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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Sign up our YES! For Teachers newsletter to be notified about student writing contests for the  2018-19 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 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, high school, 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.

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 recent featured essays here.


Who is eligible?

You must be a classroom teacher—homeschool cooperative, resource centers, supervised writing groups, and schools outside the U.S. included—for your students to participate. Students must be in grades 6 through university. 


How does it work?

  • Teachers complete the competition registration form by the announced deadline. Unfortunately, we cannot accept registrations or essays sent independently by students.
  • Student writers should be in grades 6-8, grades 9-12, college/university, or adult continuing education.
  • Students respond to the YES! article with an essay up to 700 words.
  • Submit up to three essays per class period, along with student release forms, by the announced deadline.
  • For each of the following categories, YES! staff (and possibly the author of the article) will select one essay that we feel is well-written, compelling, and captures the spirit of the article:
    • o Grades 6-8
    • o Grades 9-12
    • o College/university
    • o Powerful Voice (for an author whose essay is uniquely powerful or thought-provoking)
  • Regardless of whether the essay is selected a winning essay, we respond to all student writers with a personal note.
  • The selected essays will be featured on the YES! Magazine website and in our online education newsletter, reaching thousands of YES! readers, including over 30,000 teachers.


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

Details for our fall contest will be announced in August.


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
  • Teachers must read and submit their students' essays. Remember, the limit is three essays per class period! Please take time to read your students' essays to ensure they meet essay requirements  (see rubrik). 

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 three best essays from my class?

  • You must register for the competition by the announced deadline.
  • E-mail your three best student essays as word-processed document attachments (please no pdf or scanned documents) to [email protected] no later than the announced deadline.
  • Include a scanned, completed student release form with each submitted essay.


The next YES! National Student Writing Competition is Fall 2018.  

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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