Teen Contests


The Writing Conference, Inc.

The Writing Conference, Inc., sponsors writing contests for elementary, junior high/middle and high school students. Students may create a poem, a narrative, or an essay. Only one piece of writing from a student may be submitted. Winners will be published in The Writers’ Slate. Entries must address the annual theme. 2019 Theme: “Friendship.” Create a poem, narrative, or essay in which you incorporate your ideas and feelings concerning competition. Deadline: January 8, 2019

New Jersey Youth Poet Laureate Contest

High school students from all over the state can enter the NJ Youth Poet Laureate Contest by submitting five poems via our online form, found here, under the “Prepare the Submission” tab: https://www.wtnj.org/nj-youth-poet-laureate/. Four of the poems can be on any subject at all, but the fifth poem must relate to the 2019 theme “CAREGIVERS.” The poems can be in any style of poetry, including rap or spoken word (though they must be submitted in written form), and can be new works created just for the contest or existing poems the poet has written. Prizes include a Governor’s Award, opportunities for the poets to read their work throughout the state, and the publication of the poems in an anthology. For more information on the program, go to the NJYPL page here: https://www.wtnj.org/nj-youth-poet-laureate/ Deadline: January 15, 2019.

Writers Theatre of NJ Young Playwright’s Contest

The Writers Theatre of New Jersey invites middle and high school students grades 4-12 to submit plays up to 20 pages in length. While we enjoy plays with “realistic” structures, we also encourage plays that are non-traditional and inventive. We look for strong plot, characterization, dialogue, conflict, theme, and originality. Plays may be on any topic, but there is a special category, “Living with Disabilities” designed to find plays either written by an author with a disability, or a play with themes or characters dealing with disabilities. Formatting instructions may be found under the Submissions Guidelines tab. Winning plays will be performed by professional actors. Deadline: January 15, 2019.

Jersey Shorts Fiction Contest

Submit 2 pieces of fiction. One, 1,500 word max, may be on any subject of your choosing. The second, 750 word max, must respond to the Annual Prompt. The 2019 prompt for the 750 story is “Caregivers.” More Information: wtnj.org/jersey-shorts. Winner earns a Governor’s Award and staged performance of her/his work. Deadline: January 15, 2019.

NCTE Achievement Award in Writing

Achievement Awards in Writing is a school-based writing program established in 1957 to encourage 8th graders and juniors in their writing and to recognize publicly some of the best student writers in the nation. The National Council of Teachers of English recognize students cited as excellent writers by judges. Only students who are 8th GRADERS and JUNIORS in the current academic year may be nominated for the award. Each school selects its own nominee. Entries must include two pieces of writing, one “best” and the other responding to a theme designated by the contest. This year’s theme can be found in the contest flyer. (2019 prompts: 8th grade: “Welcoming Unexpected Guests” and 11th grade: “The Human Chorus.”) The deadline for schools to nominate students is 2/15/19. Nominees will be expected to revise their work based on teacher input before the final deadline.

John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest

The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest for grades 9-12 challenges students to write an original, creative essay of 700 – 1,000 words that demonstrates an understanding of political courage as described by John F. Kennedy in Profiles in Courage. Students must cite at least five sources such as government documents, letters, newspaper articles, books, and/or personal interviews. The first place winner and his/her nominating teacher will be invited to receive awards at the annual Profile in Courage Award ceremony held each May at the Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. Deadline: January 18, 2019.

New York Times Connections Contest

The New York Times Connections Contest invites students ages 13 – 19 to submit an essay of 450 words or less connecting a topic you’ve been studying in school (history, literature, science, etc.) with a 2018 or 2019 NY Times article, video or podcast. Explore connections, draw parallels or explain relevance for today. Winners published in the NY Times. Deadline: January 21, 2019

The Theater Project Young Playwrights Competition

The Theater Project Young Playwrights Competition invites high school students age 13-18 to submit plays 10 -30 pages in length. Scripts must be original, no adaptations, and be submitted in play format. Winning plays will be performed by professional actors. One entry per student. There is an entry fee of $10. Questions? Email TheaterProject@aol.com or call 908-809-8865. Deadline: January 21, 2019.


Davidson Fellows Scholarship in Literature

Davidson awards $50,000, $25,ooo and $10,000 scholarships to extraordinary young people, 18 and younger, who have completed a significant piece of work. Submit a 60-75 page portfolio including 3 different genres: poetry, fiction, nonfiction and/or dramatic script; plus a table of contents, 2 application essays, 3 letters of recommendation from teachers familiar with your work, and a 10 minute video of you explaining your artistic vision. See website for details. Previous NA winner: Coleman Hughes ’14 & Cosimo Fabrizio ’18 for Music. Deadline for all materials: February 13, 2019, 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time.

