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Scholastic Art & Writing Awards - Alliance for Young Artists & Writers

 

Categories

Art CategoriesWriting Categories
Architecture & Industrial DesignCritical Essay
Ceramics & GlassDramatic Script
Comic ArtFlash Fiction
DesignJournalism
Digital ArtHumor
Drawing & IllustrationNovel Writing
Editorial CartoonPersonal Essay & Memoir
Expanded ProjectsPoetry
FashionScience Fiction & Fantasy
Film & AnimationShort Story
JewelryWriting Portfolio (graduating seniors only)
Mixed Media
Painting
Photography
Printmaking
Sculpture
Art Portfolio (graduating seniors only)

Art Categories

A Note on Size Limitation for All Art Categories

Regional programs may limit the size of work that they accept. Check out your regions guidelines for details.

Oversized works that earn National Medals are not guaranteed opportunities for display in the National Exhibition.

Collaborative works are not allowed in any art categories. To credit contributors on Expanded Projects and Film & Animation, follow the instructions for those categories. 

Architecture & Industrial Design

Category Description

This category also includes industrial design plans for models of structures, environments, systems, or products.

Examples (including but not limited to)

Building designs, landscape designs, interior designs, urban plans, or product designs. Can include 2D work such as hand-drawn sketches, computer-aided designs, blueprints, and floor plans, OR 3D work such as handmade or 3D-printed scale models, conceptual models, sketch models, or prototypes. 

Special Instructions

Plans may be hand-drawn or computer-generated. Models must be sturdy and able to endure shipping and exhibition. 

Entry Requirements 

Each entry requires four images of your piece. Showcase the scale and details of your work and include pictures from different angles. For 2D works, show your plans in detail. You may choose to include concept drawings, sketches, material palettes, sections, elevations, site plans and renderings in your image selection. For 3D works, include one image that shows the work from the front at a slight angle against a white or neutral colored background. For the remaining images include one detail shot, an image with a ruler for scale, and an image from the back of the work. Visit our blog for tips on documenting your work.

View award-winning art

Additional Instructions

If you enter 2D work (a design as opposed to a model), select “0” for the “Depth” and “Weight” fields. 

Work Type

3D Work (Height x Width x Diameter and Weight)

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Ceramics & Glass

Category Description

Handcrafted objects made from ceramics or glass.

Examples (including but not limited to)

Anything made exclusively out of ceramics and/or glass belongs in this category. This includes busts, figures, abstract forms, vases, teapots, bowls, plates, cups, tiles, tableware, or other vessels. Ceramic pieces may include earthenware, stoneware, porcelain, etc. Glass pieces may include stained glass, cast glass, fused glass, blown glass, etc. 

Special Instructions

  • Unfired ceramics and oil-based clay works should not be entered.
  • Ceramic or glass pieces intended to be worn for personal adornment should be entered in the Jewelry category.

Entry Requirements 

Each entry requires four images of your piece. Showcase the scale and details of your work and include pictures from different angles. Include one image that shows the work from the front at a slight angle against a white or neutral colored background. For the remaining images include one detail shot, an image with a ruler for scale, and an image from the back of the work. Visit our blog for tips on documenting your work.

View award-winning art

Work Type

3D Work (Height x Width x Diameter and Weight)

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Comic Art

Category Description

A pictorial narrative in deliberate sequence—with or without text—that tells a story or develops an idea using single or multiple panels. Concepts for characters should be entered in Drawing & Illustration. 

Examples (including but not limited to)

Comic strips, comic books, storyboards, webcomics, or selections from graphic novels.

Special Instructions

Do not base characters and plots on already published comic books or published series. 

Entry Requirements 

You can upload up to eight images for each Comic Art entry. If your image includes text, enter the text of each panel in the field provided on the upload page. This will ensure jurors can read your work during judging. 

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Additional Instructions

If your entry consists of more than one page, please indicate how many pages are in your entry in the space provided.

Work Type

2D Work (Height x Width)

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Design

Category Description

Art created for commercial or applied purposes. This includes graphic design work that has a defined use such as advertising or communications.

Examples (including but not limited to)

Magazine layouts, book covers, greeting cards, fonts, letterhead, business cards, calendars, or signage.

