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A Guide to NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

One young smiling caucasian man, student in glasses sits on floor with laptop isolated on yellow studio background.

A Guide to NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing

Writing is an essential skill that plays a significant role in our personal and professional lives. It helps us express ourselves, share our ideas and experiences, and connect with others. To recognize and celebrate excellence in writing, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) has been presenting Achievement Awards in Writing since 1957. The NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing is a writing competition for high school juniors that recognizes excellent writing skills and encourages the development of writing talent.

Each year, more than 1,500 students from all over the United States, Canada, the Virgin Islands, and American schools abroad participate in the program.

How can I qualify for the NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing?

How can I qualify for the NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing? To qualify, you must be a high school junior enrolled in a public, private, or parochial school or a home study program in the United States, Canada, or one of its territories or provinces.

To apply for the award, you need to submit two pieces of writing, one on a general topic and one on a specific theme chosen by the NCTE. The pieces of writing must be between 500-1000 words each and demonstrate a clear, concise, and effective writing style.

The NCTE does not require a specific format or type of writing. You may submit poetry, prose, or a combination of both. The judges will evaluate the pieces based on their quality, originality, and the writer’s ability to engage the reader and communicate effectively.

The deadline for submitting applications varies each year, but it typically falls in December or January. You should check the NCTE website or contact your school’s English department for more information.

Winners of the awards are selected based on the quality of their writing, so it is essential to focus on improving your writing skills. You can do this by reading widely, practicing writing regularly, seeking feedback from teachers, peers, or mentors, and revising your work to improve clarity, organization, and style.

The selection process is rigorous, with entries reviewed by a panel of judges made up of experienced teachers and writers. The judges look for excellence in the following areas: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions. The judges also consider the writer’s ability to engage the reader and communicate effectively.

The award in the writing program has a long and proud history of celebrating excellence in writing. Over the years, many of the winners have gone on to have successful careers as writers, journalists, and scholars. The program is an excellent opportunity for high school students to showcase their writing skills, receive recognition, and gain valuable experience that can help them achieve their goals.

What can I get if I win the NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing?

What can I get if I win the NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing? If you win, you will receive a certificate of recognition, and a letter of commendation from the NCTE, and your name will be published in a special section of the Council Chronicle, the NCTE’s monthly publication.

In addition to the recognition and honor that comes with winning the award, there are other benefits. Some colleges and universities consider the award when making admission decisions and awarding scholarships. Winning the NCTE Achievement Award in Writing is an excellent addition to your academic resume and may help you stand out when applying for colleges or scholarships.

Furthermore, winning the award can boost your confidence and provide you with motivation to continue writing and developing your skills. It can also provide you with opportunities to connect with other young writers, teachers, and mentors who can support and guide you in your writing journey.

a female student studying

What are the rubrics for the NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing?

What are the rubrics for the NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing? The qualifiers are evaluated using a rubric that assesses the writer’s ability to demonstrate excellence in six areas of writing:

Ideas: This includes the quality of the writer’s ideas, the depth of their thinking, and the originality of their perspectives.

Organization: This includes how well the writer structures their writing, their use of transitions between ideas, and the overall coherence of their work.

Voice: This includes the writer’s unique style, tone, and personality that comes through in their writing.

Word Choice: This includes the writer’s use of precise, appropriate, and varied language to convey their ideas and emotions.

Sentence Fluency: This includes the writer’s use of varied sentence structures, rhythm, and pacing to create a natural flow in their writing.

Conventions: This includes the writer’s ability to follow the rules of grammar, punctuation, spelling, and capitalization accurately.

The judges assess the entries based on these six criteria, and they are looking for writing that demonstrates excellence in all areas. The entries are evaluated holistically, meaning that the judges look at the overall quality of the writing rather than focusing on individual aspects.

It’s important to note that while the rubric provides a framework for evaluating the writing, the judges also consider other factors such as the writer’s ability to engage the reader and communicate effectively. Therefore, it’s crucial to write with clarity, precision, and creativity to stand out in the competition.

Tips for qualifying for the NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing

Qualifying for the awards will require strong writing skills, dedication, and the willingness to improve. Here are some tips for qualifying for the NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing to help you increase your chances of success:

Read widely: The more you read, the more exposure you get to different writing styles, techniques, and topics. Reading can help you develop your vocabulary, improve your writing skills, and give you inspiration for your own writing.

Practice writing regularly: Writing is a skill that requires practice. Dedicate time each day to writing, whether it’s journaling, free writing, or working on specific writing prompts. The more you write, the more you will improve.

Seek feedback: Ask your teachers, peers, or mentors for feedback on your writing. Consider joining a writing group or workshop where you can receive constructive criticism and support from other writers.

Revise and edit: Revising and editing are essential parts of the writing process. Take time to revise your work, paying attention to clarity, organization, and style. Make sure your writing is free of errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Understand the requirements: Make sure you understand the submission requirements for the NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing. Follow the guidelines carefully, including word count, topic, and formatting requirements.

Take risks and be original: The judges of the program are looking for original, thought-provoking writing that stands out from the crowd. Don’t be afraid to take risks with your writing and express your unique voice and perspective.

Start early: Give yourself plenty of time to develop and revise your writing. Don’t wait until the last minute to start working on your submissions.

A woman writing in a table.

The NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing is an excellent program that recognizes and celebrates excellence in writing among high school juniors. The program provides students with the opportunity to showcase their writing skills, receive recognition, and gain valuable experience. The NCTE’s commitment to promoting excellence in writing is an inspiration to all who value the power of the written word.

College applicants can benefit from the expertise of college admissions professionals, such as those affiliated with AdmissionSight, to gain a better understanding of the college admissions process. With more than ten years of experience assisting students to navigate the rigorous admissions process and gain admission to top universities worldwide, AdmissionSight is a valuable resource. You may schedule an appointment for your initial consultation at any time.

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