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10 Qualities of Great Essay Contest Entries

10 Things that Make Contest Essays Great


Do you know the difference between a great essay contest entry and one that's just average?

1. Great Essay Contest Entries Stand Out

When you submit a contest entry, your essay will be competing with hundreds, maybe thousands, of other entries. So you really need to think about what will make your entry stand out from the crowd.

Some ideas include:

  • Using a different format: try writing a poem, a rap, or a jingle instead of a standard essay.
  • Using humor: make your essay funny or comedic.
  • Playing with language: try using puns, coining words, having fun with alliteration.

2. Great Entries Fit the Contest's Theme

When a sponsor holds a contest, they are looking for something particular, and great entries are spot-on to that theme. Whether the contest is asking for examples of how you care for other people, a description of your perfect vacation, or a story about how you used the sponsor's product, that theme has to be strong and clear throughout the entire essay.

3. Great Essays Fit the Sponsor's Image

A great contest entry appeals not just to the sponsor, but also to the sponsor's target audience. Does the sponsor market primarily toward kids? Toward young adults? Senior citizens? The tone of a great essay will be a good fit with the sponsor's company image.

4. Great Entries are Gramatically Correct

A really good essay contest entry won't trip the reader up with poor grammar or spelling. Most contests use grammar and spelling as part of the judging criteria, but even if they don't, you don't want your judges thinking about how badly you write instead of the story you're trying to tell.

5. Great Contest Entries Start Strong

A great contest entry is compelling from the very first sentence. That's your best chance to grab your judges' attention. If your first sentence is compelling, your judges are going to be focused on your writing and more receptive to hearing what you have to say.

6. Great Essays Are Memorable

A great essay with stay in the contest judges' mind long after they've finished reading. One way to make a contest entry memorable is to finish really strongly. Make that final sentence resoundingly strong so the judges can't ignore you.

7. Great Contest Essays are Clear, Concise, Coherent

The three C's of a great contest entry are clear, concise, and coherent. That doesn't mean that your entries have to be short, it just means that every word has to communicate meaning.

8. Great Essay Entries Flow

A great contest entry flows smoothly from one idea to the next. If your entry is disjointed and staccato, it's going to be memorable, but not in a good way.

9. Great Essays Evoke Emotions

Really great essay contest entries tap into your most authentic feelings to evoke emotions in your readers. Whether the emotions are joyful, sad, or angry, they will help to make your contest entry great.

10. Great Contest Entries Follow the Rules

The absolute most important quality of a great contest entry is that it follows the rules perfectly. It doesn't matter how good your writing is if your essay is disqualified from the contest.

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