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THE QUEEN'S COMMONWEALTH ESSAY COMPETITION

Since 1883, we have delivered The Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition, the world's oldest international schools' writing competition. Today, we work to expand its reach, providing life-changing opportunities for young people around the world.

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MEET THE WINNERS 

In 2023 we were delighted to receive a record-breaking 34,924 entries, with winners from India and Malaysia. Read their winning pieces as well as those from previous years.

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140 years of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition

The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition (QCEC) is the world’s oldest international writing competition for schools and has been proudly delivered by the Royal Commonwealth Society since 1883. 

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ABOUT THE COMPETITION 

An opportunity for young Commonwealth citizens to share their thoughts, ideas and experiences on key global issues and have their hard work and achievement celebrated internationally.

rules for english essay writing competition

Essay  COMPETITION

2024 global essay prize.

The John Locke Institute encourages young people to cultivate the characteristics that turn good students into great writers: independent thought, depth of knowledge, clear reasoning, critical analysis and persuasive style. Our Essay Competition invites students to explore a wide range of challenging and interesting questions beyond the confines of the school curriculum.

Entering an essay in our competition can build knowledge, and refine skills of argumentation. It also gives students the chance to have their work assessed by experts. All of our essay prizes are judged by a panel of senior academics drawn from leading universities including Oxford and Princeton, under the leadership of the Chairman of Examiners, former Cambridge philosopher, Dr Jamie Whyte.

The judges will choose their favourite essay from each of seven subject categories - Philosophy, Politics, Economics, History, Psychology, Theology and Law - and then select the winner of the Grand Prize for the best entry in any subject. There is also a separate prize awarded for the best essay in the junior category, for under 15s.

Q1. Do we have any good reasons to trust our moral intuition?

Q2. Do girls have a right to compete in sporting contests that exclude boys?

Q3. Should I be held responsible for what I believe?

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Q1. Is there such a thing as too much democracy?

Q2. Is peace in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip possible?

Q3. When is compliance complicity?

Q1. What is the optimal global population?  

Q2. Accurate news reporting is a public good. Does it follow that news agencies should be funded from taxation?

Q3. Do successful business people benefit others when making their money, when spending it, both, or neither?

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Q1. Why was sustained economic growth so rare before the later 18th century and why did this change?

Q2. Has music ever significantly changed the course of history?

Q3. Why do civilisations collapse? Is our civilisation in danger?

Q1. When, if ever, should a company be permitted to refuse to do business with a person because of that person’s public statements?

Q2. In the last five years British police have arrested several thousand people for things they posted on social media. Is the UK becoming a police state?

Q3. Your parents say that 11pm is your bedtime. But they don’t punish you if you don’t go to bed by 11pm. Is 11pm really your bedtime?

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Q1. According to a study by four British universities, for each 16-point increase in IQ, the likelihood of getting married increases by 35% for a man but decreases by 40% for a woman. Why? 

Q2. There is an unprecedented epidemic of depression and anxiety among young people. Can we fix this? How?

Q3. What is the difference between a psychiatric illness and a character flaw?

Q1. “I am not religious, but I am spiritual.” What could the speaker mean by “spiritual”?

Q2. Is it reasonable to thank God for protection from some natural harm if He is responsible for causing the harm?

Q3. Does God reward those who believe in him? If so, why?

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JUNIOR prize

Q1. Does winning a free and fair election automatically confer a mandate for governing?

Q2. Has the anti-racism movement reduced racism?

Q3. Is there life after death?

Q4. How did it happen that governments came to own and run most high schools, while leaving food production to private enterprise? 

Q5. When will advancing technology make most of us unemployable? What should we do about this?

Q6. Should we trust fourteen-year-olds to make decisions about their own bodies? 

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS & FURTHER DETAILS

Please read the following carefully.

Entry to the John Locke Institute Essay Competition 2024 is open to students from any country.

Registration  

Only candidates who registered before the registration deadline of Friday, 31 May 2024 may enter this year's competition.

All entries must be submitted by 11.59 pm BST on  the submission deadline: Sunday, 30 June 2024 .  Candidates must be eighteen years old, or younger, on that date. (Candidates for the Junior Prize must be fourteen years old, or younger, on that date.)

Entry is free.

Each essay must address only one of the questions in your chosen subject category, and must not exceed 2000 words (not counting diagrams, tables of data, endnotes, bibliography or authorship declaration). 

The filename of your pdf must be in this format: FirstName-LastName-Category-QuestionNumber.pdf; so, for instance, Alexander Popham would submit his answer to question 2 in the Psychology category with the following file name:

Alexander-Popham-Psychology-2.pdf

Essays with filenames which are not in this format will be rejected.

The candidate's name should NOT appear within the document itself. 

Candidates should NOT add footnotes. They may, however, add endnotes and/or a Bibliography that is clearly titled as such.

Each candidate will be required to provide the email address of an academic referee who is familiar with the candidate's written academic work. This should be a school teacher, if possible, or another responsible adult who is not a relation of the candidate. The John Locke Institute will email referees to verify that the essays submitted are indeed the original work of the candidates.

Submissions may be made as soon as registration opens in April. We recommend that you submit your essay well in advance of th e deadline to avoid any last-minute complications.

Acceptance of your essay depends on your granting us permission to use your data for the purposes of receiving and processing your entry as well as communicating with you about the Awards Ceremony Dinner, the academic conference for essay competition finalists, and other events and programmes of the John Locke Institute and its associated entities.  

Late entries

If for any reason you miss the 30 June deadline you will have an opportunity to make a late entry, under two conditions:

a) A late entry fee of 20.00 USD must be paid by credit card within twenty-four hours of the original deadline; and

b) Your essay must be submitted  before 11.59 pm BST on Wednesday, 10 July 2024.

To pay for late entry, a registrant need only log into his or her account, select the relevant option and provide the requested payment information.

Our grading system is proprietary. Essayists may be asked to discuss their entry with a member of the John Locke Institute’s faculty. We use various means to identify plagiarism, contract cheating, the use of AI and other forms of fraud . Our determinations in all such matters are final.

Essays will be judged on knowledge and understanding of the relevant material, the competent use of evidence, quality of argumentation, originality, structure, writing style and persuasive force. The very best essays are likely to be those which would be capable of changing somebody's mind. Essays which ignore or fail to address the strongest objections and counter-arguments are unlikely to be successful .

Candidates are advised to answer the question as precisely and directly as possible.

The writers of the best essays will receive a commendation and be shortlisted for a prize. Writers of shortlisted essays will be notified by 11.59 pm BST on Wednesday, 31 July. They will also be invited to London for an invitation-only academic conference and awards dinner in September, where the prize-winners will be announced. Unlike the competition itself, the academic conference and awards dinner are not free. Please be aware that n obody is required to attend either the academic conference or the prize ceremony. You can win a prize without travelling to London.

All short-listed candidates, including prize-winners, will be able to download eCertificates that acknowledge their achievement. If you win First, Second or Third Prize, and you travel to London for the ceremony, you will receive a signed certificate. 

There is a prize for the best essay in each category. The prize for each winner of a subject category, and the winner of the Junior category, is a scholarship worth US$2000 towards the cost of attending any John Locke Institute programme, and the essays will be published on the Institute's website. Prize-giving ceremonies will take place in London, at which winners and runners-up will be able to meet some of the judges and other faculty members of the John Locke Institute. Family, friends, and teachers are also welcome.

The candidate who submits the best essay overall will be awarded an honorary John Locke Institute Junior Fellowship, which comes with a US$10,000 scholarship to attend one or more of our summer schools and/or visiting scholars programmes. 

The judges' decisions are final, and no correspondence will be entered into.

R egistration opens: 1 April, 2024.

Registration deadline: 31 May, 2024. (Registration is required by this date for subsequent submission.)

Submission deadline: 30 June, 2024.

