Essay Writing Competition Certificate

Eligibility:  Juniors in the current academic school year are eligible to be nominated by their school’s English department. Nominations should be based on whether the writer exhibits the power to inform and move an audience through control of a wide range of the English language. Entries are only accepted from teachers.

Schools in the United States, Canada, Virgin Islands and American Schools Abroad are eligible to nominate students. Nominating schools must be US accredited.

The number of nominees allowed from each school is determined by the current total enrollment in grades 10, 11, and 12. The enrollment figure used must be from an official administrative report of the current year and must not include ninth-grade students.

Use the following guide for nominations:

  • Under 500 students: 1 nominee
  • 500–999 students: 2 nominees
  • 1,000–1,499 students: 3 nominees
  • 1,500–1,999 students: 4 nominees
  • 2,000–2,499 students: 5 nominees
  • 2,500–2,999 students: 6 nominees
  • 3,000–3,999 students: 7 nominees
  • 4,000 or more students:8 nominees


Award Specifics:  Nominated students must submit two writings (best and themed).

  1. Best Writing – one sample which the student considers her or his best work. The best writing may be in any genre or combination of genres (poetry, narrative, argument, expository). An excerpt from a larger piece of writing by the student is acceptable with a paragraph explaining the piece from which the excerpt was taken. Maximum length for the best writing is six (6) pages. The student’s name and “Best” must appear in the upper left-hand corner of each page.
  2. Themed Writing – must be written based on the topic developed by the Achievement Awards Advisory Committee. Maximum length for the theme writing is four (4) pages. The student’s name and “Themed” must appear in the upper left-hand corner of each page.


General Directions for Best and Themed Writing:

  • One teacher completes one entry form per student and uploads the student’s papers as only one file. The maximum length for the best writing is six (6) pages; the maximum length for the themed writing is four (4) pages. Total of ten (10) pages.
  • The student’s name and “Best” or “Theme” must appear in the upper left-hand corner of each page.
  • The page number must appear in the upper right-hand corner of each page.
  • The school’s name must not appear on the paper or within the body of writing.
  • Please use legible type – no smaller than 11 or 12 point.
  • Double space with one inch margins on all sides. This does not apply to poetry.
  • Research papers, term papers, and novels will not be accepted.
  • Late entries will not be accepted.


Judging:  Teams of teachers across the nation will judge entries using a secure judging site. Entries with top scores will be selected for the superior writing award.

Educators and students: Note that the evaluation criteria have been revised. We will be revising the rubric that judges will use in light of the new criteria. We suggest you prepare submissions with the revised criteria in mind.

Below are the guidelines by which your writing will be evaluated by the NCTE judges. Keep these guidelines in mind as you draft and revise:

1. Expression of Ideas

  • Writing suggests/ conveys meanings; reflects strong thinking

  • Thematic meaning(s) effectively controlled

  • Themed writing responds to the stated prompt

  • Piece is unified, and builds upon itself, even if the structure is untraditional

  • Sense of clarity of purpose, completeness, and closure

2.  Language Use

  • Writing style appropriate to content and genre

  • Writing reflects mastery of technical aspects of writing (e.g., control over punctuation and syntax)

  • Writer uses language powerfully, via apt/ original word choice, unique phrasing

  • Strong flow produced via syntactical control and variation

  • Writer effectively employs detail, evocative language, and/or imagery to enliven writing and to express ideas

3. Unique Perspective and Voice

  • Uniqueness of writer is evident through stylistic choices

  • Writing conveys unique, authentic, original perspective

  • Style conveys unique, authentic, original voice


Awards:  Results are announced in May. Students judged for superior writing are awarded a superior writing certificate and letter which are provided to the nominating teacher to present to the winning student. In addition, their name and school’s name appear on the NCTE website. All nominated students receive a recognition certificate and letter which are provided to the nominating teacher to present to the student.

*Late entries can not be considered.


For more information contact

This annual essay contest is organized in an effort to harness the energy, creativity and initiative of the world's youth in promoting a culture of peace and sustainable development. It also aims to inspire society to learn from the young minds and to think about how each of us can make a difference in the world.

*This program is an activity of the UNESCO Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).

Click here to
send your essay online
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For further inquiries concerning the International Essay Contest for Young People, please contact

Organized by

The Goi Peace Foundation

Endorsed by

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan
Japanese National Commission for UNESCO, Japan Private High School Federation
Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education, Japan Broadcasting Corporation, Nikkei Inc.

Supported by


Essay Contest 2018 Flyer (PDF)


Past Winning Essays


Q1Are there any exceptions to the age limit for participating in the contest?

A1No, you must be 25 years old or younger as of June 15, 2018, which is the entry deadline date. That means you must be born after June 15, 1993. On the other hand, there is no minimum age requirement.

Q2Is there a fee for participating in this contest?

A2No, participation is free of charge.

Q3Do I have to be Japanese or Asian to join the contest?

A3A3: No, all nationalities can participate from anywhere in the world.

Q4My essay is a little over 700 words. Is it acceptable?

A4No, essays must be 700 words or less in order to qualify. However, the cover page and essay title are excluded from the word count. There is no minimum word count.

Q5Are the title and cover page included in the word count limit?

A5No, the 700 word count limit is for the body of the essay only.

Q6Do I need a cover page for my essay submitted online?

A6No, a cover page is only required for entries submitted by postal mail. For online entries, all required information is submitted through the registration form, and therefore, you do not need to include a cover page in your essay file.

Q7Can I give any title to my essay?

A7Yes, you can give your essay an original title as long as the content is in line with the theme.

Q8Is there a specific format for the essay (font style, size, line space, etc.)?

A8There are no particular rules regarding formatting. However, your essay file should be submitted in either MS Word(DOC/DOCX) or PDF format.

Q9Can I quote from books or websites? If so, where should I write the reference?

A9If you use quotations, please include the reference at the bottom of the essay. The reference should not be included in the word count.

Q10Can I add photos, images, or my biography to my essay?

A10No. Please send your essay only.

Q11Can I submit my essay via email?

A11No, we do not accept entries by email. Please submit your essay either by postal mail or through the online registration page:* This link will be activated soon.

Q12Can I submit a hand-written essay?

A12Yes, we accept hand-written essays. You can either send it by postal mail or submit a scanned PDF copy through the online registration page:* This link will be activated soon.

Q13Can I submit more than one essay?

A13Yes, you can submit more than one essay as long as the contents are different. They can also be written in different languages. Please use the same account to submit multiple essays online.

Q14Can I submit my essay in my native language?

A14Essays are accepted in English, French, Spanish, German or Japanese only, since these are the only languages the contest organizers and judges can read. However, we can accept essays written in other languages, if they are accompanied by translations in one of the accepted languages.

Q15Can we co-write and submit one essay as a team?

A15No. Essays must be written by one person. Co-authored essays are not accepted.

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