A Compelling Competition: The IEW Essay Writing Contest

Mar 12, 2021 | Posted by Jennifer


One of my favorite jobs is working at a local academic homeschool co-op. This year I am the high school English teacher. I’m quite proud of my little IEW class. We’ve had a great time writing essays, discussing literature, and learning Greek and Latin roots. For their homework this week, I assigned the class a paper that could literally pay off big: responding to the prompt for IEW’s annual writing contest.

Not only will my students have a perfect opportunity to show off their writing skills, but they will also possibly win some cold, hard cash in the process! In the past I have made the competition an optional assignment, but no longer. I require it. After all, I explain to them, this is a real opportunity to be read, potentially published, and possibly chosen as a winner! What other opportunity will my students have to not only earn an “A” for their hard work but also to win some appreciable money (and a great gift certificate for their parents or teacher)?

When I came into class on Monday, I handed them the assignment prompt and checklist requirements. I began the class by emphasizing how important it is to follow a contest’s rules. If they don’t, it won’t matter if they write the best essay in the bunch. It won’t be read. Contest organizers mean serious business when they set the standards for entry, so be sure to follow the directions to a T. Once that admonition was out of the way, we spent the rest of the day doing some brainstorming on the board by asking questions related to the prompt. The kids were animated and actively participated in the discussion.

Do you teach a class? Or do you homeschool your students? Assign them to enter a writing competition or two. Participating promises potential rewards. Although I think the IEW contest is an especially good one to enter, you can find some other great writing challenges on IEW’s Contest page. When students submit to these types of opportunities, they receive so many benefits. Aside from simply gaining practice in reading directions and writing, students profit from the opportunity to be read by a wider audience as well as receive the chance to win prizes. So while I am assigning my students to compete in this event, I think the payoff is also pretty compelling on its own. The rough drafts are due next week. I can’t wait to see what they’ve come up with!


Jennifer Mauser has always loved reading and writing and received a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1991. Once she and her husband had children, they decided to homeschool, and she put all her training to use in the home. In addition to homeschooling her children, Jennifer teaches IEW classes out of her home, coaches budding writers via email, and tutors students who struggle with dyslexia.

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