Late entry deadline: 10 July, 2024. (Late entries are subject to a 20.00 USD charge, payable by 1 July.)

Notification of short-listed essayists: 31 July, 2024.

Academic conference: 20 - 22 September, 2024.

Awards dinner: 21 September, 2024.

Any queries regarding the essay competition should be sent to [email protected] . Please be aware that, due to the large volume of correspondence we receive, we cannot guarantee to answer every query. In particular, regrettably, we are unable to respond to questions whose answers can be found on our website.

If you would like to receive helpful tips  from our examiners about what makes for a winning essay or reminders of upcoming key dates for the 2024  essay competition, please provide your email here to be added to our contact list. .

Thanks for subscribing!

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The John Locke Institute's Global Essay Prize is acknowledged as the world's most prestigious essay competition. 

We welcome tens of thousands of submissions from ambitious students in more than 150 countries, and our examiners - including distinguished philosophers, political scientists, economists, historians, psychologists, theologians, and legal scholars - read and carefully assess every entry. 

I encourage you to register for this competition, not only for the hope of winning a prize or commendation, and not only for the chance to join the very best contestants at our academic conference and gala ceremony in London, but equally for the opportunity to engage in the serious scholarly enterprise of researching, reflecting on, writing about, and editing an answer to one of the important and provocative questions in this year's Global Essay Prize. 

We believe that the skills you will acquire in the process will make you a better thinker and a more effective advocate for the ideas that matter most to you.

I hope to see you in September!

Best wishes,

Jamie Whyte, Ph.D. (C ANTAB ) 

Chairman of Examiners

Make IELTS easy

Essay Writing Competition Rules and Regulations – Complete Guide

Everything you need to know about essay writing competition rules and regulations.

Essay writing competitions are a fantastic way for aspiring writers to showcase their skills, gain recognition, and win amazing prizes. Navigating rules regulations competitions sometimes confusing overwhelming. This post, break down need about Essay Writing Competition Rules and Regulations, count limits submission so can confidently enter excel contests.

Word Count Limits

One of the most important rules to pay attention to when entering an essay writing competition is the word count limit. Each competition specific requirements, crucial review adhere guidelines. Failure meet count limit result disqualification, sure your before submitting.

Submission Guidelines

In addition to word count limits, essay writing competitions will also have specific submission guidelines that participants must follow. This formatting requirements, types, deadlines. Important read understand guidelines ensure entry eligible consideration.

Case Study: The Impact of Following Rules and Regulations

A recent study conducted by the Essay Writers Association found that essays that adhered to competition rules and regulations were 30% more likely to advance to the final rounds of judging. Demonstrates significant following guidelines success entry.

Personal Reflections

As a writer who has participated in numerous essay writing competitions, I can attest to the importance of thoroughly understanding and respecting the rules and regulations set forth by organizers. While it can be tempting to take shortcuts or make assumptions, doing so can ultimately harm your chances of winning. Taking time familiarize competition guidelines adhere diligently, set success maximize potential recognition rewards.

Essay Writing Competition Rules and Regulations designed ensure fairness uphold integrity contest. By paying close attention to word count limits, submission guidelines, and other requirements, you can position yourself as a strong contender and increase your chances of making a lasting impression with your writing. So, embrace the guidelines, let your creativity flow, and take the essay writing competition world by storm!

Essay Writing Competition Rules and Regulations

Welcome Essay Writing Competition Rules and Regulations. This contract sets out the terms and conditions that govern participation in the essay writing competition. Read contract carefully entering competition.

By entering the competition, Participants agree to be bound by this contract and any additional rules and regulations set forth by the Organizer. Failure comply terms contract result disqualification competition.

Top 10 Legal Questions About Essay Writing Competition Rules and Regulations

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Rules and Guidelines

You are here, in this section, essay contest rules 2024.

Length: Your essay should be at least 1,000 words but should not exceed 1,500 words (word count does not apply to the list of sources).

Content and Judging: Submissions will be judged on the quality of analysis, quality of research, and form, style and mechanics. Successful entries will answer all aspects of the prompt and demonstrate an understanding of the Foreign Service . All qualifying essays will be judged blind through several rounds of judging. All decisions of the judges are final.

Sources: Standards of content and style from current edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers will be expected for (1) documentation of sources in the text of your memo; (2) the format of the list of works cited; and (3) margins and indentation. A bibliography following the MLA Handbook must be included. Essays should use a variety of sources—academic journals, news magazines, newspapers, books, government documents, publications from research organizations. At least three of the cited materials should be primary sources (a document, speech, or other sort of evidence written, created or otherwise produced during the time under study). General encyclopedias, including Wikipedia, are not acceptable as sources. Essays citing general encyclopedias in notes or bibliography will be disqualified. Websites should not be the only source of information for your essay; when you do use online sources they must be properly cited.

Submission:

  • Fill out the registration form. All fields on the online form are required, including uploading a Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) file of your original work with a title, in English which should include a comprehensive list of sources consulted. Entries must be typed, double-spaced, in 12-point Times New Roman or an equivalent font with a one-inch margin on all sides of the page.
  • Teacher or Sponsor: Student registration forms must have a teacher or sponsor name. That person may review the submitted essay and act as the key contact between participants and AFSA. It is to the student’s advantage to have a coordinator review the essay to make sure it is complete, contains all the necessary forms, is free from typographical and grammatical errors, and addresses the topic.
  • Do not place your last name or your school's name on any of the pages of the essay. Only the registration form should include this information.
  • Faxed submissions will not be accepted.
  • Your essay will be disqualified if it does not meet the requirements or is submitted after the submission date of 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 1, 2024.

Eligibility: Students whose parents are not in the Foreign Service are eligible to participate if they are in grades nine through twelve in any of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories, or if they are U.S. citizens/lawful permanent residents attending high school overseas. Students may be attending a public, private, or parochial school. Entries from home-schooled students are also accepted. Previous first-place winners and immediate relatives of directors or staff of the AFSA, Semester at Sea and National Student Leadership Conference are not eligible to participate. Previous honorable mention designees are eligible to enter.

Prizes: $2,500 to the writer of the winning essay, in addition to an all-expense paid trip to the nation’s capital from anywhere in the U.S. for the winner and his or her parents, and an all-expense paid educational voyage courtesy of Semester at Sea. Runner-up receives $1,250 and a full tuition to attend a summer session of National Student Leadership Conference’s International Diplomacy program.

Your essay will become the property of the American Foreign Service Association once it is submitted and will not be returned.

Thank you for your essay submission and good luck!

PRIVACY POLICY : AFSA collects your information for this contest and for AFSA partners. You may be signed up to receive updates or information from AFSA and our partners. You may receive a message from our sponsor regarding their program offerings, with the option to opt-out. You will be notified if you are the winner, runner-up or an honorable mention in June 2024. The names of the winner, runner-up and honorable mentions will be posted on the AFSA website in June 2024.

