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ESSAY CONTEST OVERVIEW

Now accepting applications for the 2021 Atlas Shrugged essay contest!

Have you ever read one of Ayn Rand’s thought-provoking novels? Now’s the time! Enter an Ayn Rand Institute essay contest and you’ll have a chance to win thousands of dollars in prize money. ARI has held essay contests on Ayn Rand’s fiction since 1986, awarding over $2.2 million in total prize money to contest winners! This year we will award more than $40,000 to hundreds of students worldwide.

 

Don’t have access to an Ayn Rand novel? You can now request a free eBook of your choosing and we’ll send you a copy within one business day. But hurry! Supplies are limited, and the deadlines for this year’s contests are quickly approaching—September 27th for Atlas Shrugged, and April 28th for Anthem and The Fountainhead.

Questions? Write to us at [email protected].

 

Learn More and Submit Your Essay

STUDENT TESTIMONIALS

Read what former essay contest participants had to say about Ayn Rand's classic novels.

CONTEST DETAILS

Eligibility for Anthem

8th – 12th GRADE


Entry Deadline

APRIL 28, 2022

  • 1ST PLACE
    $2,000
    1 Winner
  • 2ND PLACE
    $500
    3 Winners
  • 3RD PLACE
    $100
    5 Winners
  • FINALIST
    $50
    25 Winners
  • SEMI-FINALIST
    $25
    50 Winners

The application window for the 2022 contest will open in late-July.

SELECT ONE OF THE FOLLOWING THREE TOPICS:

  1. In Anthem, Ayn Rand does not indicate the race of any of the characters, nor does she suggest that racial prejudice is present in the story. But are there other forms of prejudice in the society of Anthem? If so, against what or whom are they directed and why? In what ways are these forms of prejudice similar to or different from racial prejudice?
  2. Do you think that Equality 7-2521 is selfish? In your answer, give examples from the story that support your answer. In what ways is Equality’s approach to life and to the other characters in the story similar to or different from what we normally think of as “selfish”? What lessons do you draw from the story about what it means to pursue your own interests?
  3. Do you find Liberty 5-3000 to be an admirable character? In your answer, give examples from the story about her actions, attitude, or character that lead you to answer as you do. In what ways is Liberty similar to or different from other women whom we are taught to admire?

The application window for the 2022 contest will open in late-July.

GRADING CRITERIA

Essays will be judged on whether the student is able to argue for and justify his or her view—not on whether the Institute agrees with the view the student expresses. Judges will look for writing that is clear, articulate and logically organized. Winning essays must demonstrate an outstanding grasp of the philosophical meaning of Anthem.

RULES & REQUIREMENTS

  • Contest is open to students worldwide, except where void or prohibited by law.
  • Entrant must be at least 13 years old and in 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade for any part of the school year in which the contest is held. The Ayn Rand Institute reserves the right to make exceptions to this rule, on a case-by-case basis, for international students or for students with nonstandard school years. Verification of school enrollment will be required for all winning entrants. If you or your child are under 13 and wish to participate, contact [email protected]
  • Essays must be submitted electronically through the online portal. If you are unable to submit an essay electronically contact us at [email protected]
  • Essays must be written in English only, and must be no fewer than 600 and no more than 1,200 words in length, double-spaced. Spelling errors and/or written corrections (by anyone) found on the essay will count against the final grade and should be omitted before submission.
  • One entry per student per contest.
  • Essays must be submitted online by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time of the entry deadline. The Ayn Rand Institute has the right to provide contest deadline extensions when deemed appropriate.
  • Essays must be solely the work of the entrant. Plagiarism will result in disqualification. Essays must not infringe on any third-party rights or intellectual property of any person, company or organization. By submitting an essay to this Contest, the entrant agrees to indemnify the Ayn Rand Institute for any claim, demand, judgment or other allegation arising from possible violation of someone’s trademark, copyright or other legally protected interest in any way in the entrant’s essay.
  • Decisions of the judges are final.
  • Employees of the Ayn Rand Institute, its board of directors and their immediate family members are not eligible for this contest. Past first-place winners are not eligible for this contest.
  • All entries become the property of the Ayn Rand Institute and will not be returned.
  • All participants will be notified of the results via email by August, 2022.
  • Winners are responsible for providing their mailing addresses and other necessary information under the law in order to receive any prizes. Prizes must be claimed within six months of the results being announced.
  • Winners agree to allow the Ayn Rand Institute to post their names on any of ARI’s affiliated websites. The first-place essay may be posted in its entirety on any of these websites with full credit given to the author.
  • Winners consent to participate in interviews and allow the Ayn Rand Institute to use quotes and take photographs, movies or videotapes of them.
  • Winners also grant to The Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism the right to edit, use and reuse said products for non-profit purposes including use in print, on the internet and all other forms of media.
  • Winners release the Ayn Rand Institute and its agents and employees from all claims, demands, and liabilities whatsoever regarding the above.
  • Winners will be solely responsible for any federal, state or local taxes.