Special Instructions 

Work that is based off preexisting brands is discouraged. If your work references preexisting brands, your design must represent a new, original idea or contribute added value to the source material according to our Copyright & Plagiarism guidelines

Entry Requirements 

You are strongly encouraged to upload four images for each Design entry.

View award-winning art

Additional Instructions

If you are submitting a 2D work, select “0” for the “Depth” and “Weight” fields.

Work Type

3D Work (Height x Width x Diameter and Weight)

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Digital Art

Category Description

Artwork created digitally and intended to exist in a digital space or images that are heavily collaged or manipulated to produce a new image using digital tools. This includes illustrations created digitally. 

Examples (including but not limited to)

Digital collages, CGI, VR, digital painting, and fractal art.

Special Instructions

  • Do not enter AI-generated art. 
  • Identify the software used to create the artwork in the “List Materials” section of your application (ex: Adobe Suite programs, Sketchbook, Procreate, Corel PaintShop, Clip Studio Paint, etc.). 
  • Digital artwork may contain text, but entries that contain text for commercial purposes should be entered in the Design category. 
  • Digital photographs that are “touched up” or lightly manipulated using computer software should be entered in the Photography category. 
  • Consider entering the Expanded Projects category if your work has a strong interactive element. 
  • If you are using collaged images, refer to the Copyright & Plagiarism guide.

Entry Requirements 

You can upload one image for each Digital Art entry.

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Work Type

2D Work (Height x Width)

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Drawing & Illustration

Category Description

Art that is composed of marks made with dry materials on a 2D surface. Drawings include all renderings made by a manual or mechanical instrument on a surface and may include formal, realistic, and/or abstract imagery. Illustrations made with dry materials should be entered in this category. Illustrations made with paint should be entered in Painting and illustrations made digitally should be entered in Digital Art. Ink drawings colored with paint like watercolors should be entered in Drawing & Illustration. 

Examples (including but not limited to)

Pencil, ink, charcoal, pastel, crayon, scratchboard, marker, ink drawings colored with paint, etc. 

Special Instructions

  • Do not enter AI-generated art. 
  • Drawings copied from published photographs, the internet, or existing works should not be entered and will be disqualified. Refer to the Copyright & Plagiarism guide for more detailed information. 
  • Sequential illustrations should be entered in Comic Art. 
  • Illustrations made digitally should be entered in Digital Art. 
  • Illustrations made with paint should be entered in Painting. 
  • Illustrations that directly depict political or social commentary should be entered in the Editorial Cartoon category. 
  • Animated .gif files will not be accepted for this category. An uploaded .gif file will be adjudicated as a static .gif file. 
  • Do not upload .zip files for the category. Zip files will not be judged. 

Entry Requirements 

You can upload one image for each Drawing or Illustration entry.

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Work Type

2D Work (Height x Width)

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Editorial Cartoon sponsored by The Herb Block Foundation

Category Description

A drawing or illustration or series of artworks that offers commentary or criticism on current events or political topics. 

About Herb Block

This category is sponsored by The Herb Block Foundation in honor of Mr. Block’s remarkable contribution to the genre of political cartoons. Visit herbblockfoundation.org to learn more and see examples of his work.

Examples (including but not limited to)

Single panel drawings with captions, sequential comic art, illustrations, or digitally created drawings with a political theme or message.

Special Instructions

  • If your image includes text, enter the text of each panel in the field provided on the upload page. This will ensure jurors can read your work during judging. 
  • Multi-panel cartoons or other narrative illustrations that do not contain commentary or criticism of a political event or current event should be entered in Comic Art.  
  • Illustrations that do not contain commentary or criticism of a political event or current event should be entered in Drawing & Illustration or Digital Art depending on the tools used.  

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Work Type

2D Work (Height x Width)

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Expanded Projects

Category Description

Interdisciplinary work that is primarily driven by concept or invites participation by a viewer or community. Expanded Projects may include the documentation of live art, installation, research-based practices, or interactive visual art. Expanded Projects do not include dance, music, theater, or spoken word poetry. 

Original work in this category will explore new genres, ideas, or experimental methods that could not be represented in other categories. The evaluation of skill may include both the way the work is documented and the conceptual background of the work in addition to the work’s construction. 