New York Times 15-second Vocabulary Video Challenge

The New York Times invites you to create a short video that defines or teaches any of the words in our vocabulary collection, which is now over 1,800 words strong. All the rules and regulations, as well as some inspiration from past winners, are on our website. Deadline: February 22, 2019.

Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest

The Kenyon Review will publish the winning short story in the Winter 2014 issue, and the author will be awarded a scholarship to attend the 2014 Writers Workshop, June in Gambier, Ohio.Writers must be 30 years of age or younger at the time of submission. Stories must be no more than 1200 words in length. One submission per entrant. Please do not simultaneously submit your contest entry to another magazine or contest. All work must be submitted through our electronic system. The submissions link will be active February 1st to February 28th.

Atlantic Magazine/College Board AP US History Contest

The Atlantic and the College Board hold an annual writing contest to recognize the best high school essayists, with the writer of the grand prize-winning essay receiving a cash prize and publication in the magazine. For their essays, students this year will focus on important documents from American history. The annual contest seeks to identify promising young writers in the United States and around the world and to instill the analytical-writing skills critical to success in college and professional life. Sponsoring teachers can submit essays for students from January 1 to February 28. (NOTE: Contest NOT running in 2017).


Interlochen Review

The Interlochen Review is an online literary journal for writers in grades 9-12 or students in their high school postgraduate year. It is edited by the creative writing students of Interlochen Arts Academy. Submit up to 6 pieces total. These can include fiction, poetry, nonfiction, scripts/screenplays, song lyrics and hybrid work. Include a bio. See website for further guidelines. Deadline: March 1.

The Apprentice Writer

Published by Susquehanna University, The Apprentice Writer features fiction, poetry, drama, personal essays and photographs by high school students. There are no restrictions on style, subject matter or length (up to 30 pages). We are looking for the best-written work and photography/graphics by high school students (grades 9-12) from the United States. Submission Deadline: March 15.

Claremont Review Annual Writing Contest

Note: this contest requires a $20 reading fee which gives you a one-year subscription to the magazine. Submit up to 3 poems and/or 1 short story up to 5,000 words. Flash fiction and plays welcome. The editors of The Claremont Review are looking for first class poetry and short stories by young adult writers (aged 13-19) anywhere in the English speaking world. We publish anything from traditional to post modern, but with a preference for works that reveal something of the human condition. We strongly urge contributors to read back issues of The Claremont Review. That is the best way for you to learn what we are looking for. Deadline: Postmarked by March 15. NOTE: On hiatus in 2019.

Johns Hopkins University Creative Minds Fiction Contest

Imagine, a magazine of the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, holds an annual writing contest for students 18 and under. This year’s genre is fiction. Students may enter up to 2 stories (no required theme) of up to 1,000 words each. Stories that have won other contests or that have appeared in any print or online publications are not eligible. here. You will see a screen confirming that your entry has been submitted. Questions may be directed to mhartman@jhu.edu. See the winning stories from previous years in our Fiction Archives. Deadline: Friday, March 16, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. (This contest is on temporary hiatus).

Sejong Writing Competition

This competition is open to all residents of the US and Canada age 25 and younger (including middle school) regardless of ethnic background. The goal of the Sejong Writing Competition, which includes essay and poetry categories, is to discover children and young adults talented in writing and to encourage them to learn and write about Korea and its culture. This writing competition aims to increase the awareness and understanding of Korea’s cultural heritage amongst the younger generations growing up in the United States. Deadline: March 31.

Live Poets Society of New Jersey

The Live Poets Society of New Jersey is open to students in grades 9-12. You may submit no more than one poem within a 90 day period. Poems must be 20 lines or less. Scholarship awards available. Deadline for Summer issue is March 31.


New York Times Student Editorial Contest

The NY Times Editorial Contest asks you to write an editorial on an issue that matters to you. It should be an evidence-based persuasive essay like the editorials The New York Times publishes every day — 450 words or less. At a time when breaking out of one’s “filter bubble” is more important than ever, we hope this contest encourages students to broaden their news diets by using multiple sources, ideally ones that offer a range of perspectives on their chosen issue. Deadline: April 1st.

Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest

This contest invites writers ages 13-19 to submit once in each category. Fiction: 800-1000 words in the voice of a character from another country or culture. Poetry: one poem of no more than 100 lines in the voice of a character from another country or culture. Nonfiction: 800-1000 word essay about a social, political, environmental, or familial challenge faced by individuals within a cultural group, or a personal experience with another culture. Deadline: April 1st.