Protected by Ithenticate Plagiarism Detection Software

ADVICE ON YOUR ESSAY SUBMISSION

Other than endorsing perfect punctuation and grammar in English, the Ayn Rand Institute offers no advice or feedback on contest essays.

The following links are recommended to improve your essay content:

The application window for the 2022 contest is not currently open. Please return in late-July for more details.

Eligibility for The Fountainhead

11th and 12th GRADE


Entry Deadline

APRIL 28, 2022

  • 1ST PLACE
    $5,000
    1 Winner
  • 2ND PLACE
    $1,250
    3 Winners
  • 3RD PLACE
    $250
    5 Winners
  • FINALIST
    $100
    25 Winners
  • SEMI-FINALIST
    $25
    50 Winners

The application window for the 2022 contest will open in late-July.

SELECT ONE OF THE FOLLOWING THREE TOPICS:

  1. Howard Roark says to Gail Wynand: “Look at everyone around us. You’ve wondered why they suffer, why they seek happiness and never find it. If any man stopped and asked himself whether he’s ever held a truly personal desire, he’d find the answer. . . . He can’t say about a single thing: ‘This is what I wanted because I wanted it, not because it made my neighbors gape at me.’ . . . The things which are sacred or precious to us are the things we withdraw from promiscuous sharing. But now we are taught to throw everything within us into public light and common pawing.” In light of this view, what do you think Roark would make of people’s behavior today on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram? Give examples of what he might approve or disapprove of. Would you agree or disagree with his evaluation? Explain your position.
  2. After the death of Lucius Heyer, Keating tells himself: “He had nothing to regret; he had done what anyone would have done; Catherine had said it, he was selfish; everybody was selfish; it was not a pretty thing, to be selfish, but he was not alone in it.” What do you think is motivating Keating to tell himself this at this point in the story? What does The Fountainhead have to say about whether what he’s saying is true? Do you agree? Why or why not?
  3. Dominique says to Alvah Scarret: “I take the only desire one can really permit oneself. Freedom, Alvah, freedom. . . . To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.” What does Dominique mean by this, and how does she act on her view over the course of the novel? What is Dominique’s perspective on this kind of “freedom” at the end of the novel, and why?

The application window for the 2022 contest will open in late-July.

GRADING CRITERIA

Essays will be judged on whether the student is able to argue for and justify his or her view—not on whether the Institute agrees with the view the student expresses. Judges will look for writing that is clear, articulate and logically organized. Winning essays must demonstrate an outstanding grasp of the philosophical meaning of The Fountainhead.

RULES & REQUIREMENTS

  • Contest is open to students worldwide, except where void or prohibited by law.
  • Entrant must be in 11th or 12th grade for any part of the school year in which the contest is held. The Ayn Rand Institute reserves the right to make exceptions to this rule, on a case-by-case basis, for international students or for students with nonstandard school years. Verification of school enrollment will be required for all winning entrants.
  • Essays must be submitted electronically through the online portal. If you are unable to submit an essay electronically contact us at [email protected]
  • Essays must be written in English only, and must be no fewer than 800 and no more than 1,600 words in length, double-spaced. Spelling errors and/or written corrections (by anyone) found on the essay will count against the final grade and should be omitted before submission.
  • One entry per student per contest.
  • Essays must be submitted online by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time of the entry deadline. The Ayn Rand Institute has the right to provide contest deadline extensions when deemed appropriate.
  • Essays must be solely the work of the entrant. Plagiarism will result in disqualification. Essays must not infringe on any third-party rights or intellectual property of any person, company or organization. By submitting an essay to this Contest, the entrant agrees to indemnify the Ayn Rand Institute for any claim, demand, judgment or other allegation arising from possible violation of someone’s trademark, copyright or other legally protected interest in any way in the entrant’s essay.
  • Decisions of the judges are final.
  • Employees of the Ayn Rand Institute, its board of directors and their immediate family members are not eligible for this contest. Past first-place winners are not eligible for this contest.
  • All entries become the property of the Ayn Rand Institute and will not be returned.
  • All participants will be notified of the results via email by August, 2022.
  • Winners are responsible for providing their mailing addresses and other necessary information under the law in order to receive any prizes. Prizes must be claimed within six months of the results being announced.
  • Winners agree to allow the Ayn Rand Institute to post their names on any of ARI’s affiliated websites. The first-place essay may be posted in its entirety on any of these websites with full credit given to the author.
  • Winners consent to participate in interviews and allow the Ayn Rand Institute to use quotes and take photographs, movies or videotapes of them.
  • Winners also grant to The Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism the right to edit, use and reuse said products for non-profit purposes including use in print, on the internet and all other forms of media.
  • Winners release the Ayn Rand Institute and its agents and employees from all claims, demands, and liabilities whatsoever regarding the above.
  • Winners will be solely responsible for any federal, state or local taxes.

