The Atlantic and College Board Announce Writing Prize: High School Student Essays Focus on Insightful Analysis of Important American Texts

Submit Essays for Contest Starting Jan. 1; More Details at CollegeBoardWritingPrize.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Atlantic and the College Board are holding a new writing contest to recognize the best high school essayists, with the writer of the grand prize–winning essay receiving a cash prize and publication in the magazine. For their essays, students this year will focus on important documents from American history. The annual contest seeks to identify promising young writers in the United States and around the world and to instill the analytical-writing skills critical to success in college and professional life. Sponsoring teachers can submit essays for students from January 1 to February 28, 2015.

The details and rules of the contest are being announced today by both organizations and can be found at CollegeBoardWritingPrize.org and in the December issue of The Atlantic.

“The ability to write analytically is one of the most essential capacities students need to master,” said College Board President David Coleman. “It is this kind of writing that enables students to build knowledge, deepen understanding, and share ideas. We’re excited about this opportunity to celebrate the best of student analytical writing and excited that this year’s theme encourages students to draw from the most important documents from U.S. history.”

“We share the conviction of the College Board that learning to write analytically is key to a young person’s intellectual development,” said James Bennet, President & Editor-in-Chief of The Atlantic. “And we are delighted to have the chance, through this competition, to help spot the rising writers of tomorrow.”

The contest is open to students age 16 to 19. Writers must choose to analyze one of 25 primary source documents that AP® U.S. history teachers have said they are most excited to discuss with their students. All selected documents are either foundational to the development of the United States or part of the important conversations that such foundational documents inspire. Among the historical documents students can choose as their subjects are Abigail Adams’s “Remember the Ladies” letter of 1776, Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address (1865), and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (1963).

Entries will be judged based on the acuity of their analysis and on the articulation of a connection between the document and the student’s personal experiences and community. Attention will also be paid to students’ awareness of language choices and how they relate to an author’s purpose for writing. Submissions will be accepted between January 1 and February 28, 2015. The overall winner will be selected from seven finalists, and will receive a $5,000 prize, and his or her winning essay will be published in The Atlantic. The other six finalists will receive a prize of $2,500 each.


Media Relations Contacts:

Anna Bross
The Atlantic
(202) 266-7714
[email protected]

Zachary Goldberg
The College Board
(212) 713-7797
[email protected]

About The Atlantic

Since its founding in 1857 as a magazine about “the American Idea” that would be of “no party or clique,” The Atlantic has been at the forefront of brave thinking in journalism. One of the first magazines to launch on the Web in the early 1990s, The Atlantic has continued to help shape the national debate across print, digital, and event platforms. With TheAtlantic.com and CityLab.com, The Atlantic is a multimedia forum on the most critical issues of our times—from politics, business, urban affairs, and the economy, to technology, arts, and culture. The Atlantic is the flagship property of Washington, D.C.–based publisher Atlantic Media.