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

10 Steps to Writing Contest-Winning Essays

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general rules for essay writing competition

  • University of Maryland

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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general rules for essay writing competition

Essay Writing Contests: The Ultimate List of 2024

general rules for essay writing competition

Did you know that the very first recorded essay contest can be traced back to the early 16th century, initiated by none other than the renowned philosopher and essayist Michel de Montaigne? In 1580, Montaigne published his collection of essays titled 'Essais,' which not only marked a pivotal moment in the evolution of the essay as a literary form but also contained an implicit challenge to his readers. He encouraged them to engage with his ideas and respond by writing their own essays, essentially laying the groundwork for what we now recognize as essay contests.

Fast forward to the vibrant year of 2024, and this tradition of writing competitions has evolved into a global phenomenon, offering emerging writers from all walks of life a captivating platform to share their thoughts, emotions, and narratives with the world.

In this article, our essay writer will review essay writing contests, presenting you with an exclusive selection of the most promising opportunities for the year ahead. Each of these competitions not only provides a stage to demonstrate your writing prowess but also offers a unique avenue for personal growth, self-expression, and intellectual exploration, all while competing for impressive writing awards and well-deserved recognition.

Top Essay Writing Contests in 2024

If you enjoy expressing your thoughts and ideas through writing, you're in for a treat. Essay writing competitions in 2024 offer you a chance to do just that and win some great prizes in the process. We've put together a list of contests specially designed for students like you. These contests cover various interesting essay topics , giving you a unique opportunity to showcase your writing skills and potentially earn cash prizes or scholarships. So, let's jump right into these fantastic opportunities.

Top Essay Writing Contests in 2024

2024 International Literary Prize by Hammond House Publishing

The 2024 Writing Competition beckons writers with over £3000 in cash prizes, publication opportunities in anthologies, and a chance to participate in a televised Award Ceremony. Sponsored by the University Centre Grimsby, this annual contest, now in its eighth year, draws entries from approximately 30 countries worldwide. Entrants can vie for prizes across four categories, gaining exposure at the televised award ceremony and receiving expert feedback at the annual literary festival.

And if you're determined to learn how to overcome writer's block for this contest, we have a wealth of expert tips and strategies to guide you through the process!

Deadline: 30th September 2024

  • 1st Prize: £1000
  • 2nd Prize: £100
  • 3rd Prize: £50

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International Voices in Creative Nonfiction Competition by Vine Leaves Press

Vine Leaves Press welcomes writers worldwide, prioritizing voices from marginalized communities such as BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and individuals with chronic illnesses or disabilities, among others. Submissions, which must be in English and previously unpublished, are accepted from February 1, 2024, until July 1, 2024. Manuscripts can be either narrative (50,000 – 80,000 words) or experimental (at least 100 pages), adhering to specific formatting guidelines, including anonymity to ensure impartial judging. Each submission requires a $25 entry fee via Submittable, and multiple entries are allowed. Entries will be judged based on originality, creativity, writing quality, and adherence to genre, with finalists announced in October 2024, shortlisted in January 2025, and winners in March 2025.

Deadline: July 01, 2024

  • The winner will receive a cash prize of $1000.
  • Publication of the winning manuscript will occur in 2026 by Vine Leaves Press.
  • Runners-up will also be considered for publication.

Solas Awards by Best Travel Writing

The Solas Awards, continuing a tradition since 1993, celebrate travel stories that inspire. They're looking for engaging tales that capture the essence of exploration, whether funny, enlightening, or adventurous. Winners may get published and join a community of fellow storytellers. Entries in essay, non-fiction, and travel genres are welcome with a $25 submission fee.

Deadline: September 21, 2024

  • $1,000 Gold
  • $750 Silver
  • $500 Bronze

Vocal Challenges by Creatd

Vocal, in partnership with Voices in Minor (ViM), announces a creator-led challenge in celebration of International Women's Day, open to all Vocal creators. Participants are invited to write a 600-800 word piece about a woman who has inspired them for International Women's Day in the Year of the Dragon 2024. Submissions must adhere to specific length criteria and can be of any genre or format. Vocal will review entries and create a shortlist, from which ViM will select two co-grand prize winners and ten runners-up.

Deadline: Mar 12, 2024

  • 2 Co-Grand Prizes: $200
  • 10 Runners-up: $20

Cambridge Re:think Essay Competition 2024

The Re:think Essay Competition welcomes students aged 14 to 18 worldwide to participate in crafting essays under 2000 words, following MLA 8 citation style, with submissions undergoing plagiarism and AI checks. Essay prompts cover diverse themes, such as the role of women in STEM , provided by distinguished professors from prestigious institutions like Harvard, Brown, UC Berkeley, Cambridge, Oxford, and MIT. To maintain anonymity during review, submissions should be in PDF format without personal details.

Deadline : 10th May, 2024

  • Gold: $150 cash, $500 CCIR scholarship, digital certificate, interview, Cambridge invite.
  • Silver: $100 cash, $300 CCIR scholarship, digital certificate, interview, Cambridge invite.
  • Bronze: $50 cash, $200 CCIR scholarship, digital certificate, interview, Cambridge invite.

The Hudson Prize by Black Lawrence Press

Each year, Black Lawrence Press presents The Hudson Prize, inviting submissions for an unpublished collection of poems or prose. This competition is open to writers at all stages of their careers, offering the winner book publication, a $1,000 cash prize, and ten copies of the published book. Entries are read blind by a panel of editors, requiring manuscripts to adhere to specific formatting guidelines, including pagination and font choice. Poetry manuscripts should be 45-95 pages, while prose manuscripts should range from 120-280 pages.

Deadline : March 31, 2024

  • Top prize $1,000

essay contest 2024

Irene Adler Prize by Lucas Ackroyd

Introducing The Irene Adler Prize essay writing contest, offering a $1,000 US scholarship to the winner, with up to two $250 awards for honorable mentions. Open to women pursuing bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. degrees in journalism, creative writing, or literature worldwide, regardless of age. Unlike previous years, this year's competition welcomes applicants from any country. The application period runs from January 30, 2024, to May 30, 2024, with no late submissions accepted. Each application requires a 500-word essay on one of five provided prompts and a completed entry form, both submitted via email.

