Winning the EON Essay Contest: 13 Tips to Help You Ace It

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A student searching in laptop

Winning the EON Essay Contest: 13 Tips to Help You Ace It

In an era where the youth are increasingly called upon to tackle the grand challenges of our time, the EON Essay Contest emerges as a compelling platform for voices seeking to shape the future. This unique competition invites students to engage deeply with existential risks to humanity, as outlined in Toby Ord’s seminal work, “The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity.” The contest is not just an academic exercise; it’s a clarion call to the next generation to ponder, debate, and articulate pathways to safeguard the collective future of our species.

Winning the EON Essay Contest signifies more than academic accolade; it represents a participant’s ability to synthesize complex ideas. For aspiring winners, this contest offers a rare opportunity to contribute to the global dialogue on existential risks. This conversation is crucial for the long-term survival and flourishing of humanity.

What Is the EON Essay Contest?

The genesis of the EON Essay Contest is deeply rooted in the principles of effective altruism. This movement seeks to apply reason and evidence to the most effective ways to improve the world. By focusing on existential risks, the contest underscores the profound importance of addressing threats that can obliterate humanity’s potential or significantly derail our progress.

The contest draws inspiration from “The Precipice,” a work that meticulously catalogs and analyzes these risks, from artificial intelligence to pandemics. It offers a sobering yet hopeful perspective on humanity’s ability to navigate its current precipice.

Who Can Participate?

The contest’s open invitation to students across various educational stages and disciplines underlines a fundamental belief. Everyone has a stake in humanity’s future, and solutions to existential risks can and should come from all corners of society.

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By setting the stage for students from diverse backgrounds to contribute, the contest democratizes the discourse around existential risks, encouraging a diversity of voices to partake in shaping our collective destiny.

Whether participants are future scientists, policymakers, artists, or philosophers, the contest recognizes the intrinsic value of their ideas in steering humanity away from the brink. For those aspiring to win the EON Essay Contest, it’s an unparalleled chance to be part of a global effort to ensure a safer, more hopeful future for all.

How Can Students Enter the Contest?

Entering the EON Essay Contest is a strategic process that requires attention to detail and adherence to specific criteria, making the journey towards winning the EON Essay Contest a testament to a participant’s commitment and academic prowess.

To embark on this path, students must first ensure they meet the contest’s eligibility criteria, designed to foster wide participation from youths aged 13 to 24. This age range spans from middle school students to those in graduate programs, capturing a broad spectrum of perspectives and insights on the pressing existential risks facing humanity.

The contest extends its reach to full-time and part-time students, including those planning to enroll in the upcoming academic year, thus encompassing various academic statuses. This inclusivity reflects the contest’s underlying goal: to engage young thinkers from various backgrounds in meaningful discourse on navigating and mitigating existential risks, broadening the conversation to include fresh, innovative ideas that could shape our collective future.

13 Tips for Writing a Compelling Essay at the Eon Essay Contest

Crafting a compelling essay for the EON Essay Contest involves more than just showcasing your writing skills; it requires a deep understanding of the subject matter, an ability to engage critically with the themes of “The Precipice,” and the creativity to present your ideas clearly and persuasively. Here are 13 tips to help you excel in your submission:

1- Thoroughly Understand “The Precipice”

Thoroughly understanding “The Precipice” by Toby Ord is the cornerstone for anyone aiming at winning the EON Essay Contest. This pivotal first step involves delving deep into Ord’s exploration of existential risks, which range from familiar threats like nuclear war to emerging dangers such as artificial intelligence and engineered pandemics.

Female student studying in a room.

To excel in the contest, participants must not only grasp the factual content of the book but also engage with its underlying themes and arguments. This deep comprehension allows contestants to craft essays that resonate with the contest’s evaluative criteria, emphasizing originality, depth of analysis, and the ability to connect theoretical concepts with practical implications for humanity’s future.

Participants should approach the book critically, questioning and reflecting on Ord’s propositions and considering how these ideas apply to the broader context of contemporary global challenges.

2-  Select the Right Prompt for You

Selecting the right prompt for you is a strategic step that plays a significant role in winning the EON Essay Contest. This choice is not merely about picking a question but about identifying the prompt that aligns with your strengths, interests, and the depth of understanding you have of “The Precipice.” Each prompt is designed to cater to different age groups and intellectual curiosities, offering a spectrum of angles from which to explore the existential risks highlighted by Toby Ord.

Female student studying in a desk while writing.

The right prompt for you is the one that sparks a genuine curiosity and enthusiasm, enabling you to delve deep into analysis and argumentation with a personal touch. It’s about finding the question that resonates with your personal experiences, academic interests, or philosophical inclinations, thereby allowing you to craft an essay that is not only insightful and well-reasoned but also imbued with a sense of personal conviction and originality.

When contestants choose a prompt that speaks to them, they can leverage their unique perspectives and insights, enhancing their submissions’ richness and depth. This strategic selection is pivotal, as it sets the stage for an engaging and compelling essay, which is a critical factor in distinguishing your entry in the pursuit of winning the EON Essay Contest.