Adobe Youth Voices Aspire Awards

Adobe Youth Voices invites you to participate in the Aspire Awards, giving young creatives the opportunity to have their work showcased publicly. This media festival seeks to recognize outstanding creative projects that demonstrate imagination and expression along with an evident motivation for social change. Categories include narrative, poetry/experimental, music video, audio, documentary, digital photography, etc. Deadline: Mid-April.

NCTE Norman Mailer High School & College Writing Awards for Creative Nonfiction

The Norman Mailer Center and Writers Colony and the National Council of Teachers of English jointly sponsor the annual Norman Mailer High School and College Writing Awards for creative nonfiction. Entries of 10 single-spaced pages or less will be accepted online only and may include one or more pieces of writing. Quality is far more important than quantity. Entries must be endorsed by a teacher and released by a parent or guardian. Winners receive travel and lodging to attend the Colony’s National Award Ceremony and a $5,000 award. Entries accepted March 1–April 30, Noon CST. (TAKING A ONE YEAR HIATUS IN 2018. CONTEST WILL RESUME IN 2019).

Peace Islands Institute Art & Essay Contest

See website for current theme: Submit an informative essay, a narrative story or a true story about saving the earth’s resources. 1,000 word max. New Times Roman, 12 point. Include your name, grade, school, sponsoring teacher’s name and teacher’s email. Each teacher may sponsor up to 5 students per grade. Teacher must submit all entries in one envelope. Winner receives $600. Deadline: Early April. (ON HIATUS)

Poets.org “Dear Poet” Project

For National Poetry Month, we introduce Dear Poet, a multimedia educational project that invites young people in grades 5-12 to write a letter in response to poems shared by some of the award-winning poets who serve on the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors. Students—to participate in Dear Poet, watch the videos on the link of poets reading one of their poems. Then, write a response letter to one of the poets and email it to us at dearpoet@poets.org. Your “letter” can take the form of a poem. Please include your name and the name of the poet below who has inspired your letter. We will consider all student letters for publication on Poets.org in May. Deadline: April 30.


New York Times Found Poetry Contest

Participating in the NY Times Found Poetry Contest is easy: Just “find” some poetry in a Times article — any Times article, published at any point in our 167-year history. To help, we have a companion lesson plan by two teachers who use this contest to “reinforce close reading, experimentation, peer review, self-review and revision” — skills that are valuable across the curriculum. Everything you need to know about the contest is on our website, with links and tips galore. If you have any questions, please post them in the comments, and we will answer you there, or write to us at LNFeedback@nytimes.com. Deadline: May 1, 2019

The Claudia Ann Seaman Awards for Young Writers

Sponsored by Polyphony, a student-run national literary magazine, the Claudia Ann Seaman Awards are open to all students in grades 9–12. Each participant may submit a total of three works, either poems, stories, essays, or any combination (1500 word limit for fiction and creative non-fiction. All submissions must contain the necessary contact information; see website for details. Cash award is $200. Deadline: May 30.

Teen Ink Fiction Contest

Teen Ink will only consider original fiction written by teens. Entries of all genres are accepted, whether fantasy, horror, sci-fi or romance. Short stories should be between 500 and 2,500 words. Send your short stories to: Teen Ink Biannual Fiction Contest, Box 30, Newton, MA 02461. All fiction pieces submitted to Teen Ink are automatically considered for the Fiction Contest. See our submission guidelines for more information. Poetry and nonfiction contest entries are accepted throughout the year. Fiction deadline: May 1.

Young Poets Network Contests

The Young Poets Network offers a variety of writing challenges and contests throughout the year for poets age 25 and under from all over the world. Check Young Poets Network website for details. Send as many poems as you like. If you are sending a written version of your poem, please include it in the body of an email. If you are sending a video or audio file, please attach it to the email (making sure it’s no bigger than 4MB or it won’t come through) or send us a link to where we can see/hear it. Send your poems to educationadmin@poetrysociety.org.uk with your name, age and address. By entering, you give permission for Young Poets Network to reproduce your poem in print and online, though copyright remains with you. The deadline is May 31 (U.K. time).

New York Times Student Podcast Contest

The New York Times Student Podcast Challenge invites teenagers to submit original work, of five minutes or less, by May 29 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern. Our favorites will then be featured on The Learning Network. The submission form and all the rules and details you’ll need are on the website. Deadline: May 28, 2019.


Mahatma Gandhi Writing & Art Contest

Open to all New Jersey middle and high school students. Entries must be poems or short essays no longer than 300 words based on an annual prompt (a quote from Mahatma Gandhi) which you can find at: http://www.aia-sj.org/. Contest is sponsored by the Association of Indians in America. Cash awards range from $50 to $250. Deadline: June 15.

