New York Times Magazine Essay Contest

Sign up for our weekly newsletter if you want to be sure not to miss contest announcements. If you have questions, post them in the comments section and we’ll answer you there.


2017-18 Student Contest Calendar

Ongoing | Weekly all School Year, Starting Sept. 7

Our Current Events Conversation is an opportunity for teenagers to tell us what they’re reading, watching or listening to in The New York Times and why. We will honor our favorite student comments weekly.

• Description of the Feature

• Find the latest spot for your students to post.

Editorial Cartoon Contest | Sept. 14-Oct. 17, 2017

Draw an editorial cartoon on a topic you care about.

• 2017 Contest and Rules

• Related Lesson Plan

• 2017 Winners

Review Contest | Oct. 12-Nov. 14, 2017

Review a book, movie, restaurant, album, theatrical production, video game, dance, TV show, art exhibit or any other kind of work The Times critiques.

2017 Contest and Rules

Related Lesson Plan

2017 Winners

New Contest:Media Literacy Student Challenge | Explore Your Relationship With News | Nov. 2-Dec. 22, 2017

This contest will invite students to analyze their personal relationships with news — however they define and consume it — then produce creative visual or written reflections about what they discover.

• 2017 Contest and Rules

• Related Lesson Plan

• 2017-18 Winners

New Contest:Connect What You’re Studying in School With the World Today | Dec. 7, 2017-Jan. 16, 2018

What does the Civil War — or evolution, or Shakespeare or “The Bluest Eye” — have to do with with your life and the lives of those around you? Why should you remember it once you’ve turned in that paper or taken that test? What relevance does it have today? What parallels do you see between it and something happening in the news or in our culture?

In this contest, we invite students to address those questions by matching something they are studying in schoolto anything they like that was published in The Times in 2017 or 2018, and tell us why they made the connection.

• 2017 Rules and Submission Form

• Related Lesson Plan

• 2018 Winners

Vocabulary Video Contest | Jan. 18-Feb. 23, 2018

Produce a 15-second video about the meaning of one of our Words of the Day.

• 2018 Rules

• 2017 Winners

Editorial Contest | Feb. 28-April 5, 2018

Write an editorial on an issue that matters to you.

• 2018 Rules

• Related Lesson Plan

• 2017 Winners

Found Poetry Contest | April 4-May 4, 2018

Create a poem composed from words and phrases found in Times articles.

• 2017 Rules

• Related Lesson Plan

• 2017 Winners

New Contest:Podcast Challenge | April 26-May 25, 2018

Update | Create a podcast of five minutes or less that is inspired by one of our thousand-plus Student Opinion questions. That question should just be your starting point. As long as you address the question somehow, your podcast can be in whatever format you think works best. For example, it can be structured as a one-person narration, a conversation between two or more people, or a series of interviews. It can be for educational or entertainment purposes, and can showcase reporting, a personal story or an opinion. Stay tuned for our coming contest announcement and related lesson plan that will help you think through these open-ended choices and, for now, enjoy looking through our Student Opinion questions for inspiration. Stay tuned, and, in the meantime, if you have ideas or thoughts, please let us know at

Summer Reading Contest | June 15-Aug. 24, 2018

We ask, “What interested you most in The Times this week?” each Friday for 10 weeks.

2017 Rules

• Past Winners

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Here’s how it works:

The contest runs from June 16 to Aug. 25.

Every Friday beginning June 16, we will publish a post asking the same two questions: What interested you most in The Times this week? Why? You can always find that link in an update at the top of this page.

Anyone 13 to 19 years old from anywhere in the world can post an answer any week until Friday, Aug. 25, and contestants can choose from any Times article, essay, video, interactive or photograph published in 2017, on any topic they like.

Every Tuesday starting July 4 we will announce winners from a previous week and publish their writing.

To get an idea of the breadth of topics students have chosen in the past — from refugees and "post-truth politics” to power napping and junk food — you can read the work of all our previous winners here.

Scroll down to find more details and tips, the most important of which are also on this handy PDF.