rules for english essay writing competition

Click here to start your application. Apply now

  • The Essay Competition is offered by Northeastern University London, based at Devon House 58 St Katharine’s Way, London, E1W 1LP
  • The Competition is open to students who are currently in their penultimate year of secondary education (the equivalent of Y12 in England or Grade 11 in India).
  • Entries should answer one of the specified questions.
  • Entrants must register here to participate in the competition. We cannot accept submissions if the student has not first registered.
  • Essays must be of approximately 1,500 words typed and in double line spacing, with the student’s full name at the bottom or top of each page, and be submitted in Word document or PDF format. We will allow +/- 10% range of 1,500. Titles, references and footnotes are not included in the word count.
  • Essays should be submitted via the online form provided in the registration confirmation email.
  • When registering for the competition and submitting your essay/report please use the same name throughout and title your file: [Student First Name].[Student Last Name].[Essay subject] e.g ‘Alice.Smith.History’
  • When submitting your essay, you must state the name and email address that you used when registering for the competition, using a different name or email may result in disqualification.
  • We will only accept essays in the following formats .doc/.docx and .PDF
  • The essay must be the sole creation and original work of the entrant. The essay/report must not have been submitted to this or any other essay competition in previous years.
  • Any form of plagiarism will result in automatic disqualification.
  • Essays/Reports generated with the use of AI or chatbot systems such as ChatGPT or alike will result in automatic disqualification.
  • An essay may be a reworked piece of the entrant’s coursework or an extract of their dissertation, provided that it was originally the sole creation of the entrant.
  • Shortlisted entries will be approved to warrant that the entrant is eligible for the competition. This will be undertaken by the judges once they have a short list of the best essays.
  • No person may submit more than one essay for each annual competition.
  • The award winners grant the University the right to publish or reproduce at any time all or part of the award-winning entries.
  • The prizes on offer are stated  here . Entrants cannot win more than one prize in any one year. The award of all or any of the prizes lies solely within the discretion of the judges. The judges’ decision will be final.
  • The deadline for the receipt of entries is 1pm GMT Sunday 31st December 2023. Please note that late entries cannot be accepted under any circumstances.
  • All entries will be acknowledged by email. Entrants who unsubscribe from the University’s emails will not receive acknowledgement of their entry nor will they receive email communications about their performance in the competition. Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity to provide feedback on unsuccessful entries.
  • Winners are entitled to refer to the achievement on their CV and university application personal statement.
  • It is anticipated that the prize-winners will be announced in March 2024.
  • The decision of the Director of Admissions, Recruitment & Marketing on interpretation of these Rules will be final.

Essay Writing Contests for Students

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Are you a great writer? You may be able to win cash, scholarships, trips, and other awards with your essay-writing abilities. There are many contests out there that cover a wide variety of topics. Why not enter a competition today?

Contest rules vary significantly, and some may contain important information about possible restrictions, so be sure to read all rules carefully. Please note that most of these competitions require that participants be citizens of the United States.

Alliance for Young Artists and Writers: Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

This competition offers young scholars the opportunity to earn national recognition, publication opportunities, and scholarship awards. Students in grades 7-12 who reside in the U.S. or Canada are eligible to participate in this highly regarded competition.

AWM Biographies Contest

In order to “increase awareness of women's ongoing contributions to the mathematical sciences,” the Association for Women in Mathematics holds a contest requesting biographical essays of “contemporary women mathematicians and statisticians in academic, industrial, and government careers.” Submissions are accepted from December 1 to February 1, with judging beginning in February.

Engineer Girl!

EngineerGirl, an entity of The National Academy for Engineering, holds an essay contest every year for aspiring young engineers. Entrants are required to evaluate one of their own engineering designs in a short essay. Instructions for applying and details about the essay requirements are posted in September and applications are due February 1st the next year.

EPIC New Voices

The goal of this competition is to improve student literacy through traditional modes of learning as well as through new technology. Applicants between the ages of 11 and 14 make up the junior division and applicants between the ages of 15 and 18 make up the senior division. You can receive cash or an ebook reader if your original essay or short story wins. Students from around the world are eligible.

NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund: The Second Amendment to the Constitution

The NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund (NRACRDF) holds an essay competition to encourage students to recognize the Second Amendment as an integral part of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The theme for the essay is “What Does The Second Amendment Mean to You?” Students can win up to $1,000 in savings bonds.

Holocaust Remembrance Project

The Holocaust Remembrance Project invites high school students to do the following in their essays: “analyze why it is vital that the remembrance, history, and lessons of the Holocaust be passed to new generations; and suggest what you, as students, can do to combat and prevent prejudice, discrimination and violence in our world today.” Students can win scholarship money up to $10,000.

JASNA Essay Contest

Fans of Jane Austen may be delighted to learn about the contest offered by The Jane Austen Society of North America. The topic of the annual essay contest changes each year based on themes covered in the Annual General Meeting for that year.

AEL Collegiate Essay Contest

If you are a U.S. citizen enrolled at a four-year college or university, Pepperdine Libraries has a scholarship contest for you. The contest requires a five- to eight-page essay, approximately 1,500–2,000 words, with a first-place prize award of $2,500, a second-place prize of $1,500, and a third-place prize of $1,000. The essay asks students to discuss the ways in which liberal arts degrees are advantageous.

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

10 Steps to Writing Contest-Winning Essays

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rules for english essay writing competition

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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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rules for english essay writing competition

Immerse Essay Competition 2024: Win a 100% scholarship for our transformative programmes

4th January 2024 Submission Deadline - This round has come to a close

rules for english essay writing competition

What is the Immerse Education Essay Competition 2024?

The Immerse Education Essay Competition provides the opportunity for students aged 13-18 to submit essay responses to a question of their choice relating to a subject of interest. There are over twenty questions to choose from which can be found in our full Essay Competition Guide. 10 winners will receive a 100% scholarship to study with us at a world-leading university of their choosing. Outstanding runners-up also receive partial scholarships .

Essay competition timeline

  • Coming soon for 2025 Round Competition opens
  • Coming soon for 2025 Round Competition closes
  • Coming soon for 2025 Round Results announced
  • January, July & August 2025 Programme dates

Who can apply?

The Immerse Education Essay Competition is open to students worldwide of all nationalities. You must be aged between 13-18 during your chosen programme.

List of Essay Topics

  • Programme Overview
  • Programme Prizes
  • Reviews and Winners

rules for english essay writing competition

10 winners will receive a 100% scholarship

Take a look at previous essay competition winners.

rules for english essay writing competition

Runners Up will be awarded partial scholarships of up to 50% to study their chosen subject with Immerse. The number of runners-up will be determined by the number of entries received, and the quality of the work submitted. 7% of entrants accept scholarship funding to attend an Immerse programme.--> Hundreds of students usually receive a high partial scholarship funding, with thousands receiving further partial scholarships.

Which programmes can the scholarship be redeemed against?

rules for english essay writing competition

London Summer School

Our industry-focused experience taught by professionals, based in the heart of London - one of the most exciting cities in the world.

rules for english essay writing competition

Cambridge Summer School

Our most popular summer school location - choose from over 20 different subjects taught by expert academics from world-leading universities.

rules for english essay writing competition

Oxford Summer School

The city of dreaming spires plays host to a number of Academic Insights programmes. Choose from subjects such as medicine, international relations, business and more.

rules for english essay writing competition

  • Online Insights

Taking the highlights of our award-winning "Academic Insights" programme online. Receive expert teaching from Oxbridge academics in a choice of university-level subjects.

rules for english essay writing competition

Online Research Programmes

Receive 1:1 tutorials from academics at Oxford and Cambridge University or Ivy League Universities. The aim of these programmes is to develop a university-style academic research project in a topic of your choice - developing key skills such as academic writing, independent study and research.

rules for english essay writing competition

Sydney Summer School

Experience our Academic Insights Programme from the University of Sydney, one of the most prestigious institutions in the world. Engage in a unique collegiate educational experience, and choose a course from a range including Business Management, Engineering, Medicine and more.

New York Summer School

Our New York summer programmes, tailored for middle and high school students aged between 15-18 develop the young leaders of tomorrow through innovative industry-focused programmes.

San Francisco Summer School

Experience our Career Insights programmes a doorstep away from the epicenter of entrepreneurship and forward-thinking businesses and startups.

Toronto Summer School

Win a scholarship to participate on our award-winning Academic Insights programme at a leading university in Toronto.

