tells me it’s important.


The fear is the reason to write even more.Love the quote,it inspires me too!!

Cynthia Frazier Buck

I’ve been meaning to do another round of submissions, so this was the kick in the pants I needed! I entered a flash fiction contest run by Tethered By Letters. They had an option for 3 submissions, so I did that.

It always makes me feel vulnerable to enter contests, or to post my writing at all. But being a member of Becoming Writer and having my own blog have helped.

Good luck to all entering the latest BW contest!

Hi..wonderful post,Joe…In fact,speaking for myself,i would not think about writing contests till now..for i have often felt that submitting my pieces of writing would halt the process of my writing projects…but every writer deserves a break–to overcome their writer’s block…For me,the deviation is these opportunities that come by my way.I have submitted my work for some anthologies and have enjoyed the process despite fruitless results.We just need to continue believing in our stories and keep writing!!!

Cheers, Jassie

Dash McCallen

OKay, Joe, I have emailed you a time or two and I have a story to go. I had the story ready a few hours after paying the fee for the contest.

However, I have been unable to upload to the forum or find a way to get feedback. I have not received an invite and the clock ticks. I request some assistance.

Graham Oakman

Practice, practice and even more practice. If you are not a wonderkid of some sort you can never expect to excel at anything without a lot of work. Use Help from outsources and from the friends. And start practicing!)


I’ve entered a few writing contests, and I value them the most because of what they teach you. The ones requiring a synopsis have taught me how to format a synopsis and recognize the core points of my plots, and contests with short word count limits taught me how to chop down my writing to what really matters. That’s more important to me than winning anything immediately. It definitely helps writers advance long-term, whether they win or not.

Writer Chick

Ya I agree. It’s really annoying when a writing contests is so huge and there are so many people joining it, that I don’t even know if my story will get read. It would actually be nice to get feedback even if I didn’t win, ya know? But I heard from a friend about a writing contest that has limited entry. They only allow 100 people in the contest so that people have a better chance of winning and you get feedback, even if you don’t win. Do you think they’re legit?


:/ I can never find any fantasy novel writing contests most of them are everything else and almost always for novelettes, short stories or poems. XP Except for Wattpad, that’s over now to. (Lost.)

I lost the Wattpad, Wattys 2016 so after eating much chocolate I’m trying to figure out why. I didn’t make any of the mistakes listed here. So, now what? Does my writing just plain suck donkey flop? *Sigh*

Joe Bunting

I wouldn’t look at it like that. Losing definitely doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. Instead, get to work on your next story (and your next contest), and use what you learned from the last to practice for the next one. It’s less about winning and losing and more about getting better as a writer.

(Try #2, fixing typos.)

Okay I will ^;^ What also made it hard what that they also to the number of reads, comments and votes into account so I guess that had a part in it too. They said that it wouldn’t decide if a book won or not, but I’m thinking that that stuff plays a bigger part than they are letting on.Ooh well, I joined to get help with my writing and get feedback, so it’s all good.

Yes, I want to grow and get better at this.

I’ll just wait for next years Wattys; when it comes to contests most just want short stories. I don’t know how to do those yet. Or even worse are a scam. ;-; No thanks, I don’t need that kind of a headache.

(Try #3 fixing typos, I’m not that great at typing comments for some reason.)

Okay, I will ^;^ What also made it hard was that they also take into account the number of reads, comments and votes a book has. Mine only had 14k reads when the ones that won have millions. X.X They said that you could still win even if you don’t have many reads and such, but I’m thinking that that stuff plays a bigger part than they are letting on. Oh well, I joined to get help with my writing and get feedback, so it’s all good.

And thanks for replying. ^^


Agree with everything you said here. And you’re right about twists. They must be set up properly, and not just done out of the blue for shock value. I’d also like to say that your advice here is good for all submissions, not just contests. Great post!

Ricther Belmont

Could this be anymore blatant clickbait? Claims to be about advice for winning contests, instead lists obvious do not points then says “git gud go write”


Every time I open “Upcoming Writing Contests,” I get this message: “This site is not private. Someone may be trying to hack into …” I don’t get this message for the other 4 links, only for the list of contests. Is this happening to others?


The best advice I’ve ever had is to write what I know. I once tried to write a story pretending I lived in a town in America. I got it all wrong; descriptions of people, their clothing, dialogue, descriptions of the street, bars, diners. Everything. Then I was stuck. I won’t try writing about being in line at Starbucks. I’ve never been to Starbucks and don’t know a thing about it, except that they serve coffee. Anything that is fantasy is easier for me because I have a gift for creating fantasy, of places and happenings which no one has ever seen. I must strive to be convincing and make the story unputdownable. Joe, I’m at a stage where I don’t dream of being a winner. I want to participate, have somebody read my story and give feedback, and read stories members submit for the contest. Sorry that I’m not active on TWP as much as I’d like to be, but I have a time limit now due to health issues. Cheers everybody. Happy writing.

Lizandra Oliveira

Not sure if I should ask this, but since I´m not an English native can I send a copy of my work to any contest? If so, one of my works are not done yet.

I am working on a story for a while for a contest this helped a lot but can you give me a list of what they look for?

flare of hope

this is the very first time,I’ve ever gotten the gallantry to actually press the dreaded submit button for a writing contest without the wrath of inhibition drown me in regret of what could have been ! honestly, i have never been more relieved, then i have today! thank you for the amazing pointers , they have been put into action, i hope!

and now, i shall wait heh


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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, the 17 best writing contests for high school students.

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Other High School


If you're a writer—fiction, non-fiction, or fanfiction—you can put those skills to work for you. There are tons of writing contests for high school students, which can award everything from medals to cash prizes to scholarships if you win .

Not only will a little extra money, whether cash or scholarships, help you when it comes time to pay for college, but the prestige of a respected reward is also a great thing to include on your college application.

Read on to learn more about what writing contests for high school students there are, how to apply, and what you could win !

Writing Contests With Multiple Categories

Some high school contests accept entries in a variety of formats, including the standard fiction and non-fiction, but also things like screenwriting or visual art. Check out these contests with multiple categories:

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

  • Award Amount: $1,000 to $12,500 scholarships
  • Deadline: Varies between December and January, depending on your region
  • Fee: $10 for single entry, $30 for portfolio

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards celebrate art by students in grades seven through twelve (age 13 or older) on a regional and national scale. These awards have a huge number of categories and styles, including cash prizes or scholarships for some distinguished award winners . Categories include science-fiction and fantasy writing, humor, critical essays, and dramatic scripts, among others.

Deadlines vary by region (but are mostly in December and January), so use Scholastic's Affiliate Partner search to find out when projects are due for your area.

Scholastic partners with other organizations to provide prizes to winners, so what you can win depends on what you enter and what competition level you reach. Gold medal portfolio winners can earn a $12,500 scholarship, and silver medal winners with distinction can earn a $2,000 scholarship , as well as many other options in different categories.

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards are open to private, public, or home-schooled students attending school in the US, Canada, or American schools in other countries. Students must be in grades seven through twelve to participate. Eligibility varies between regions, so consult Scholastic's Affiliate Partner search tool to figure out what applies to you .

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards have a $10 entry fee for individual submissions and $30 for portfolio submissions, which may be waived for students in need . These fees may vary depending on location, so be sure to check your local guidelines .

Ocean Awareness Contest

  • Award Amount: Scholarships up to $1,500
  • Deadline: June 13, 2023 (submissions open in September)

The Ocean Awareness Contest asks students to consider the future of a coastal or marine species that is under threat from climate change. Submissions are accepted in a variety of art forms, but all must consider the way that climate change impacts ocean life .

Submissions for all categories, including art, creative writing, film, interactive and multimedia, music and dance, and poetry and spoken word are due in June, although the exact date varies slightly each year.

Winners may receive prizes of up to a $1,500 scholarship , depending on which division they fall into and what prize they win.

The contest is open to all international and US students between the ages of 11 and 18.

River of Words

  • Award: Publication in the River of Words anthology
  • Deadline: January 31, 2023

The River of Words contest asks students to consider watersheds—an area that drains into the same body of water—and how they connect with their local community. Students can explore this concept in art or poetry, with winners being published in the annual River of Words anthology .

Entries in all categories must be submitted by January 31, 2023. 

The River of Words contest is primarily for recognition and publication, as the website doesn't list any prize money . The contest includes specific awards for certain forms, such as poetry, some of which may have additional prizes .

The contest is open to International and US students from kindergarten to grade 12 (ages 5 through 19). Students who have graduated from high school but are not yet in college are also eligible.

Adroit Prizes

  • Award Amount: $200 cash award
  • Deadline: Typically April of each year

Sponsored by the Adroit Journal, the Adroit Prizes reward high school students and undergraduate students for producing exemplary fiction and poetry. Students may submit up to six poems or three works of prose (totaling 3,500 words) for consideration. Submissions typically open in spring .

Winners receive $200 and (along with runners-up) have their works published in the Adroit Journal . Finalists and runners-up receive a copy of their judge's latest published work.

The contest is open to secondary and undergraduate students, including international students and those who have graduated early . The Adroit Prizes has a non-refundable fee of $15, which can be waived.

YoungArts Competition

  • Award Amount: Up to $10,000 cash awards
  • Deadline: October 15, 2022; application for 2024 opens June 2023

Open to students in a variety of disciplines, including visual arts, writing, and music, the YoungArts competition asks students to submit a portfolio of work. Additional requirements may apply depending on what artistic discipline you're in .

Winners can receive up to $10,000 in cash as well as professional development help, mentorship, and other educational rewards.

Applicants must be 15- to 18-year-old US citizens or permanent residents (including green card holders) or in grades 10 through 12 at the time of submission . There is a $35 submission fee, which can be waived.


Fiction Writing Contests for High School Students

Many contests with multiple categories accept fiction submissions, so also check out the above contests if you're looking for places to submit original prose.

EngineerGirl Writing Contest

  • Award Amount: $100 - $500 cash prize
  • Deadline: February 1, 2023

This year's EngineerGirl Writing Contest asks students (though the name of the organization is "EngineerGirl," students of any gender may participate) to submit a piece of writing that shows how female and/or non-white engineers have contributed to or can enhance engineering’s great achievements. Word counts vary depending on grade level.

At every grade level, first-place winners will receive $500, second-place winners will receive $250, and third-place winners will receive $100 . Winning entries and honorable mentions will also be published on the EngineerGirl website.

Students of any gender from third to 12th grade may submit to this contest. Home-schooled and international students are also eligible.


Nonfiction Contests for High School Students

Like fiction, non-fiction is often also accepted in contests with multiple categories. However, there are quite a few contests accepting only non-fiction essays as well.

The American Foreign Services Association Essay Contest

  • Award Amount: $1,250 to $2,500
  • Deadline: April 3, 2023

The American Foreign Services Association sponsors a high school essay contest tasking students with selecting a country or region in which the United States Foreign Service has been involved at any point since 1924 and describe, in 1,500 words or less, how the Foreign Service was successful or unsuccessful in advancing American foreign policy goals in this country/region and propose ways in which it might continue to improve those goals in the coming years .

One winner will receive $2,500 as well as a Washington D.C. trip and a scholarship to attend Semester at Sea . One runner-up receives $1,250 and a scholarship to attend the International Diplomacy Program of the National Student Leadership Conference.

Entries must be from US students in grade nine through 12, including students in the District of Columbia, US territories, or US citizens attending school abroad, including home-schooled students.

John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Contest

  • Award Amount: $100 - $10,000
  • Deadline: January 13, 2023

The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage contest tasks students with writing an essay between 700 and 1,000 words on an act of political courage by a US elected official serving during or after 1917 , inspired by John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage . Each essay should cover the act itself as well as any obstacles or risks the subject faced in achieving their act of courage. Essays must not cover figures previously covered in the contest, and should also not cover John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, or Edward M. Kennedy.

One first-place winner will receive $10,000, one second-place winner will receive $3,000, five finalists will receive $1,000 each, and eight semi-finalists will win $100 each.

The contest is open to students in grades nine through 12 who are residents of the United States attending public, private, parochial, or home schools . Students under the age of 20 in correspondence high school programs or GED programs, as well as students in US territories, Washington D.C., and students studying abroad, are also eligible.

SPJ/JEA High School Essay Contest

  • Award Amount: $300 - $1,000 scholarships
  • Deadline: February 19, 2023 (submissions open in November)

The SPJ/JEA high school essay contest , organized by the Society of Professional Journalists and the Journalism Education Association, asks students to  analyze the importance of independent media to our lives (as of now, the official essay topic for spring 2023 is TBD) . Essays should be from 300 to 500 words.

A $1,000 scholarship is given to a first-place winner, $500 to second-place, and $300 to third-place.

The contest is open to public, private, and home-schooled students of the United States in grades 9-12 .