More questions? Here are some that have been frequently asked over the years, but please post anything else you’d like to know in the comments, and we’ll answer you there.

Q. What kinds of responses are you looking for?

A. We don’t care what you choose or whether you loved or hated it; what we care about is what you have to say about why you picked it.

If you don’t believe us, scroll through seven years worth of winners.

They have written on weighty topics like gender, race and identity, space exploration and 21st-century concentration camps, but they have also written on Disney shows,bagels, running and Jon Stewart withdrawal.

Whatever the subject, you’ll see that the best pieces year after year make both personal connections to the news and go beyond the personal to discuss the broader questions and ideas that the topic raises.

So whether you were moved by an article, enlightened by an essay, bowled over by a photo, irked by an editorial or inspired by a feature, find something in The Times that genuinely interests you and tell us why, as honestly and originally as you can.

Q. What are the rules?

A. First, here is a PDF of the key rules and details in this post. Please share.

— We will post the same questions every Friday, starting June 16. Each week we will ask, “What interested you most in The Times this week? Why?” That is where you should post your picks (and reasons) any time until the next Friday. Then we will close that post to comments and open a new one with the same questions. That means that students can write in on any day until Friday, Aug. 25, at 7 a.m. Eastern when the contest ends.

As soon as the contest starts, we will keep an up-to-date link to that week’s question at the top of this page.

— You can choose from anything published in the print paper or on in 2017, including videos, graphics, slide shows and podcasts.

— Feel free to participate every week, but we allow only one submission per person per week.

— The contest is open to teenagers only — anyone from 13 to 19 years old — from anywhere in the world.

— Our commenting system allows responses up to 1,500 characters, which is somewhere between 250 and 300 words.

— Make sure to provide us with the full URL or headline (for example, “Independence Days: My Perfect Imperfect Gap Year” or

Q. Who will be judging my work?

A. The Learning Network staff, plus a team of as-yet-to-be-named New York Times journalists.

Q. When should I check to see whether my submission won?

A. Every Tuesday from July 4 to Sept. 5, we will publish a previous week’s winner or winners in a separate article you can find here. We will also celebrate the winners on Twitter and Facebook.

Q. How do I participate in this contest if I don’t have a digital subscription?

A. has a digital subscription system in which readers have free access to 10 articles each month. If you exceed that limit, you will be asked to become a digital subscriber.

One thing you should know, however, is that The Learning Network and all its posts for students, as well as all Times articles linked from them, are accessible without a digital subscription. That means that if you use any of the articles we have linked to on our site for summer reading, they will not count as part of the 10-article limit. And remember: You can use anything published in 2017.

Q. How do I prove to my teacher that I participated?

A. When you comment, make sure to check the box that asks if you would like to be emailed when your comment is published.

If you do so, the system will send you a link to your comment, which you can use to show your teacher, your parents, your friends or anyone else you’d like to impress.

Please note that you will not get an email until the comment has been approved, which may take up to 48 hours over weekends.

Another method? Some teachers ask students to take screenshots of their comments before they hit “submit,” then gather those all together at the end of the summer.

Q. How can teachers, librarians and parents use this challenge?

A. Through the years, adults have told us over and over that participating in this contest has made their students both more aware of and more interested in what’s going on in the world. Many see it as a low-stakes way to help teenagers start building a news-reading habit.

If that’s not enough of a reason to assign it, our contest is also an easy way to add more nonfiction to your students’ reading lists — and to encourage teenagers to make their own choices about what to read, as anything published in The Times in 2017 is fair game.

Participating also meets adresses the recommendations given in this joint statement on independent reading given by the International Reading Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.

Thank you for making this contest a hit year after year, and please spread the word that it’s back for an eighth season.


Good luck!

Please post any questions in the comments, and we’ll answer you there. We will also add the link to the top of this post on June 16, when the contest begins. And if you watch our May 10 webinar, you’ll get many more tips, including ideas for practicing in class before you send students away for summer break, and ideas for keeping their independent news-reading habits alive back in the classroom this fall.

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