Writing Competitions for Teens

Instructor: Kimberly Elliott

Kimberly teaches college humanities and has a master's degree in humanities.

If you are a teenager who enjoys writing and would like a chance to share your writing with others, writing competitions offer this opportunity while also giving you the chance to win monetary prizes. Get more information on contests available to teenagers.

Ayn Rand Institute

The Ayn Rand Institute offers three essay contests for teenagers each year. After reading a particular Ayn Rand novel determined by the participant's grade level, contestants write an argumentative essay on one topic they can select out of three possibilities. Submissions are judged on how effectively the student has argued their point and supported it with evidence. Up to 236 winners, finalists and semifinalists receive cash prizes for the Anthem and The Fountainhead contests, while the Atlas Shrugged contest offers awards to 84 contestants. The three contests are as follows:

  • Anthem: This contest is for 8th, 9th, and 10th graders only. Essays are to be between 600 and 1,200 words. Submissions are due in late March, and winners are announced in late July. First place prize is $2,000.
  • The Fountainhead: This contest is for 11th and 12th graders only. Essays are to be between 800 and 1,600 words. Submissions are due in late April, and winners are announced in late July. First place prize is $10,000.
  • Atlas Shrugged: This contest is for 12th graders and college students only. Essays are to be between 800 and 1,600 words. Submissions are due in late April of 2017. First place prize is $20,000.

To help you gain confidence in your writing skills, Study.com offers an entire course on essay writing. This engaging, self-paced course offers several short lessons on a variety of essay concepts, from pre-writing and outlining, to revising and proofreading. We also offer a lesson on the argumentative essay writing to help you understand the main components of this type of essay, along with a discussion on its format.

Profiles in Courage

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation hosts an annual essay contest for 9th through 12th graders on the topic of demonstrating courage through adversity. Students must write on a particular courageous act demonstrated by a local, state or nationally elected official that happened in or after 1956. Participants must cite at least five sources, both primary and secondary, in their essays. Submissions must be writing in the student's own words and must be between 700 and 1,000 words in length, not including references. Papers are due in early January, and winners will be notified in late March. The first place winner receives a cash prize of $5,000 plus $5,000 from John Hancock. Travel and lodging for the winning student and his or her parents to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston to accept the award is also provided.

Brush up on your writing skills for this contest with a lesson on expository essay writing from Study.com. This video lesson helps you understand what an expository essay is and offers examples on the types of expository essays.

Writing for Peace

Writing for Peace promotes teen writers through the Young Writers Contest. Contestants are tasked with studying another country or culture and writing a fiction or non-fiction work or a poem from the point of view of a young person in that culture. Through this exercise, themes of community, government, and the environment will also be explored. Writing parameters and examples are discussed below:

  • Fiction: A short story in any genre, between 800 and 1,000 words, narrated by a character from an unfamiliar country or culture.
  • Non-Fiction: An essay, between 800 and 1,000 words that expresses a particular challenge that the people of a culture face or that addresses a personal interaction with another culture.
  • Poetry: A poem of 100 lines or less written from the point of view of someone from a different country or culture.

Submissions are due in mid-April, and winners in each division will be announced in early May. The prize for first place is $50.

If the Writing for Peace contests interest you, Study.com offers a number of innovative lessons to help you enhance your creative writing abilities. Check out the following collection of lessons to help you understand different writing styles and hone your writing skills:

  • Prose: discusses both novels and short stories, and focuses on characterization, plot, and setting.
  • Literary Terms: words, such as metaphor, simile, and foreshadowing, are defined and explored.
  • Nonfiction: guides the learner through this genre and its place within the English language.
  • Poetry: reviews, describes, and offers examples of different forms of verse.

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