Playwriting Contests for High School Students

For those who love the stage, playwriting contests are a great option. An original play can earn you great rewards thanks to any of these contests!

VSA Playwright Discovery Program Competition

  • Award: Participation in professional development activities at the Kennedy Center
  • Deadline: January 4, 2023 (Application opens in October)

The VSA Playwright Discovery Program Competition asks students with disabilities to submit a ten-minute script exploring their personal experiences, including the disability experience . Scripts may be realistic, fictional, or abstract, and may include plays, screenplays, or musical theater.

All entries are due in January. Scripts may be collaborative or written by individuals, but must include at least one person with a disability as part of the group .

One winner or group of winners will be selected as participants in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Winners will have access to professional assistance in developing their script as well as workshops and networking opportunities.

This contest is open to US and international students in ages 14 to 18 . Groups of up to five members may collaborate on an essay, but at least one of those students must have a disability.

Worldwide Plays Festival Competition

  • Award: Professional production in New York
  • Deadline: March (official 2023 deadline TBD)

In the Worldwide Plays Festival Competition , students from around the world can submit an eight-minute script for a play set in a part of a neighborhood —specifically, at a convenience store, outside a character's front door, or at a place where people convene. Each play must have roles for three actors, should not have a narrator who isn't also a character, and should not contain set changes.

Entries are due in February. Winners will have their play produced by professionals at an off-Broadway New York theater . Scholarships are also available for winners.

Any student, including US and international, in first through 12th grade may submit work for consideration.

  • Award Amount: $50 - $200 cash prize
  • Deadline: 2023 deadline TBD (application opens January 2023)

Students may submit a one-act, non-musical play of at least ten pages to YouthPLAYS for consideration . Plays should be appropriate for high school audiences and contain at least two characters, with one or more of those characters being youths in age-appropriate roles. Large casts with multiple female roles are encouraged.

One winner will receive $250, have their play published by YouthPLAYS, and receive a copy of Great Dialog , a program for writing dialog. One runner up will receive $100 and a copy of Great Dialog.

Students must be under the age of 19, and plays must be the work of a single author.

The Lewis Center Ten-Minute Play Contest

  • Deadline: Spring of each year

Students in grade 11 may submit a ten-minute play for consideration for the Lewis Center Ten-Minute Play Contest . Plays should be 10 pages long, equivalent to 10 minutes.

One first-prize winner will receive $500, one second-prize winner will receive $250, and one third-prize will receive $100.

All entries must be from students in the 11th grade .


Poetry Writing Contests for High School Students

For those who prefer a little free verse or the constraints of a haiku, there are plenty of poetry-specific contests, too.

Creative Communications Poetry Contest

  • Award Amount: $25
  • Deadline: December

Students in ninth grade or below may submit any poem of 21 lines or less (not counting spaces between stanzas) for consideration in the Creative Communications Poetry Contest .

Students may win $25, a free book, and school supplies for their teacher .

Public, private, or home-schooled US students (including those in detention centers) in kindergarten through ninth grade may enter.

Leonard L. Milberg '53 High School Poetry Prize

  • Award Amount: $500-$1500
  • Deadline: November 

Students in 11th grade may submit up to three poems for consideration in the Leonard L. Milberg '53 High School Poetry Prize . Submissions are due in November .

One first-prize winner will receive $1500, one second-prize winner will receive $750, and a third-prize winner will receive $500. Poems may be published on arts.princeton.edu. All entrants must be in the 11th grade.

Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest

  • Award Amount: $500 - $5,000 renewable scholarship, $350 cash prize
  • Deadline: October 31, 2022

Women poets who are sophomores or juniors in high school may submit two poems for consideration for the Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest .

One first-place winner will receive a $350 cash prize, publication in and ten copies of Cargoes , Hollins' student magazine, as well as a renewable scholarship of up to $5,000 for Hollins and free tuition and housing for the Hollinsummer creative writing program. One second-place winner will receive publication in and two copies of Cargoes, a renewable scholarship to Hollins of up to $1,000, and a $500 scholarship to attend Hollinsummer.

Applicants must be female students in their sophomore or junior year of high school .

What's Next?

If you're looking for more money opportunities for college , there are plenty of scholarships out there— including some pretty weird ones .

For those who've been buffing up their test scores , there are tons of scholarships , some in the thousands of dollars.

If you're tired of writing essays and applying for scholarships, consider some of these colleges that offer complete financial aid packages .

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Melissa Brinks graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a Bachelor's in English with a creative writing emphasis. She has spent several years tutoring K-12 students in many subjects, including in SAT prep, to help them prepare for their college education.

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Best Essay Writing Contests in 2024

Showing 54 contests that match your search.

Great American Think-Off

New York Mills Regional Cultural Center

Genres: Essay and Non-fiction

The Great American Think-Off is an exhibition of civil disagreement between powerful ideas that connect to your life at the gut level. The Cultural Center, located in the rural farm and manufacturing town of New York Mills, sponsors this annual philosophy contest.

📅 Deadline: April 01, 2024 (Expired)

National Essay Contest

U.S. Institute of Peace

Genres: Essay

This year, AFSA celebrates the 100th anniversary of the United States Foreign Service. Over the last century, our diplomats and development professionals have been involved in groundbreaking events in history – decisions on war and peace, supporting human rights and freedom, creating joint prosperity, reacting to natural disasters and pandemics and much more. As AFSA looks back on this century-long history, we invite you to join us in also looking ahead to the future. This year students are asked to explore how diplomats can continue to evolve their craft to meet the needs of an ever-changing world that brings fresh challenges and opportunities to the global community and America’s place in it.

Additional prizes:

Runner-up: $1,250

Artificial Intelligence Competition

New Beginnings

Genres: Essay, Non-fiction, Science Fiction, Science Writing, and Short Story

There is no topic relating to technology that brings more discussion than artificial intelligence. Some people think it does wonders. Others see it as trouble. Let us know your opinion about AI in this competition. Include experiences you have had with AI. 300-word limit. Winners will be selected January 1, 2024. Open to anyone, anywhere.


💰 Entry fee: $5

📅 Deadline: December 15, 2023 (Expired)

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Personal Essay Competition 2024

Write the World

Genres: Essay and Memoir

We want to hear about an experience in your life, rife with characters and description and conflict and scene… but we also want to hear how you make sense of this experience, how it sits with you, and why it has surfaced as writing. Open a window into your life and invite your readers to enter.

Best entry: $100

Runner up: $50 | Best peer review: $50

📅 Deadline: June 24, 2024

Berggruen Prize Essay Competition

Berggruen Institute

The Berggruen Prize Essay Competition, in the amount of $25,000 USD for the English and Chinese language category respectively, is given annually to stimulate new thinking and innovative concepts while embracing cross-cultural perspectives across fields, disciplines, and geographies. Inspired by the pivotal role essays have played in shaping thought and inquiry, we are inviting essays that follow in the tradition of renowned thinkers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Michel de Montaigne, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Publication in Noema Magazine

📅 Deadline: June 30, 2024

Goldilocks Zone

Sunspot Literary Journal

Genres: Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Novel, Novella, Poetry, Script Writing, and Short Story

Sunspot Lit is looking for the perfect combination of craft and appeal in stories, CNF, novel or novella excerpts, artwork, graphic novels, poems, scripts/screenplays. Literary and genre accepted. Enter through Submittable or Duotrope.

💰 Entry fee: $10

📅 Deadline: April 30, 2024 (Expired)

Climate Change Writing Competition

Genres: Essay, Memoir, and Non-fiction

This month, dear writers, ahead of COP27, help us raise the voices of young people in this urgent fight. In a piece of personal narrative, tell the world’s leaders gathering in how climate change impacts you. How has this crisis changed your environment, your community, your sense of the future? Storytelling, after all, plays a critical role in helping us grasp the emergency through which we are all living, igniting empathy in readers and listeners—itself a precursor to action.

Runner-up: $50

📅 Deadline: October 18, 2022 (Expired)

Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest

Ayn Rand Institute

Atlas Shrugged is a mystery story, not about the murder of a man’s body, but about the murder—and rebirth—of man’s spirit. We seek exceptional essays of up to 1600 words that analyze its themes and ideas. High school to graduate students worldwide are invited to participate.

📅 Deadline: June 14, 2024

Environmental Writing 2024

The writer and activist Bill McKibben describes Environmental Writing as "the collision between people and the rest of the world." This month, peer closely at that intersection: How do humans interact with their environment? Given your inheritance of this earth, the world needs your voices now more than ever.

📅 Deadline: April 22, 2024 (Expired)

Anthology Travel Writing Competition 2024

Anthology Magazine

Genres: Essay, Non-fiction, and Travel

The Anthology Travel Writing Competition is open to original and previously unpublished travel articles in the English language by writers of any nationality, living anywhere in the world. We are looking for an engaging article that will capture the reader’s attention, conveying a strong sense of the destination and the local culture. Max 1000 words.

💰 Entry fee: $16

📅 Deadline: November 30, 2024

Share Your Story

FanStory.com Inc.

Write about an event in your life. Everyone has a memoir. Not an autobiography. Too much concern about fact and convention. A memoir gives us the ability to write about our life with the option to create and fabricate and to make sense of a life, or part of that life.

📅 Deadline: August 13, 2024

Military Anthology: Partnerships, the Untold Story

Armed Services Arts Partnership

Genres: Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Humor, Memoir, Non-fiction, Poetry, and Short Story

Partners are an integral aspect of military life, at home and afar, during deployment and after homecoming. Partnerships drive military action and extend beyond being a battle buddy, wingman, or crew member. Some are planned while others arise entirely unexpectedly. Spouses, family, old or new friends, community, faith leaders, and medical specialists all support the military community. Despite their importance, the stories of these partnerships often go untold. This anthology aims to correct that: We will highlight the nuances, surprises, joy, sorrow, heroism, tears, healing power, and ache of partnerships. We invite you to submit the story about partnerships from your journey, so we can help tell it.

$500 Editors' Choice award

$250 for each genre category (prose, poetry, visual art)

📅 Deadline: March 01, 2024 (Expired)

Young Sports Journalist 2024

The Young Sports Journalist Competition, 2024, seeks well-argued articles from aspiring journalists aged 14-21. Winning entries will be published online and printed in the Summer Issue of Pitch. Critiqued by our panel of accomplished judges, winners will also receive a £50 cash prize and offered work experience here at PITCH HQ. The competition runs from 7 February 2024 to 5 April 2024. And winners will be announced in May.

Publication in magazine and online

📅 Deadline: April 05, 2024 (Expired)

The Fountain Essay Contest

Fountain Magazine

“Home” holds a special place in our lives. Our earliest memories form inside its walls; we utter our first words and take our first steps there. Does everyone feel the same about home? Is it where you were born or where you earn your bread? Is home a physical place? In a world that moves faster than ever and is confined to small screens, how do perceptions about "home" change? Where is home for people who are forced to leave their homes? Where is your home?

Solas Awards

Best Travel Writing

Extraordinary stories about travel and the human spirit have been the cornerstones of our books since 1993. With the Solas Awards we honor writers whose work inspires others to explore. We’re looking for the best stories about travel and the world. Funny, illuminating, adventurous, uplifting, scary, inspiring, poignant stories that reflect the unique alchemy that occurs when you enter unfamiliar territory and begin to see the world differently as a result. We hope these awards will be a catalyst for those who love to leave home and tell others about it.

💰 Entry fee: $25

📅 Deadline: September 21, 2024

Creative Nonfiction Prize

Indiana Review

Genres: Essay, Fiction, and Non-fiction

Send us one creative nonfiction piece, up to 5000 words, for a chance at $1000 + publication. This year's contest will be judged by Lars Horn.

💰 Entry fee: $20

📅 Deadline: March 31, 2024 (Expired)

Hispanic Culture Review Contest 2022-2023

Hispanic Culture Review

Genres: Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story, and Flash Fiction

As the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano once said, "the best that the world has is in the many worlds that the world contains." Therefore, this year we invite you to reflect on the following questions: How do you or your community celebrate these connections? How do you value those experiences with those people who leave a mark on your life? 1 work will be awarded in each category: 1) photography & visual arts, 2) poetry, and 3) narrative/essay/academic investigation.

$100 for photography, poetry, and essay winners

💰 Entry fee: $0

📅 Deadline: February 01, 2023 (Expired)

The Letter Review Prize for Unpublished Books

The Letter Review

Genres: Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Novel, Novella, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Short Story, Thriller, and Young Adult

Free to enter. Seeking 0-5000 word (poetry: 15 pgs) excerpts of unpublished books (Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction), including most self-published and indie-published works. 2-4 Winners (publication of extract is optional). We Shortlist 10-20 writers. Open to writers from anywhere in the world, with no theme or genre restrictions. Judged blind.