Expanded Projects that don’t fit the category description or that belong in another category will not be awarded. 

Examples (including but not limited to)

Documentation of live art, experimental video art, installation, site-specific or research-driven processes, conceptual art, social discourse, or community projects.

Do not enter dance, music, theater, or spoken word poetry to the Scholastic Awards.

Entry Requirements

You must upload 1-8 files that clearly present the work. (.pdf, .jpg, .png, .mp3, or .mp4)

The file size limit for each upload is 350 MB. If you are having trouble uploading a video file, please visit Frequently Asked Questions.

Along with the work, you must submit a written statement that summarizes the work and contextualizes the provided files. This statement must not include your name or biographical information because it will be viewed by the judges.

Acknowledge contributors in the work sources section of your entry. 

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Fashion

Category Description

Articles of clothing or fashion accessories other than jewelry (which should be entered in the Jewelry category). 

Examples (including but not limited to)

Fully realized articles and outfits, sketches, tech packs, jackets, dresses, shirts, gowns, scarves, hats, bags, belts, shoes, etc. as well as experimental designs, wearable art, and work made from found materials. 

Special Instructions

Garments not intended to be worn on the body should be submitted to the Sculpture category.

Entry Requirements

Each entry requires four images of your design. Visit our blog for tips on documenting your work.

View award-winning art

Additional Instructions

If you enter a 2D work (a design as opposed to a model), select “0” for the “Depth” and “Weight” fields. 

Work Type

3D Work (Height x Width x Diameter and Weight)

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Film & Animation

Category Description

A sequence of moving images viewed with a monitor, television, or projector.

Examples (including but not limited to)

Documentary films, narrative films, commercials, experimental videos, as well as hand-drawn, computer-generated, or stop-motion animations, etc.

Special Instructions

  • In your application, identify equipment and software used in the “List Materials” section. 
  • Since works are judged without knowledge of the student’s gender, age, or hometown, do not include any credits in your film. 
  • Acknowledge contributors in the work sources section of your entry. 

Copyrighted Music

The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers strongly encourages the use of original or public domain music. You cannot use copyrighted music in your work without the permission of the original artist.  

Teens who obtain copyrights to music must obtain documentation from the artist and reference it in the work sources section of your entry.  

If you use non-original music in your work, you must cite your source. 

Even if you have permission to use a piece of music or the music is in the public domain, the film or animation that you enter to the Scholastic Awards must represent a new, original work.  

If your work transforms some sort of source material, then it may be considered original. We define transformative work as a new work that adds value, substantially changes, comments on, or gives a new expression or meaning to the source. 

View our Copyright & Plagiarism guidelines for more information. 

Entry Requirements 

  • Your film must be in one of the following formats: .mp4 or .mov 
  • You must enter the film synopsis in the provided textbox. 
  • If your entry is over 5 minutes long, we strongly encourage you to enter a 5-minute-or-under version. Judges will use the 5-minute version in their initial assessment of your work. 

For Film & Animation entries longer than 5 minutes, upload the following: 

  • A five-minute-or-under version of your film (the file size limit for this upload is 350 MB) 
  • The full-length version of your film. If your full film is under five minutes long, this second upload does not apply to you–do NOT upload a higher resolution of the same film. 
  • The file size limit for this upload is 800 MB.

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Work Type

Time-based Work (Minutes:Seconds)

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Jewelry

Category Description

Art objects worn for personal adornment.

Examples (including but not limited to)

Bracelets, rings, brooches, earrings, cufflinks, necklaces, etc.

Special Instructions

Materials may include metal, semi-precious stones, plastic, beading, glass, found objects, etc.

Entry Requirements 

Each entry requires four images of your jewelry. Showcase the scale and details of your work and include pictures from different angles. Include one image that shows the work from the front at a slight angle against a white or neutral colored background. For the remaining images include one detail shot, an image with a ruler for scale, and an image from the back of the work. Visit our blog for tips on documenting your work.

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Work Type

3D Work (Height x Width x Diameter and Weight)

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Mixed Media

Category Description

Wall-based artwork made from more than one medium, with a 3D or readymade element. This includes works made with physical and digital materials. 