Deadline : May 30, 2024

  • 2x honorable mentions: $250

100 Word Writing Contest by Tadpole Press

With a doubled first-place prize of $2,000 USD, participants are invited from all corners of the globe, regardless of age, gender, or nationality. Pen names are accepted, and winning entries will be published under those names. Previously published pieces are also welcome, with no restrictions. Any genre is accepted, with the theme centered around creativity. Each entry must be 100 words or less, including the title.

Deadline : April 30, 2024

  • 1st place: $2,000 USD.
  • 2nd place: Writing coaching package valued at $450 USD.
  • 3rd place: Developmental and diversity editing package valued at $250 USD.

African Diaspora Awards 2024 by Kinsman Avenue Publishing, Inc

The African Diaspora Award 2024 seeks original works from Afro-descendants, including short stories, flash fiction, essays, poetry, or visual art. Winners can earn up to $1000 USD and publication in Kinsman Quarterly and "Black Butterfly: Voices of the African Diaspora." Submissions reflecting cultural themes are due by June 30, 2024. Authors retain copyrights, and entrants must be 18 or older. No plagiarism is allowed, and Kinsman Quarterly employees cannot enter. Various genres are accepted with specific word count limits.

Deadline : June 30, 2024

  • Grand Prize: $1000 cash and publication in Kinsman Quarterly & anthology.
  • 1st Runner Up: $300 cash and publication 
  • 2nd Runner Up: $200 cash and publication 
  • 3rd Runner Up: $50 cash and publication
  • Top 6 Finalists: $25 Amazon gift card and publication 
  • 6 Honorary Mentions: Publication in Kinsman Quarterly & anthology.

Work-In-Progress (WIP) Contest by Unleash Press

The Unleash WIP Award 2024 offers $500, feedback, coaching, and a feature in Unleash Lit to help writers with their book projects in fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. All writers can apply. So, if you're looking for resources like free Harvard online courses to hone your writing skills, consider entering this competition. Submissions of the first 25 pages and answers to questions are due by July 15, 2024. Multiple entries are okay, but follow the rules, especially keeping your submission anonymous. Unleash also welcomes previously self-published works.

Deadline : July 15, 2024

  • Top prize: $500
  • Additional prizes: Coaching, interview, and editorial support

Aurora Polaris Creative Nonfiction Award by Trio House Press

Open to all writers, the poetry manuscripts should be 48-70 pages, and the prose manuscripts should be up to 80,000 words. Submissions must be from U.S. residents and must be original works. AI-generated submissions and translations are not eligible. Manuscripts should be sent as a single Word doc. or docx. file with no identifying information, and a cover letter with bio and contact details should be uploaded separately.

Deadline: May 15, 2024

  • $1,000, publication, and 20 books

2024 International Literary Prize by Hammond House Publishing

Poetry & Spoken Word Competition 2024 by Write the World

Young writers aged 13 to 19.5 are invited to enter this upcoming competition, with submissions of 50 to 500 words. Inspired by Audrey Lorde's words and the power of poetry, participants are encouraged to craft original poems or spoken word pieces advocating for change and self-expression. Winners, including top prizes for written and recorded performances, will be announced on June 14. Malika Booker, a renowned British poet, serves as the guest judge. To enter, writers should sign up on Write the World, respond to the prompt, and submit their final entries before the deadline.

Deadline : May 27, 2024

  • Best entry: $100
  • Best Peer Review: $50

Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award

The Killer Nashville essay writing contests seek to uncover new talent and recognize outstanding works by established authors, aiming to introduce their works to a broader audience. With numerous fiction and non-fiction categories available, writers have the opportunity to showcase their talent across a wide range of genres. The top prize includes a $250 award, and entry requires a fee of $79. Genres eligible for entry encompass crime, essay, fantasy, fiction, humor, memoir, mystery, non-fiction, novel, poetry, science fiction, script writing, short story, and thriller.

Deadline : June 15, 2024

  • Top prize: $250

Journalism Competition 2024 by Write the World

In this upcoming competition, young writers aged 13 to 19.5 are invited to participate, with entries ranging from 400 to 1000 words. Participants are tasked with exploring and reporting on significant events within their own country, fostering a deeper understanding of local issues. Optional draft submissions for expert review are available until July 8, with feedback returned to writers by July 12. Winners will be announced on August 9. To enter, writers must sign up for a free account on Write the World, respond to the prompt, and submit their final entries before the deadline.

Deadline : July 22, 2024

National Essay Contest by U.S. Institute of Peace

This year, AFSA is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the United States Foreign Service. They've been involved in important events throughout history, like making decisions about war and peace, supporting human rights, and responding to disasters. Now, AFSA wants students to think about the future of diplomacy. They're asking students to imagine how diplomats can adapt to the changing world and its challenges. It's a chance for students to explore how diplomacy can continue to make a difference in the world.

Deadline : April 01, 2024

  • Top prize: $2,500
  • Additional prizes: Runner-up: $1,250

In 2023, the world of writing competitions offers a diverse tapestry of opportunities for writers across the globe. From exploring the depths of nature to delving into the mysteries of microfiction, these competitions beckon with enticing prizes and platforms for your creative voice. So, pick your favorite, sharpen your pen, and embark on a journey of literary excellence!

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Best Essay Writing Contests in 2024

Showing 48 contests that match your search.

Climate Change Writing Competition

Write the World

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.

Additional prizes:

Runner-up: $50

📅 Deadline: October 18, 2022 (Expired)

Askew's Word on the Lake Writing Contest

Shuswap Association of Writers

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

Whether you’re an established or emerging writer, the Askew’s Word on the Lake Writing Contest has a place for you. Part of the Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival in Salmon Arm, BC, the contest is open to submissions in short fiction (up to 2,000 words), nonfiction (up to 2,000 words), and poetry (up to three one-page poems).


