This is a list of local and national writing contests that are open to ESA students. Since the rules and deadlines may change for contests every year, please check out the specific website for each contest. We update this list on a regular basis, so let us know if there is a contest we may have overlooked that should be here. And then let us know how we can lend you a hand with your writing.


Who can enter: grades 7-12

Deadline: varies

Throughout the year, The New York Times newspaper hosts several writing contests especially geared for middle and high school students. Contests have focused on STEM writing, vocabulary videos, civil discourse, personal narratives, summer reading, podcasts, student editorials, current events, and more. Whatever your interest, there's a contest for your and your writing.

Who can enter: grades 7-12, ages 13 and up

Deadline: Dec. 14

“The Scholastic Awards look for work that demonstrates originality, technical skill, and the emergence of a personal voice or vision.” This contest has several categories from which to choose.

Who can enter: grades 9-12.

Deadline: Jan. 15

In Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy recounted the stories of eight U.S. senators who risked their careers to do what was right for the nation. These leaders demonstrated political courage by taking a stand for the public good in spite of pressure by interest groups, their political party, or even their constituents. The Profile in Courage Essay Contest challenges students to write an original and creative essay that demonstrates an understanding of political courage as described by John F. Kennedy in Profiles in Courage.

Who can enter: grade 8

Deadline: Feb. 15

"To stimulate and recognize the writing talents of eighth-grade students and to emphasize the importance of writing skills among eighth-grade students."

Who can enter: grades 9-12

Deadline: Feb. 15

Bennington College launched the Young Writers Awards to promote excellence in writing at the high school level. Students can compete in three categories: poetry (a group of three poems), fiction (a short story or one-act play), and nonfiction (a personal or academic essay).

Who can enter: grades 10-12, ages 15-18

Deadline: Feb. 15

YoungArts offers a national competition in the categories of creative nonfiction, novel, play or script, poetry, short story, and spoken word.

Who can enter: grades 9-12

Deadline: Feb. 22

"The Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Journalism Education Association want to increase high school students’ knowledge and understanding of the importance of independent media to our lives. National winners of this essay contest receive scholarship awards."

Who can enter: grades 8-12; ages 14-19

Deadline: April 15

Sponsored by the Bill of Rights Institute, this annual essay contest is open to both middle and upper school students. The essay prompt changes every year. The prompt for the 2019-2020 contest was: "What does civil discourse mean to you?" Read the winning essay.


Who can enter: grades K-12

Deadline: April 15

Students in grades K – 12 can submit original pieces of short fiction, poetry, or personal narrative in any language as long as an English translation is provided as well. Submissions must contain or highlight Louisiana's wetlands.

Who can enter: grades K-12

Deadline: March 20

Students in grades K – 12 can submit original pieces of short fiction, nonfiction, or poetry in English, French, Spanish, or Mandarin in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction

Who can enter: grades 3-12

Deadline: Oct. 23

Students can enter their original writing into three categories: poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.