About the YES! National Student Writing Competition

Want a motivator to boost your students’ writing to a higher level? Here’s an opportunity to write for a real audience, and the chance to get published by an award-winning magazine.

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Registration is closed for the spring 2019  contest "Three Things That Matter Most."

 Sign up our YES! For Teachers newsletter to be notified about student writing contests for the  2019-20 school year.



A meaningful writing opportunity

The YES! National Student Writing Competition isn’t just a contest. It’s a meaningful writing opportunity for middle school through university students to read with purpose, write with passion, and reflect with courage and honesty.

For each contest, students read and write an essay on a selected YES! Magazine article. Provocative writing prompts push students to a deeper questioning of the article's content and their personal experiences and opinions.

Contests are offered for fall, winter, and spring quarters. We divide contestants into four categories: middle school (grades 6-8), high school (grades 9-12), university, and Powerful Voice (for authors whose essays are powerful and passionate). Winning essays in each category are published on the YES! Magazine website and in our online education newsletter, reaching thousands of YES! readers, including over 11,000 teachersOne winning essay per contest is chosen by YES! editors to be published in our quarterly print magazine.

Sign up for the YES! for Teachers newsletter to receive writing contest notifications, plus learning resources that support the most current issue of YES! Magazine.

Read recently featured essays here.


Who is eligible?

 You must be a classroom teacher—homeschool cooperatives, resource centers, supervised writing groups, and schools outside the U.S. included—for your students to participate. We cannot accept essays or registrations independently sent by students. Student writers should be in grades 6-8 (middle school), grades 9-12 (high school), college/university, or adult continuing education.


Common Core State Standards

This writing competition meets several Common Core State Standards for grades 6-12, including W.9-10.3 and W.9-10.4 for Writing, and RI.9-10.1 and RI.9-10.2 for Reading: Informational Text *

*This standard applies to other grade levels. “9-10” is used as an example.


What are the essay requirements?

  • Respond to the article and writing prompt provided by YES!
  • Provide an original essay title
  • Reference the article
  • No more than 700 words
  • Must be original, unpublished work

In addition, we evaluate essays for:

  • Grammar
  •  Organization
  • Strong style and personal voice. We encourage writers to include personal examples and insights.
  • Originality and clarity of content and ideas


How do I submit the essays?

  • You must register for the competition by the announced deadline.
  • You may submit up to three essays per class. Example: If you are submitting essays for two classes, you may send up to a total of six essays—but they must be up to three essays per class, not four essays for one class and two from the other.
  • E-mail your student essays as word-processed document attachments (please no pdf or scanned documents) or as an open-access Google Doc to [email protected] no later than the announced deadline. Please do not send essays to [email protected]
  • Include a scanned, completed student release form with each submitted essay
  • Regardless of whether the essay is selected a winning essay, we respond to all student writers with a personal note.
  • Teachers who participate in a fall, winter, or spring contest receive one free year of YES!. One lucky participating teacher will be randomly selected to win free YES! swag, too.


What are the dates for the 2018-19 writing contests?

 *Fall 2018

Details announced: Sept. 13

Registration due: Sept 28

Essays due: Nov. 2

Winners announced: Dec. 20


*Winter 2019

Details announced: Nov. 14

Registration due: Dec. 7

Essays due: Jan. 25

Winners announced: March 14


*Spring 2019

Details announced: Feb. 7

Registration due: Feb. 27

Essays due: April 9

Winners announced: May 23


Sign up for our email newsletter to receive writing contest notifications, plus theme-related learning resources that support the most current issue of YES!

Even better, apply for a free year of YES! (excludes previous and current subscribers) and you’ll get the magazines and e-newsletter, including writing contest announcements.


Questions? Please email [email protected]


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