💰 Entry fee: $11

📅 Deadline: January 31, 2024 (Expired)

International Essay Competition 2023/24

Avernus Education

Genres: Essay

Welcome to our prestigious International Essay Competition. At Avernus Education, we are thrilled to provide a platform for young minds to showcase their prowess in Medicine, Engineering, Law, Economics, Psychology, History and Politics. These varied subject categories underscore the importance of interdisciplinary study, a crucial foundation for future leaders in our increasingly interconnected world. Winners receive an exclusive Avernus Education Scholarship worth over £5000 - granting them free entrance to our exclusive summer camp at Oxford University! Outstanding Runners Up receive 5 hours worth of Credits for Avernus Education courses, conferences and tutoring services.

100% Scholarship Award to our Oxford University Summer Programme (worth £5995)

Partial scholarship

📅 Deadline: February 19, 2024 (Expired)

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100 Word Writing Contest

Tadpole Press

Genres: Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Thriller, Young Adult, Children's, Poetry, Romance, Short Story, Suspense, and Travel

Can you write a story using 100 words or less? Pieces will be judged on creativity, uniqueness, and how the story captures a new angle, breaks through stereotypes, and expands our beliefs about what's possible or unexpectedly delights us. In addition, we are looking for writing that is clever or unique, inspires us, and crafts a compelling and complete story. The first-place prize has doubled to $2,000 USD.

2nd: writing coach package

💰 Entry fee: $15

📅 Deadline: April 30, 2024

Indignor Play House Annual Short Story Competition

Indignor House Publishing

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

Indignor House Publishing is proud to announce that our annual writing competition (INDIGNOR PLAYHOUSE Short Story Annual Competition) is officially open with expected publication in the fall of 2024. Up to 25 submissions will be accepted for inclusion in the annual anthology.

2nd: $250 | 3rd: $150

💰 Entry fee: $20

📅 Deadline: March 01, 2024 (Expired)

Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest

Lazuli Literary Group

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

We are not concerned with genre distinctions. Send us the best you have; we want only for it to be thoughtful, intelligent, and beautiful. We want art that grows in complexity upon each visitation; we enjoy ornate, cerebral, and voluptuous phrases executed with thematic intent.

Publication in "AZURE: A Journal of Literary Thought"

📅 Deadline: March 24, 2024 (Expired)

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

Sunspot Literary Journal

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

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)

Narratively 2023 Memoir Prize


Genres: Essay, Humor, Memoir, and Non-fiction

Narratively is currently accepting submissions for their 2023 Memoir Prize. They are looking for revealing and emotional first-person nonfiction narratives from unique and overlooked points of view. The guest judge is New York Times bestselling memoirist Stephanie Land.

$1,000 and publication

📅 Deadline: November 30, 2023 (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

💰 Entry fee: $25

📅 Deadline: June 30, 2024

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)

Share Your Story Inc.

Genres: Essay and Memoir

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.

💰 Entry fee: $10

📅 Deadline: September 15, 2022 (Expired)

swamp pink Prizes

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

From January 1st to January 31st, submit short stories and essays of up to 25 pages or a set of 1-3 poems. Winners in each genre will receive $2,000 and publication.

Stories of Inspiration

Genres: Essay and Non-fiction

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

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)

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.

📅 Deadline: May 31, 2024

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

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)

Great American Think-Off

New York Mills Regional Cultural Center

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)

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.

Best entry: $100

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

📅 Deadline: April 22, 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.

📅 Deadline: March 31, 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)

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)

Journalism Competition 2024

What are the most important issues taking place close to home? Perhaps a rare bird sighting near your town? Or a band of young people in your province fighting for access to higher education? This month, immerse yourself in a newsworthy event inside the borders of your own country, and invite us there through your written reporting.

📅 Deadline: July 22, 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

Bacopa Literary Review Annual Writing Contest

Writers Alliance of Gainesville

Bacopa Literary Review’s 2024 contest is open from March 4 through April 4, with $200 Prize and $100 Honorable Mention in each of six categories: Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Flash Fiction, Free Verse Poetry, Formal Poetry, and Visual Poetry.

📅 Deadline: April 04, 2024 (Expired)

Tusculum Review Nonfiction Chapbook Prize

The Tusculum Review

A prize of $1,000, publication of the essay in The Tusculum Review’s 20th Anniversary Issue (2024), and creation of a limited edition stand-alone chapbook with original art is awarded. Editors of The Tusculum Review and contest judge Mary Cappello will determine the winner of the 2024 prize.

📅 Deadline: June 15, 2024

Jane Austen Society of North America Essay Contest

Jane Austen Society of North America

Genres: Children's and Essay

JASNA conducts an annual student Essay Contest to foster the study and appreciation of Jane Austen's works in new generations of readers. Students world-wide are invited to compete for scholarship awards in three divisions: high school, college, and graduate school.

$1,000 scholarship

Two nights’ lodging for JASNA’s Annual General Meeting

📅 Deadline: June 02, 2022 (Expired)

National Essay Contest

U.S. Institute of Peace

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.

Runner-up: $1,250

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

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

Literary and Photographic Contest 2023-2024

Hispanic Culture Review

Genres: Essay, Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, and Poetry

As we move forward we carry our culture wherever we go. It keeps us alive. This is why we propose the theme to be “¡Hacia delante!”. A phrase that means to move forward. This year we ask that you think about the following questions: What keeps you moving forward? What do you carry with you going into the future? How do you celebrate your successes, your dreams, and your culture?

Publication in magazine

📅 Deadline: February 07, 2024 (Expired)

NOWW 26th International Writing Contest

Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop (NOWW)

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

2nd: $100 | 3rd: $50

💰 Entry fee: $7

Brink Literary Journal Award for Hybrid Writing

Genres: Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Humor, Memoir, Non-fiction, Poetry, Science Writing, and Short Story

The Brink Literary Journal Award for Hybrid Writing will be administered to the winner of a literary contest designed to champion innovative hybrid and cross-genre work.

