Academic journals for high school students

Academic journals

Introducing academic journals for high school students

essay comp

Acton Scholars H1 2021 Essay Competition

Now Open for Submissions!

Deadline May 30, 2021

Submit Here

Your Guide To Cracking Essay Competitions in 2021

Acton Scholars is the first and only high school essay competition open-access academic library of high school journals. Like The Concord Review, we encourage the pursuit of academic excellence by providing a platform to showcase the very best academic work by high school students through essay contests, essay competitions and academic competitions. Our essay academic competitions are bi-annual and provide high school students the opportunity to improve their high school research skills while researching a topic of their interest. Participants will gain first-hand experience in academic research and have their work read by academic experts to maintain Ivy League essay standards. Top essays will win prize money, recognition, and publication in our prestigious journal. We also welcome research associated with the STEM Olympiads, e.g. Science Olympiad, Physics Olympiad, Math OlympiadMany of our top published students have gone on to earn Quest Bridge awards and a QuestBridge scholarship as well as Ivy League submission acceptances.  

Over the years, Acton Scholars have received hundreds of inquiries on how to write an influential research paper. We have put together a list of what constitutes a good research paper to help you get started.  

Delve Deep Into Research          
Submerge yourself into the research process. After choosing your subject, you may find yourself overwhelmed with the amount of information you encounter. This is all part of the process. Our advice is to allow yourself to casually read about your subject without putting too much stress on what your direct line of action should be. Pay attention to what personally interests you and jot it down. If the subject does not hold your interest, you will have difficulty maintaining your audience’s attention. This is a good time for you to start formulating your thesis. Remember to keep track of your resources and take advantage of sites such as Google Scholar or online encyclopedias, almanacs, and databases. This will all be used in your bibliography later.    

Organize Your Idea Neatly         
Your organizational skills are critical. We suggest while you discover new things about your subject, you use a spreadsheet to organize your idea neatly. Your jumbled thoughts will look much less daunting if you can see them in front of you. This will also help build your thesis statement. It’s important to have a strong thesis before you start writing. Think of it as your anchoring point to come back to if you feel like your paper is running away from you. Now it is time to start making an outline. This does not have to be set in stone. Your outline will most likely change as you begin to understand more about your subject. This is actually a good thing. It shows that you are learning and not stubborn in your ways. When creating the outline, use only the main points—no need to waste time getting too deeply involved yet. After you finished, run through it one more time to trim off the fat. Ask yourself is this necessary to put in my paper, or am I just trying to fill up space (trust us; we will be able to tell).   

Start With A Killer Introduction
Now it’s time to jump in the thicket. Luckily the most challenging part is done. Now you can let yourself roam free with your ideas within each section. First, start with the introduction. The introduction is similar to your thesis, but with one significant difference, it explains WHY you are writing the paper. While the thesis tells your reader what the paper is about, the introduction will let them know what the point of writing it is. Make sure you start with an interesting opening sentence. We understand that this is an academic paper; however, that does not mean it needs to be dry and dull. With the rest of the introduction, you may choose to explain how you organized your approach. Also, you should let them know if this is an argumentative paper or an informative one.         

Reveal Your Research Articulately       
Now it’s time for the body of the essay. This is where your outline will come in handy. Remember, you don’t need to stay married to it. It’s more of a guiding light for you, but sometimes those hidden dark hallways are where the most exciting things are discovered. You have probably collected a lot of sources in the beginning, but don’t let that control your paper. You don’t need to use all of them if they do not fit well. Trust your instinct; if it doesn’t feel right, it probably doesn’t belong. It also might help to remember the “rule of three” when writing your body. A lot of effective papers use this to support the point they are trying to get across. This technique has various usages centered around backing your points up with three facts or how to build up an argument. You could also think of how standup comedians write their jokes (set up, build the audience’s anticipation, punch line). 

Summarize to Make Your Point

You have reached the end, and it’s time for the conclusion. Perhaps it all seems a bit chaotic and might feel like you have led your reader astray. This is your chance to check if that is true. Remember, everything comes down to the thesis. For the conclusion, briefly summarize your main points from each section of your body. You should then briefly explain why you believe these points. If you can’t, there must be something wrong, and you need to go back to your body and make some adjustments. 

Proofread and Review     
Reviewing, editing, and asking for help. We cannot advise enough how vital these last three steps are. We receive so many papers each year that are fantastic, but the authors did not do the proper citing or grammar checks. This will hurt your paper a lot because it looks like you don’t care that much. Use the many online tools available like Grammarly to help you. You might think that your paper looks perfect, but I guarantee there are mistakes that you missed. Think about it like going to a museum and seeing a million-dollar painting hung crooked on the wall. Also, show your paper to as many people as possible. Ask them for help no matter who it is. Every little bit helps. Teachers, friends, family, or any online community can help squeeze out all the holes you don’t see. Don’t get your feelings hurt when they tell you some parts don’t make sense. It’s all part of the process. Good luck! 


Essay Topics

The topics for the H1 2021 Essay Competition are below. Please choose one.

Philosophy: Write a 500-word philosophy essay on the ethical ramifications of the Black Lives Matters movement. Please reference key concepts from the history of western philosophical ethics, e.g. Kant’s Categorical Imperative, Rawls’s theory of justice.

History: Write a 750-word historical account analyzing the roots of any major protest in the US. Primary references will count more than secondary references. An annotated bibliography is not necessary.

Literature: Write a 750-word literary analysis of works of English literature from any country where racial, gender or class inequality is portrayed. 

Criteria for Judging

Essays will be judged by academic experts. They will be judged on a number of different criteria: including but not limited to Originality, Depth of Knowledge, Academic Rigor, Structure/Organization, and Writing Style. 

Eligibility and Requirements

To participate, students must be enrolled in high school (grades 9-12) or its homeschooling equivalent at the time of the submission deadline. Students of all citizenships are welcome.

Essays must address the topic stated above. Essays that exceed this word count will NOT be considered.


The submission window is currently open and will at 11:59 PM EST on May 30, 2021.  Students must submit within this submission period to have their essays considered.

Students must fill out the submission form here. Be sure to upload your essay in either Word Documents or PDFs.

Acton Scholars H1 2021 Essay Competition Now Open for Submissions!


The winners of the H1 2021 Essay Competition will be contacted via email by June 21, 2021.

There are two levels of award distinction: Quarterly Competition and Annual Competition. Quarterly competition award winners will win certificates. The top 10 essays will be automatically eligible for the 2021 Annual Competition, where the top essays will win the following awards:

Annual Competition 1st Place: $500

Annual Competition 2nd Place: $250

Annual Competition 3rd Place: $100

Further, all three students will be offered a research internship at one of Acton Scholars’s journals, where they can receive valuable research and administrative work experience. This type of experience is invaluable for college admissions to top colleges.

Finally, all Quarterly Competition essays will be eligible for publication in our journals at any time throughout the year. If accepted for publication, the student will receive a formal acceptance letter and formatted pdf that can be used for college applications.

All judges’ decisions will be final.


If you have any questions that are not answered above, please email us at and we will respond as soon as possible.

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