Read about the experience of past winners below

rules for english essay writing competition

Immerse Alumni, 100% Scholarship Winner

"I applied to the essay competition online after an email from my school. Coming up to the essay competition deadline, I was sort of aware that I wanted to write something and submit it, but I was still unsure about subjects and things because I had lots of subjects that I'm doing in school and that I'm interested in pursuing and definitely looking through the essay prompts helped. The creative writing one, 'which key attributes make protagonists likeable' was such a general, but also a really interesting question. I think it just inspired me to start research on it immediately."

rules for english essay writing competition

Immerse alumni, and scholarship winner

"Immerse was very fun as well as useful. You were able to experience what it would be like if you studied here for university. The most beneficial part of the course was being able to see what International Relations is like, and it helped me decide what I want to study in the future."

rules for english essay writing competition

100% Scholarship Winner

I really wanted to go to summer school this year, and so I literally was searching for summer school opportunities and Immerse is one that came up. Through this, I found out about the competition and I decided to submit an answer. Immerse was very helpful whilst I was writing my essay, especially with things like the referencing guide. When I got the scholarship email, I definitely thought it wasn't real. I was in shock, but I was also really, really happy because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.

rules for english essay writing competition

"I loved the little conversations we had when a question about the topic turned into explanations of the ethical, personal and economic issues that surround medicine. Overall, I found my lessons very beneficial. I know so much more about medicine and its different subsets, but also about what a career in medicine really looks like."

rules for english essay writing competition

“Throughout the academic sessions I gained lots of valuable knowledge and helped form foundations for my A-level studies. I also received many slideshows and resources used by my tutor so that I could review them in my own time and reinforce the content. Overall, I strongly believe that the academic sessions were the most beneficial aspect of the programme."

rules for english essay writing competition

"I enrolled because I wanted to expand my knowledge of physics and meet other people with the same interests as myself. Both of which I was successful in doing! My favourite aspect of the programme was the small class sizes - this helped both the tutor and students with learning and understanding the subject."

rules for english essay writing competition

I could see that the essay competition was an incredible opportunity for international students to win a scholarship purely based on merit. More importantly, after doing some more research, I realised that the process for choosing winners was incredibly fair, that everyone would get an equal chance regardless of their socio-economic background, race, nationality, gender, etc.

rules for english essay writing competition

There is no downside to entering the competition. If you win, it is awesome. If you don’t win, you gained an experience. Entering the competition and working as hard as I did for it was one of the most gratifying experiences. From this competition you really get what you put into it, if you put in a lot of effort, you will be rewarded.

rules for english essay writing competition

My school invited everyone to participate, and the further I read about Immerse Education, the more motivated I was to enter the competition. Not only did I have the chance to study a subject I love, I would also be able to expand on my essay skills since writing has always been a passion of mine.

Hear from a previous 100% winner

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can enter the immerse essay competition.

The Immerse Education Essay Competition 2024/2025 is open to entries from young people aged 13-18 interested in all subjects, from Architecture to Medicine, Creative Writing to Film Studies. If participants are successful, they should be aged 13 and above before the start of their programme.

What support can I expect when I register interest for the Essay Competition?

Immerse provides a full essay-writing guide which is sent to your email address once you register your interest in the competition. This guide includes a full list of essay questions, our essay specification, top tips for writing an academic essay, referencing guidance, our terms and conditions and guidance on plagiarism! Registering interest also ensures that you're on track to submitting your essay on time, through a series of helpful reminder prompts. To support further you can register for our webinars , which offer top tips and guidance with essay writing from our experts. You are also welcome to explore our creative writing resources .

Why should I enter the Immerse Education Essay Competition?

If i win a scholarship, which location can i use it for.

If you win a scholarship via the Essay Competition 2024 you can use it toward any residential course in any of our locations. Use your scholarship to enrol on one of our renowned online programmes or enriching in-person/residential summer school programmes in cultural melting pots such as Cambridge, Oxford, London or Sydney and more.

Do I need to pay or enrol onto a programme to be able to enter the competition?

No, there is no entry fee and you do not need to have already enrolled onto any of our programmes to take part in the essay competition.

When is the deadline for the Essay Competition?

The deadline for all essay entries for the last round of the competition is 4th January 2024. The next deadline will most likely be on 31st August 2024.

Register interest for the next competition - Coming Soon

The Immerse Education Essay Competition provides the opportunity for students aged 13-18 to submit essay responses to a pre-set question relating to their chosen subject. Join our waiting list to get tips and insight on how to prepare for the competition, essay writing advice and keep track of the deadline as it approaches.

Join the 2025 Competition Waiting List. When live, the Following Guidance Materials will be Shared.

  • A Full List of Essay Questions
  • Essay Specification
  • Top Tips For Writing an Academic Essay
  • Referencing Guidance
  • Essay Competition Terms & Conditions
  • Plagiarism Guidance
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The Best Student Writing Contests for 2023-2024

Help your students take their writing to the next level.

We Are Teachers logo and text that says Guide to Student Writing Contests on dark background

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.

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Discourse, debate, and analysis

Cambridge re:think essay competition 2024.

Competition Opens: 15th January, 2024

Essay Submission Deadline: 10th May, 2024 Result Announcement: 25th June, 2024 Award Ceremony and Dinner at the University of Cambridge: 30th July, 2024

We welcome talented high school students from diverse educational settings worldwide to contribute their unique perspectives to the competition.

Entry to the competition is free.

About the Competition

The spirit of the Re:think essay competition is to encourage critical thinking and exploration of a wide range of thought-provoking and often controversial topics. The competition covers a diverse array of subjects, from historical and present issues to speculative future scenarios. Participants are invited to engage deeply with these topics, critically analysing their various facets and implications. It promotes intellectual exploration and encourages participants to challenge established norms and beliefs, presenting opportunities to envision alternative futures, consider the consequences of new technologies, and reevaluate longstanding traditions. 

Ultimately, our aim is to create a platform for students and scholars to share their perspectives on pressing issues of the past and future, with the hope of broadening our collective understanding and generating innovative solutions to contemporary challenges. This year’s competition aims to underscore the importance of discourse, debate, and critical analysis in addressing complex societal issues in nine areas, including:

Religion and Politics

Political science and law, linguistics, environment, sociology and philosophy, business and investment, public health and sustainability, biotechonology.

Artificial Intelligence 

Neuroengineering

2024 essay prompts.

This year, the essay prompts are contributed by distinguished professors from Harvard, Brown, UC Berkeley, Cambridge, Oxford, and MIT.

Essay Guidelines and Judging Criteria

Review general guidelines, format guidelines, eligibility, judging criteria.

Awards and Award Ceremony

Award winners will be invited to attend the Award Ceremony and Dinner hosted at the King’s College, University of Cambridge. The Dinner is free of charge for select award recipients.

Registration and Submission

Register a participant account today and submit your essay before the deadline.

Advisory Committee and Judging Panel

The Cambridge Re:think Essay Competition is guided by an esteemed Advisory Committee comprising distinguished academics and experts from elite universities worldwide. These committee members, drawn from prestigious institutions, such as Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, and MIT, bring diverse expertise in various disciplines.

They play a pivotal role in shaping the competition, contributing their insights to curate the themes and framework. Their collective knowledge and scholarly guidance ensure the competition’s relevance, academic rigour, and intellectual depth, setting the stage for aspiring minds to engage with thought-provoking topics and ideas.

We are honoured to invite the following distinguished professors to contribute to this year’s competition.

The judging panel of the competition comprises leading researchers and professors from Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Cambridge, and Oxford, engaging in a strictly double blind review process.

Essay Competition Professors

Why has religion remained a force in a secular world? 

Professor Commentary:

Arguably, the developed world has become more secular in the last century or so. The influence of Christianity, e.g. has diminished and people’s life worlds are less shaped by faith and allegiance to Churches. Conversely, arguments have persisted that hold that we live in a post-secular world. After all, religion – be it in terms of faith, transcendence, or meaning – may be seen as an alternative to a disenchanted world ruled by entirely profane criteria such as economic rationality, progressivism, or science. Is the revival of religion a pale reminder of a by-gone past or does it provide sources of hope for the future?

‘Religion in the Public Sphere’ by Jürgen Habermas (European Journal of Philosophy, 2006)

In this paper, philosopher Jürgen Habermas discusses the limits of church-state separation, emphasizing the significant contribution of religion to public discourse when translated into publicly accessible reasons.

