Essay Writing Contests for Students

Student writing while sitting at table in library
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Fleming, Grace. "Essay Writing Contests for Students." ThoughtCo, Jun. 8, 2021, Fleming, Grace. (2021, June 8). Essay Writing Contests for Students. Retrieved from Fleming, Grace. "Essay Writing Contests for Students." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 27, 2023).