Examples (including but not limited to)

Collage, assemblage, cut paper, handmade paper, batik, fiber-based art, etc. 

Special Instructions

  • Do not enter AI-generated art. 
  • Combinations of painting and drawing applied only to one surface should be entered into either the Painting or Drawing categories. 
  • Mixed media pieces meant to be viewed in the round should be entered in the Sculpture category. 

Entry Requirements 

Each entry requires four images of your Mixed Media piece. Showcase the scale and details of your work and include pictures from different angles. Include one image that shows the work from the front at a slight angle against a white or neutral colored background. For the remaining images include one detail shot, an image with a ruler for scale, and an image from the back of the work. Visit our blog for tips on documenting your work.

View award-winning art

Additional Instructions

If your mixed media entry does not have a 3D element, select “0” for the “Depth” and “Weight” fields. 

Work Type

3D Work (Height x Width x Diameter and Weight)

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Painting

Category Description

Art created by applying wet materials to a 2D surface. This includes illustrations made with any type of paint. If you use more than two non-paint materials or if you create a collage, your work should be entered in Mixed Media. 

Examples (including but not limited to)

Oil, acrylic, watercolor, gouache, tempera, ink, encaustic, fresco, spray paint, etc. applied on canvas, canvas board, paper, or any flat surface. 

Special Instructions

  • Do not enter AI-generated art. 
  • Paintings copied from published photographs, the internet, or existing works should not be entered and will be disqualified. For more detailed information, check out the Copyright & Plagiarism guide

Entry Requirements 

You can upload one image for each Painting entry.

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Work Type

2D Work (Height x Width)

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Photography

Category Description

Images captured by either an analog or digital camera.

Examples (including but not limited to)

Black and white photographs, color photographs, digital or analog photographs, photograms, other experimental photography, etc.

Special Instructions

  • Do not enter AI-generated art.
  • Identify type of photographic techniques used in the “List Materials” section of online registration.
  • Editing software (Adobe Suite programs, Procreate, Corel PaintShop, Clip Studio Paint, etc.) is acceptable to use for minor touch-ups and image correction in a manner that replicates traditional darkroom techniques (cropping, dodging, burning, adjusting brightness, contrast, color balance, etc.). Heavily edited works should be entered in Digital Art. 
  • Works that are digitally collaged, cloned, layered, merged, distorted, or heavily manipulated with computer software must be entered in the Digital Art category. 
  • Each work entered in Photography should be a distinct image that presents a unique artistic vision.

Entering multiple similar images from the same series of photographs is highly discouraged. Part of the entry process to the Awards is determining which image best fulfills the Scholastic Awards criteria: originality, skill, and the emergence of a personal vision. 

Entry Requirements 

You can upload one image for each Photography entry. Participants may enter up to 16 individual photo entries. 

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Work Type

2D Work (Height x Width)

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Printmaking

Category Description

Work made by transferring ink from one prepared surface (plate, screen, etc.) onto paper or another flat surface.

Examples (including but not limited to)

Woodcut/linocut, monotype, intaglio, lithography, etching, silkscreen printing, collagraph, etc.

Special Instructions

Identify the printmaking technique used in the “List Materials” section of online registration.

Entry Requirement 

For each Printmaking entry, you can upload one image. 

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Work Type

2D Work (Height x Width)

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Sculpture

Category Description

Three-dimensional art objects created by carving, casting, or other shaping techniques that can have interactive qualities.

Examples (including but not limited to)

Modeled, carved, cast, constructed, or assembled objects, including artist books. Materials may include but are not limited to clay, cardboard, metal, acrylic, wood, glass, stone, marble, textiles, plastics, and found objects. 

Special Instructions

  • Large-scale installation art should be entered into the Expanded Projects category.
  • Anything made exclusively out of ceramics and/or glass belongs in the Ceramics & Glass category.

Entry Requirements

Each entry requires four images of your Sculpture. Showcase the scale and details of your work and include pictures from different angles. Include one image that shows the work from the front at a slight angle against a white or neutral colored background. For the remaining images include one detail shot, an image with a ruler for scale, and an image from the back of the work. Visit our blog for tips on documenting your work.