‘Public Religions in the Modern World’ by José Casanova (University Of Chicago Press, 1994)

Sociologist José Casanova explores the global emergence of public religion, analyzing case studies from Catholicism and Protestantism in Spain, Poland, Brazil, and the USA, challenging traditional theories of secularization.

‘The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere’ by Judith Butler, Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, and Cornel West (Edited by Eduardo Mendieta and Jonathan VanAntwerpen, Columbia University Press, 2011)

This collection features dialogues by prominent intellectuals on the role of religion in the public sphere, examining various approaches and their impacts on cultural, social, and political debates.

‘Rethinking Secularism’ by Craig Calhoun, Mark Juergensmeyer, and Jonathan VanAntwerpen (Oxford University Press, 2011)

An interdisciplinary examination of secularism, this book challenges traditional views, highlighting the complex relationship between religion and secularism in contemporary global politics.

‘God is Back: How the Global Rise of Faith is Changing the World’ by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge (Penguin, 2010)

Micklethwait and Wooldridge argue for the coexistence of religion and modernity, suggesting that religious beliefs can contribute to a more open, tolerant, and peaceful modern world.

‘Multiculturalism’ by Tariq Modood (Polity Press, 2013)

Sociologist Tariq Modood emphasizes the importance of multiculturalism in integrating diverse identities, particularly in post-immigration contexts, and its role in shaping democratic citizenship.

‘God’s Agents: Biblical Publicity in Contemporary England’ by Matthew Engelke (University of California Press, 2013)

In this ethnographic study, Matthew Engelke explores how a group in England seeks to expand the role of religion in the public sphere, challenging perceptions of religion in post-secular England.

Ccir Essay Competition Prompt Contributed By Dr Mashail Malik

Gene therapy is a medical approach that treats or prevents disease by correcting the underlying genetic problem. Is gene therapy better than traditional medicines? What are the pros and cons of using gene therapy as a medicine? Is gene therapy justifiable?

Especially after Covid-19 mRNA vaccines, gene therapy is getting more and more interesting approach to cure. That’s why that could be interesting to think about. I believe that students will enjoy and learn a lot while they are investigating this topic.

Ccir Essay Competition Prompt Contributed By Dr Mamiko Yajima

The Hall at King’s College, Cambridge

The Hall was designed by William Wilkins in the 1820s and is considered one of the most magnificent halls of its era. The first High Table dinner in the Hall was held in February 1828, and ever since then, the splendid Hall has been where members of the college eat and where formal dinners have been held for centuries.

The Award Ceremony and Dinner will be held in the Hall in the evening of  30th July, 2024.

2

Stretching out down to the River Cam, the Back Lawn has one of the most iconic backdrop of King’s College Chapel. 

The early evening reception will be hosted on the Back Lawn with the iconic Chapel in the background (weather permitting). 

3

King’s College Chapel

With construction started in 1446 by Henry VI and took over a century to build, King’s College Chapel is one of the most iconic buildings in the world, and is a splendid example of late Gothic architecture. 

Attendees are also granted complimentary access to the King’s College Chapel before and during the event. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I participate in the Re:think essay competition? 

The Re:think Essay competition is meant to serve as fertile ground for honing writing skills, fostering critical thinking, and refining communication abilities. Winning or participating in reputable contests can lead to recognition, awards, scholarships, or even publication opportunities, elevating your academic profile for college applications and future endeavours. Moreover, these competitions facilitate intellectual growth by encouraging exploration of diverse topics, while also providing networking opportunities and exposure to peers, educators, and professionals. Beyond accolades, they instil confidence, prepare for higher education demands, and often allow you to contribute meaningfully to societal conversations or causes, making an impact with your ideas.

Who is eligible to enter the Re:think essay competition?  

As long as you’re currently attending high school, regardless of your location or background, you’re eligible to participate. We welcome students from diverse educational settings worldwide to contribute their unique perspectives to the competition.

Is there any entry fee for the competition? 

There is no entry fee for the competition. Waiving the entry fee for our essay competition demonstrates CCIR’s dedication to equity. CCIR believes everyone should have an equal chance to participate and showcase their talents, regardless of financial circumstances. Removing this barrier ensures a diverse pool of participants and emphasises merit and creativity over economic capacity, fostering a fair and inclusive environment for all contributors.

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The Best Essay Writing Contests of 2024

Writing competitions curated by Reedsy

  • Children's
  • Flash Fiction
  • Non-fiction
  • Science Fiction
  • Science Writing
  • Script Writing
  • Short Story
  • Young Adult

Manage a competition? Submit it here

RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.

Showing 46 contests

Anthology travel writing competition 2024.

Anthology Magazine

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 requirements

Deadline: November 30, 2024

Essay, Non-fiction, Travel

International Voices in Creative Nonfiction Competition

Vine Leaves Press

Small presses have potential for significant impact, and at Vine Leaves Press, we take this responsibility quite seriously. It is our responsibility to give marginalized groups the opportunity to establish literary legacies that feel rich and vast. Why? To sustain hope for the world to become a more loving, tolerable, and open space. It always begins with art. That is why we have launched this writing competition.

Additional prizes

Book publication

Deadline: July 01, 2024

Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction, Novel

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

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: April 05, 2024

Essay, Non-fiction

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.

Publication

Deadline: June 15, 2024

Creative Nonfiction Prize

Indiana Review

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

Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction

High School Academic Research Competition

Columbia Undergraduate Science Journal

The High School Academic Research Competition is where talented students from around the world compete to publish high-quality research on any topic. SARC challenges students to sharpen their critical thinking skills, immerse themselves in the research process, and hone their writing skills for success.

Indigo Research Intensive Summer Program

Deadline: March 20, 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

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.

Deadline: September 21, 2024

Annual Contest Submissions

So To Speak

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.

Deadline: March 15, 2024

Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, LGBTQ, Non-fiction, Poetry

Brink Literary Journal Award for Hybrid Writing

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.

Deadline: February 16, 2024 (Expired)

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

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

Sunspot Literary Journal

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

Deadline: February 29, 2024

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

Military Anthology: Partnerships, the Untold Story

Armed Services Arts Partnership

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

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

Stories of Inspiration

Kinsman Avenue Publishing, Inc

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

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

Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story

Vocal Challenges

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

Essay, Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Short Story

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

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.

Irene Adler Prize

Lucas Ackroyd

I’ve traveled the world from Sweden to South Africa, from the Golden Globes to the Olympic women’s hockey finals. I’ve photographed a mother polar bear and her cubs and profiled stars like ABBA, Jennifer Garner and Katarina Witt. And I couldn’t have done it without women. I’ve been very fortunate, and it’s time for me to give back. With the Irene Adler Prize, I’m awarding a $1,000 scholarship to a woman pursuing a degree in journalism, creative writing, or literature at a recognized post-secondary institution.

2x honorable mentions: $250

Deadline: May 30, 2024

Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award

Killer Nashville

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.

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

World Historian Student Essay Competition

World History Association

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.

Deadline: May 01, 2024

Children's, Essay

100 Word Writing Contest

Tadpole Press

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

Deadline: April 30, 2024

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

Indignor Play House Annual Short Story Competition

Indignor House Publishing

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

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

Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest

Lazuli Literary Group

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

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

swamp pink Prizes

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.

Deadline: January 31, 2024 (Expired)

Red Hen Press Women's Prose Prize

Red Hen Press

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

Fiction, Non-fiction, Short Story, Essay, Memoir, Novel

African Diaspora Awards 2024

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

Deadline: June 30, 2024

Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story

The Letter Review Prize for Unpublished Books

The Letter Review

The Letter Review Prize for Unpublished Books (Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction) is open to writers from anywhere in the world. Three Winners are awarded, and 20 entries are Shortlisted.