Optional Publication of Excerpt, Letter of Recommendation

📅 Deadline: May 01, 2024 (Expired)

Annual Contest Submissions

So To Speak

Genres: Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, LGBTQ, Non-fiction, and Poetry

So To Speak is seeking submissions for poetry, fiction, and non-fiction with an intersectional feminist lens! It is no secret that the literary canon and literary journals are largely comprised of heteronormative, patriarchal, cisgender, able-bodied white men. So to Speak seeks work by writers, poets, and artists who want to challenge and change the identity of the “canonical” writer.

💰 Entry fee: $4

📅 Deadline: March 15, 2024 (Expired)

Red Hen Press Women's Prose Prize

Red Hen Press

Genres: Fiction, Non-fiction, Short Story, Essay, Memoir, and Novel

Established in 2018, the Women’s Prose Prize is for previously unpublished, original work of prose. Novels, short story collections, memoirs, essay collections, and all other forms of prose writing are eligible for consideration. The awarded manuscript is selected through a biennial competition, held in even-numbered years, that is open to all writers who identify as women.

Publication by Red Hen Press

📅 Deadline: February 28, 2024 (Expired)

Annual Student Essay Contest

Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

For this year’s Essay Contest, we are asking students to think about why the story of the Oklahoma City bombing is important today.

📅 Deadline: March 04, 2024 (Expired)

African Diaspora Awards 2024

Kinsman Avenue Publishing, Inc

Genres: Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, and Short Story

Up to $1000 in cash prizes for the African Diaspora Award 2024. African-themed prose and poetry wanted. Top finalists are published in Kinsman Quarterly’s magazine and the anthology, “Black Butterfly: Voices of the African Diaspora.”

Publication in anthology, "Black Butterfly: Voices of the African Diaspora" and print and digital magazine

The Letter Review Prize for Nonfiction

Genres: Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction, Crime, Humor, and Science Writing

2-4 Winners are published. We Shortlist 10-20 writers. Seeking Nonfiction 0-5000 words. Judges’ feedback available. Open to writers from anywhere in the world, with no theme or genre restrictions. Judged blind. All entries considered for publication + submission to Pushcart.

Publication by The Letter Review

💰 Entry fee: $2

Solar Flare

Genres: Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Poetry, Script Writing, and Short Story

Sunspot Lit is looking for one work, including a novel or novella excerpt, that provides a flare of creative energy. Literary or genre accepted. Enter through Submittable or Duotrope. Learn more: https://sunspotlit.com/contests

📅 Deadline: May 31, 2024

Rigel 2024: $500 for Prose, Poetry, Art, or Graphic Novel

Literary or genre works accepted. Winner receives $500 plus publication, while runners-up and finalists are offered publication. No restrictions on theme or category. Closes: February 29. Entry fee: $12.50. Enter as many times as you like through Submittable or Duotrope

$500 + publication

Runners-up and finalists are offered publication

💰 Entry fee: $12

📅 Deadline: February 29, 2024 (Expired)

Aurora Polaris Creative Nonfiction Award

Trio House Press

We seek un-agented full-length creative nonfiction manuscripts including memoir, essay collections, etc. 50,000 - 80,000 words.

📅 Deadline: May 15, 2024 (Expired)

Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award

Killer Nashville

Genres: Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Novel, Poetry, Science Fiction, Script Writing, Short Story, and Thriller

The Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award is committed to discovering new writers, as well as superlative books by established authors and, upon discovery, sharing those writers and their works with new readers. There are a large number of both fiction and non-fiction categories you can enter.

💰 Entry fee: $79

📅 Deadline: June 15, 2024

A Very Short Story Contest

Gotham Writers Workshop

Genres: Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Humor, Memoir, and Non-fiction

Write a great short story in ten words or fewer. Submit it to our contest. Entry is free. Winner of the bet gets a free Gotham class.

Free writing class from Gotham Writers Workshop.

World Historian Student Essay Competition

World History Association

Genres: Children's and Essay

The World Historian Student Essay Competition is an international competition open to students enrolled in grades K–12 in public, private, and parochial schools, and those in home-study programs. Membership in the World History Association is not a requirement for submission. Past winners may not compete in the same category again.

The Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction

Lascuax Review

Creative nonfiction may include memoirs, chronicles, personal essays, humorous perspectives, literary journalism—anything the author has witnessed, experienced, or discovered. Pieces may be previously published or unpublished, and simultaneous submissions are accepted. Winner receives $1,000, a bronze medallion, and publication in The Lascaux Review.

💰 Entry fee: $15

📅 Deadline: September 30, 2024

Work-In-Progress (WIP) Contest

Unleash Press

Genres: Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Novel, Novella, Poetry, Science Fiction, Science Writing, and Young Adult

We aim to assist writers in the completion of an important literary project and vision. The Unleash WIP Award offers writers support in the amount of $500 to supplement costs to aid in the completion of a book-length work of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Writers will also receive editorial feedback, coaching meetings, and an excerpt/interview feature in Unleash Lit.

Coaching, interview, and editorial support

💰 Entry fee: $35

📅 Deadline: July 15, 2024

NOWW 26th International Writing Contest

Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop (NOWW)

Genres: Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, and Short Story

Open to all writers in four categories: poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction, and critical writing.

2nd: $100 | 3rd: $50

💰 Entry fee: $7

Stories of Inspiration

Nonfiction stories of inspiration wanted (between 500 to 2,000 words). Submissions should highlight the struggle and resilience of the human spirit, especially related to cultures of BIPOC or marginalized communities. Stories must be original, unpublished works in English. One successful entry will be awarded each month from April 2024 and will be included within Kinsman Quarterly’s online journal and digital magazine. Successful authors receive $200 USD and publication in our digital magazine. No entry fee required.

Publication in Kinsman Quarterly's online magazine

📅 Deadline: December 31, 2024

WOW! Women On Writing Quarterly Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest

WOW! Women On Writing

Genres: Non-fiction and Essay

Seeking creative nonfiction essays on any topic (1000 words or less) and in any style--from personal essay and memoir to lyric essay and hybrid, and more! The mission of this contest is to reward bravery in real-life storytelling and create an understanding of our world through thoughtful, engaging narratives. Electronic submissions via e-mail only; reprints/previously published okay; simultaneous submissions okay; multiple submissions are okay as long as they are submitted in their own individual e-mail. Open internationally.

2nd: $300 | 3rd: $200 | 7 runner-ups: $25 Amazon Gift Cards

Vocal Challenges

Genres: Essay, Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, and Short Story

Enter themed storytelling contests to put your creativity to the test and be in with a chance of winning cash prizes and more. To submit, you'll need to sign up for a monthly fee of $9.99, or $4.99/month for 3 months.

$1,000 — $5,000

📅 Deadline: March 07, 2024 (Expired)

Discover the finest writing contests of 2024 for fiction and non-fiction authors — including short story competitions, essay writing competitions, poetry contests, and many more. Updated weekly, these contests are vetted by Reedsy to weed out the scammers and time-wasters. If you’re looking to stick to free writing contests, simply use our filters as you browse.

Why you should submit to writing contests

Submitting to poetry competitions and free writing contests in 2024 is absolutely worth your while as an aspiring author: just as your qualifications matter when you apply for a new job, a writing portfolio that boasts published works and award-winning pieces is a great way to give your writing career a boost. And not to mention the bonus of cash prizes!

That being said, we understand that taking part in writing contests can be tough for emerging writers. First, there’s the same affliction all writers face: lack of time or inspiration. Entering writing contests is a time commitment, and many people decide to forego this endeavor in order to work on their larger projects instead — like a full-length book. Second, for many writers, the chance of rejection is enough to steer them clear of writing contests. 

But we’re here to tell you that two of the great benefits of entering writing contests happen to be the same as those two reasons to avoid them.

When it comes to the time commitment: yes, you will need to expend time and effort in order to submit a quality piece of writing to competitions. That being said, having a hard deadline to meet is a great motivator for developing a solid writing routine.

Think of entering contests as a training session to become a writer who will need to meet deadlines in order to have a successful career. If there’s a contest you have your eye on, and the deadline is in one month, sit down and realistically plan how many words you’ll need to write per day in order to meet that due date — and don’t forget to also factor in the time you’ll need to edit your story!

For tips on setting up a realistic writing plan, check out this free, ten-day course: How to Build a Rock-Solid Writing Routine.

In regards to the fear of rejection, the truth is that any writer aspiring to become a published author needs to develop relatively thick skin. If one of your goals is to have a book traditionally published, you will absolutely need to learn how to deal with rejection, as traditional book deals are notoriously hard to score. If you’re an indie author, you will need to adopt the hardy determination required to slowly build up a readership.

The good news is that there’s a fairly simple trick for learning to deal with rejection: use it as a chance to explore how you might be able to improve your writing.

In an ideal world, each rejection from a publisher or contest would come with a detailed letter, offering construction feedback and pointing out specific tips for improvement. And while this is sometimes the case, it’s the exception and not the rule.

Still, you can use the writing contests you don’t win as a chance to provide yourself with this feedback. Take a look at the winning and shortlisted stories and highlight their strong suits: do they have fully realized characters, a knack for showing instead of telling, a well-developed but subtly conveyed theme, a particularly satisfying denouement?

The idea isn’t to replicate what makes those stories tick in your own writing. But most examples of excellent writing share a number of basic craft principles. Try and see if there are ways for you to translate those stories’ strong points into your own unique writing.

Finally, there are the more obvious benefits of entering writing contests: prize and publication. Not to mention the potential to build up your readership, connect with editors, and gain exposure.

Resources to help you win writing competitions in 2024

Every writing contest has its own set of submission rules. Whether those rules are dense or sparing, ensure that you follow them to a T. Disregarding the guidelines will not sway the judges’ opinion in your favor — and might disqualify you from the contest altogether. 

Aside from ensuring you follow the rules, here are a few resources that will help you perfect your submissions.

Free online courses

On Writing:

How to Craft a Killer Short Story

The Non-Sexy Business of Writing Non-Fiction

How to Write a Novel

Understanding Point of View

Developing Characters That Your Readers Will Love

Writing Dialogue That Develops Plot and Character

Stop Procrastinating! Build a Solid Writing Routine

On Editing:

Story Editing for Authors

How to Self-Edit Like a Pro

Novel Revision: Practical Tips for Rewrites

How to Write a Short Story in 7 Steps

Reedsy's guide to novel writing

Literary Devices and Terms — 35+ Definitions With Examples

10 Essential Fiction Writing Tips to Improve Your Craft

How to Write Dialogue: 8 Simple Rules and Exercises

8 Character Development Exercises to Help You Nail Your Character

Bonus resources

200+ Short Story Ideas

600+ Writing Prompts to Inspire You

100+ Creative Writing Exercises for Fiction Authors

Story Title Generator

Pen Name Generator

Character Name Generator

After you submit to a writing competition in 2024

It’s exciting to send a piece of writing off to a contest. However, once the initial excitement wears off, you may be left waiting for a while. Some writing contests will contact all entrants after the judging period — whether or not they’ve won. Other writing competitions will only contact the winners. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind after you submit:

Many writing competitions don’t have time to respond to each entrant with feedback on their story. However, it never hurts to ask! Feel free to politely reach out requesting feedback — but wait until after the selection period is over.

If you’ve submitted the same work to more than one writing competition or literary magazine, remember to withdraw your submission if it ends up winning elsewhere.

After you send a submission, don’t follow it up with a rewritten or revised version. Instead, ensure that your first version is thoroughly proofread and edited. If not, wait until the next edition of the contest or submit the revised version to other writing contests.

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Become the Best in Essay Writing Contest

  • Study Tips and Tricks

essay writing contest

If you find your vocation in writing and see yourself as a poet, novelist, scriptwriter, or anything else, you need to master your skills in different essay writing contests. Suppose you demonstrate your creativity and impress your audience with extraordinary ideas and viewpoints in your essays. In that case, you need to be well-prepared for different challenges that may wait for you in writing contests.

Why Do You Need Essay Writing Contest?

Participation in different contests is an excellent chance to evaluate your talent compared to competitors. Moreover, you may gain new experience and skills and draw inspiration from the competing spirit and breathtaking ideas.

Essay Competition 2024 is a specialty designed for gifted essay writers with an exceptional feeling of tone, rich vocabulary, and creative masters of the pen who can grasp the audience’s attention from the first lines. It is also an excellent opportunity to dig deeper into your feelings and attitude toward the discussed issue.

One of the leading reasons that encourage students to claim participation is a cash prize that is a great bonus and motivation to leave a long-lasting impression on the reader. At the same time, an essay writing contest is a beneficial opportunity for students wishing to tie their future with writing to level up their chances of enrolling in a cherished university.

Tips for Writing Contest Essay

Essay writing contests provide a platform for individuals to showcase their creativity, critical thinking, and eloquence. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or someone new to the craft, winning a contest requires specific strategies and techniques. This guide will explore valuable tips to help you craft an exceptional essay that sets you apart from the competition.

