I'm a home-schooled student, can I still enter the contest?
Yes! Home-schooled students may enter our essay contests. Please enter the contest for your current grade level. Instead of writing your school name and address on your coversheet, just write "Home-schooled." If you're not sure which contest you're eligible for, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm a foreign student, can I still enter the contest?
Yes! Foreign students may enter our essay contests. 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 e-mail email@example.com.
How can I verify that my essay was received?
If you submit your essay via our web form, posted here, you will receive an automated email confirmation that we received your essay. If you send your essay by mail, you should paperclip a self-addressed, stamped postcard to your essay. When we receive your essay, we will drop your postcard in the mail. Alternatively, you can send your essay to us via registered mail or by using Priority Mail Delivery Confirmation.
How can I submit my essay online?
If you wish to submit your essay via our Web form, please follow the guidelines posted here.
I included a self-addressed, stamped postcard with my essay, but I haven't received it back in the mail yet. What should I do?
Please note that it could take up to three weeks to receive your postcard from the date you sent your essay. If you are concerned that your essay was lost by the post office, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I send my essay in before the deadline?
Can I send my essay in after the deadline?
We cannot accept essays postmarked after the deadline. If you have a valid reason why you are unable to submit by the appropriate deadline, please e-mail email@example.com.
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!
I am not in the 8th, 9th or 10th grade; may I still enter the Anthem contest?
Unfortunately, we cannot accept entries from students who are not in the 8th, 9th or 10th grade.
I am not in the 11th or 12th grade; may I still enter The Fountainhead contest?
Unfortunately, we cannot accept entries from students who are not in the 11th or 12th grade.
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. Prize winners simply receive a check from us in the amount of their award.
Do I need to include a bibliography or do I need to reference page numbers?
You do not need to reference page numbers for quotes from the essay topics. However, if you use any quotes from the novel, 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.)
Should I cite other sources besides Anthem, The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged?
You do not need any additional 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.
Can I have a friend/teacher/parent proofread my essay? Is that plagiarism?
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 if you use someone else's words as if they were your own (see above regarding citing outside sources).
What exactly is plagiarism?
Plagiarism is using someone else's words as if they were your own. It is not plagiarism as long as you cite your sources.
Which citation style should I use (MLA, Chicago, etc.)?
We do not have a preference for any particular citation style. Use any you like.
How do I know if I've won a prize in one of the contests?
We will contact all Anthem and The Fountainhead contest entrants by July 26. We will contact Atlas Shrugged entrants by November 27.
Where can I see who the winners, finalists, and semifinalists are?
To see a list of winners, finalists, and semi-finalists, click here.
Can I write more than one essay for the contest?
No. Only one entry per student, please.
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 in the contest rules?
No. Essays not written on one of the three topics will be disqualified.
Where can I find Anthem, The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged?
All of Ayn Rand's novels can be purchased online from the Ayn Rand Bookstore. They should also be available in your local bookstore or library.
Where can I learn more about Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism?
Additional information about Ayn Rand and her philosophy is available on this site. Here you will find biographical information on Ayn Rand and additional information about her philosophy, Objectivism.
Is it necessary for me to know about Objectivism to write my essay?
No. Judges look for essays that show a clear understanding of the novel, so no additional knowledge about Ayn Rand's philosophy is required.
I disagree with Ayn Rand's philosophy; how will this affect my chances of winning?
This will have no effect on your chances of winning. Judges look for writing that demonstrates an understanding of the novel, not whether the student agrees with it.
Are graduate students eligible for the Atlas Shrugged contest?
Yes, graduate students are welcome to participate in the contest.
Are community college students eligible for the Atlas Shrugged contest?
Yes, community college students are welcome to participate in the contest.
Do I have to have a declared major to enter the Atlas Shrugged contest?
Is there an age limit for the Atlas Shrugged contest?
Are trade/certificate schools accepted?
Can someone who is in the military, but who is enrolled school, enter the essay contests?
I have additional questions not answered in this FAQ; what should I do?
Please e-mail your comments or questions about the essay contests to firstname.lastname@example.org. In most cases, we should be able to respond within two to five business days.