💰 Entry fee: $22

📅 Deadline: February 16, 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)

The Hudson Prize

Black Lawrence Press

Each year Black Lawrence Press will award The Hudson Prize for an unpublished collection of poems or prose. The prize is open to new, emerging, and established writers.

💰 Entry fee: $28

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

How to Write a Novel in 15 Steps

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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Keeping it legal: a short guide to writing contest rules

Keeping it legal: a short guide to writing contest rules

When creating and organising an online contest or competition, it is important to ensure that everything is perfectly legal and regulated, even if it is just a competition to boost your following on TikTok or Instagram. In particular, you need to write clear and concise rules for participants. These rules should be set out in the terms and conditions, which the organiser should draw up with great care.

If you do not provide the necessary information, your competition could look suspicious, and the draw could be susceptible to scrutiny, both reputational and possibly even legal. In this article, we will review the essential points you need to know when writing the rules for your next online contest, with brief overviews for running contests in the UK, the US, Canada, and Australia.

It’s important to note, this article is not meant to be exhaustive, merely a starting point. You will need to check the exact rules in your state or province when creating your contest , and you are highly advised to have professional legal help.

Writing and submitting competition rules

Un règlement complet et parfaitement légal

The behind-the-scenes process of writing and submitting contest rules can be a daunting one. Even for a simple instant win contest on social networks, it is necessary to set out the rules of the game pertaining to all eventualities in case they should come to pass.

In the UK, if you’re running a paid online contest , things get more complicated, as your competition then “could” be considered a lottery, or a form of gambling, and you will require a licence unless your contest can pass the “skills test” in a court of law – that is to say, contestants win by demonstrating superior skills or abilities. In the US, state laws around competitions will vary, so depending on where you’re based will have an impact in how you lay out your terms and conditions, and whether you need a specific licence.

When drafting the rules themselves, there are many rules that must be followed depending on the country where your competition takes place. You can ask a sworn professional for detailed information on the rules in your state, province, or country. These include specifying the deadline for participation, and the eligibility criteria for players, such as age restrictions. Each prize on offer as part of your contest must also be described accurately and in detail, including their value and any applicable taxes. It may also be necessary to state the right of the organiser to change the prize to one of equivalent value at their discretion, incase of parts shortages or other supply chain issues

Things to be mindful of if running a competition in the UK

In the UK, everything pertaining to the governing of online contests will be covered in the Gambling Act (2005). The Gambling Act allows “free draws” and “prize competitions” to promote products and award high value items to entrants so long as they are within the scope of the law.

“Free draws” can constitute free entry into competitions, or competitions which include a free entry, and a paid entry. In the latter case, there are numerous conditions to meet, including but not limited to:

  • The free entry route must be no less inconvenient than the paid entry route
  • The free entry route must be displayed at the same level as the paid routes
  • The system determining prizes should not recognise the two routes as being different

Prize competitions

The Gambling Act defines a prize competition as one that is determined by the participant’s skill, judgement, or knowledge. Organisers of a prize competition must be able to demonstrate that the skills, knowledge and judgement necessary to win will discourage entry due to perceived difficulty, and prevent a significant portion of entrants from being able to win the prize.

So long as your “free draw” or “skills competition” meets the requirements of the Gambling Act (2005), which can be viewed on the Gambling commission’s website, you do not need a licence or permission to run it. If your contest is free to enter, you don’t need a licence or permission either, and your online contest is not required to pass the “skills test,” even if it requires some skills or involves acquiring points to win a prize.

Things to be mindful of if running a competition in the US

The USA is an enormous and complicated country, full of nuance, in large part due to different states having different laws, and the requirements regarding running online contests are no exception to this.

For example: private businesses are unable to offer “lotteries.” Remove the requirement to pay to enter, and the lottery becomes a “legal sweepstakes.” Remove chance from the picking of the winners, and it becomes a “legal contest.” Individual states can have very specific guidelines and laws regulating contests and sweepstakes.

If you do not have a legal team to take care of the specifics for your online contest rules, you might be better served to contact an attorney who specialises in sweepstake and contest laws.

Things to be mindful of if running an online contest in Canada

In Canada, if you’re running an online contest, you’ll need to consult the Competition Act for the full legal requirements of running online contests.

You need to include “skill-testing questions” for any prize giveaway involving a purchase – whether that’s a paid online contest or a play of an instant win contest for purchasing a promoted product.

Your online contest should also include a free entry method, so you can claim there is no quid pro quo required to enter the contest.

If promoting in Quebec

Quebec has its own set of rules and regulations, including, among others, using both French and English in all of the contest’s promotional materials.

Things to be mindful of if running a contest in Australia

In Australia if your contest constitutes a game of skill, you will most likely not require any type of permit to run your game.

If your contest is a game of chance, then you will most likely need a permit, although this will be dependent on both the prize value, and which state (or states) you’re running your contest in.

Best practice for legal compliance with your online competitions

The rules are not half as scary as they might look. The odds are, you’re only having to promote your contest in one country, so once you’ve got your head around them for your first competition, you know it’ll be easier the second time around (although do look out for updates).

In general, however, if you have a legal team, either inhouse or on retainer, this is something to run through with them to ensure maximum compliance.

Be sure to comply with community standards on social networks

While creating and managing your online competitions on a games creation platform Drimify makes running and organising your contest far easier, you’ll still need to promote your marketing games across all your social media platforms, and it’s imperative that you respect the various platforms’ community standards when doing so.

When promoting your contest on Facebook , you’ll need to respect Facebook’s various policies for running promotions, including promoting online contests. These rules will be slightly different for Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on and so forth.

Beyond legalities and community standards, think about the UX

The user experience (UX) of a contest or competition is something that can be helped by your terms and conditions, and how clearly you write them, and how effectively you incorporate key takeaways into the promotions of your contest.

You want to write your rules in plain English, and include excerpts of key restrictions or points of interest in your promotional materials. If your contest rules are written in dense, indecipherable prose that’s impenetrable to all save the most gifted PhD literature candidates, people just won’t enter. If they can’t understand their chances of winning, or the value of the prizes, and quickly at that, their incentive to enter is pretty much removed.