View award-winning art

Work Type

3D Work (Height x Width x Diameter and Weight)

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Art Portfolio

(For Graduating Seniors Only)

Category Description

A series of 6 distinct works that communicate a single cohesive idea or visual investigation. Works can come from one category or any combination of multiple categories.

Graduating seniors may submit up to two Art Portfolios, but may not submit the same work in both portfolios.

Special Instructions

  • Each work within the Art Portfolio is subject to the same upload rules as its equivalent in individual categories. For example, a Sculpture work as part of a portfolio requires four images, while a Photography work requires one image. 
  • Work included in a portfolio may also be entered in an individual category (i.e., Drawing & Illustration, Mixed Media, etc.). Seniors may re-enter artworks that were entered to the Scholastic Awards in a previous year as part of their Art Portfolio. 
  • Do not include any identifying information, such as your name, in the title of your portfolio or the works included in the entries. 
  • You must provide an Artist Statement and Personal Statement—these are two separate statements. Do not copy and paste the same statement for both! 

Artist Statement: Write about your art! This required statement should provide insight into your creative process: How did you curate the works in your portfolio? 

Consider questions like: 

  • What do you want viewers to understand about your collection of works? 
  • What are the key ideas, issues, struggles, or goals within the portfolio? 
  • Did you make deliberate decisions about materials, processes, etc.? 

Your artist statement should be at least 100 words must not exceed 500 words. The statement will be visible to jurors. Do not use self-identifying information in the statement. 

Personal Statement: Write about you! Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it. 

Consider questions like: 

  • What is a significant challenge, setback, or failure that you experienced? How did you respond to it? How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? 
  • Have you ever had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs? 

Your personal statement should be at least 100 words and must not exceed 500 words. This statement will be viewed by the scholarship committee if your work receives a Gold Key and goes on to be considered for a national portfolio scholarship award.

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Writing Categories

Instructions for all Writing Categories

  • Entries must be primarily in English. 
  • No identifying information, including the writer’s name, should appear anywhere on the manuscript, including areas such as a header or title page. 
  • For real people in non-fiction works, use fictional names. You do not need to change the name of public or historical figures. 
  • No illustrations, photographs, graphics, or hyperlinks are permitted in the body of the work. 
  • Sources must be cited. Footnotes/works cited are not considered part of the word count. We do not require a specific citation format. It may help to view examples of past award-winning works in the Online Gallery
  • Collaborative works are not allowed in any categories. 

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Critical Essay

Category Description

Writing intended to inform or convince a reader about a specific idea or topic, such as art or media reviews, persuasive essays, opinion essays, etc. 

Special Instructions

Sources must be cited. Footnotes/works cited are not considered part of the word count. We do not require a specific citation format. Use the citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) that best supports your work. 

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Word Limit

500–3,000 words

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Dramatic Script

Category Description

Work that uses dialogue, action, and stage direction to tell a story, including scripts for television, film, or stage.

Special Instructions

Excerpts can be entered but should be clearly labeled as excerpts. 

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Word Limit

500–3,000 words. If the script exceeds 3,000 words, you may provide a 250-word summary and attach a PDF of the full script.

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Flash Fiction

Category Description

Highly focused stories characterized by brevity. Each piece should include a beginning, middle, and end. This should not be an excerpt of a longer work. Longer works may be better suited for the Short Story or Novel Writing categories. 

Special Instructions

Please note word length for Flash Fiction compared to Short Story. Stories in which humor is a key element or speculative fiction like science fiction, fantasy, horror, or alternate histories should be entered in those respective categories. 

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Word Limit

Maximum 1,000 words

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Humor

Category Description

Writing that uses comedic forms such as jokes, satire, farce, irony, parody, absurdity, comedic anecdote, etc. 

Special Instructions

All work in which humor is the key element should be entered in this category. 

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Word Limit

500–3,000 words

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Journalism

Category Description

Writing that informs and educates about newsworthy topics or current events, characterized by a presentation of facts or description of events.

Examples (including but not limited to)

Writing intended for publication in newspapers, magazines, or online media and characterized by a presentation of facts or description of events. 