3 x $333 USD

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

The Letter Review Prize for Nonfiction

The Letter Review Prize for Nonfiction (0-5000 words) is open to writers from anywhere in the world and has no theme or genre restrictions. Winners are published and every entry is considered for publication. 20 entries are Shortlisted.

Publication by The Letter Review

Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction

Work-In-Progress (WIP) Contest

Unleash Press

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

Deadline: July 15, 2024

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

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

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

Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize

Gotham Writers Workshop

The Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize is a writing competition sponsored by the stage and radio series Selected Shorts. Selected Shorts is recorded for Public Radio and heard nationally on both the radio and its weekly podcast. This years entries will be judged by Carmen Maria Machado (In the Dream House, Her Body and Other Parties).

$1000 + free 10 week course with Gotham Writers

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

Journalism Competition 2024

Write the World

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.

Best entry: $100

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

Deadline: July 22, 2024

Personal Essay Competition 2024

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.

Deadline: June 24, 2024

Essay, Memoir

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

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rules for english essay writing competition

American Indian Law Review Writing Competition AILR Writing Competition Rules

TOPICS : Papers will be accepted on any legal issue specifically concerning American Indians or other indigenous peoples.

ELIGIBILITY: The competition is open to students enrolled in J.D. or graduate law programs at accredited law schools in the United States and Canada as of the competition deadline of Thursday, February 29, 2024 . Editors of the American Indian Law Review are not eligible to compete.

AWARDS: The first place winner receives $1,500 and publication by the American Indian Law Review, an official periodical of the University of Oklahoma College of Law with international readership. The second place winner receives $750, and third place receives $400. Each of the three winning authors will also be awarded an eBook copy of Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law, provided by LexisNexis.

DEADLINE : All emailed entries must be received no later than 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Thursday, February 29, 2024 . Entries will be acknowledged upon receipt.

JUDGES: Papers will be judged by members of the legal profession with a focus in American Indian law and by the editors of the American Indian Law Review.

STANDARDS : Papers will be judged on the basis of originality and timeliness of topic, knowledge and use of applicable legal principles, proper and articulate analysis of the issues, use of authorities and extent of research, logic and reasoning in analysis, ingenuity and ability to argue by analogy, clarity and organization, correctness of format and citations, grammar and writing style, and strength and logic of conclusions. All entries will be checked for plagiarism via an online service.

FORM: Entries must be a minimum of 20 double-spaced pages in length and a maximum of 50 doublespaced pages in length exclusive of footnotes and endnotes. All citations should conform to The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (21st ed.) . The body of the email must contain the author's name, school, expected year of graduation, current address, permanent address, and email address. No identifying marks (name, school, etc.) should appear on the paper itself. All entries must have only one author. Entries must be unpublished, not currently submitted for publication elsewhere, and not currently entered in other writing competitions. Papers entered in the American Indian Law Review writing competition may not be submitted for consideration to any other publication until such time as winning entrants are announced, unless the entrant has withdrawn the entry or received a notification of release prior to that time. Any entries not fully in accord with required form will be ineligible for consideration.

SUBMISSION : Submissions may be emailed to the American Indian Law Review at [email protected] by the competition deadline. Entries may be sent as Microsoft Word or PDF documents.

CONTACT: E-mail - J. Santana Spangler-Day, [email protected], or Michael Waters, [email protected]; Phone Numbers - (405) 325-2840 and (405) 325-5191

This rules sheet is also available on the AILR website, at https://law.ou.edu/ailr/wc . 

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Creating Photo Essays About Community: A Guide to Our Where We Are Contest

Step-by-step directions for depicting what’s memorable and meaningful about groups and the places where they gather.

A group of young people lying on a weathered wooden stage, with their heads resting on one another's stomachs and their arms embracing one another. Some of the people are texting or holding their phones up to take selfies.

By Katherine Schulten

It’s hard not to be inspired by the immersive 2023 photo-essay series Where We Are .

As you scroll through and are introduced to young female wrestlers in India , rappers in Spain , band kids in Ohio and Black debutantes in Detroit , you can’t help but think about the communities you have been a part of — or have noticed in your own neighborhood or school.

That’s why we hope you’ll participate in our new contest , which invites teenagers to use these photo essays as mentor texts to document the local, offline communities that most interest them.

How do you go about that? The steps are outlined below.

Have fun, and if you are submitting to our contest, make sure you do so by March 20.

How to Create Your Photo Essay

Step 1: read the where we are series closely., step 2: decide what local community will be the subject of your photo essay., step 3: take photos that show both the big picture and the small details., step 4: interview members of the community about why it is special., step 5: give your photo essay context via a short written introduction., step 6: write captions for your photos that give new information or add depth or color., step 7: edit all the pieces together and submit..

Immerse yourself in several of these photo essays, using our related activity sheet to help you start to notice and name some of the things that make this series special.

When you’re done, we’ll help you use those same strategies to document the community you have chosen.

Here are free links to the entire series:

1. The Magic of Your First Car 2. At This Mexican Restaurant, Everyone is Family 3. Where the Band Kids Are 4. In This Nigerian Market, Young Women Find a Place of Their Own 5. At Camp Naru, Nobody Is ‘an Outlier’ 6. For Black Debutantes in Detroit, Cotillion Is More Than a Ball 7. At This Wrestling Academy, Indian Girls Are ‘Set Free’ 8. In Seville, Spain, These Young Rappers Come Together to Turn ‘Tears Into Rhymes’ 9. For a Queer Community in Los Angeles, This Public Park Is a Lifeline 10. In Guatemala, a Collective of Young Artists Finds Family Through Film 11. On a Caribbean Island, Young People Find Freedom in ‘Bike Life’ 12. At This Texas Campus Ministry, ‘Inclusive Love’ Is the Mission 13. For Young Arab Americans in Michigan, the Hookah Lounge Feels like Home

A local band and its fans? The kids who hang out at a nearby basketball court? The people who tend a community garden? Your grandpa’s weekly breakfast with old friends at a local diner?

Our related Student Opinion forum will help you brainstorm ideas and then encourage you to detail what’s special about the people and place you choose. Remember that our rules allow you to work with up to three other people on this project, so consider sharing ideas with others to find a project that excites all of you.

Though we will allow you to choose a community you are a part of, we encourage you not to. Approaching a group as an outsider can help you notice and document aspects of that community with relative objectivity, capturing details that insiders may be too close to see.

Once you’ve chosen a group to photograph, begin by introducing yourself to ensure the participants are open to your project. Make sure they understand that, if you are a finalist, the pictures you take may be published on the New York Times website. You should also be sure to get contact information from each member of the group for any follow-up questions.

Next, spend a day or so just observing, noticing how and where the members of this community spend time, what they do together and how they relate to one another. Start to plan your piece, keeping in mind that, via six to eight photos, photo captions and a short introduction, you’ll need to impart the following:

What is this community?

Who is in it?

Where and when does it meet?

How did the community come to be? How does it operate?

Why does it matter to its participants? What is it about the connections people make in this space that makes it special? Why should it matter to viewers?

If there’s one thing to notice about the Where We Are series, it is that the photos and the writing both “zoom out” to provide a big picture and “zoom in” to focus on the meaningful details. If you have followed our related activity sheet , you’ve already noted how individual pieces do that.

You might have also observed that in each photo essay there are images that show the physical space; images that spotlight the people who gather there; and close-up images that focus on meaningful objects or details, like food, clothing, tattoos, jewelry, hair or hands.

Here are some steps you can take to do this too.

1. Ground your piece in a specific physical space.

Keep in mind that our contest allows you to submit only eight photos, so the more specific you can be about the place you choose, the easier it will be to tell a story. For example, rather than trying to document everything about the boys’ soccer team at your school, you might focus on their Wednesday practices at a local field.

Take photos that establish that space, perhaps at different times of day, from a variety of angles, with and without people. Here, for instance, is Sarapes, a Mexican restaurant in a quiet Connecticut suburb that is a “headquarters” for a group of 20-somethings.

