Anthem Essay Contest

Enter by April 27 for your chance to win up to $2,000!

The Anthem essay contest is open to all 8th — 12th grade students worldwide. If you are unsure about your eligibility status or have other questions about this year’s contest, please email us at essays@aynrand.org.

We hope to see your essay among this year’s entries!

Interested in participating in this year's Anthem essay contest?

Fill out the contact form below, and we’ll email you with more information about this year’s contest—including instructions on how to enter.


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% 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, and we place no restrictions on how the money is spent by recipients.

Anthem, A “Hymn to Man’s Ego”

Anthem is Ayn Rand’s “hymn to man’s ego.” It is the story of one man’s rebellion against a totalitarian, collectivist society. Equality 7-2521 is a young man who yearns to understand “the Science of Things.” But he lives in a bleak, dystopian future where independent thought is a crime and where science and technology have regressed to primitive levels.

All expressions of individualism have been suppressed in the world of Anthem; personal possessions are nonexistent, individual preferences are condemned as sinful and romantic love is forbidden. Obedience to the collective is so deeply ingrained that the very word “I” has been erased from the language.

In pursuit of his quest for knowledge, Equality 7-2521 struggles to answer the questions that burn within him—questions that ultimately lead him to uncover the mystery behind his society’s downfall and to find the key to a future of freedom and progress.

Anthem anticipates the theme of Rand’s first best seller, The Fountainhead, which she stated as “individualism versus collectivism, not in politics, but in man’s soul.”

Win Cash Prizes

1 Winner

3 Winners

5 Winners

25 Winners

50 Winners

Decide What to Write

Select ONE of the following prompts as the topic of your essay. Your essay must be between 600 and 1,200 words in length.

1 Ayn Rand once said that chapters XI and XII of Anthem contain the real anthem of the story. Consider several different definitions of the word “anthem” and then explain why you think Ayn Rand called the book “Anthem.” In what sense do you think chapters XI and XII (or the book as a whole) is an anthem? How does the book’s title relate to the themes and message of the story? Explain your answer.

2 For the following statement from Anthem, explain its role in the story, its relation to the themes and message of the story, and its relevance to your own life: “Indeed you are happy,” they answered. “How else can men be when they live for their brothers?”

3 Equality 7-2521 has committed some of the worst crimes there are in his society. If those crimes are discovered, he faces the risk of terrible punishment. Yet in the face of this danger, and despite how much Equality has suffered at the hands of his society, he resolves to bring his invention (and admit his crimes) to the World Council of Scholars. What motivates him to come forward? What does he hope to achieve? If you were Equality’s friend (like International 4-8818) or the person who loves him (like Liberty 5-3000), what would you want him to do, and why? What do you think would be right for him to do, and why?

Dates to Remember

Entry Deadline

April 27, 2023

Grading Phase 1

May 2023

Grading Phase 2

June 2023

Final Grading

July 2023

Winners Announced

August 2023

Learn from Past Winners

Lauren Lee


9th grade student
Busan Foreign School
Busan, South Korea

Watch last year’s winner announcement ceremony in which our faculty celebrated and discussed the top essays!



11th grade student
Global Vision Christian School
Mungyeong-Si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
South Korea



High school student
Irvine High School
Irvine, California
United States



High school student
Belmont High School
Belmont, Massachusetts
United States



High school student
Towle Institute
Hockessin, Delaware
United States

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 your essay content.

Anthem Course

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, Leonard Peikoff explains, 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.

Enter the 2023 Contest Today!

When you finish writing your essay, submit it to the contest by completing our brief online form.