Shmoop Spring 2010 Inaugural Essay Contest


Hey, there! Looking for the latest Shmoop Essay Contest?

Look here:


Spring 2010 Essay Contest


— original post below —

In celebration of National Poetry Month, Shmoop announces our first essay contest for high school students.

Answer this question in 500 or fewer words:

In Robert Frost‘s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” …

Examine the relationship between the speaker in the poem and his environment, which includes not only the woods themselves but his horse, the owner of the woods, and the community. Include in your discussion an examination of Frost’s use of language and imagery, focusing on how these contribute to the meaning of the poem and help him to achieve his purpose. Be sure to support your ideas with evidence from the poem.

1 Grand Prize Winner Wins an iPad

3 Runners-Up Get a Shmoop T-Shirt

  • Yeah, it’s no iPad. But you’ll look great. Trust us.

Finalists to be Judged by Jim Burke

  • Jim Burke is a Special Advisor to Shmoop and an all-around awesome English teacher.
  • Mr. Burke teaches AP English Literature and 9th grade College Prep English at Burlingame High School in Burlingame, CA.
  • Mr. Burke is the founder of the English Companion Ning, an online community of 15,000 English teachers.
  • Mr. Burke has published 20 books for English teachers.
  • Check out Jim Burke’s personal website.

Contest Rules

  • Contest open to currently enrolled High School (or Senior High) students (and younger)
  • 500 words maximum
  • Open to students from around the world (as allowed by local law)
  • Entries must be written in English
  • Deadline for entry is May 28, 2010 at 11:59pm Pacific Daylight Time
  • One entry per student and only one student per entry
  • To submit your entry, email your essay as a Word, Text, or PDF document to
    • No other media types will be accepted
    • You must include:
      • Your first and last name
      • Age
      • Your current grade level
      • Name of your English teacher
      • Full name of your high school, plus its main phone number and address
  • By submitting your work to Shmoop, you give Shmoop permission to republish your essay, along with your name, school, city, and state.

The Fine Print

  • No purchase necessary to enter.
  • Contest void where prohibited by law.
  • 1 student per entry (no group submissions allowed). Student must be currently enrolled in High School, Sr. High School, or equivalent (homeschooled students are welcome). If younger students (e.g. Middle School) want to give it a shot, we welcome your submissions, too.
  • Prizes may not be exchanged for cash or other goods and are non-transferable.
  • Finalists and winner will be selected by the sole discretion of Shmoop’s judging panel. Sorry, we cannot provide individual feedback on entries.
  • Can’t Buy Me Love: Shmoop judges do not respond to any attempts to win favor (even if we have major weaknesses for chocolate, cupcakes, and roasted almonds).
  • We’ll make you Interwebs famous: By submitting an entry, you grant Shmoop University, Inc. an irrevocable, worldwide license to publish your work, in part or in its entirety, along with your name, school name, city, and state.
  • Shmoop is all about inspiring original thought… let’s keep this contest clean: By submitting an entry, you confirm that this work is entirely your original work and that you have not received any help from others. If you have relied on any other person or publication’s thoughts to write your essay, you must cite your sources in MLA format. You acknowledge that Shmoop may use an anti-plagiarism service to verify that your essay is original and may inform your school administration if you have submitted plagiarized materials.

79 thoughts on “Shmoop Spring 2010 Inaugural Essay Contest

  1. MJB, that is a great question. While we believe that revision and feedback are critical parts of teaching writing, our rules for this contest state that students may not receive any outside help. In order to keep the playing field level, entries need to be the sole work of the student.

  2. Anthony Vaughan says:

    What format does the essay have to be written in? MLA? If MLA, must it include the four line heading? Single or double spacing? Thanks.

  3. Christian – yes, high school or middle school students are welcome to enter.

    Anthony – we’re more interested in your great thinking than formatting. Single spaced or double-spaced is fine. Or, heck, 1.5 spaced, for that matter. No headers necessary, although a title is probably a good idea. If you need to cite sources for your essay, please use MLA citation format.

  4. JAK says:

    including all of the name, school, english teacher stuff, does it still have to be 500 words or less? OR does that apply only to the actual essay itself?

  5. Kristopher Donnelly says:

    I’m really looking forward to trying to win this, it will be nice to test myself, especially against people from all around the world. Good luck everybody.