Special Instructions

Works cited are not considered part of the word count. We do not require a specific citation format. Use the citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) that best supports your work. 

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Word Limit

500–3,000 words

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Novel Writing

Category Description

An excerpt from a long-form prose narrative. Provide an excerpt no longer than 3,000 words. Novel entries must also include a brief 250-word summary of the entire novel. Follow the detailed instructions below: 

  • Novel entries should be excerpted from completed manuscripts. The excerpt should be a complete chapter or section from a chapter. Use a sample that showcases your writing and story setup. 
  • Novel entries must include a summary (250 words or less) of the entire novel. The summary is meant to provide readers with an understanding of the full scope, themes, arc, and plot of your novel. The summary does not count toward the maximum word limit. Think about what would appear on the back cover of your book, but with spoilers! 
  • The writer’s name and school must NOT appear on any materials in the entry. 
  • Adaptations of or sequels to existing published works are not accepted. 

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Word Limit

An excerpt up to 3,000 words and a 250-word summary of the entire novel. 

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Personal Essay & Memoir

Category Description

A non-fiction work based on opinion, experience, and/or emotion that explores a topic or event of importance to the author. 

Special Instructions

Essays in which humor is the key element should be entered in the Humor category.

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Word Limit

500–3,000 words

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Poetry

Category Description

Writing in verse. May include but is not limited to prose poetry, free verse, formal poetry, song lyrics, and spoken word. 

Special Instructions

Each entry consists of 1 poem. If you have more than one poem they should be entered separately as individual poetry pieces. If you have a longer form poem with sections, that should be entered as one piece. 

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Word Limit

3–100 lines

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Science Fiction & Fantasy

Category Description

Writing in speculative fiction genres like science fiction, fantasy, horror, or alternate history. This writing uses supernatural, magical, futuristic, scientific, or technological themes as key elements of the narrative. These may include short stories or prose focused on world building, mythology, etc. 

Special Instructions

All works in which science fiction/fantasy is the key element should be entered in this category. Do not base characters or plots on already published works (books, movies, comics, etc.). Works that are novel length should be entered in Novel Writing. 

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Word Limit

500–3,000 words

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Short Story

Category Description

A fictional narrative that is written in prose.

Special Instructions

Short Stories in which humor is a key element or speculative fiction like science fiction, fantasy, horror, or alternate histories should be entered in those respective categories. 

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Word Limit

1,000–3,000 words

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Writing Portfolio

(For Graduating Seniors Only)

Category Description

A series of 6 distinct works that demonstrate versatility as a writer, diversity in writing techniques and styles, and a developed, cohesive voice. The works can come from one category or any combination of multiple categories. 

Graduating seniors may submit up to two Writing Portfolios, but may not submit the same work in both portfolios.

Special Instructions

  • The word count for each piece submitted in a writing portfolio should adhere to the length limits listed in each individual category. The maximum length for a writing portfolio is 24,000 words (not including the writer’s statement).
  • Work included in a portfolio may also be entered in an individual category (i.e., Short Story, Critical Essay, etc.). 
  • Seniors may re-enter writing that was entered to the Scholastic Awards in a previous year as part of their writing portfolio. 
  • Do not include any identifying information, such as your name, in the title of your portfolio or the works included in the entry. 
  • You must provide a Writer Statement and a Personal Statement—these are two separate statements. Do not copy and paste the same statement for both! 

Writer Statement: Write about your writing! This required statement should provide insight into how you curated your writing portfolio.

Consider questions like:

  • What do you want readers to understand about your collection of works? 
  • What are the key ideas, issues, struggles, or goals within the portfolio? 
  • Did you make deliberate decisions about voice, literary devices, etc.? 

Your Writer Statement should be at least 100 words must not exceed 500 words. The statement will be visible to jurors. Do not use self-identifying information in the statement. 

Personal Statement: Write about you! Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.  

Consider questions like: 

  • What is a significant challenge, setback, or failure that you experienced? How did you respond to it? How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? 
  • Have you ever had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs? 

Your personal statement should be at least 100 words and must not exceed 500 words. This statement will be viewed by the scholarship committee if your work receives a Gold Key and goes on to be considered for a national portfolio scholarship award.

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