Essay Contest

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   Open to all middle & high school students worldwide, ages 13 and older.


Top Prize

May 31, 2024

Entry Deadline

105 pages

Book Length

Interested in participating?

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What is Anthem?

Anthem is Ayn Rand’s classic tale of a dystopian future of the great “We”—a world that deprives individuals of a name or independence.

In all that was left of humanity there was only one man who dared to think, seek, and love. He lived in the dark ages of the future. In a loveless world, he dared to love the woman of his choice. In an age that had lost all trace of science and civilization, he had the courage to seek and find knowledge. But these were not the crimes for which he would be hunted. He was marked for death because he had committed the unpardonable sin: He had stood forth from the mindless human herd. He was a man alone. He had rediscovered the lost and holy word—I.


Improve your ability to write and think effectively. This contest will require you to reflect on philosophic themes, form your own opinion, and argue a thesis with evidence and clarity.


Test yourself against talented students from around the world and the high grading standards of our faculty. On average, only the top 1-3% of essays are awarded prizes each year.

Earn Cash

Win cash prizes among five placement categories. This is an excellent way to earn money for college and higher education. We place no restrictions on how the money is spent by recipients.

Choose Your
Essay Topic

Select one of the following three prompts about Anthem and write an essay in response to it.

Essays must be written in English only and between 600 and 1,200 words in length, double-spaced.

Questions? Write to us at

Is the world of Anthem a depiction of a possible future? Do you think Ayn Rand intended it to be? Defend your answers by pointing both to specific events in the story and to examples from today or from history that support your claims.
In the society of Anthem, one of the worst sins is the “Transgression of Preference.” Using examples both from the novel and from real life, discuss the role of preferences in the formation of a person’s individual character. Why do you think the leaders of the society teach that it is immoral to prefer one person or thing over others? In your answer, consider what role preferences play in your own life.
In Chapter XII of Anthem, Prometheus says that the worship of the word “We” caused modern society to collapse into ruins. Explain what he means by this, referring to specific details from the novel. Are there widespread attitudes in your society today that represent “worship of the word ‘We’”? If so, what impact does this “worship” have on your society and on your own life? If not, what fundamental attitudes and ideas explain the difference between your society and the society in Anthem?


1 winner


1 winner

3rd Place

2nd Place

1st Place

1st Place


1 Winner

2nd Place


1 Winner

3rd Place


1 Winner

Master Our
Grading Standards

Essays are judged on whether the student is able to justify and argue for his or her view, not on whether the Institute agrees with the view the student expresses. 

Our graders look for writing that is clear, articulate, and logically organized. Essays should stay on topic, address all parts of the selected prompt, and interrelate the ideas and events in the novel. 

Winning essays must demonstrate an outstanding grasp of the philosophic meaning of Anthem.








On Topic

Contest Timeline

  • Mar. 11

  • May 31

  • Jun. 7

  • Aug. 16

Discover the Power
of Anthem

The main character, Equality 7-2521, tells us he is a sinner and criminal. But what crimes has he committed? Being alone, writing, having personal preferences. He is “cursed” with an active, questioning mind in a society where every institution aims to crush independence and instill obedience to the authority of the collective.

Intelligent and inquisitive, Equality 7-2521 longs to become a scientist and devote his life to discovery and invention. Instead, he is beaten by his teachers and assigned the life work of street sweeper. When, against all odds, he rediscovers the secret power of a lost relic from the ancient past, he must confront the full reality of his society’s ideals.

Learn more and request a free digital copy of the book today.

Learn from
Past Winners

Curious to know what makes for a winning essay in the Anthem contest? Check out some of the essays written by our most recent grand-prize winners. 

To varying degrees, they all display an excellent grasp of the philosophic meaning of Anthem.

See the full list of winners from our most recent contest here.


Srilekha Mamidala

11th grade student

Garnet Valley High School

Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

United States

Read Winning Essay


Lauren Lee

9th grade student

Busan Foreign School


South Korea

Read Winning Essay


Jungwoo Yoo

11th grade student

Global Vision Christian School

Mungyeong-Si, Gyeongsangbuk-do

South Korea

Read Winning Essay


Ashley Yuen

11th grade student

Irvine High School

Irvine, California

United States

Read Winning Essay


Cynthia Lu

11th grade student

Belmont High School

Belmont, Massachusetts

United States

Read Winning Essay


Katrice Wasgatt

10th grade student

Towle Institute

Hockessin, Delaware

United States

Read Winning Essay
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Improve Your Writing Skills

Other than endorsing perfect punctuation and grammar in English, the Ayn Rand Institute offers no advice or feedback for essays submitted to its contests. However, we do recommend the following resources as ways to improve the content of your essays.


This video lecture course is an introduction to Anthem that includes background material on Rand and the era in which she wrote, an overview of the story, an analysis of the characters, a discussion of the story’s themes and brief comparisons to other well-known dystopian works.

Writing: A Mini-Course

Learning to write requires not only an understanding of the proper principles, but also the ability to apply those principles to one’s actual writing. These lectures feature exercises on six different aspects of good writing.

Sign Up for Contest Updates!

Want to stay up-to-date on any new developments to the contest? Sign up to our email list below.

We’ll send you periodic reminders about the contest deadline, as well as helpful resources to ensure you get the most out of your experience reading and writing about Ayn Rand’s Anthem.