As you look at this image and the ones below, ask yourself:

What can you tell about this space from the photograph?

What can you guess about the people who gather here, and what might this place might mean to them? What do you see that makes you say that?

Here is a meeting area at the Texas Wesley Foundation , a Methodist campus ministry group at University of Texas at Austin.

And here is the caption that comes with it:

“We call ourselves a Methodist group, but we are enthusiastic to accept people of other faiths, people who might not have any faith, or who are questioning their faith,” said Brandon. “We really like to meet people where they’re at.”

How do the caption and image echo and build on each other?

Next is one of many shots of Camp Naru , a summer camp for Korean American youth, where fostering a “strong, secure sense of identity and community is one of the main goals.” How can you see that in this image?

Finally, here is a big-picture look at the Southern California landscape that is the setting for “ The Magic of Your First Car .” What adjectives come to mind? Before you read the full piece, what can you already imagine about the teenagers who “get away from the prying eyes of parents” by driving? What additional images might you expect to see in the full essay?

2. Focus on the people who gather there.

Community is all about people, so consider the ways you can document both the ways they come together and the ways they might experience the group individually.

For instance, here is an arresting close-up image from “ For a Queer Community in Los Angeles, This Public Park Is a Lifeline .” What is interesting about it to you? How does the photo speak to the title of the piece?

Here is an image from “ Where the Band Kids Are .” What adjectives would you use to describe this community based on what you see here?

Here is another group shot. What adjectives would you use to describe this community? What would you expect individual portraits of its members to show?

Now, look at the related photo essay to see how close your answers were.

Here are some of the people that call Sarapes , the Mexican restaurant, their refuge. Action shots like this one often tell a viewer more than posed photos. What does this one say to you?

Finally, here is an image from “ On a Caribbean Island, Young People Find Freedom in ‘Bike Life.’ ” Though we don’t see any faces, the composition of the photo tells us a great deal. What do you think is going on here? What do you see that makes you say that? After you make your guesses, click into the photo essay and see how accurate your ideas were.

3. Zoom in on telling details about the people and the place.

You looked at a “zoomed out” image above from “ The Magic of Your First Car .” Here is a close-up. What does it tell you? What compositional elements give you that information? Why do you think the photographer chose this focus?

If you’ve already looked at several of the photo essays, you may have noticed that many, like this one, contain close-ups of hands. Why do you think that is?

Next, can you guess which photo essay the image below is from?

Before we reveal the answer, here is another close-up from the same photo essay, this one taken at night. Are you getting warmer?

Answer: “ At Camp Naru, Nobody Is ‘an Outlier.’ ” If you got it right, what clues in the photos helped? How do the images echo the idea expressed in the title?

Below is a photo that focuses on one member of a queer community in Los Angeles . What do you notice? What do you admire about the composition, the lighting, the angle or anything else? Why?

Now let’s look at a big-picture image and a close-up to see how they work together. Here is a shot from “ For Black Debutantes in Detroit, Cotillion Is More Than a Ball .”

Finally, here is a close-up. What do the two tell you together? What would be missing if you only took one type of shot?

4. Don’t forget to experiment and have fun.

If you’ve mastered the ideas above, now it’s time to play. As you worked through the images, you asked yourself, “How does composition convey meaning?” even if you didn’t realize that was what you were doing.

Our detailed photo guide , developed for an earlier contest, encourages you to think about how to experiment with basic composition techniques like rule of thirds, angle, depth of field, leading lines, framing and distance. It also helps you think about lighting, color and cropping, as well as making the best use of the tools available on most smartphones.

Read through it before and after you have documented your community and then look through the images you have taken. Do you have enough variety? Can you identify techniques like rule of thirds and leading lines in the images from the Where We Are series? If you haven’t used them in your own work, could you experiment?

Below are a few more images from Where We Are essays for inspiration. What do you notice? What compositional choices did the photographer make? How would different choices change the meaning?

Last question: Two of the four images above are from the same photo essay. Which are they, which piece do they come from, and how did you know? What unites the two images?

According to the rules of our contest, you only need one quote from a member of the community you have chosen, but, of course, you are allowed to use many more. We encourage you to weave them into both your captions and your introduction, just as the authors of the Where We Are series did.

Never conducted an interview before? We have advice. Scroll down to Steps 3 and 4 in this guide we created for our Profile Contest to find many practical tips from Times journalists for preparing for and conducting an interview.

But to start, you just need a few good questions. For example, you might ask:

What’s special about this community for you?

What do you like to do here?

What are some of your favorite memories or stories about this group?

What would an outsider to this community not understand or notice?

Is there history about this place or these people that I should understand?

If you were photographing this community, what important places, objects or moments would you try to capture? Why?

Finally, many journalists end interviews with this question: “Is there anything I didn’t ask that you wish I did?” Sometimes the most interesting information is elicited that way!

Then look over what you wrote down and choose the best quotes. Maybe they give information that your photo essay needs, maybe they are colorful and show personality or maybe they do all of those things.

To see how this works, we’ll look at one of the essays, “ At This Texas Campus Ministry, ‘Inclusive Love’ Is the Mission .”

Here is how the first quote was used, in the introduction:

Sydney had grown up Methodist and thought she knew what to expect from a Christian student organization. But she was surprised by just how welcoming the Wesley was. The students and adult leaders seemed genuinely invested in drawing her out of her shell and getting to know her, with no agenda. “It’s really not about getting people into this religion,” she said. “It’s just about being a community who supports others and loves others. And that was huge to me.”

How does it both paraphrase Sydney’s words and directly quote her? What does that quote tell the reader up front about this community? Why is that information important, and why might a participant’s own words be a compelling way to express this?

Later we meet Ethan. What does his experience — again, both paraphrased and directly quoted — add to your understanding of the inclusivity of this community? What colorful description does he offer for what happens in this group? How does this description add information to what is depicted in the photos?

Ethan’s parents are Buddhist and were surprised when their son started spending so much time with a Methodist organization. For his part, Ethan describes himself as agnostic and says he hasn’t felt any pressure from the Wesley to change that, but he appreciates the camaraderie the group offers. “There was this one worship where, when there was a swell in the music, someone burst into tears, and then they hugged one of their friends. I am not sure what was going on there, but it was definitely a very profound experience,” he said.

Listen for the same things as you interview. How can one person’s description of an experience add necessary information, depth, history or background to what you have depicted in images? Did you get any quotes that are too good not to use? How could you highlight them? Do they belong in your introduction or as a photo caption?

The essays in the Where We Are series are longer than the introductions you will write if you are participating in this contest. Many of those essays are about 600 words, double what we have allowed student participants. (You have up to 300 words, but you can use fewer if you can still convey what you need to.)

But you can use the first few paragraphs of each essay — what appears before the first photos — as mentor texts for your own introductions, and we’ll show you how, below.

First though, let’s remember your broader goals. As we wrote at the top of this post, together, your introduction, photo essay and captions should answer these questions:

Why does it matter to its participants? Why should it matter to viewers?

Take a look at “ In This Nigerian Market, Young Women Find a Place of Their Own ” as an example. Here is the introduction, the first 200 or so words before the photo essay begins to scroll:

At the bustling Yaba Market in Lagos, Nigeria, there is something for everyone. Chatter rises from the traders, whose stalls sprawl over miles of cracked gray concrete and packed earth. They might be selling baskets of fresh fruit, wheelbarrows stuffed with phone cases, piles of sequined fabrics or racks of second-hand clothes. If you’re lucky, you might find a vintage jacket you’ve been searching for, or a pair of long-lasting Levi’s jeans. But you’re never going to be as lucky as Dencity : the coolest of the cool kids of Lagos. These skaters, often clad in a uniform of baggy pants and crop tops, head to the market to go thrifting each week. They’re armed with fashion knowledge only the young, fun and determined can possess and seek out the best streetwear they can find. Founded by 26-year-old Blessing Ewona in 2020 in response to the dearth of spaces for young queer people and female skaters in Nigeria, Dencity skate, dream and thrift together. From their trips to the market to regular skate meet-ups at the dilapidated National Stadium or Tarkwa Bay beach, they have traced their own map of the city.