Young Poets Network Contests

The Young Poets Network offers a variety of writing challenges and contests throughout the year for poets age 25 and under from all over the world. Check Young Poets Network website for details. Send as many poems as you like. If you are sending a written version of your poem, please include it in the body of an email. If you are sending a video or audio file, please attach it to the email (making sure it’s no bigger than 4MB or it won’t come through) or send us a link to where we can see/hear it. Send your poems to educationadmin@poetrysociety.org.uk with your name, age and address. By entering, you give permission for Young Poets Network to reproduce your poem in print and online, though copyright remains with you. The deadline is June 18 (U.K. time).

Live Poets Society of New Jersey

The Live Poets Society of New Jersey is open to students in grades 9-12. You may submit no more than one poem within a 90 day period. Poems must be 20 lines or less. Scholarship awards available. Deadline for Fall issue is June 30.


The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award

Sponsored by the Poetry Society, the Foyle Young Poets Award is the UK’s largest poetry competition for 11-17 year olds. The competition is free to enter.Individuals may enter more than one poem, however we strongly advise that you concentrate on drafting and redrafting your poems and send only a small selection of your very best (we suggest no more than 6-8 maximum). Remember, quality is more important than quantity! See Full Rules. Deadline: July 31.


New York Times Summer Reading Challenge

Mid-June through August, every Friday the New York Times asks students, “What interested you most in The Times this week? Why?” You then have until the following Friday to answer, when a team of Times journalists choose their favorite responses, and we publish them here. Post any questions you might have in the comments or write us at LNFeedback@nytimes.com. You can also watch our webinar on summer and independent reading to learn more. The contest runs from June 15 to Aug. 24.


Live Poets Society of New Jersey

The Live Poets Society of New Jersey is open to students in grades 9-12. You may submit no more than one poem within a 90 day period. Poems must be 20 lines or less. Scholarship awards available. Deadline for Winter issue is September 30.


National Endowment for the Arts “YoungArts” Scholarships

The mission of YoungArts, a program of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, is to identify emerging artists and assist them at critical junctures in their educational and professional development, and to raise the appreciation for, and support of, the arts in American Society. The program offers scholarships in nine disciplines: cinematic arts, dance, jazz, music, photography, theater, visual arts, voice and writing. The sub-categories for writing are: poetry (up to 6 poems, 10 pages max), creative nonfiction (up to 3 essays, 20 pages max), scriptwriting, novel excerpts and short stories (up to 3 stories, 20 pages max). The entry fee per category is $35. Deadline: October 12, 2018.


Iowa Young Writers Studio Online Courses

The Iowa Young Writers’ Studio offers online courses for high school students independently of the summer residential program in creative writing, fiction writing and poetry writing. All courses will be taught by graduates of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. The courses will run for six weeks, from mid-January through February. The online courses will require approximately three hours of engagement per week, which will include writing assignments, reading assigned materials, critiquing classmates’ writing, and participating in online discussions. The courses are asynchronous, meaning that students can complete the weekly assignments and post in the discussion forums on their own schedule in their free time. Students who complete the course and meet all requirements will receive one college credit from the University of Iowa. Deadline: Early November.

Bennington Young Writers Competition

Each year, the Bennington Young Writers Competition invites students in the 10th, 11th, or 12th grade to submit their original writing for the Bennington Young Writers Competition. First-place winners in each category are awarded a prize of $500; second-place winners receive $250. Students submit one of the following: poetry (a group of three poems), fiction (a short story or one-act play), nonfiction (a personal or academic essay). More than 2,300 students submitted poetry, fiction, and nonfiction to last year’s Young Writers Competition. We congratulate all entrants on their extraordinary submissions. Entries were judged by current Bennington students and literature faculty members. Deadline: November 1, 2018.

New York Times Review Contest

Review a book, movie, restaurant, album, theatrical production, video game, dance, TV show, art exhibit or any other kind of work The Times critiques. Deadline: November 14.

One Teen Story Contest

One Teen Story is open to students age 14-19. Short stories should be between 1,500 to 4,000 words and be the writer’s own original, unpublished work. Previously published stories and stories forthcoming at other publications cannot be considered. No entry form or fee is required. Deadline: November 15, 2018.

Princeton University Leonard L. Milberg ’53 Secondary School Poetry Prize

Eligibility is limited to students in the eleventh grade during the current academic year. Applicants may submit up to three poems. The jury will consist of members of the Princeton University Creative Writing faculty such as Michael Dickman, Paul Muldoon, Tracy K. Smith, and Susan Wheeler. See website for details. Submissions must be submitted electronically by November 30, 2018.

Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers

This contest is open only to writers whose fiction has not appeared, nor is scheduled to appear, in any print publication with a circulation over 5,000. Most entries run from 1,500 – 6,000 words, but any lengths up to 12,000 words are welcome. Reading fee: $15 per story. Please no more than three submissions per contest. Prizes: 1st place wins $1,500, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of that issue. Deadline: November 30, 2018.

Kenyon Review Patricia Grodd Poetry Contest for Young Writers

The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers recognizes outstanding young poets and is open to high school sophomores and juniors throughout the world. The contest winner receives a full scholarship to the Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop. In addition, the winning poem will be published in The Kenyon Review. The runners up will also see their poems published. Submissions for the contest will be accepted electronically November 1 through November 30, 2018. One entry per student.

Teen Ink National Essay Contest

Submit an essay of 1,00o words or less on the following topic: TBA. Winner earns $500. Submit to the Teen Ink website by November 30, 2018.


River of Words International Poetry & Art Contest

Every year, in affiliation with the Library of Congress Center for the Book, River of Words sponsors a free international poetry and art contest for Grades K-12 on the theme of the environment. Entries may be submitted electronically through the website. POETRY: 32-line max. PHOTOGRAPHY or ARTWORK: 11×17 max. Grand Prize and international winners receive an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the awards ceremony at the Library of Congress. Deadline: December 1, 2018.

Scholastic Writing Awards

The Scholastic Writing Awards Alliance for Young Writers accepts submissions from students in grades 7 through 12. Students can earn opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication and scholarships. Works designated as Gold Keys on the regional level are forwarded for national-level review where they can earn Silver Medals and Gold Medals. Categories include dramatic script, humor, journalism, personal essay, poetry, novel writing, science fiction, and short story. Deadline: December 5, 2018.

Letters About Literature

The Letters About Literature contest is sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Students write to an author describing how that author’s work somehow changed his/her view of the world or himself/herself. Readers respond to the book they’ve read by exploring the personal relationship between themselves, the author and the book’s characters or themes. Entries must be electronically uplaoded by December 14, 2018 here: http://www.read.gov/letters. NOTE: Students under 13 must include a parental permission form. See website for details.

Rider University Annual High School Writing Contest

High School students may submit one entry per category: essay, fiction and poetry. Essays and fiction may be no more than five typed, doubled-spaced pages. Poem may be up to 50 lines. Include on the entry your name, address, grade, teacher’s name, school name and school address. Include a letter from a teacher stating that the work is original and by you. All work must include a title. Mail to: Dr. Roberta Clipper, English Department, Rider University, 2083 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648. Winners receive $100 and possible inclusion in Rider’s literary magazine, Venture. Deadline: Postmarked by December 15, 2018.

NJ Council of Teachers of English High School Writing Contest

NJCTE invites New Jersey students in grades 9-12 to participate in its annual Writing Contest. Categories include poetry (one poem, 50 line max), short story (5-page max), and personal essay (5 page max). Check the website for this year’s themed essay contest. 2018 Nonfiction Theme: “Truth and Illusion.” Poetry and Fiction have no required theme. See website for details. Click here to register for the contest. NOTE: Teachers may only sponsor up to 10 students. If you are the 11th student, your work will be disqualified. Ask your English or Creative Writing teacher to sponsor you. Ms. James will sponsor up to 10 students on a first come/first served basis. Deadline: December 16, 2018.

Poetry Society of America

<Louise Louis/Emily F. Bourne Student Poetry Award $250. This prize is awarded for the best unpublished poem by a student in grades 9 through 12 from the United States. Teachers or administrators may submit an unlimited number of their students’ poems (one submission per student). Print out the cover form, fill out the information, and staple it to the poem. The poem itself should have no name on it. Deadline: Postmarked by December 22, 2018 or give to Ms. James by December 18 for inclusion in a group mailing from NA.

Live Poets Society of New Jersey

The Live Poets Society of New Jersey is open to students in grades 9-12. You may submit no more than one poem within a 90 day period. Poems must be 20 lines or less. Scholarship awards available. Deadline for Spring issue is December 31.


Figment: Write Yourself In

Figment hosts a variety of contests on an ongoing basis throughout the year. Check website for current contests.

Young Poets Network

The Young Poets Network is a UK site that lists upcoming contests and magazine calls for submission. Some of the listings are for UK residents only, but many are international. The site allows you to filter your search by age range and type of market.


New Pages Young Authors Guide to publications and contests is a useful and thorough guide to a wide variety of legitimate contests and literary markets for teenagers and young adults.