Protected by Ithenticate Plagiarism Detection Software

ADVICE ON YOUR ESSAY SUBMISSION

Other than endorsing perfect punctuation and grammar in English, the Ayn Rand Institute offers no advice or feedback on contest essays.

The following links are recommended to improve your essay content:

The application window for the 2022 contest is not currently open. Please return in late-July for more details.

Eligibility for Atlas Shrugged

12th-Graders, College Undergraduates and Graduate Students


Entry Deadline:

SEPTEMBER 27, 2021

  • 1ST PLACE
    $10,000
    1 Winner
  • 2ND PLACE
    $2,500
    3 Winners
  • 3RD PLACE
    $500
    5 Winners

SUBMIT YOUR ESSAY

SELECT ONE OF THE FOLLOWING THREE TOPICS:

  1. In Atlas Shrugged, the society’s leaders enact a series of laws and directives (the Equalization of Opportunity Bill, Mouch’s directives about the railroads of Colorado, Directive 10-289, etc.) that exercise increasingly arbitrary power. Describe one example of a major recent government policy decision in your country that resembles one of the edicts in Atlas Shrugged. How has this decision been justified by today’s leaders, and how do their claims resemble those given in Atlas Shrugged? In light of the story, what do you think Ayn Rand would expect to be the consequences of the policy you’ve described? Do you agree with her? Explain your answers.
  2. Francisco d’Anconia presents himself as a playboy who has abandoned serious concern for his family’s business. But early in the story Dagny realizes that Francisco’s public persona does not fit the man she knows. Compare Francisco to another major figure in film, TV, or literature who adopts a similar double life to accomplish his purposes. How is he similar? How, in terms of his motives and methods, is he different? What kind of purpose could make the price of leading a
    double life like this worth paying? Explain your answers.
  3. After quitting her job, Dagny thinks to herself: “It is not proper for man’s life to be a circle . . . or a string of circles dropping off like zeros behind him—man’s life must be a straight line of motion from goal to farther goal, each leading to the next and to a single growing sum, like a journey down the track of a railroad, from station to station to—oh, stop it!” How do Dagny’s thoughts here relate to the wider dilemma she faces at this point in the story? How does her dilemma relate to the wider themes of the novel? Explain your answers.

SUBMIT YOUR ESSAY

GRADING CRITERIA

Essays will be judged on whether the student is able to argue for and justify his or her view—not on whether the Institute agrees with the view the student expresses. Judges will look for writing that is clear, articulate and logically organized. Winning essays must demonstrate an outstanding grasp of the philosophical meaning of Atlas Shrugged.