  • Understand the Contest Guidelines

Before immersing into the writing process, carefully read and comprehend the contest guidelines. Draw attention to the theme, word count limitations, formatting requirements, and submission deadlines. Adhering to these guidelines demonstrates your attention to detail and professionalism.

  • Identify Your Unique Perspective

A fresh and unique perspective is crucial to stand out in a contest. Think about the angle you want to approach the subject and how to present it captivatingly. Research extensively to gather solid evidence, references, and supporting examples that reinforce your viewpoint.

  • Create a Strong Outline

An essay without a clear structure often fails to engage readers. Start writing a contest essay by outlining your main arguments and supporting evidence. A well-organized outline acts as a roadmap, helping you stay logical throughout your essay. Check whether each paragraph contributes to the overall coherence of your essay.

  • Develop a Hooky Intro

The introduction is your initial chance to capture the reader’s attention from the outset. Begin with a compelling hook or a thought-provoking question that entices the reader to continue reading. Clearly state your thesis statement, which should briefly summarize the central argument of your essay.

  • Craft Well-Structured Body Paragraphs

Each body paragraph should focus on a single idea or argument supported by relevant evidence. Begin every next paragraph with a topic sentence clearly stating the main point. Follow up with supporting evidence, examples, and analysis to strengthen your argument. Remember to provide smooth transitions between paragraphs to maintain coherence.

  • Showcase Language Proficiency

Incorporating a rich vocabulary and employing varied sentence structures can elevate the quality of your contest essay writing. However, avoid using jargon or overly complex terms that may confuse or alienate readers. Strike a balance between simplicity and sophistication to engage a wide range of audiences.

  • Proofread and Edit Diligently

No matter how compelling your ideas are, minor grammatical, spelling, stylistic, or punctuation errors can negatively impact your essay’s overall impression. Review your essay carefully, checking for clarity, coherence, and proper sentence structure. Having someone else read your essay is also helpful, providing valuable feedback to refine your work.

  • Conclusion: Leave a Lasting Impression

A powerful conclusion is necessary to leave a lasting impact on the judges. Summarize your main arguments without repetition, emphasizing the significance of your viewpoint. End with a memorable closing statement, leaving the reader with a thought-provoking idea or a call to action.

Essay Competition 2024 Where You Could Ignite Your Passion for Writing

Most writing competitions are aimed at a particular category of writers. For instance, it may be a contest for high school or university students or specially designed for mature writers. The size of the winning pool also depends on the significance of the competitions and the status.

In the year 2024, there also were essay writing contests in different categories and with different prizes. The most prominent and worthy contests were the following.

  • WOW! Women On Writing. The top prize of the contest was $500. They welcomed submissions of creative nonfiction essays with a maximum word count of 1,000 words. The contest strived to showcase diverse styles, from personal essays and memoirs to lyric essays and hybrid forms.
  • 100 Words Contest. It offered an impressive prize of $2,000 for the ability to be concise but logical. It may be challenging to fit a completed story into 100 words or less, but this essay writing contest is perfect for you if you are creative enough and may hook your audience.
  • Human Rights Essay Challenge. The Human Rights Essay Challenge provides a platform for writers to dive into the complexities of human rights and social justice. Writers of all ages can participate and contribute their perspectives on crucial matters such as equality, justice, and fair treatment for all. The winners will be awarded scholarships, mentorship opportunities, and the chance to attend a prestigious human rights conference.
  • Writer’s Voice Scholarship Contest. Organized by a leading educational foundation, the Writer’s Voice Scholarship Contest aims to support aspiring young writers in pursuing their literary dreams. Open to students aged 16-18, this competition provides a platform for showcasing creativity and offers scholarships for pursuing higher education in writing-related fields.
  • Sustainable Future Essay Competition. Addressing the pressing concerns of our time, the Sustainable Future Essay Competition invites writers worldwide to delve into sustainability, climate change, and environmental preservation topics. This essay writing contest, organized by an environmental advocacy group, offers cash prizes and presents an opportunity for participants to take part in the ongoing dialogue on creating a greener future.

Obviously, such competitions aim to not only reveal and sort out talents that will guide millions with their apt words. We should not underestimate the power of language, a tool in negotiations, convincing and highlighting truthful issues. Writing contests serve as training fields for masters of pen on their way to the triumphal career.

Winning an essay writing contest requires a combination of skill, passion, and effective writing strategies. By understanding the contest guidelines, presenting unique perspectives, and employing a solid structure, you can create an essay that captivates judges and sets you apart from the competition. You can refine your work and leave a lasting impression with careful editing and proofreading. So, put pen to paper, unleash your creativity, and strive for excellence in your next essay contest.

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7 Essay Writing Contests to Look Out For in 2023

7 Essay Writing Contests to Look Out For in 2023

7-minute read

  • 28th December 2022

Essay contests are not only a great way to exercise your essay-writing skills but also an awesome way to win cash prizes, scholarships, and internship or program opportunities. They also look wonderful on college applications as awards and achievements.

In this article, you’ll learn about 7 essay writing contests to enter in 2023. Watch the video below, or keep reading to learn more.

1. Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest 

essay contest tips

Deadline: Now–April 30, 3023

Who may enter:

This is an international contest for people of all ages (except for residents of Syria, Iran, North Korea, Crimea, Russia, and Belarus due to US government restrictions).

Contest description:

●  The contest is organized by Winning Writers, located in MA, USA.

●  They accept stories and essays on any theme, up to 6,000 words each. This contest defines a story as any short work of fiction and an essay as any short work of nonfiction.

●  Your stories and essays must be submitted in English.

●  You may submit published or unpublished work.

Entry fee: USD 22 per entry

●  Story: First Prize is USD 3,000.

●  Essay: First Prize is USD 3,000.

●  10 Honorable Mentions will receive USD 300 each (any category).

●  The top 12 entries will be published online.

Official website

Please visit the competition’s official website for more information on judges and submissions.

2. 2023 Calibre Essay Prize 

essay contest tips

Deadline: Now–January 15, 2023, 11:59 pm

Who may enter: All ages and any nationality or residency are accepted.

●  This contest is hosted by the Australian Book Review.

●  Your essay must be between 2,000 and 5,000 words.

●  You may submit nonfiction essays of all kinds, e.g., personal, political, literary, or speculative.

●  You may enter multiple essays but will need to pay separate fees for each one.

●  Your essay must be unpublished.

Entry fee: AU 30 for non-members

Prize: AU 7,500

Official website:

For more information on this contest, please visit its official website.

3. John Locke Institute Essay Competition 

essay contest tips

Deadline: June 30, 2023

●  Students from any country.

●  Students aged 15 to 18 years by the competition deadline.

●  Students aged 14 years or younger by the competition deadline are eligible for the Junior prize.

●  The contest is organized by the John Locke Institute.

●  Your essay cannot exceed 2,000 words.

●  There are seven subjects or categories for essay submissions: Philosophy, Politics, Economics, History, Psychology, Theology, and Law.

Entry fee: Free to enter

●  The best overall essay winner receives an honorary John Locke Fellowship, which comes with a USD 10,000 scholarship to attend one or more summer schools or gap year courses.

●  There is also a prize for the best essay in each category. The prize for each winner of a subject category and the Junior category is a scholarship worth USD 2,000 toward the cost of a summer program.

●  All winning essays will be published on the Institute’s website.

For more information about this competition and the John Locke Institute, please visit the official website . Also, be sure to check out our article on all you need to know about this contest.

4. The American Foreign Service Association 2023 Essay Competition 

essay contest tips

Deadline: April 3, 2023

●  Students in grades 9–12 in any of the 50 states, DC, the US territories, or if they are US citizens or lawful permanent residents attending high school overseas.

●  Students attending a public, private, or parochial school.

●  Home-schooled students.

●  Your essay should be 1,000–1,500 words.

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●  You will select a country or region in which the United States Foreign Service has been involved at any point since 1924 and describe how the Foreign Service was successful or unsuccessful in advancing American foreign policy goals – including promoting peace – in this country or region and propose ways in which it might continue to improve those goals in the coming years.

●  Your essay should follow MLA guidelines.

●  Your essay should use a variety of sources.

●  The first-place winner receives USD 2,500, a paid trip to the nation’s capital from anywhere in the U.S. for the winner and their parents, and an all-expense-paid educational voyage courtesy of Semester at Sea.

●  The runner-up receives USD 1,250 and full tuition to attend a summer session of the National Student Leadership Conference’s International Diplomacy program.

Please visit the American Foreign Service website for more information.

5. The Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) 2023 Essay Contest 

essay contest tips

Deadline: Mid-February 2023–June 1, 2023

Who may enter: High school (including homeschooled), college, and graduate students worldwide.

●  The 2023 essay contest topic is marriages and proposals.

●  High school students may focus on Pride and Prejudice only or bring in other Austen works.

●  Undergraduate and graduate students should discuss at least two Austen novels of their choice.

●  Your essay must be in MLA format and 6 to 8 pages (not including your Works Cited page).

●  Your essay must be written in English.

●  First place wins a USD 1,000 scholarship.

●  Second place wins a USD 500 scholarship.

●  Third place wins a USD 250 scholarship.

●  Winners will also receive one year of membership in JASNA, publication of their essays on this website, and a set of Norton Critical Editions of Jane Austen’s novels.

For more information and submission guidelines, please visit JASNA’s official website .

6. 2023 Writing Contest: Better Great Achievements by EngineerGirl

Deadline: February 1, 2023

●  Students in Grades 3–12. If international or homeschooled, please select your grade level based on if you were attending a public school in the U.S.

●  This contest is organized by EngineerGirl.

●  Students should write a piece that shows how female or non-white engineers have contributed to or can enhance engineering’s great achievements.

●  You should choose one of the 20 Greatest Engineering Achievements of the 20th Century as a topic and explore the technologies developed in the last century and the new ones being developed today. Make sure to follow the specific guidelines for your grade level.

●  Essays should be 650–750 words based on your grade level.

●  Please visit the contest’s website to see specific requirements based on your grade.

Winners in each grade category will receive the prizes listed below:

●  First-place winners will be awarded USD 500.

●  Second-place entries will be awarded USD 250 .

●  Third-place entries will be awarded USD 100 .

For more information and submission guidelines, please visit the official website .

7. World Historian Student Essay Competition

Deadline: May 1, 2023

Who may enter: Students enrolled in Grades K–12 in public, private, and parochial schools and home-study programs worldwide.

●  Your essay must address the following issue: In what way has the study of world history affected my understanding of the world in which I live?

●  Your essay should be 1,000 words.

Prizes: USD 500

For more information and submission requirements, please visit the contest’s official website.

Essay contests are a great way to expand your writing skills, discuss a topic that is important to you, and earn prize money and opportunities that will be great for you in the long term. Check out our articles on writing thesis statements, essay organization, and argumentative writing strategies to ensure you take first place every time.

If you need help with your essays and would like to make sure that every comma is in place, we will proofread your first 500 words for free !

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Prepare Your Essay

We provide several resources to help you prepare an excellent essay. We recommend you use these resources to guide your research and writing.

We strongly advise students to read  Contest Topic and Information  and  Requirements  before you prepare your essay. Essays that do not meet contest requirements will be disqualified.

Elements of a Strong Essay

A checklist to guide your research and writing process. Includes links to Profiles in Courage and other rich resources.

Helpful Tips for Writing Your Essay

This resource explains the essay topic in more detail and provides helpful guidelines for writing and research.

Guidelines for Citations and Bibliographies

Detailed information on selecting source material, citing sources, and links to web resources with specific formats.

Citing Sources Within the Text of Your Paper

Formats for in-text citations.

Constructing a Bibliography or List of Works Cited

Formats for various types of source material.

Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism

Helpful suggestions on note-taking and citations to ensure that you submit original work.

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The Best Student Writing Contests for 2023-2024

Help your students take their writing to the next level.

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When students write for teachers, it can feel like an assignment. When they write for a real purpose, they are empowered! Student writing contests are a challenging and inspiring way to try writing for an authentic audience— a real panel of judges —and the possibility of prize money or other incentives. We’ve gathered a list of the best student writing contests, and there’s something for everyone. Prepare highly motivated kids in need of an authentic writing mentor, and watch the words flow.

1.  The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

With a wide range of categories—from critical essays to science fiction and fantasy—The Scholastic Awards are a mainstay of student contests. Each category has its own rules and word counts, so be sure to check out the options  before you decide which one is best for your students.

How To Enter

Students in grades 7-12, ages 13 and up, may begin submitting work in September by uploading to an online account at Scholastic and connecting to their local region. There are entry fees, but those can be waived for students in need.

2.  YoungArts National Arts Competition

This ends soon, but if you have students who are ready to submit, it’s worth it. YoungArts offers a national competition in the categories of creative nonfiction, novel, play or script, poetry, short story, and spoken word. Student winners may receive awards of up to $10,000 as well as the chance to participate in artistic development with leaders in their fields.