  6. Tyesha says:

    There is usually a hidden word in the essay that many of the ap groups dare us to use. Last year was (this is sparta!), what’s this year’s?

  7. ACE says:

    SO let me get this straight… this is a poetry contest right? Or is it essay?
    Also , what is the judging based on?
    Also, is there any specific topic?
    Thank you.

  8. @ACE: it’s all in the rules above. 🙂 this is an essay contest for high school students and the question is based on Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

  9. Vincent Sather says:

    i think this is a very good idea…i want to try to do this because i have never done a contest like this before…also the ipad would nice to have…”Shmoop, do yall count words like “a” or “or” because some teachers, or in this case judges don’t count those words. and do we have to do in-line citations for works or words that we cite?” let me know please because im very interested in this! thanks!!

  10. Michelle says:

    I researched some interpretations of the poem but I used a multitude of ideas(including shmoop) in my own mash-up interpretation. No pladgerism though. Sill cite? And my essay is 500 words on the dot–will the citing be a problem if it puts me over the word limit?

  11. Hi Michelle – yes, you should always cite sources that influenced your ideas (just as you would for an essay that you turn in to your teacher). Please trim your essay down to 500 words including the in-line citations.

    Revision is probably the most important step of the writing process. The delete key can often be your best friend. 🙂

  12. I have a big issue on my hands, how will you know if the person will or will not cheat??? I think that contests like these should have it to where you will be recorded for every where you go and I meant to where we would send a recording of everything we type and there should be a limit of how long it would be. It’s gonna be very hard to win since my school, they sent an E-mail to all our teachers and that is how I got here. This is like the one of the worst ideas but I’m gonna try to actually do this and hopefully I win 🙂 . . . I’ll see you guys later then???

  13. The deadline for entries is May 28, 2010 at 11:59pm Pacific Daylight Time and we’ll announce the finalists and winner in early June. Good luck!

  14. Sarah says:

    Are we allowed to use helpful sources in our paper? And if we do use them, do you cite them using paranthetical citations?

  15. Britta says:

    hi. this sounds like a fun contest to enter . although i am only in 7th grade so this is a little to difficult for me. may i have family help? or is there going to be more contests like this every year so i may do it when i get a little bit more knowledge about the subject.

  16. Elizabeth Ngo says:

    if i already submitted my essay and i wanted to resubmit it because i made a mistake. is that possible

  17. @ Elizabeth – yes, please resubmit and make a note in your email that you are resubmitting so we don’t read both submissions.

    @ Aditi – sorry, this contest is only open to high school (secondary) students and younger

    @ Sarah – yes, if you use any outside resources, you must use MLA citation

    @ Adonica – not sure what you mean by “graders.” The contest is open to high school (secondary) students and younger.

  18. if you will right an essay the topic is all about the “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” ? , and none other else ?, only that topic ? . . .

  19. Yes, the contest is open to younger students. Way to be ambitious!

    The only question for this contest is in the rules above. We only have 1 topic (or question) because it creates a fair playing field for everyone who enters. We won’t accept entries that do not answer the question in our rules.

    Good luck!

  20. Sarah says:

    I think for the next one, you should have a creative writing contest! It could up to us to decide what kind of topic to choose, but we would have to follow some sort of basic guidelines.

  21. Lucas Ryuzaki says:

    I have a few questions about the word count.
    Does my Works Cited count in the word count? (not the in-line citations)
    What about:
    My first and last name,
    My current grade level,
    Name of my English teacher,
    Full name of my high school, plus its main phone number and address?

  22. English Nerd says:

    Hey if you’re in Mrs. Horwath’s class at Enterprise High School this is 50 extra credit points!!! That’s a lot, I’m working on mine right now………cause it’s due tomorrow for Horwath

  23. Montgomery says:

    I wanted to ask about the strictness of the 500 word requirement. If a student writes more than this amount, is that okay with the judges? I don’t mean a large portion, but by a small margin, say 10-15 extra?

  24. anonymous says:

    what do we do if we sent our essay in with our school’s name and number, but forgot to put in the address?

  25. anonymous says:

    Now when you say “roughly June 18th” did y’all mean around/near June 18th or precisely June 18th?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s