RULES & REQUIREMENTS

  • Contest is open to students worldwide, except where void or prohibited by law.
  • Entrant must be a 12th grade, undergraduate, or graduate student for any part of the school year in which the contest is held. The Ayn Rand Institute reserves the right to make exceptions to this rule, on a case-by-case basis, for international students or for students with nonstandard school years. Verification of school enrollment will be required for all winning entrants.
  • Essays must be submitted electronically through the online portal. If you are unable to submit an essay electronically contact us at [email protected]
  • Essays must be written in English only, and must be no fewer than 800 and no more than 1,600 words in length, double-spaced. Spelling errors and/or written corrections (by anyone) found on the essay will count against the final grade and should be omitted before submission.
  • One entry per student per contest.
  • Essays must be submitted online by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time of the entry deadline. The Ayn Rand Institute has the right to provide contest deadline extensions when deemed appropriate.
  • Essays must be solely the work of the entrant. Plagiarism will result in disqualification. Essays must not infringe on any third-party rights or intellectual property of any person, company or organization. By submitting an essay to this Contest, the entrant agrees to indemnify the Ayn Rand Institute for any claim, demand, judgment or other allegation arising from possible violation of someone’s trademark, copyright or other legally protected interest in any way in the entrant’s essay.
  • Decisions of the judges are final.
  • Employees of the Ayn Rand Institute, its board of directors and their immediate family members are not eligible for this contest. Past first-place winners are not eligible for this contest.
  • All entries become the property of the Ayn Rand Institute and will not be returned.
  • All participants will be notified of the results via email by January, 2022.
  • Winners are responsible for providing their mailing addresses and other necessary information under the law in order to receive any prizes. Prizes must be claimed within six months of the results being announced.
  • Winners agree to allow the Ayn Rand Institute to post their names on any of ARI’s affiliated websites. The first-place essay may be posted in its entirety on any of these websites with full credit given to the author
  • Winners consent to participate in interviews and allow the Ayn Rand Institute to use quotes and take photographs, movies or videotapes of them.
  • Winners also grant to The Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism the right to edit, use and reuse said products for non-profit purposes including use in print, on the internet and all other forms of media.
  • Winners release the Ayn Rand Institute and its agents and employees from all claims, demands, and liabilities whatsoever regarding the above.
  • Winners will be solely responsible for any federal, state or local taxes.

Protected by IThenticate Plagiarism Detection Software

ADVICE ON YOUR ESSAY SUBMISSION

Other than endorsing perfect punctuation and grammar in English, the Ayn Rand Institute offers no advice or feedback on contest essays.

The following links are recommended to improve your essay content:

SUBMISSION PROCESS

To submit your essay, please complete the steps below:

  1. Click the “Submit your essay” button below.
  2. This will take you to our online portal for the Atlas Shrugged essay contest. Once there, click “Apply.”
  3. Either create an account or login using your existing username and password.
  4. Once logged in, complete the application forms and upload your essay.
  5. When you have completed each of the tasks for the contest, click “Submit.”

 

SUBMIT YOUR ESSAY

 

Entrants are responsible for keeping copies of their essays, as duplicate copies will not be provided. If you have difficulty submitting your essay electronically, or if you have not received an email notification confirming receipt of your submitted essay within 24 hours, please email us at [email protected].

PAST WINNERS

Winner
ANTHEM 8TH-10TH GRADE
GEORGIA MIRICA
American International School of Bucharest
Read The Essay
See All Winners
Winner
ANTHEM 11TH-12TH GRADE
ASHLEY YUEN
Irvine High School
Read The Essay
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Winner
THE FOUNTAINHEAD
CORA USURELU
Thornhill Secondary School
Read The Essay
See All Winners
Winner
ATLAS SHRUGGED
NATHANIEL SHIPPEE
University of Illinois at Chicago
Read The Essay
See All Winners
Winner
ANTHEM 8TH–10TH GRADE
MADELEINE PRESCOTT
Technical Senior High School
Read The Essay
See All Winners
Winner
ANTHEM 11TH–12TH GRADE
CYNTHIA LU
Belmont High School
Read The Essay
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Winner
THE FOUNTAINHEAD
JITAE YOU
Shepherd International Education
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See All Winners
Winner
ATLAS SHRUGGED
Sam Weaver
St. John's College
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Winner
ANTHEM
KATRICE WASGATT
Towle Institute
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Winner
THE FOUNTAINHEAD
LUCAS PRINGLE
Repton School
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Winner
ATLAS SHRUGGED
PATRICK MAYLES
Universidad Nacional de Colombia
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Winner
ANTHEM
ELISABETH SCHLOSSEL
The Spence School
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Winner
THE FOUNTAINHEAD
ADELINA FENDRINA
High School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics “Dobri Chintulov”
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Winner
ATLAS SHRUGGED
CHRISTINA JEONG
University of Notre Dame
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See All Winners

FAQ

I'M A FOREIGN STUDENT. CAN I ENTER YOUR CONTESTS?

Yes! Foreign students may enter our essay contests, except where void or prohibited by law. We have no citizenship requirements. Please enter the contest for your current grade level. If you’re not sure which contest you’re eligible for, please write to us at [email protected].

I'M A HOME-SCHOOLED STUDENT. CAN I ENTER YOUR CONTESTS?

Yes! Homeschooled students may enter our essay contests. Please enter the contest for your current grade level. Instead of writing your school name and address in your application, simply write “Homeschooled.” If you’re not sure which contest you’re eligible for, please write to us at [email protected].