YoungArts accepts submissions in each category through October 13. Students submit their work online and pay a $35 fee (there is a fee waiver option).

3. National Youth Foundation Programs

Each year, awards are given for Student Book Scholars, Amazing Women, and the “I Matter” Poetry & Art competition. This is a great chance for kids to express themselves with joy and strength.

The rules, prizes, and deadlines vary, so check out the website for more info.

4.  American Foreign Service National High School Essay Contest

If you’re looking to help students take a deep dive into international relations, history, and writing, look no further than this essay contest. Winners receive a voyage with the Semester at Sea program and a trip to Washington, DC.

Students fill out a registration form online, and a teacher or sponsor is required. The deadline to enter is the first week of April.

5.  John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest

This annual contest invites students to write about a political official’s act of political courage that occurred after Kennedy’s birth in 1917. The winner receives $10,000, and 16 runners-up also receive a variety of cash prizes.

Students may submit a 700- to 1,000-word essay through January 12. The essay must feature more than five sources and a full bibliography.

6. Bennington Young Writers Awards

Bennington College offers competitions in three categories: poetry (a group of three poems), fiction (a short story or one-act play), and nonfiction (a personal or academic essay). First-place winners receive $500. Grab a poster for your classroom here .

The contest runs from September 1 to November 1. The website links to a student registration form.

7. The Princeton Ten-Minute Play Contest

Looking for student writing contests for budding playwrights? This exclusive competition, which is open only to high school juniors, is judged by the theater faculty of Princeton University. Students submit short plays in an effort to win recognition and cash prizes of up to $500. ( Note: Only open to 11th graders. )

Students submit one 10-page play script online or by mail. The deadline is the end of March. Contest details will be published in early 2024.

8. Princeton University Poetry Contest for High School Students

The Leonard L. Milberg ’53 High School Poetry Prize recognizes outstanding work by student writers in 11th grade. Prizes range from $100 to $500.

Students in 11th grade can submit their poetry. Contest details will be published this fall.

9. The New York Times Tiny Memoir Contest

This contest is also a wonderful writing challenge, and the New York Times includes lots of resources and models for students to be able to do their best work. They’ve even made a classroom poster !

Submissions need to be made electronically by November 1.

10.  Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest

The deadline for this contest is the end of October. Sponsored by Hollins University, the Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest awards prizes for the best poems submitted by young women who are sophomores or juniors in high school or preparatory school. Prizes include cash and scholarships. Winners are chosen by students and faculty members in the creative writing program at Hollins.

Students may submit either one or two poems using the online form.

11.  The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers

The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers is open to high school sophomores and juniors, and the winner receives a full scholarship to a  Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop .

Submissions for the prize are accepted electronically from November 1 through November 30.

12. Jane Austen Society Essay Contest

High school students can win up to $1,000 and publication by entering an essay on a topic specified by the Jane Austen Society related to a Jane Austen novel.

Details for the 2024 contest will be announced in November. Essay length is from six to eight pages, not including works cited.

13. Rattle Young Poets Anthology

Open to students from 15 to 18 years old who are interested in publication and exposure over monetary awards.

Teachers may choose five students for whom to submit up to four poems each on their behalf. The deadline is November 15.

14. The Black River Chapbook Competition

This is a chance for new and emerging writers to gain publication in their own professionally published chapbook, as well as $500 and free copies of the book.

There is an $18 entry fee, and submissions are made online.

15. YouthPlays New Voices

For students under 18, the YouthPlays one-act competition is designed for young writers to create new works for the stage. Winners receive cash awards and publication.

Scroll all the way down their web page for information on the contest, which accepts non-musical plays between 10 and 40 minutes long, submitted electronically. Entries open each year in January.

16. The Ocean Awareness Contest

The 2024 Ocean Awareness Contest, Tell Your Climate Story , encourages students to write their own unique climate story. They are asking for creative expressions of students’ personal experiences, insights, or perceptions about climate change. Students are eligible for a wide range of monetary prizes up to $1,000.

Students from 11 to 18 years old may submit work in the categories of art, creative writing, poetry and spoken word, film, interactive media and multimedia, or music and dance, accompanied by a reflection. The deadline is June 13.

17. EngineerGirl Annual Essay Contest

Each year, EngineerGirl sponsors an essay contest with topics centered on the impact of engineering on the world, and students can win up to $500 in prize money. This contest is a nice bridge between ELA and STEM and great for teachers interested in incorporating an interdisciplinary project into their curriculum. The new contest asks for pieces describing the life cycle of an everyday object. Check out these tips for integrating the content into your classroom .

Students submit their work electronically by February 1. Check out the full list of rules and requirements here .

18. NCTE Student Writing Awards

The National Council of Teachers of English offers several student writing awards, including Achievement Awards in Writing (for 10th- and 11th-grade students), Promising Young Writers (for 8th-grade students), and an award to recognize Excellence in Art and Literary Magazines.

Deadlines range from October 28 to February 15. Check out NCTE.org for more details.

19. See Us, Support Us Art Contest

Children of incarcerated parents can submit artwork, poetry, photos, videos, and more. Submissions are free and the website has a great collection of past winners.

Students can submit their entries via social media or email by October 25.

20. The Adroit Prizes for Poetry & Prose

The Adroit Journal, an education-minded nonprofit publication, awards annual prizes for poetry and prose to exceptional high school and college students. Adroit charges an entry fee but also provides a form for financial assistance.

Sign up at the website for updates for the next round of submissions.

21. National PTA Reflections Awards

The National PTA offers a variety of awards, including one for literature, in their annual Reflections Contest. Students of all ages can submit entries on the specified topic to their local PTA Reflections program. From there, winners move to the local area, state, and national levels. National-level awards include an $800 prize and a trip to the National PTA Convention.

This program requires submitting to PTAs who participate in the program. Check your school’s PTA for their deadlines.

22. World Historian Student Essay Competition

The World Historian Student Essay Competition is an international contest open to students enrolled in grades K–12 in public, private, and parochial schools, as well as those in home-study programs. The $500 prize is based on an essay that addresses one of this year’s two prompts.

Students can submit entries via email or regular mail before May 1.

23. NSHSS Creative Writing Scholarship

The National Society of High School Scholars awards three $2,000 scholarships for both poetry and fiction. They accept poetry, short stories, and graphic novel writing.

Apply online by October 31.

Whether you let your students blog, start a podcast or video channel, or enter student writing contests, giving them an authentic audience for their work is always a powerful classroom choice.

If you like this list of student writing contests and want more articles like it, subscribe to our newsletters to find out when they’re posted!

Plus, check out our favorite anchor charts for teaching writing..

Are you looking for student writing contests to share in your classroom? This list will give students plenty of opportunities.

You Might Also Like

Best Student Contests and Competitions for 2023

Best 2024 Competitions for Students in Grades K-12

Competitions in STEM, ELA and the arts, and more! Continue Reading

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essay contest tips

Home » Writers-House Blog » Tips on Winning an Essay Contest

Tips on Winning an Essay Contest

If you want to win a contest with your essay, there are several ways to make your paper stand out. We recommend that you prepare for writing and check all the necessary guidelines to make sure that your essay meets all the requirements. Choose a topic that corresponds to the theme of the contest and write a detailed and engaging essay. You have more chances to win the contest if your essay is original and grammatically perfect. Fortunately, writing experts prepared this guide at https://writers-house.com/ so you can write the best essay possible.

Writing and Editing

1. First, read the rules of the contest to understand what your writing should be about and what standards it should meet. Pay your attention to the word count, submission dates, and other specific guidelines. If you don’t follow the rules of the contest, your essay will likely be disqualified so make sure to follow the necessary requirements before submitting it. We also recommend that you check the guidelines from time to time while writing.

2. Brainstorm to choose a topic that fits the theme of the contest. Most often, essay contests have a particular theme that you should take into account when choosing your topic. Brainstorm and write down several ideas that you would like to turn into an essay. After this, select the topic that looks most interesting to you.  Make sure to stick with the theme while writing. For example, if you’ve been asked to write about an influential person in your life, we recommend that you choose the person who has had a significant impact on you so that you can provide some interesting examples.

3. Write the first draft of your essay. Don’t try to make your first draft perfect, just make sure to include all the points that you consider important. You may also write several drafts of your essay, changing the overall structure and including different examples so that you can choose the best draft later. To make this task easier, we recommend that you write an outline first, and then follow it when writing.

4. Once you’ve written your first draft, revise it. Read your essay a few times and try to make it better. For example, you might want to get rid of some unnecessary sentences or to add something important. Make sure that all your examples are directly related to your topic. In addition, we recommend that you make sure that your essay is logically correct and interesting to read. Read your essay to your friends or parents and listen to what they say. Their feedback can help you understand what needs to be improved.

5. Proofread your essay and fix any grammar mistakes. You won’t be able to win the contest if your essay will be full of typos or have problems with punctuation. You can also order professional proofreading at Writers-House.com.

6. Submit your essay before the deadline. The sooner you submit it, the more time the judges will have to read it. Keep in mind that many people will submit their essays on the deadline so submitting it sooner is your chance to stand out. If you’re going to send your essay by mail, make sure that it will reach the judges before the deadline.

Making an Outstanding Essay

1. Grab your readers’ attention with an interesting introduction. The judges have to read dozens of essays so your essay must catch their attention from the very beginning. We recommend that you write an actionable and engaging hook that will make your readers want to figure out what your story is about.

2. The very first thing your readers see is the title of your essay so we suggest that you choose it carefully. Brainstorm and jot down creative ideas so that you can select the best title. Keep in mind that your title must give your readers a general understanding of what your essay is about while also keeping them intrigued.

3. Use descriptive words to bring your story to life. Describe objects, events, places, sounds, etc. in detail so that your readers can imagine the full picture. A great rule is to show, not to tell. Vivid descriptions allow you to demonstrate your creativity and writing skills.

4. Make your essay authentic and original. Include at least one element that the judges won’t find in any other essay. It may be a description of a place, an interesting dialogue, or some complex subject. We recommend that you read your essay several times to understand whether you can improve simple sentences and make them more interesting. You may also ask somebody to read your essay and tell you what parts stand out.

5. Finally, you need to format your essay according to the necessary requirements. Use the right font and margins. Make sure to check out the guidelines to use the right format. When sending your essay as a letter, fold it nicely so that your paper will look neat and professional.

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5 Writing Tips for This Year's Student Essay Contest

Posted by Stacey Perlman on March 12, 2018

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The Facing History Together Student Essay Contest is back! And we're accepting submissions ! Using the documentary film, American Creed ,  we're asking students to tell a story they believe shows the power of uniting people, building bridges, or orienting us to what we share and the common good. But what makes a good essay? We've rounded up a few writing tips that can prepare students to sit down and write their best 500-word essay for the chance to win great scholarship prizes. Check out the full contest site for all of the details. In the meantime, read these tips and get writing. Submissions close on March 28!

1. Read the whole prompt! Sounds easy but it's important. This will help you form your thoughts and know what the expectations are: How long should it be? What are you being asked to respond to? Read it through a couple of times and sit with your thoughts for a few minutes. 

2. Start with an outline! Not sure where to begin? Create an outline. Even if it is just a few bullet points, this can help you organize your thoughts and make sure you are hitting all of the main points of the prompt. Then you can begin stringing these thoughts together in paragraphs. 

3. Just start writing!  Staring at a blank page can seem daunting but just start putting words onto the page. It's important to keep in mind that a first draft is always just that - a first draft . Allow yourself to write out your thoughts without worrying about word count just yet. Then go back and review: Are you missing important details? Did you include everything the prompt asked for? Are you over or under the word count? Now go through and refine it and make it better. This might take a couple of rounds and that's okay. You'll end up with a solid essay that might just win you some scholarship money!

4. Express yourself!  People love stories. And they will enjoy hearing yours. Stories give us a window into who you are and how you see the world. Remember that not every story needs to be big. Sometimes it's the smallest moments that we can all relate to.  

5. Proofread - times two! Always remember to edit and proofread your essay for grammar, structure, and flow. Read the essay out loud to yourself. Sometimes hearing it can help you identify sentences that need to be revised. Then ask someone else to proofread it. A friend or a parent can be a fresh pair of eyes to catch any grammatical mistakes you might have missed and can offer valuable feedback that might help improve your essay even more.  Don't forget to keep it to 500 words!  

Use these writing tips to write the best essay you can, but most of all, have fun! We look forward to reading all of the great essays we receive. Explore the full prompt and details and d on't forget, submissions close on March 28!  

Submit Your Essay!

Topics: Essay Contest

essay contest tips

Written by Stacey Perlman

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Winning the Eon Essay Contest - 8 Tips to Help You Ace It

Participating in essay contests, such as The Eon Essay Contest , empowers students to enrich their academic portfolios, refine their writing skills, and learn more about fundamentals in politics and society. This competition invites students aged 13 to 24 to analyze economic theory, existential risks, and the future of humanity, with a focus on Toby Ord's thought-provoking book, "The Precipice."