How many of the questions we listed above do these paragraphs answer? How do they work with the top image, which we’ve embedded above this section? What descriptions stand out? What context and background does it provide?

Now let’s break your task down.

1. Make your writing as vivid and varied as your images.

Much of the writing in these essays is just as interesting as the photos, as the example above shows. Here is another, the opening of “ At This Wrestling Academy, Indian Girls Are ‘Set Free’ ”:

As the winter sun ascends over a mustard farm, pale orange bleeding into sharp yellow, a line of 36 girls all dressed alike — T-shirts, track pants, crew cuts — emerges into an open field, rubbing sleep from their eyes. Under a tin shed, they sit on their haunches, bent over stone mortars. For the next 20 minutes, they crush raw almonds into a fine paste, straining out a bottle of nut milk. They will need it to regain their strength.

And here is how “ On a Caribbean Island, Young People Find Freedom in ‘Bike Life’ ” begins:

On a warm evening in October 2021, Enzo Crispin mounted his cobalt motorcycle and set off into the night. Hundreds of others joined his caravan, the rumbles of their engines filling the air of Fort-de-France, the capital of the French Caribbean island territory of Martinique. The riders popped up on one wheel, stood up on their bikes, brushed their hands along the ground — all while zooming along at top speed. Completely exhilarating. Potentially illegal, at least on public streets. This is “cabrage,” which roughly translates from French as a rodeo on wheels.

How do these introductions both “zoom out” and “zoom in”? How do they play on your senses, helping you see, hear, taste, touch and smell this place and what happens in it? How could you do those things in your introduction?

2. Offer background to help viewers understand what they are seeing and what it means.

Here is the introduction to “ For Young Arab Americans in Michigan, the Hookah Lounge Feels Like Home ”:

Coming of age is marked by a series of firsts. Your first kiss. Your first job. Your first drink. Many who grew up in Dearborn, Mich., would add to the list: your first hookah. Located just outside downtown Detroit, Dearborn is home to one of the United States’ largest Arab American communities: Nearly 50 percent of residents identify as having Arab ancestry, according to the U.S. census . Middle Eastern shops, where you may find portable hookah cups , dot the streets. There is also the Arab American National Museum (which sells hookah-themed socks) and the Islamic Center of America , one of the nation’s oldest and largest mosques. And then there is the long list of hookah lounges, where locals spend hours leisurely smoking flavored tobacco through water pipes while catching up, watching soccer games or enjoying a live Arabic music performance. “A spot like a hookah lounge, it’s sacred,” particularly for immigrants and refugees far from home, said Marrim (pronounced Mariam) Akashi Sani, 25, who is Iraqi-Iranian. “And it’s something you have to create for yourself when you’re displaced, and you might not ever be able to go back home because you don’t really know what home is anymore.”

How do the opening two lines grab your attention? How does the demographic information in the third paragraph explain the focus on hookah lounges? How does the quote at the end offer important information that complements the demographic data and gives it meaning?

Next is the introduction to “ For Black Debutantes in Detroit, Cotillion Is More Than a Ball ”:

In a heady swirl of bright white silk and lace, the young ladies of the Cotillion Society of Detroit Educational Foundation are presented as debutantes. The Society’s annual ball is the culmination of eight months of etiquette lessons, leadership workshops, community service projects and cultural events. As the girls take to the dance floor, they become part of a legacy of Black debutantes in the city and beyond. Debutante balls, which traditionally helped girls from high society find suitable husbands, emerged from Europe in the 18th century. Black Americans have adopted a unique version of them since at least 1895 . Responding to the politics of the Jim Crow era, these balls, which emphasized women’s education, echoed the work of the racial upliftment movement and women’s clubs, said Taylor Bythewood-Porter, the curator of a recent exhibition on Black cotillions at the California African American Museum. Organizers saw the balls as a way to “dismiss the idea of Black people not being smart enough, or good enough, or worthy enough.” For today’s debutantes, many of whom grew up in predominantly white neighborhoods of Detroit, gaining an informal network of Black adult mentors was “life-changing,” said Sage Johnson, 17. “Signing up for debutantes, I thought it was just one big ball. But there were a lot more layers to it.”

How do the second and third paragraphs add key context and history to this photo essay? How does the quote at the end bring these cotillions into the 21st century, and help you anticipate what is to come?

Ask yourself, What background will my viewers need to understand what they are seeing, and appreciate its nuances? Do I need to add that information myself, or can some of the quotes from participants do that work for me?

In most traditional newspaper articles, you will find a caption under each photo explaining more detail about the image and its relationship to the story. As you scroll through Where We Are, however, you’ve probably noticed that, thanks to the elegant way these pieces are produced, the captions float up on or around the photos.

In these essays, the captions continue the story. Your captions will do that too. But in the Where We Are pieces, photo captions are interspersed with more of the written essay. Because you are doing a “mini” version of this project, however, after your initial introduction, the only writing we will read will come from your captions. Make sure they continue to tell your story in a way that makes sense to the reader and helps build meaning.

For instance, here is an image from “ In Guatemala, A Collective of Young Artists Finds Family Through Film .”

The caption?

The team has quickly become a family, meeting up for dinners and to celebrate each other’s birthdays. They are, said Sebastián, a community first and a production house second.

Notice how those words work with the image. Can you see “family” and “community” and “team” conveyed in the way this image is composed, the looks on the faces, the colors and light? How?

Here is another example, from “ In Seville, Spain, These Young Rappers Come Together to Turn ‘Tears Into Rhymes’ .” Before you read the caption, what do you imagine is happening in this picture?

Here is the caption, which both offers some background about the group and includes a wonderful quote:

Luis Rodríguez Collado, at right, the youngest of the group, grew up in Spain, the child of Mexican immigrants. “We aren’t just emoting with language, but with song and dance, with sounds and rhythm,” said Luis, a.k.a. Luis 3K. “At 19, I sincerely don’t know anything more liberating than this.”

As you construct your captions, ask yourself:

What information do I need to add to these images to make the meaning and nuances clear?

Can using quotes from participants work? What might they add?

How do these captions continue the story I started in my introduction? Do they build on one another and make sense both separately and together? Do they avoid repetition, with each other or with the introduction? Do they strengthen the key ideas of my piece? How?

At this point you may have dozens of images, and pages of notes. How do you put it all together?

Way back when you were first analyzing the Where We Are series, we called your attention to the fact that the images, essay and captions don’t repeat information exactly the same way . Each element adds something new.

We also talked about how, from the very first image, the one the authors chose for the top, a theme is hinted at, and then echoed in the introduction and continued in the captions. Whatever key ideas about this community you want to get across — maybe that it is a refuge or home, that it offers freedom or that it challenges participants creatively or athletically — look through your images and writing and find all the ways you think you have done that. Do you need more emphasis on this theme? A variety of ways of showing it?

Speaking of variety , that’s another lens to look through when considering your piece as a whole. In terms of both the photos and the writing, have you “zoomed out” enough to establish a place and a context? Have you “zoomed in” to show detail? Are your images taken from different angles and points of view? Do they show both the group and individuals? Are they dynamic and interesting and surprising?

Then, show your work to others, and, perhaps, ask them to analyze it using the last four questions on our related activity sheet . That will prompt them to tell you what is working, but make sure to also ask them if there is anything confusing about your piece, or if they think there is information missing.

Then, go back and fill in anything your piece needs, and play with the sequence of your images until they tell the story you want to tell.

Good luck. We can’t wait to see the results!

Katherine Schulten has been a Learning Network editor since 2006. Before that, she spent 19 years in New York City public schools as an English teacher, school-newspaper adviser and literacy coach. More about Katherine Schulten

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