Organise a successful competition by ensuring it complies with relevant laws and guidelines

Running a successful online contest starts with running a contest that’s legally compliant, and promoting it on social media platforms while respecting and honouring the appropriate guidelines of those platforms.

Whether you have a legal team or not, it’s highly advisable to seek legal advice in setting up your rules while creating your online contest. Particularly if it’s your first foray into running online competitions.

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25 Best Writing Competitions for High School Students – 2024

April 12, 2024

Best Writing Competitions for High School Students

Over the past several years, the number of college applicants has been steadily rising. [i] As college admissions become more competitive, there are many steps a student can take to achieve high school success and become an outstanding candidate for college admissions: earning high SAT scores, securing strong letters of recommendation , and participating in various competitions will all boost your admissions prospects. [ii] In particular, writing competitions for high school students are a popular way to win scholarships and prize money, receive feedback on writing, build a portfolio of public work, and add to college application credentials!

Below, we’ve selected twenty-five writing competitions for high school students and sorted them by three general topics: 1) language, literature and arts, 2) STEM, environment and sustainability, and 3) politics, history and philosophy. It’s never too soon to begin thinking about your future college prospects, and even if you are a freshman, many of these writing competitions for high schoolers will be open to you! [iii]

Writing Competitions for High School Students in Language, Literature, and Arts

1) adroit prizes for poetry and prose.

This prestigious creative writing award offers high school students the opportunity to showcase their work in Adroit Journal . Judges are acclaimed writers in their respective genres.

  • Eligibility: All high school students (including international students) are eligible to apply. Poetry contestants may submit up to five poems. Prose contestants may submit up to three pieces of fiction or nonfiction writing (for a combined total of 3,500 words – excerpts accepted).
  • Prize: Winners will receive $200 and their writing will be published in Adroit Journal . All submitted entries will be considered for publication!
  • Deadline: May 1st (specific deadline may vary by year).

2)  Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest

This unique essay competition allows writers the chance to explore and respond to Ayn Rand’s fascinating and polemic 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged . Specific essay topics are posted every three months; prizes are granted seasonally with a grand prize winner announced every year.

  • Prize: Annual grand prize is $25,000.
  • Deadline: Deadlines occur every season, for each seasonal prompt.
  • Eligibility: Essays must be written in English and be 800-1,600 words in length.

Writing Competitions for High School Students (Continued)

3)  the bennington young writers awards.

Through Bennington College, this high school writing competition offers three prizes in three different genre categories: poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Winners and finalists who decide to attend Bennington College will ultimately receive a substantial scholarship prize.

  • Eligibility: U.S. and international students in grades 9 through 12 may apply.
  • Prize: First place winners receive $1,000; second place wins $500; third place winners receive $250. YWA winners who apply, are admitted, and enroll at Bennington receive a $15,000 scholarship per year (for a total of $60,000). YWA finalists who apply, are admitted, and enroll at Bennington will receive a $10,000 scholarship per year (for a total of $40,000).
  • Deadline: The competition runs annually from September 1st to November 1st.

4)  Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) Student Essay Contest

Do you love Jane Austen? If so, this is the high school writing competition for you! With the JASNA Student Essay Contest, high school students have the opportunity to write a six to eight-page essay about Jane Austen’s works, focused on a specific, designated topic for the competition year.

  • Eligibility: Any high school student (homeschooled students also eligible) enrolled during the contest year may submit an essay.
  • Prize: First place winner receives a $1,000 scholarship and two nights’ lodging for the upcoming annual JASNA meeting. Second place wins a $500 scholarship and third place wins a $250 scholarship. All winners will additionally receive a year membership in JASNA, the online publication of their article, and a set of Norton Critical Editions of Jane Austen’s novels.
  • Deadline: Submission accepted from February-June 1st (specific dates may vary by year).

5)  The Kennedy Center VSA Playwright Discovery Program

Young aspiring writers with disabilities are encouraged to apply to this unique program. Students are asked to submit a ten-minute play script that explores any topic, including the student’s own disability experience.

  • Eligibility: U.S. and international high school students with disabilities ages 14-19 may apply.
  • Prize: Multiple winners will receive exclusive access to professional development and networking opportunities at The Kennedy Center.
  • Deadline: January (specific deadline date may vary by year).

6)  Leonard M. Milburg ’53 High School Poetry Prize

Through Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts, this prestigious writing competition for high school students recognizes outstanding poetry writing and is judged by creative writing faculty at Princeton University.

  • Eligibility: U.S. or international students in the eleventh grade may apply. Applicants may submit up to three poems.
  • Prize: First place wins $1,500; second place wins $750; third place wins $500.
  • Deadline: November (specific deadline date may vary by year).

7)  Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest

Nancy Thorp was a student at Hollins University who showed great promise as a poet. After her death, her family established this scholarship to support budding young poets.

  • Eligibility: Female high school sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply. Applicants must be U.S. citizens.
  • Prize: First place wins $350 and publication in Cargoes literary magazine, along with a $5,000 renewable scholarship (up to $20,000 over four years) if the student enrolls in Hollins University, and free tuition and housing for Hollins University’s summer creative writing program (grades 9-12). Second place wins publication in Cargoes, along with a $1,000 renewable scholarship ($4,000 over four years) if the student enrolls at Hollins and $500 to apply toward Hollins’ summer creative writing program.
  • Deadline: October (specific deadline date may vary by year).

8)  National Council of Teachers of English Achievement Awards in Writing

Students may be nominated by their English teachers to win this prestigious writing award. Winners “exhibit the power to inform and move an audience through language” and prompts and genres may vary by competition year.

  • Prize: A certificate will be awarded to students who are judged to have exceptional writing skills. Student names will be displayed on the NCTE website.
  • Eligibility: U.S. high school sophomores and juniors are eligible for nomination.
  • Deadline: February (specific dates may vary by year). Contest prompts released in August.

9)  National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

At Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, numerous opportunities for scholarships and awards await those who submit writing in various genres: literary criticism, drama, poetry, and fiction. In all, there are 28 generic categories of art and writing to choose from!

