YES! National Student Writing Competition

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The YES! National Student Writing Competition is an opportunity for middle school through university students to write for a real audience—not just you, the teacher—and the chance to be published by an award-winning magazine.

Each quarter, students are invited to read and write an essay on a selected YES! Magazine article. 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.

Read recent featured essays here.


Fall 2014 YES! National Student Writing Competition


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How the Real Teens Behind “The Fault in Our Stars” Are Bringing Empathy to the Internet

This fall, students will read and respond to the YES! Magazine article How the Real Teens Behind ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ Are Bringing Empathy to the Internet by Christopher Zumski Finke.

In this article, Finke tells the story of the teenagers who inspired John Green's best-selling novel The Fault in Our Stars. As early members of the now millions-strong Nerdfighter movement, they connected online to form a never-before-seen safe, inclusive Internet community—one devoted to meaningful acts of kindness, and empathy toward others. The Nerdfighters’ mission? To combat “world suck” with “awesome.”

The Writing Prompt

Parents often label the Internet as a hotbed for cruelty and bullying. Nerdfighters prove the Internet can be used for good, that it can be a place to create community that combats negativity—or “world suck”—with “awesome.” What are some ways—digital or otherwise—that you get strength and support to fight world suck with awesome?

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.
  • Student writers should be in grades 6-8, grades 9-12, college/university, or adult continuing education.

How does it work?

  • Complete the competition registration form by October 8 (see link at bottom of page).
  • Students respond to the YES! article with a letter up to 700 words.
  • Submit up to three essays per class period, along with student release forms, by November 5.
  • 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:
      • Grades 6-8
      • Grades 9-12
      • College/university
      • Powerful Voice (for an author whose essay is uniquely powerful or thought-provoking)
  • 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.
  • Teachers who submit essays will receive a free year of YES! magazine. (If you're a current subscriber, we'll add a year onto your subscription.) They will also be entered into a drawing to win a Kleen Kanteen and a dozen YES! posters for his or her classroom. See what you could win here!


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 have met essay requirements, including correct grammar. Unfortunately, we cannot accept essays sent independently by students.

    In addition, we are evaluating 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 be registered for the competition by October 8.
    • E-mail your three best student essays as word-processed document attachments (please no pdf or scanned documents) to [email protected] no later than November 5.
    • Include a scanned, completed student release form with each submitted essay.


    The next YES! National Student Writing Competition is in Winter 2015.

    Questions? Please email [email protected], and thank you for joining us!


    Get Started Here:

    Registration Form

    Student Release Form

    Evaluation Rubric

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