WHERE CAN I FIND A COPY OF THE NOVEL I WANT TO WRITE ON?

Free digital copies of Ayn Rand’s novels can be requested by students at aynrand.org/freebooks. All you have to do is say a few words about who you are and why you want to read the book, and we'll see you a copy within one business day. If you would prefer a physical copies instead, you may purchase them via the links on our website. They are likely also available at your local bookstore or library.

CAN I SUBMIT MY ESSAY BEFORE THE DEADLINE?

Absolutely!

CAN I SUBMIT MY ESSAY AFTER THE DEADLINE?

We do not accept essays submitted after the contest deadline. If you have a valid reason why your essay could not be submitted on time, please write to us at [email protected].

CAN I SUBMIT MORE THAN ONE ENTRY FOR A CONTEST?

No. You may submit one essay for each contest, each year.

CAN I SUBMIT ESSAYS TO MORE THAN ONE OF YOUR CONTESTS?

Yes! You are more than welcome to enter multiple contests, provided you do not exceed any of the grade level restrictions.

CAN I WRITE ON MORE THAN ONE TOPIC?

No. The contest guidelines ask that you select ONE of three topics. Please select only one topic.

CAN I WRITE ON A TOPIC OTHER THAN THE THREE LISTED ABOVE?

No. Essays written on a topic other than the three provided in the contest guidelines will be automatically disqualified.

I'M IN A DIFFERENT GRADE THAN WHAT IS LISTED FOR THE CONTEST. CAN I STILL ENTER?

You may enter if you are in a lower grade, but not if you are in a higher grade.

I ENTERED ONE OF YOUR CONTESTS IN A PREVIOUS YEAR. CAN I ENTER AGAIN THIS YEAR?

Yes, as long as you were not previously a first-place winner. In fact, some students have won prizes two years in a row!

DO I NEED TO REFERENCE PAGE NUMBERS OR INCLUDE A BIBLIOGRAPHY IN MY ESSAY?

You do not need to reference page numbers for quotes from the essay topics. However, if you use any quotes from the novel you are writing about, you should cite the page numbers and place quotation marks around the quoted material. You do not need to include a bibliography unless you quote from a source besides the novel you are writing on. (Please note that you do not need to reference any additional material other than the assigned novel to write your essay. See the next question.)

DO I NEED TO CITE OTHER SOURCES BESIDES THE NOVEL I’M WRITING ON?

You do not need any source material other than the novel you are writing on. However, you may quote and reference other sources if you like. If you do, please cite your sources and include a bibliography with your essay.

WHAT EXACTLY IS PLAGIARISM? CAN I HAVE A FRIEND/TEACHER/PARENT PROOFREAD MY ESSAY?

Yes, you may have your essay proofread. It is not plagiarism to have someone check your essay for spelling and grammatical or structural errors. However, it is plagiarism to have someone else write your essay for you, or to use someone else’s words as if they were your own (see above regarding citing outside sources).

HOW CAN I VERIFY THAT MY ESSAY WAS RECEIVED?

When you submit your application using ARI's online portal, you are automatically sent a confirmation email indicating our receipt of your essay. If you have not received an email within 24 hours of submission, please first check your Spam folder. It's sometimes the case that our messages are filtered there. If you still can't find it, please write to us at [email protected].

HOW DO I KNOW IF I’VE WON A PRIZE IN ONE OF THE CONTESTS?

We typically announce the final results via email to all Atlas Shrugged participants by the end of December, and to all Anthem and The Fountainhead participants by the end of July.

IF I WIN, DO I HAVE TO APPLY THE PRIZE MONEY TOWARD COLLEGE?

No. All awards are cash prizes. We place no restrictions on how the prize money is spent by recipients.

I DISAGREE WITH AYN RAND’S PHILOSOPHY. WILL THIS AFFECT MY CHANCES OF WINNING?

No, this will have no effect on your chances of winning. Judges look for writing that demonstrates a clear understanding of the novel, not whether the student agrees with it.

I HAVE ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS NOT ANSWERED IN THIS FAQ. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Please send us your comments or questions about the essay contests at [email protected]. In most cases, we should be able to respond within two to five business days.

Key Dates

  • SEPTEMBER 27, 2021

    Entry deadline for Atlas Shrugged.

    Results will be announced by late-December.

  • APRIL 28, 2022

    Entry deadline for Anthem and The Fountainhead.

    Results will be announced by late-July.