  • Eligibility: Teens in grades 7-12 (ages 13 and up) may apply.
  • Prize: Various types of recognition and scholarships (up to $12,500) are offered for these award winners.
  • Deadline: Scholastic Awards opens for entries in September; deadlines range from December to January.

10)  National Society of High School Scholars Creative Writing Scholarship

In this creative writing competition for high schoolers, students have the opportunity to submit a piece poetry or fiction (or both – one in each category!) for the opportunity to be published on the NSHSS website and win a monetary prize.

  • Eligibility: Rising high school students graduating in 2024, 2025, 2026 and 2027 may apply.
  • Prize: There will be three $2,000 awards for the fiction category and three $2,000 awards for the poetry category.
  • Deadline: Submissions Accepted from May to October (specific dates may vary by year).

11)  National Writing Award: The Humanities and a Freer Tomorrow

This writing competition allows high school students the chance to be nominated by a teacher for a piece of writing in response to Ruth J. Simmons’ “Facing History to Find a Better Future.” Specific prompt topics may vary by year.

  • Eligibility: Nominating teachers can submit work from 11th and 12th graders in one category (fiction, poetry, prose, or essay).
  • Prize: One top prize of $1,000. Four additional prizes of $500 each. Winners will have the opportunity to have their work published by NCTE.
  • Deadline: Applications are open September to October (specific dates may vary by year).

12)  New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award

Although this prestigious award isn’t exclusively for high schoolers (anyone younger than 35 may submit a work of fiction), if you’ve written a collection of short stories or even a novel, you should certainly consider applying!

  • Eligibility: Any writer below the age of 35 may submit a novel or collection of short stories to participate in this competition.
  • Prize: $10,000 award.
  • Deadline: September (specific date may vary by year).

13)  Princeton University Ten-Minute Play Contest

This writing competition for high school students awards three annual top prizes for the best ten-minute play. Play submissions are judged each year by an acclaimed guest playwright.

  • Eligibility: U.S. or international students in the eleventh grade may apply. Students may submit one play entry; entries must be ten pages or less. Plays must be written in English.
  • Prize: First place prize is $500; second place is $250; third place is $100.
  • Deadline: Varies by year. However, students are recommended to submit before the deadline date – the submission portal will close when a maximum of 250 applicants have applied.

14)  YouthPLAYS New Voices One-Act Competition for Young Playwrights

In this exciting writing competition, students have the chance to submit an original play script for a play of around 10-40 minutes in length. An excellent competition choice for any student considering a future in the theatre!

  • Eligibility: Prospective authors ages 19 and under may submit a script for consideration in the competition. See specific writing guidelines here .
  • Prize: First prize wins $250 and publication with YouthPLAYS; second prize wins $100.
  • Deadline: Submissions run from January 1st to May 1st.

STEM, Environment, and Sustainability High School Writing Competitions

15)  engineergirl essay contest.

This wonderful essay contest invites students to explore topics related to engineering and science. Each year a new, specific prompt will be chosen for young writers who wish to compete.

  • Eligibility: High school students are eligible to apply. Previous winners and close family members of employees of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine are not eligible.
  • Prize: First place winners receive $1,000; second place receives $750; third place receives $500.
  • Deadline: Competition opens in September and submissions are due February 1st of the following year. Winners are announced in the summer.

16)  Ocean Awareness Contest

The Ocean Awareness Contest is an opportunity for students to create written and artistic projects that explore sustainability, environmentalism, and positive change. High school freshmen (up to age 14) may apply to the Junior Division. Students ages 15-18 may enter the Senior Division.

  • Eligibility: Students ages 11-18 may apply (international students included).
  • Prize: Monetary prizes ranging from $100-$1000 will be awarded each year. Additionally, $500 will be awarded to ten students who identify as Black, Indigenous, or Latino via the We All Rise Prize program.
  • Deadline: June 10, 2024 (specific deadline may vary by year).

17)  Rachel Carson Intergenerational Sense of Wonder / Sense of Wild Contest

If you are interested in issues of sustainability, environment, biology and the natural world, this is one of the high school writing competitions that is just for you! Essay prompts explore the natural world and our place within it and may include poetry, essays, and photography.

  • Eligibility: Students must pair with an adult from a different generation (e.g. parent, grandparent or teacher – contestants need not be related). Entries must be submitted as a team.
  • Prize: Winners will receive a certificate from RCLA; their first names, ages, and entry titles will be posted on the RCLA website.
  • Deadline: November 16th, 2024 (specific deadline may vary by year).

18)  River of Words Competition

This writing competition for high school students is another top choice for those thinking of pursuing majors or careers in biology, environment, and sustainability; this specific contest hopes to promote positive education in sustainability by “promoting environmental literacy through the arts and cultural exchange.”

  • Eligibility: Any U.S. or international student from kindergarten through 12th grade may apply.
  • Prize: Winners will be published in the River of Words
  • Deadline: January (specific deadline may vary by year).

Writing Competitions for High School Students in Politics, History and Philosophy

19)  american foreign service association essay contest.

With this writing competition for high school students, entrants may submit essays ranging from 1,000-1,500 words about diplomacy, history, and international politics (specific prompts vary by year).

  • Eligibility: Students in grades nine through twelve may apply. Students whose parents are in the Foreign Service Association are not eligible.
  • Prize: The first-place winner will receive $2,500, an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the winner and the winner’s parents, and an all-expense paid voyage via Semester at Sea. The second-place winner receives $1,250 and full tuition for a summer session at the National Student Leadership Conference’s International Diplomacy program.
  • Deadline: Early spring (specific deadline may vary by year).

20)  Bill of Rights Institute We the Students Essay Contest

In this writing competition for high school students, civic-minded U.S. high schoolers may explore the principles and virtues of the Bill of Rights Institute. Interested applicants should review the specific submission guidelines .

  • Eligibility: Any high school student aged 13 to 19 may apply.
  • Prize: Prizes range from $1,500 to $10,000.
  • Deadline: Submissions for 2024 due May 19th (specific deadline may vary by year).