When you mention your participation and potential achievements in such an essay contest in your college admission process, it signals to admissions officers your intellectual curiosity, analytical abilities, and commitment to tackling real-world complexities. Admissions officers seek students who are not just academically accomplished but also curious and capable of independent, critical thinking. Your involvement in this prestigious contest demonstrates these qualities, making your college application stand out. It underscores your dedication to academic excellence, which is highly regarded in the eyes of admissions officers.

This comprehensive guide will provide an in-depth exploration of the contest, including eligibility criteria, submission requirements, distinct prompts tailored to different age brackets, and 8 tips for creating a winning essay.

Who is Eligible to Participate?

To participate, you must be a student aged 13 to 24, which includes grade-school, undergraduate, and graduate students. Such a large age range for those submitting essays makes the competition a lot more competitive, and thus a lot more prestigious since you are pitted against college students.

Submission Requirements

To enter, visit the Contest Site and complete the "Contest Entry Form" by the submission deadline, which is set at midnight Pacific Time on June 15, 2023. A complete entry includes:

A written essay in English, based on "The Precipice" by Toby Ord, responding to one of the prompts mentioned below.

The essay must not exceed 1,200 words in length, excluding the title, footnotes, endnotes, and citations.

The essay should be double-spaced and in PDF format.

The PDF file name should contain your name, while the essay itself should maintain anonymity.

Prompts for the Eon Essay Contest

There are three distinct prompts tailored to different age categories. This may change from year to year so be sure to check the official website to confirm what the judges are looking for.

3-18 age bracket:

Prompt: Pick a transformative technology you believe will be created someday. Imagine you hold a position of responsibility for it, whether as a scientist developing the technology, a government official regulating it, or a corporate executive selling it to the public. How would you approach your job to have the greatest chance of preserving humanity’s potential? What are the risks you face?

19-21 age bracket:

Prompt: If the ideas in this book are correct, what does that imply about what a group you are familiar with should be doing differently? What could incentivize them to do that? You may talk about a group like a research lab, a government body, a nonprofit, a media company, a corporation, or an international organization.

22-24 age bracket:

Prompt: What, according to you, is missing from this book? This missing piece can be data, analysis, or an argument. The missing piece can either strengthen or weaken a conclusion from the book.

Is the Eon Essay Contest Prestigious?

Prestige and recognition are critical factors to consider when deciding to participate in an essay contest. Prestige and recognition for essay contests is often associated with their funders. It is worth noting that the Eon Essay Contest received its funding from a grant from Open Philanthropy, a research and grantmaking foundation that makes grants based on the doctrine of “effective altruism.” Open Philanthropy, which is financed primarily by billionaire Facebook co-founder and Asana CEO Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna, who have demonstrated interest in the politics of Artificial Intelligence regulation.

The contest used a stringent grading system, with essays assessed on a scale from 0 to 40. Each essay had the potential to earn a maximum of 10 points in four crucial categories:

Writing style

Originality of ideas

Depth and sophistication of analysis

It's notable that fewer than 100 essays received a score of 30 or above. These exceptional essays closely followed the strategies outlined in the tips provided here. To simplify, if you submitted a well-written essay in the previous year's contest, your chances of securing the top prize were roughly 1% . The top prize in the contest carries an expected value of $15,000, though it's important to remember that winners were not chosen randomly, and multiple prizes were awarded in addition to the top prize.

While the monetary aspect is undoubtedly a factor, it is not the sole consideration when deciding whether to enter the contest. Another equally important factor is the opportunity for learning and exposure to profound ideas. All entrants to this contest are exposed to the vital concepts discussed in "The Precipice." If you find the book summary intriguing, this contest might serve as the motivation you need to access the book at a local library and start reading it.

8 Tips to Excel in The Eon Essay Contest:

Make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of the book and its key theme To embark on your journey to success in "The Precipice Essay Contest," it's crucial to approach it with a comprehensive understanding of the source material. Begin by reading "The Precipice" by Toby Ord attentively, ensuring you have a firm grasp of its core ideas and arguments. This is the foundation upon which your essay will be built. Dive into the book's contents, explore the nuances of Ord's perspective on existential risks, and identify the key takeaways that resonate with you. Developing a deep understanding of the source material will enable you to craft an insightful and meaningful essay that resonates with the contest's evaluators.

Research and cite key insights Crafting a winning essay demands comprehensive research to substantiate your arguments. After selecting your prompt, delve into the subject matter by gathering relevant information and data from credible sources. Reference academic journals, books, authoritative websites, and expert opinions to bolster your points with well-founded evidence. Citations and proper referencing are crucial to demonstrate the reliability of your sources. Well-supported arguments and a robust foundation of evidence will add depth and authenticity to your essay, setting it apart as a well-researched and credible piece.

Solidify your thesis Your thesis statement serves as the core of your essay, encapsulating your primary argument. It's essential to develop a clear and compelling thesis that aligns seamlessly with your chosen prompt. Your thesis should not only address the prompt but also present a unique perspective or argument. It's the "hook" that captures your readers' attention and guides them through the essay. A well-structured and thought-out thesis statement not only clarifies your point of view but also shapes the entire essay, ensuring a cohesive and convincing narrative.

Stick to the prompt and work on structure and organization One element of what makes this competition so prestigious for an essay contest is the competitiveness of winning the top award. In the previous edition of the contest, held in 2022, "The Precipice Essay Contest" received over 1,500 entries. However, it's important to note that only about 1,000 entries directly responded to the essay prompts. The remainder consisted of off-topic essays, many of which were originally written for other scholarship applications or as part of school assignments. The essay in the Entry must respond to the essay prompt for the entrant’s applicable Age Category. Address the prompt in a way that resonates authentically with your interests and expertise. This approach allows you to write from a place of genuine passion and insight. Effective organization is fundamental to the success of your essay. Ensure that your essay is well-structured with a logical flow. Begin with an engaging introduction that introduces the topic, highlights your thesis, and entices your readers to continue. Follow this with well-organized body paragraphs that present your arguments coherently, with each paragraph supporting a distinct aspect of your thesis. Finally, conclude with a concise yet impactful summary of your key points. A well-structured essay allows your readers to follow your arguments seamlessly and makes a lasting impression.

Refer to past entries of the Eon Essay Contest To gain a better understanding of what the judges are looking for and to refine your own approach, consider reviewing past winning entries and essays of distinction from the Eon Essay Contest. This can provide insights into the style, depth, and quality of writing that resonates with the contest evaluators. Pay attention to the themes, arguments, and the way previous winners have structured their essays. While you should always bring your unique perspective, drawing inspiration from past entries can be a valuable part of your preparation.

Write and revise Given the particular judging process of the Eon Essay Contest, writing and revising multiple drafts is crucial. After you've drafted your initial essay, take the time to review and refine it. Pay close attention to your thesis statement, arguments, and evidence. Ensure that your essay is well-structured and logically flows from one point to another. Eliminate any unnecessary or redundant content, and keep your writing concise and on point. Don't hesitate to seek feedback from teachers, mentors, or peers, and be open to making improvements based on their suggestions. Multiple revisions can help you fine-tune your essay and increase its chances of being recognized by the judges.

Seek constructive feedback Your essay will benefit significantly from external input. Share your essay with mentors, teachers, or peers who can provide valuable feedback. Multiple perspectives can enhance your arguments, improve clarity, and refine your overall presentation. Constructive criticism and suggestions from others can guide you in addressing potential weaknesses in your essay and strengthening your arguments. Once you've written your essay, the next critical step is meticulous editing. Scrutinize your essay thoroughly to eliminate any errors in grammar, spelling, and overall coherence. A well-edited essay not only reflects your attention to detail but also ensures that your message is conveyed clearly. It presents a polished and professional piece that leaves a strong impression on the evaluators.

Adhere to the word limit It is essential to strictly adhere to the 1,200-word limit imposed by the contest guidelines. Demonstrating your ability to convey your ideas concisely is not only a testament to your writing skills but also ensures that your essay meets the contest's requirements. Straying beyond the word limit can result in disqualification, making adherence to this constraint a fundamental aspect of your essay preparation.

By following these eight tips, you can enhance your chances of success and make a meaningful impact through your essay. Remember that this competition is not just about winning, but also about expanding your knowledge and fostering a deeper understanding of existential risks.

Participating in essay contests, such as the Eon Essay Contest, can significantly enhance your college admission prospects. It showcases your commitment to academic excellence, strong writing skills, critical thinking abilities, intellectual depth, and interest in learning new things.

Admissions officers value students who are academically accomplished and willing to explore complex ideas beyond the regular curriculum.

Engaging with thought-provoking essay prompts demonstrates your curiosity, initiative, and strong work ethic necessary for college success. Moreover, it provides an opportunity to earn scholarships, making it an attractive prospect for both your academic and financial future. Whether you win or not, incorporating your contest experience into your college application can create a unique and memorable personal statement that sets you apart from other applicants.

One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are passionate about research at the intersection of literature, culture, and art you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program , a selective online program for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: The Precipice by Toby Ord

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Nathaniel Tower

Juggling writing and life

How to Host a Writing Contest

Last Updated on March 4, 2024 by Nathaniel Tower

Running a writing contest may seem like a risky undertaking for an individual, a literary magazine, or any other type of publication. In order to get any interest at all, you have to put up some prize money. What happens if there aren’t enough entrants to cover your prize purse? How is a publication supposed to come up with that cash? Well, if money’s the only thing you’re worried about, then you aren’t prepared to host a writing contest.

As managing editor at Bartleby Snopes Literary Magazine , I created and ran the Dialogue-Only writing contest for nine years. During that time, we received thousands of entries and awarded over $10,000 in prize money. The Dialogue-Only contest was one of the best-paying writing contests on the web. How does a contest sponsored by a small literary magazine get to be so big?

Here’s everything you need to know to host a successful writing contest.

Minimizing the Risk

Before getting into the details about how to make your writing contest huge, let’s talk briefly about how to reduce the risk. There are several risks involved when hosting a contest. The two biggest are:

  • Losing money
  • Dealing with complaints (about judging, submission fees, etc.)

In order to minimize the money lost, I recommend using a formula similar to what we did at Bartleby Snopes . Start with a guaranteed amount that won’t break the bank (we originally started with $250 and eventually guaranteed at least $1,000). Charge a modest submission fee (we always charged $10). Add a little bit of money to the prize pot for each entry over a certain threshold. For example, once you get to 25 entries, add an extra $5-$6 for each new submission. Two warnings here:

  • You will need more entries than you think to cover the prize money (if you have a $10 entry fee, you should only count on $9 per entry after processing fees).
  • You’ll get the majority of entries near the deadline, so don’t panic if it seems like you’re behind.

Don’t promise an amount that you don’t feel comfortable losing. Always imagine the worst-case scenario. Can you afford to pay the entire prize money out of your pocket? If not, then lower your starting amount (or don’t have the contest at all).

The other major risk you run into when hosting a contest is backlash from the non-winning writers. If you aren’t careful, there may be cries of bias or unfair judging procedures. Writers may ask for their fees to be returned. You may hear complaints that the winning entries weren’t any good. You need to be sure your contest rules are clearly stated, including a bit of legalese. Don’t forget to include these statements:

  • All decisions made by the judges regarding the winners are final
  • No contest entry fees will be returned
  • By submitting, you are agreeing to all contest rules
  • Contest rules are subject to change

Additionally, it’s always a good idea to be specific regarding all the various components of the contest. Tell your submitters who the judges are, where the contest fees go, when the winning stories will be published, etc. By taking this proactive and transparent approach, we were able to to stay clear of complaints. None of the writers asked for their fee to be returned (unless there was a glitch), and only one writer ever complained about the results (it was a cry of sexism because one year all 5 winners in our BLIND contest had male-sounding names).

Getting Enough Entries

Our Dialogue-Only contest wasn’t always a big deal. During our first year, we gave out just $450 in prize money. While many writers would be thrilled to win a piece of that, we’re not exactly talking about big bucks. Five years later, our prize pot was over five times that. How were we able to grow so much during that time?

If you want to maximize the number of entries your writing contest gets, you need to do a few things:

  • Make the prize worth it
  • Establish credibility
  • Be transparent
  • Advertise and promote
  • Do something unique

Let’s discuss each of these elements in detail.

Make the Prize Worth It

A contest doesn’t have to award thousands of dollars to be worth it. Of course, that all depends on what you are asking the writers to do. The higher the fee you are charging, the bigger the prize should be. I recommend a prize-to-fee ratio of at least 20 to 1 (that’s a $100 prize for a $5 entry fee). If the prize is only $25, you aren’t going to get people who are willing to pay $5 or $10 to enter. If your prize-to-fee ratio is on the lower end, be sure to throw in some extra incentive (such as a free issue or subscription). Never  offer guaranteed publication to all entrants.