3- Brainstorm and Outline Your Ideas

Brainstorming and outlining your ideas are pivotal steps in crafting a submission capable of winning the EON Essay Contest. This process begins with a comprehensive brainstorming session where you allow your creativity and knowledge from “The Precipice” to guide your initial thoughts and perspectives on the chosen prompt. It’s a time to explore various angles, connect different dots, and consider the implications of existential risks on humanity’s future.

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Through brainstorming, you can uncover unique insights and form connections that might not be immediately obvious, providing a rich foundation for building your essay. Following this, creating a detailed outline is crucial.

An outline serves as a roadmap for your essay, organizing your thoughts and ensuring that your argument flows logically from one point to the next. This step is about structuring your essay to maximize its impact arranging your ideas so they build upon each other and lead to a compelling conclusion.

4- Craft a Strong Thesis Statement

Crafting a strong thesis statement is a crucial component in the architecture of an essay that aims to win the EON Essay Contest. This statement is the keystone of your essay, anchoring your insights, arguments, and the direction of your discourse.

Writing an essay on a notebook.

A powerful thesis succinctly presents your central argument or position in response to the selected prompt. It sets the stage for a detailed exploration of the themes discussed in “The Precipice.” It should be specific enough to give your essay a clear focus yet broad enough for a comprehensive discussion across its body. This balance is critical as it guides the development of your argument, ensuring that each paragraph contributes meaningfully to the overall narrative.

A well-crafted thesis statement encapsulates the essence of your argument and signals to the judges your ability to engage critically and creatively with the contest’s themes. It’s your first opportunity to make an impression, to assert the relevance and originality of your perspective on existential risks and their implications for humanity.

5- Use Evidence and Examples

Using evidence and examples effectively is indispensable for crafting an essay that stands a chance at winning the EON Essay Contest. This approach involves grounding your arguments in concrete details, data, and real-world instances that illustrate the themes and risks discussed in “The Precipice.”

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Integrating relevant examples and evidence enriches your essay, making your arguments more compelling and persuasive. This technique demonstrates your thorough understanding of the subject matter and ability to apply theoretical knowledge to practical scenarios.

For instance, when discussing the potential risks of artificial intelligence, citing specific advancements in AI, alongside expert opinions or historical precedents, can vividly bring to life the urgency and significance of these concerns.

6- Show Originality in Thought

Showing originality in thought is a critical strategy for those aspiring to win the EON Essay Contest. This dimension of your essay is where your unique perspective, innovative ideas, and creative approaches to the themes of “The Precipice” shine through.

Writing in a paper on a table using a pen.

Originality means venturing beyond the book’s analysis to offer fresh insights, propose novel solutions to existential risks, or draw unexpected connections between the book’s themes and other disciplines or current events. It’s about demonstrating your ability to think independently, critically, and imaginatively about humanity’s future and challenges.

This involves presenting new ideas and entails a unique synthesis of the book’s content with your reflections, experiences, or scholarly research. Your essay transcends a mere summary of “The Precipice,” transforming into a compelling narrative that adds value to the conversation on existential risks.

Judges of the EON Essay Contest seek essays that push boundaries, challenge conventional wisdom, and exhibit a deep engagement with the material.

7- Maintain a Clear Structure

Maintaining a clear structure is essential for constructing an essay that resonates with the judges and enhances your chances of winning the EON Essay Contest. A well-organized essay facilitates a smoother reading experience and ensures that your arguments and ideas are conveyed with maximum impact and coherence.

Female student writing near a window.

This begins with an introduction that sets the stage for your discussion, outlining the central thesis and how you plan to explore it about the themes of “The Precipice.” Following this, body paragraphs should each focus on a single point or aspect of your argument, logically sequenced to build upon each other and support your thesis. Each paragraph should start with a clear topic sentence, followed by evidence, analysis, and reflection related to your main argument.

Finally, a strong conclusion is crucial, summarizing your key points and reinforcing the significance of your thesis in the broader context of existential risks and humanity’s future. By adhering to this structured approach, your essay demonstrates your ability to organize and present complex ideas effectively.

8- Write Clearly and Concisely

Writing clearly and concisely is paramount for those aiming to enhance their prospects of winning the EON Essay Contest. This approach ensures that your ideas are communicated effectively, allowing readers to grasp the essence of your arguments without being bogged down by unnecessary complexity or verbosity.

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Clear writing involves using straightforward language accessible to a broad audience avoiding jargon that might obscure your points. Conversely, conciseness involves distilling your thoughts to their most potent form, eliminating redundancies, and focusing on the most impactful information that directly supports your thesis.

This discipline in writing demonstrates your respect for the reader’s time and attention and reflects your ability to think and communicate precisely. This skill is highly valued in the academic and intellectual exploration of existential risks, as highlighted in “The Precipice.”

9- Engage with Ethical Considerations

Engaging with ethical considerations is a critical facet of producing an essay that resonates deeply with the themes of “The Precipice” and significantly boosts your chances of winning the EON Essay Contest.