21)  JFK Presidential Library and Museum Profile in Courage Essay Contest

For students interested in history and political science, this competition offers the chance to write about U.S. elected officials who have demonstrated political courage.

  • Eligibility: U.S. high school students from grades 9-12 may apply.
  • Prize: First prize is $10,000; second prize receives $3,000; five finalists receive $1,000 each; ten semifinalists receive $100 each; eight students receive honorable mention.
  • Deadline: Submissions accepted from September to January (specific deadline may vary by year).
  • Sample Essays: 2000-2023 Contest Winner Essays

22)  John Locke Institute Essay Competition

This essay competition is for students who would like to write about and cultivate “independent thought, depth of knowledge, clear reasoning, critical analysis and persuasive style” from one of seven intellectual categories: philosophy, politics, economics, history, psychology, theology or law.

  • Eligibility: Students from any country may submit an essay.
  • Prize: $2,000 for each subject category winner toward a John Locke Institute program; winning essays will be published on the Institute’s website.
  • Deadline: Registration must be completed by May 31st, 2024; essay submission due June 30th, 2024 (specific deadline may vary by year).

23)  Society of Professional Journalists and the Journalism Education Association Essay Contest

This exciting writing competition for high schoolers allows students to explore topics related to journalism, democracy and media literacy. Specific prompts will be provided for contestants each year.

  • Eligibility: All U.S. students from grades 9-12 may submit original writing to participate in this contest.
  • Prize: First-place winners will receive $1,000; second place is awarded $500; third place receives $300.
  • Deadline: February (specific deadline may vary by year).

24)  Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy Youth Scholarship Essay

This audio essay allows high school students the opportunity to “express themselves in regards to a democratic and patriot-themed recorded essay.” One winner will be granted a $35,000 scholarship to be paid toward their university, college, or vocational school of choice. Smaller prizes range from $1,000-$21,000, and the first-place winner in each VFW state wins $1,000.

  • Prize: College scholarships range from $1,000-$35,000
  • Eligibility: U.S. students in grades 9-12 may submit a 3-5-minute audio essay.
  • Deadline: October 31st
  • Sample Written Essay: 2023-2024 Prize-winning essay by Sophia Lin

25)  World Historian Student Essay Competition

The World Historian Student Essay Competition recognizes young scholars who explore world historical events and how they relate to the student scholar personally. Ultimately the student writer must describe “the experience of being changed by a better understanding of world history.”

  • Eligibility: Internationally, students ages K-12 may submit an entry. See specific prompt and submission guidelines for writing instructions.
  • Prize: $500

Writing Competitions for High School Students – Sources

[i] Institute for Education Sciences: National Center for Education Statistics. “Number of applications for admission from first-time, degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students were received by postsecondary institutions in the fall.”

[ii] Jaschik, Scott. “Record Applications, Record Rejections.” Inside Higher Ed . 3 April 2022.

[iii] Wood, Sarah. “College Applications are on the Rise: What to Know.” U.S. News & World Report. 21 June 2022.

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Jamie Smith

For the past decade, Jamie has taught writing and English literature at several universities, including Boston College, the University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University. She earned a Ph.D. in English from Carnegie Mellon, where she currently teaches courses and conducts research on composition, public writing, and British literature.

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National Online Essay Writing Competition

general rules for essay writing competition

The office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is organising a National Online Essay Writing Competition to commemorate the occasion of Audit Diwas. Each year, ...

The office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is organising a National Online Essay Writing Competition to commemorate the occasion of Audit Diwas. Each year, 16th November is celebrated as Audit Diwas, as it was on this day in the year 1860 that Sir Edward Drummond took charge as the first Auditor General of India.

The essay competition aims to make the youth of the country aware of the institution of CAG of India and appreciate the contribution of the CAG in promoting public accountability and good governance. The competition will also give an opportunity for young minds to harness their creativity and expression of the ways in which the institution of the CAG can contribute to good governance.

Topics for the online essay competition for the year 2022 are as follows: A. The CAG: Helping India achieve Panchamrit - five nectar elements to deal with climate change B. The CAG: Realising the Constitution's vision, Enlivening Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav C: CAG@2047: Imagine you are the CAG of India in year 2047. What will be your strategy for the institution?

Participants can submit an essay on any one of the above topics.

The essays will be evaluated separately in English and Hindi.

Winners of the competition will be awarded cash prizes as follows: First prize: ₹30,000 Second prize: ₹20,000 Third prize: ₹15,000

There are no charges/registration for participation in the competition.

Eligibility: 1. The online essay writing competition is open to all persons who are currently enrolled in a course of study at any institution recognized by any University in India. 2. The participant should not be more than 25 years old as on 15.08.2022. 3. Employees of the Indian Audit and Accounts Department shall not be eligible for participating in the competition. 4. Only one entry from each participant will be considered. In case it is discovered that a participant has submitted more than one entry, all the entries from the participant will be disqualified.

Manner of submission: The participants would be required to submit six documents online as attachments in a single e-mail to the address: [email protected] . The details of these documents are given in paras to The subject of the e-mail should be written as “Audit Diwas 2022 Essay".

Entries may be e-mailed on any date till 15th September, 2022 by 5 PM.

Click here to read the details.

general rules for essay writing competition


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  1. PDF 2020 Student Essay Competition Rules and Regulations-updated

    Papers written for courses are eligible, but all papers must be the original, unpublished work of an individual student. Each student may submit only one essay. Entries must be submitted online through the essay competition website, which will be open from 1 April 12:00 am EDT to 28 May 11:59 pm EDT. Late submissions will not be accepted.


    The 3 winners and runner ups will require to submit a photo copy of student identification card or copy of the parent/guardian's ID card. For queries please contact about the contest please contact Zaira Ahmed at [email protected]. Essays will be evaluated by a panel of judges. Winning essays will become the property of Nestlé ...