There are a couple other things to consider when making a prize that’s worth the entry fee:

  • What are the odds of winning?
  • How much work does the writer need to do to participate?

If you are getting thousands of entries, you need a huge prize. The lower the odds an individual writer has, the more you better hand out.

If you are asking for a very specific story, or if your contest requests a large volume of work, then you need to respect the effort a writer will have to put in to participate. Writers aren’t going to create a story just for your contest if they have only a small chance of winning a small prize.

Establish Credibility

This might sound like it’s impossible to achieve during the first year of your contest, but it definitely can be done. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Get an endorsement from a respected figure in the writing community (this could be in the form of a guest judge)
  • Get your contest listed by credible publications
  • Establish yourself as a respected and professional publisher/editor prior to hosting a contest
  • Make sure your contest details are thorough

I wouldn’t recommend launching a contest during the first few months your publication exists. Establish yourself first, then establish your contest. And make sure you have a real website before launching your contest. No one is going to submit if there isn’t clear evidence your contest is real.

Be Transparent

In a world where privacy is becoming more and more of a commodity, people want to know more and more about what they are getting into. Don’t hide anything about your contest. Be forthcoming about everything, including:

  • Who the judges are (provide names and links for guest judges)
  • Where the money will go (especially if your contest will bring in more money than it awards)
  • When and how the winners will be paid
  • When and how entrants will be notified
  • When the winning stories will be published

Additionally, if you’ve run the contest in the past, you need to make examples of past winners easily available. If the only way to see past winners is by paying money, then you aren’t being transparent. It’s also a good idea to write a blog post or article about the contest. For example, you could discuss the types of stories that generally don’t do well in your contest. Or you could give tips about preparing a contest entry. Naturally, this will also help to establish your credibility.

Advertise and Promote

Advertising your contest can add up quickly. An ad in  Poets & Writers can run you $500 or more. Add in a few other ads and maybe some promoted posts on Facebook and Twitter, and you are easily looking at $800-$1000 just to advertise your contest (which is about what we spent to promote our contest during our biggest years).

If paying big bucks to promote your contest isn’t in the cards for you, then find as many free outlets as possible. Make sure you have a contest listing everywhere you can. There are dozens of lists that compile writing contests for free. Make sure you are on all of them (or at least all the ones you qualify for). Have a separate listing on Duotrope that’s just for your contest. Post about your contest in legitimate writing forums. Reach out to MFA programs and ask if they will spread the word. Be sure to put together a professional announcement regarding the contest. In many cases, your free promotion will bring in more entries than your sponsored ads .

Of course, you should also use social media, but promoting your contest doesn’t just mean you Tweet about it every day. If you really want to promote a contest, you need to find a variety of outlets. The most valuable promotion is anywhere people are already looking for opportunities to make money as writers (online contest listings,  Poets & Writers  Contest Issue, social media groups dedicated to paying publications, etc.).

Do Something Unique

There are thousands of writing contests held every year. If you want people to enter yours, you need to do something different from everyone else. If your guidelines are “Write any story you want and we’ll pick the best one and give you a handful of money,” then no one is going to submit. When I created the Dialogue-Only Contest, I was trying to do something I hadn’t seen done anywhere else before. My “great” ideas included:

  • A rolling rejection process
  • Unlimited entries for one price
  • A growing prize purse
  • A very specific format (stories had to be composed entirely of dialogue)

I can’t tell you how many writers contacted me to say they really enjoyed participating in this contest. Every year, I was surprised by how many entrants responded to rejection letters by thanking me for hosting the contest.

Final Notes

Hosting a writing contest is no easy task. There are plenty of obstacles you will deal with along the way, none more difficult than the colossal challenge of sorting through all the entries to pick a winner. If you run your contest the right way, you will find it a rewarding experience. Being able to award almost $2400 to writers is definitely worth the hard work.

How to Host a Writing Contest FAQs

Can anyone host a writing contest.

Yes, in theory, any website or publication can host a writing contest. Before hosting a contest, you should clearly define your contest rules and develop a plan for collecting submissions.

Where can I advertise my writing contest?

You can and should advertise your writing contest in as many places as possible. Some of the best places are Poets & Writers, Duotrope, MFA programs, other online contest listings, and social media. Make sure you have an advertising budget. Promoting your writing contest can get expensive if you aren't careful.

Do I have to award prizes for my writing contest?

If you want people to enter your writing contest, you need to offer prizes. The most appealing prizes are monetary. Publication is also a highly desired outcome. The bigger the prizes, the more entries you'll get.

Can I charge an entry fee for my writing contest?

While some writing contests are free to enter, most require an entry fee. There is nothing wrong with charging a contest entry fee as long as you make the prize worthwhile and you are transparent about where the entry fees go. If you are keeping any of the money as profit, you should disclose this.

What if no one enters my writing contest?

If no one enters your writing contest, or you just don't get many entries, you can try extending the deadline and increasing your promotion efforts. It's always a good idea to include a disclaimer in your contest rules that requires a minimum number of entries for the contest to be held. This way, if you only get a handful of entries, you don't have to award a big prize that will cause you to lose a lot of money.

For writers interested in entering a writing contest

Are you a writer interested in entering a writing contest? Check out these helpful posts:

  • How to win a writing contest
  • Should I enter a writing contest?
  • Everything you need to know before entering a writing contest

Do you have any additional tips for hosting a writing contest? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments. If you are interested in hosting a writing contest, feel free to reach out directly to me for advice. And, as always, please share this post on all your favorite channels.

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2 thoughts on “ How to Host a Writing Contest ”

Recently, I have started using old comics for writing practice. They are public domain and from the WW II era. It is a lot of fun and a challenge since the pictures are already done. Do you have any thoughts on me organizing a writing contest in which writers fill in the blanked dialog balloons. Every entry would have the same eight pages to fill in.

This a great article thank you for being so truthful about the process of build a contest.

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essay contest tips

How to Write a 3000 word Essay in Less Than 60 Minutes

essay contest tips

Writing a 3000 word essay in under an hour might seem impossible, especially when facing a tight deadline. However, with the right approach, it's not as daunting as it sounds. A good example of this is our guide on how to write a 1000 word essay .

This article shares 5 practical tips and strategies to help you write efficiently and effectively within a limited timeframe.

How to Write a 3000 word Essay in Less Than 60 Minutes

EssayPro Guide on How to Write Your Essay Faster

Our team of experts has created a how-to guide for you on how to write your essay fast. Here you go:

Voice-to-Text Software

Voice-to-text software can significantly expedite essay writing by allowing users to dictate their thoughts and ideas, bypassing manual typing verbally. This technology enables a continuous writing flow, as individuals can speak their ideas naturally and conversationally without interruptions. 

For example, instead of pausing to search for the right words or phrases, users can express their thoughts fluidly, resulting in a faster and more efficient writing process. Additionally, voice-to-text software eliminates the physical strain associated with typing for extended periods, allowing users to maintain productivity and focus for longer durations.

Furthermore, voice-to-text software offers flexibility in writing environments, as users can dictate their essays from virtually anywhere using a smartphone, tablet, or computer. For instance, individuals can dictate their essays while commuting, exercising, or completing other tasks, maximizing their time and productivity.

You can use the following voice-to-text tools:

  • Dragon NaturallySpeaking
  • Google Docs Voice Typing
  • Microsoft Dictate
  • Apple Dictation

Need Urgent Help with Your Essay?

Don’t strain yourself – use professional writing services . 

The Stream-of-Consciousness Writing

Stream-of-consciousness writing is a technique that involves recording thoughts as they come to mind, without filtering or censoring them. This approach can be particularly useful for writing essays in less than 60 minutes as it allows for a rapid flow of ideas and content generation. 

By bypassing the need for careful planning and organization, stream-of-consciousness writing enables writers to quickly capture their thoughts on paper and generate raw material for their essays. For example, writers can focus solely on expressing their ideas and arguments instead of worrying about sentence structure or grammar, resulting in a faster and more spontaneous writing process.

Moreover, stream-of-consciousness writing can help writers overcome writer's block and tap into their creativity more effectively. This can lead to more original and compelling essay content. For instance, writers may discover new angles or perspectives on their topic that they hadn't considered before, enriching their essays with fresh insights and perspectives.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use the stream-of-consciousness technique to write an essay:

  • Set a timer.
  • Clear distractions.
  • Choose a topic.
  • Begin writing.
  • Write continuously.
  • Don't edit or censor.
  • Keep the pen moving.
  • Embrace tangents.
  • Stay in the moment.
  • Review and edit later.

AI Writing Tools

AI writing tools can significantly expedite the essay writing process by automating various aspects of content creation, such as generating ideas, structuring arguments, and even drafting entire paragraphs. These tools leverage advanced natural language processing (NLP) algorithms to analyze input data and produce coherent, contextually relevant text output. 

For example, platforms like OpenAI's GPT-3 and Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant offer features such as auto-completion, grammar and style suggestions, and even content generation based on user prompts. 

Furthermore, AI writing tools can assist writers in overcoming writer's block and generating ideas more efficiently. For instance, tools like Articoolo and QuillBot can generate article outlines or paraphrase existing text to provide inspiration and generate new content. 

Here are reliable AI essay writing tools:

  • EssayPro Writing App

WARNING: While these tools can aid in content creation and idea generation, relying too heavily on them may lead to plagiarism or submitting low-quality, unoriginal work. Writers should use AI writing tools to supplement their research and writing process rather than replace critical thinking and academic rigor.

Collage Essay Method

The collage essay method is a creative approach to essay writing that involves assembling visual and textual materials into a collage to represent different aspects of the essay topic. This technique can be particularly effective in generating ideas quickly and organizing thoughts in a visually engaging manner. 

For example, imagine you're tasked with writing an essay on climate change. You could gather images, quotes, statistics, and diagrams related to climate change and arrange them on a poster board or digital canvas. The collage is a brainstorming tool to spark ideas and inspire the writing process by visually representing key concepts and arguments.

Moreover, the collage essay method encourages a nonlinear approach to essay writing, allowing writers to explore ideas from multiple perspectives and make connections between different topic elements. 

For instance, while arranging materials for the climate change collage, you might notice patterns or themes emerging that you hadn't considered before. This can lead to new insights and angles for your essay, enriching the content with diverse perspectives and supporting evidence.

Here are some useful tips for using the collage essay method for writing an essay fast:

  • Gather diverse materials.
  • Start with a central theme.
  • Arrange materials strategically.
  • Focus on visual impact.
  • Incorporate text and images.
  • Make connections between elements.
  • Be open to unexpected insights.
  • Iterate and refine as needed.

Role-Playing Scenario

The role-playing scenario method offers a fresh and engaging approach to essay writing, injecting creativity and empathy into the process. By immersing oneself in a specific role, writers can tap into their imagination and explore complex topics from various angles. 

For instance, if you're tasked with writing about the ethical implications of artificial intelligence, you could adopt the perspective of a futuristic AI developer or a concerned citizen living in a world dominated by AI technology. This imaginative exercise sparks inspiration and encourages deeper reflection on the subject matter, leading to more insightful and thought-provoking essays.

Furthermore, the role-playing scenario cultivates empathy and understanding by encouraging writers to embody diverse viewpoints and experiences. Whether you're writing about climate change, social justice, or economic policy, stepping into the shoes of different characters allows you to see the world through their eyes and develop a more nuanced understanding of complex issues. 

For example, by pretending to be a climate scientist researching the effects of deforestation, you might gain a deeper appreciation for the urgency of environmental conservation efforts. This empathetic approach to essay writing fosters a greater connection with both the subject matter and the audience, resulting in essays that are not only informative but also engaging and impactful.

How to adopt the role-playing scenario technique for writing an essay:

  • Choose a relevant persona.
  • Research and understand their background.
  • Embody the persona's mindset.
  • Write from their perspective.
  • Maintain consistency with the persona.
  • Review and adjust as needed.
  • Use insights to enrich your essay.

There’s nothing impossible if you put an effort into it. Although 60 minutes sounds like a very limited period, a smart student can use it to produce a pretty decent essay and even have a few minutes left! So, how to write essays faster ?

The tips we gave you above do work, which thousands of students with hectic schedules have already proved. A word of warning, though – don’t rush to use tools like ChatGPT to generate an essay in 5 minutes because it’s hazardous for academic integrity. Remember – AI tools are assistants, and generated texts are to be rewritten from A to Z, which can also be done in an hour or less. If you’re awfully tired and physically can’t think or type, you better ask a professional human writer to help you. 

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Expert writers will do an essay for you from scratch.

Can You Write an Essay in 30 Minutes?