This engagement demonstrates your capacity to grapple with the profound moral questions underpinning the discussion of existential risks, showing an understanding that these issues extend beyond technical or scientific challenges to core human values and principles.

By thoughtfully examining the ethical dimensions of potential future scenarios, including our responsibilities towards future generations, the balance between innovation and caution, and the equitable distribution of resources and opportunities, you contribute to a nuanced debate central to the contest’s aims.

10. Edit and Revise Your Work

Rigorously editing and revising your work is an indispensable step toward winning the EON Essay Contest, embodying the refinement and precision that distinguish outstanding essays from merely good ones.

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This iterative process involves critically evaluating your essay’s structure, content, and clarity to enhance its coherence, strengthen its arguments, and eliminate errors or ambiguities. Effective editing goes beyond mere proofreading for grammar and spelling; it requires you to assess the logical flow of your ideas, the relevance of your examples, and the persuasiveness of your arguments.

Revising your work means being willing to rework sections that don’t contribute effectively to your thesis to ensure every paragraph, every sentence, and every word serves a purpose. Such thorough refinement underscores your commitment to presenting a polished, compelling piece that meets the contest’s standards for clarity and conciseness and demonstrates a deep engagement with the ethical, philosophical, and practical implications of existential risks.

11. Follow Submission Guidelines

Following submission guidelines meticulously is fundamental for contestants aspiring to elevate their chances of winning the EON Essay Contest. These guidelines, which detail requirements on format, length, and submission process, serve as the framework for your essay to be crafted and presented.

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Adherence to these specifications is not just about compliance; it signals to the judges your attention to detail and respect for the contest’s standards, setting a professional tone for your submission.

The guidelines often include specifics on word count, formatting preferences (such as font type and size, margin widths, and line spacing), and the process for submitting your essay, including deadlines and any necessary forms or cover sheets.

12. Seek Feedback

Seeking feedback is a pivotal strategy for anyone focused on winning the EON Essay Contest, as it opens the door to invaluable insights that can refine and elevate your essay. This process involves sharing your draft with teachers, mentors, peers, or anyone whose judgment and expertise you trust to gain perspectives that might differ from yours.

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Constructive criticism is a goldmine for improvement, offering you the chance to see your work through the eyes of others, identify weaknesses you might have overlooked, and discover new angles or ideas to strengthen your argument.

This collaborative aspect of essay writing enriches your submission by incorporating diverse viewpoints enhancing your argument’s clarity, coherence, and impact. Moreover, feedback can highlight areas where your explanations may need to be clearer to others as they seem to you, ensuring that your final submission communicates your ideas effectively to a broad audience.

13. Reflect on Your Personal Connection

Reflecting on your personal connection to the topics discussed in “The Precipice” and how these issues resonate with your own experiences, beliefs, or aspirations can significantly enhance your essay, imbuing it with authenticity and depth that could be decisive in winning the EON Essay Contest.

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This introspective approach allows you to weave your narrative or personal journey into the broader discourse on existential risks, providing a unique lens through which to examine and articulate these complex challenges. It’s about grounding the global and abstract issues in the personal and concrete, making your essay more relatable and engaging for the readers.

Such personal reflections can also illuminate the passion and motivation behind your participation in the contest, showcasing your commitment to the intellectual exercise and the cause itself. This connection can manifest in various ways, from a personal anecdote that mirrors the thematic concerns of the contest to a deeply held value or concern about the future of humanity that has driven you to seek solutions or engage with these critical issues.

How Can the EON Essay Contest Benefit Students?

Participating in and potentially winning the EON Essay Contest offers students many benefits beyond prestige and monetary rewards. One of the most significant advantages is the educational value and learning opportunities it presents.

Through engaging with “The Precipice” by Toby Ord, students are exposed to a wide array of existential risks and ethical considerations that humanity faces. This broadens their knowledge base and sharpens their critical thinking and analytical skills. The requirement to articulate their thoughts and solutions in a coherent and compelling essay further enhances their academic writing abilities.

Additionally, the contest encourages participants to delve into interdisciplinary research, combining insights from philosophy, technology, environmental science, and political theory to construct their arguments.


In the quest for winning the EON Essay Contest, aspiring participants are tasked with showcasing their understanding and critical analysis of existential risks and demonstrating a unique blend of creativity, critical thinking, and a deep commitment to addressing some of humanity’s most pressing challenges.

The 13 tips provided herein serve as a comprehensive guide for students to enhance their submissions, ranging from profoundly understanding “The Precipice” to reflecting on personal connections to the themes discussed. Each tip, while distinct, contributes to a holistic approach to crafting an essay that stands out for its clarity, depth, and originality.

Winning the EON Essay Contest, therefore, represents more than an academic achievement; it signifies a commitment to contributing to the global dialogue on existential risks and to the ongoing efforts to safeguard the future of humanity. For participants, the journey towards this goal is as enriching as the destination, offering a unique opportunity to be part of a community dedicated to making a meaningful difference in the world.


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