    The Contest is open to Jefferson County residents or students enrolled in a Jefferson County school. 6. The Contest is open to middle school students in grades 6-8 and high school students in grades 9-12 for the 2021-22 school year. 7. The Contest is open only to those who have not professionally published a novel or short novel,

  4. Guidelines

    Competition Guidelines. The following guidelines will provide key information about student eligibility and registration, as well as some general rules on submissions. More detailed guidelines on the submission will be sent to each participant's registered email. ... Essay category (creative, argumentative, or journalistic) Chosen prompt ...

  5. Test Rules and guidelines

    Competition Structure and Dates Prizes Bootcamps Partners and Sponsors Contact Us Competitor Hub. Guidelines Resources ... Winning Essays 2022 Argumentative Winning Essays 2022 Creative Join our Community! Prompts. Prompts 2024 Prompts History ...

  6. PDF Rules for Essay Writing Competition

    Time allotted-30 minutes only for writing the essay. Sheet for writing will be provided by. NIRC-ICSI. Maximum word limit - 1500 words. The essay should be the original work and it should not be copied from anywhere. First three winners will be awarded. Participation certificate will be given to all the participants.

  7. How to Submit to an Essay Competition

    In general, most writing competitions will require some type of fee. However, in general, this fee should be no more than $25. Be suspicious of essay contests, short-story competitions, or other writing contests that cost $30 or more, especially if the cash prize for the winner is under $1000.

  8. FAQ

    These individuals will be invited to participate in the global final round. Global Stage 2. The global finalists will be submitting their cumulative final essay of 1250-1500 words by Sunday, March 12th 2024, 23:59 pm (GMT+0) time. Global Stage 3. The winners will be announced by Friday, March 20th, 2024.

  9. PDF Essay writing competition

    Most degree subjects include essays as part of your course so being able to write an effective essay is a very useful skill. While essay requirements may vary between subjects, there are several key features that are relevant to most. 1.Essays must argue towards a conclusion, no matter what subject it is in. The main part of the essay

  10. Winning Essay Contests: A Step-by-Step Guide

    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.

  11. Essay Contests

    Almost from the earliest days of the Naval Institute, its essay contests have been one of its most important functions. On 13 June 1878, with Commander Alfred Thayer Mahan as acting Chair, the Naval Institute adopted rules for the first essay contest — the General Prize Essay Contest. This contest continues to this day.

  12. Essay Writing Contests

    Each submission requires a $25 entry fee via Submittable, and multiple entries are allowed. Entries will be judged based on originality, creativity, writing quality, and adherence to genre, with finalists announced in October 2024, shortlisted in January 2025, and winners in March 2025. Deadline: July 01, 2024.

  13. Best Essay Writing Contests in 2024

    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.".

  14. Keeping it legal: a short guide to writing contest rules

    For example: private businesses are unable to offer "lotteries.". Remove the requirement to pay to enter, and the lottery becomes a "legal sweepstakes.". Remove chance from the picking of the winners, and it becomes a "legal contest.". Individual states can have very specific guidelines and laws regulating contests and sweepstakes.

  15. Top 7 Essay Contests for Students in 2024

    Each entry must follow the official essay writing competitions rules and will be considered for all applicable prizes. However, no more than one prize will be awarded to any single entry. ... First Place: $1,000 scholarship, complimentary registration, and lodging for JASNA's Annual General Meeting. Second Place: $500 scholarship;

  16. PDF Competition Commission of India (CCI)

    Competition Commission of India (CCI) announces National Level Essay Competition 2021-22 as a part of celebration of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav Topic for the Essay Competition "Competition Law in New India-Building Aatm Nirbhar Bharat" Cash Prizes worth Rs.1,00,000/- to win Participants can submit their entries by e-mail to [email protected] with

  17. Judging

    Competition Structure and Dates Prizes Bootcamps Partners and Sponsors Contact Us Competitor Hub. Guidelines Resources Judging Global Winners 2024 Regional Winners 2024 ... Journalistic essay rubric. Follow us on social media. Back to Top.

  18. PDF Guidelines of All India Essay Writing Competition

    All India Essay Writing Competition will be organised by inviting essays on relevant topics by the host Regional Council/ Chapter. Maximum word limit - 1500 words. The language should be English only. The essay should be typed in times new roman, 12 size with double spacing. The hand written essays will not be accepted.

  19. PDF Rules and Guidelines of the Essay Competition

    9. Original essays will be considered for the competition. Any previously published essays shall be rejected outright. Any form of plagiarism will lead to disqualification of the entry. 10. Score / Assessment of the Essay: The entries will be assessed base on these criteria - (i) Originality and Clarity of the Content

  20. PDF Guidelines and Rules for Essay Competition

    Guidelines and Rules for Essay Competition 1. Length of Essay: The word limit for the essay is 1000-1500 words. ... The essay can be submitted in English or Hindi on any of the topic given in announcement poster till March 15, 2022. 4. All entries must be submitted on [email protected] with "Essay Competition" mentioned in subject line ...

  21. 25 Best Writing Competitions for High School Students

    Writing Competitions for High School Students in Politics, History and Philosophy 19) American Foreign Service Association Essay Contest. With this writing competition for high school students, entrants may submit essays ranging from 1,000-1,500 words about diplomacy, history, and international politics (specific prompts vary by year).

  22. PDF 2024 Writing Competition Rules and Regulations

    The prompt for the 2024 Writing Competition is " My Magical Rodeo Garden." The two categories for the competition are Essay and Poetry , and the student author can participate in only one of the categories. Please check the category you wish to enter on the Entry Form & Release of Liability (Entry Form). Essay and Poetry Rules . Essay

  23. National Online Essay Writing Competition

    The office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is organising a National Online Essay Writing Competition to commemorate the occasion of Audit Diwas. Each year, 16th November is celebrated as Audit Diwas, as it was on this day in the year 1860 that Sir Edward Drummond took charge as the first Auditor General of India.


    writing of the essay. Sources/ references used in writing the essay should be duly acknowledged in the essay. 8. The participant will be required to submit personal information along with the essay. The personal information form, available on the website, pertains to the name, address, contact details, age and college particulars of the ...