Can i write a 3000 word essay in 1 hour, how long does it take to write a 3000 words essay.

essay contest tips

is an expert in nursing and healthcare, with a strong background in history, law, and literature. Holding advanced degrees in nursing and public health, his analytical approach and comprehensive knowledge help students navigate complex topics. On EssayPro blog, Adam provides insightful articles on everything from historical analysis to the intricacies of healthcare policies. In his downtime, he enjoys historical documentaries and volunteering at local clinics.

  • Howard, D. (2022, December 15). How to Write an Essay Fast . Nexus Education. https://nexus-education.com/blog-posts/how-to-write-an-essay-fast/
  • 20 Top Tips for Writing an Essay in a Hurry . (2024, February 20). Oxford Royale. https://www.oxford-royale.com/articles/writing-essay-hurry/ ‍
  • 4 Ways to Write Essays Faster – The Bookshelf . (n.d.). https://blogs.cornell.edu/learning/4-ways-to-write-essays-faster/

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Student Awards

National Essay Contest: Tips To Win

Are you looking for National Essay Contest tips? If you are a Canadian student studying in a French program, and you are in Grade 10, 11, 12, secondaire IV, secondaire V, or Cégep 1, then you can enter! Scholarships range from $1,000 and $12,000 at one of these post-secondary institutions:

  • Université Sainte Anne
  • Universit é de Montréal
  • Université de Moncton
  • Université de Saint-Boniface
  • York University – Glendon
  • University of Alberta – Campus Saint-Jean
  • Université Simon Fraser
  • University of Lethbridge
  • Collège Boréal
  • University of Regina 
  • Collège de l’Île
  • University of British Columbia

Here are some National Essay Contest tips!

How to apply:.

Fill out the entry form and write/submit an essay based on the presented topic. Also, indicate the category that applies to you and the post-secondary intuitions you would like to attend. For more information on how to enter the National Essay Contest, click here . 

How To Win:

Firstly, they award 90 National Essay Contest scholarships! In other words, 45 scholarships will be awarded for Category 1 and 45 scholarships will be awarded for Category 2 . Secondly, here’s what you need to do to make sure you successfully enter the Contest:

  • Complete the entire entry form .
  • Place yourself in the correct category so you are not disqualified. 
  • Write an original 750-word essay based on this year’s topic.
  • After that, submit an original 750-word essay in French. It will be disqualified if it’s been exhibited publicly, previously published, or won another contest.
  • Number your post-secondary institution choices where #1 is your first choice.
  • Read specific requirements for the post-secondary institution you want to attend. 
  • Review the evaluation grid used for judging. 
  • Lastly, gauge your odds! Determine how many scholarships the post-secondary institutions are offering in your category. 

Selection Process:

Four judges, appointed by the Sponsor, evaluate your essay. They use an evaluation grid to judge each essay accordingly. The judging panel will provide a score for your essay, which will be the average scores provided by each judge. 

Scholarships are awarded by 1) your first choice of post-secondary, and 2) your score. However, the first choice of post-secondary institution takes priority. This means that a high global ranking does not automatically grant you a scholarship. In the event that your first choice post-secondary scholarship has been awarded to other entrants with better scores, you may not receive one for that institution. However , the Sponsor can award scholarships for your second or third choices. 

What Are My Chances Of Winning?

Basically, the odds depend on the number of participants and the caliber of essays received for your category. However, if there is a tie between essays in the same category, the essay that receives the highest combined score on coherence and clarity from the judging panel wins the higher ranking. If this still leads to a tie, the essay will be re-reviewed by a panel of four different judges. 

Moreover, an essay will be disqualified if it is not original (written by the person submitting it) or is illegal, defamatory, or in any way obscene. The Sponsor determines this.

Furthermore, each category will have 5 highest ranked essays that will receive an honorable mention on the French for the Future’s website. To see the number and approximate value of each scholarship, visit french-future.org . 

Important Tip:

Read the eligibility requirements set for the schools you list. Not sure where to look? Check here .  For more information, check out the 2019-2020 winners of the National Essay Contest. Good luck!

You’ll get a weekly email with a curated collection of scholarships, news and resources to help you make the most of your post-secondary education.

essay contest tips

Paul Simon Essay Contest winner speaks on mental health

Lauren Frost

Editor's note: This story mentions a suicide attempt. If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the  988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline  by dialing 9-8-8, or the  Crisis Text Line  by texting HOME to 741741.

  A Princeton student recently won the Paul Simon Essay Contest. This essay highlights Illinois community colleges. The student shares how her college embraced her after she returned following a not-so-great start.

Lauren Frost is a student at Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby, Illinois. The contest is sponsored by the Illinois Community College Trustees Association and offers a five-hundred-dollar scholarship. The student must describe, “How My Community College Has Changed My Life.” Frost said she loves writing, but essay writing wasn't a part of her repertoire.

“I'm somebody who likes to use a lot of words, and there was the 500-word limit, and I was like, oh my goodness, I don't know how to like put this all into just 500 words.”

She said she is used to creative writing and has done this since she was a child. The other thing Frost loved to do was play the Trumpet. She said she wasn’t a great player and the other kids often made fun of her.

“And so, I decided, well, I'll go into elementary education just because it was something that, you know, I knew people did. I knew it was a job option,” she said. “And so, I was like, well, I'll go into that. Um, and that didn't work out very well. I didn’t really like the classes that I had, and I didn't have a very big passion for it either. So, um, and along with that, my mental health was definitely declining. I was very depressed.”

She ended that semester with a 0.429 GPA. That was in 2021. She decided to take a break. Frost said things came to a head in May of 2022. At the age of 18, she said she tried to take her life and ended up in the hospital. Frost said after that, she went to therapy to get help.

“I ended up finding out that I had, ADHD, depression, and then, schizotypal personality disorder,” she continued, “dependent personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder, which was quite the diagnosis.”

Frost said she originally noticed something wasn’t right with her mental health when she was in seventh grade. Back then she talked to her friends and parents about her concerns.

“And they'd kind of just chalk it up to being, you know, just like going through puberty,” she said.

Frost said in the fall of 2022 she decided to enroll in IVCC again. This time she took her passion for music and mixed it with something she felt helped her maneuver through life – taking care of her mental health. Her intent was to major in social work. But one of her first classes was music appreciation. She said it set the tone for her and helped her with her anxiety. This led her to pursue an education in music therapy.

“There's always the connection that you make with people when you play music with them, of course. I mentioned that before, but even then, listening to music is like an underrated tool to help,” she explained.

Frost said her mom was the one who told her to submit an essay for the contest. Those paragraphs detailed her journey to wellness and how the college helped with that.

“And to this day, nobody ever comments on, you know, how badly my first semester there went,” she said. “And it’s always just kind of been talking about the future and what happens next.”

Frost said mental health is not talked about the way it should be. She encourages open discussions about mental health and says it is important to speak with a therapist.

Frost is scheduled to read her winning essay at the college’s commencement ceremony on May 18 th .

essay contest tips

Four Students Win Seventh Annual KBHF Essay Contest

Four high school students from across Kansas have won $500 each in the seventh annual Kansas Business Hall of Fame essay contest. The contest was open to students in Grades 9 through 12 in Kansas with entries from homeschooled students also accepted.

Original essays were based on research of a Kansas Business Hall of Fame honoree inducted into one of two categories: Historical or Contemporary. Inductees can be found at www.ksbhf.org . Students could read about the inductees and choose one that inspired them. They were encouraged to use their own personal thoughts and views that best pertained to the theme and themselves. Sixty-six entries from 14 Kansas high schools were judged by a panel of business professionals and business faculty.

Below are the four winning authors and the KBHF inductee they wrote about:

  • Addilyn Bruns, freshman, homeschooled, Topeka, inductee Arthur Capper
  • Aubryn Garriott, senior, Olpe High School, inductee Bill Kurtis
  • Lucy Krebsbach, freshman, homeschooled, Meriden, inductee Charles Walker
  • Benjamin Soyka, senior, Leavenworth High School, inductee Warren Augustine Bechtel

The prize money totaling $2,000 was graciously donated by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. Winning authors were mailed or presented their certificates.

Dr. James Leiker, KBHF Board Chair, said, “The Kansas Business Hall of Fame is proud to honor these students and their instructors, who, through these essays, help us better understand the rich tradition of entrepreneurship and innovation that our state has fostered.”

The winning students will be invited to the KBHF Induction Ceremony on Thursday, June 13, in Cremer Hall on the campus of Emporia State University, where they will receive their prizes.

The KBHF Board would like to thank the following judges: Susan Elliott, Beth Ginter, Paul Grimes, Sherriene Jones-Sontag, Connie Lindell, Jeff Muldoon, John Rich, Butch Sim, Ed Bashaw and Jim Shepherd.

About the Kansas Business Hall of Fame: Housed in Emporia State University’s School of Business Cremer Hall, the Kansas Business Hall of Fame recognizes business leaders who have added to the prestige and growth of Kansas. By identifying outstanding examples of business leadership, the Hall of Fame shares these stories of success and innovation through representative displays. The Hall of Fame creates an awareness and appreciation of Kansas' rich heritage of business leadership. The Board is made up of individuals from all over the state of Kansas with representatives from universities, community colleges, and private and public businesses. For more information, please go to www.ksbhf.org .

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essay contest tips

Tips to answer multiple-choice, short-answer, and essay-type questions in exams

E xams are a stressful affair and they require smart strategies and techniques to excel. While in-depth learning is crucial, different types of questions demand specific strategies and approaches for solving.

Exams may appear in several formats including multiple choice questions, short answers and essays, each requiring different techniques of answering.

Below is a comprehensive guide to solving exams with different types of question patterns:


  • The first and foremost thing to do is to read the questions properly. Often, students miss out on important details due to a lack of focus. Paying attention to each and every piece of information and reading with attention is crucial.
  • After reading the question, try to predict the answer without referring to the given options. This increases your chances of selecting the correct answer through educated guessing.
  • Using the process of elimination can do wonders. In this method, you eliminate the options you believe are incorrect. This narrows down your choices and aids in identifying the correct response.
  • Paying attention to words such as 'always,' 'never,' 'sometimes,' 'most,' 'only,' 'many,' 'but,' and 'often' can help us better understand the sentence. These words tend to alter the meaning of the sentence and hence should be paid attention to and read properly.
  •  Understanding concepts thoroughly enables you to grasp the context of questions accurately and answer them correctly.


  • Read the question properly and comprehend it well. Understand whether you need to give a definition, provide examples, write a brief summary or offer comparisons.
  • Write the answer to the point, avoiding unnecessary explanations and using keywords. This increases your chances of scoring higher.
  • Use simple language and avoid complex terms, as they can confuse the examiner. The simpler your answer, the higher your score.
  • Write your answers in a logical and organised manner. Structure your answers with separate paragraphs, bullet points, flowcharts, tables, etc., as this makes it easier for the examiner to read and understand your answer.
  • During the preparatory phase, use colourful pens, flashcards, charts, and drawings to learn concepts well. This method helps in recollecting the answers during exams.
  • Indulge in self-testing methods by practicing sample question papers, demo tests, and solving previous year question papers to understand the probable questions and the exam pattern.
  • Having a time management strategy in place is important. Allocate time for different types of questions and try to solve them within the given time frame.


  • Understand the topic well and follow the instructions.
  • Brainstorm ideas on the topic and plan the points you intend to include.
  • Begin with an informative yet concise introduction, followed by a detailed body and a conclusion that summarizes your essay.
  • Ensure the essay is well-structured and divided into a minimum of 3-4 paragraphs.
  • Use quotations and examples to support the information you have written.
  • Adhere to the specified time and word limits.
  • Ensure your essay is written in simple and clear language.
  • Always remember to proofread the essay to eliminate grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Make reading a regular practice to enhance language proficiency and facilitate a smoother flow of thoughts.

By implementing such strategic approaches, you can efficiently answer your questions. It is important to study diligently and practice with sample papers.

During the exam, take the time to read the question paper properly during the allocated reading time and manage your time effectively.

- Article by Nischal Narayanam, mathematical child prodigy, winner of the National Child Award (Gold Medal), youngest double Guinness World Record holder in memory power, first Indian to win the World Memory Championship title, youngest CA, and Founder and Mentor at Nischals

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essay contest tips

American Legion Post 611 Announces American Essay Contest Winners

essay contest tips

The local post and unit had 96 essays for the judges to read and screen them down to 3 essays in each class. The first place essays were then sent to the 19th District chairman for further judging.

In Class II (9th & 10th grade) Finn Greenwood won first place. Finn is a sophomore at Stew-Stras and is the son of Eric Greenwood and Elizabeth Greenwood.

In Class III (11th & 12th grade) Caiden DeBolt won first place. Caiden is a junior at Stew-Stras and is the son of Chris and Beth DeBolt.

Their essays were then sent to the 4th Division for further judging. They both have been invited to read their essays at the Champaign Post 559.

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