It is a great idea to enter a competition in an area that you enjoy or are good at whilst at school. If you win or are placed this is excellent, but even if you don’t it demonstrates commitment, interest, drive and immediately differentiates you from others. It also looks good on your UCAS form. 

Here is a selection of national competitions open to students, across most subjects:

Economics

  • Bank Of England Target Two Point Zero (in conjunction with The Times)
  • The Marshall Society (Cambridge University Economic Society) essay/article competition
  • Young Economist of the Year (Royal Economic Society) 16-18 years

English

  • Christopher Tower Poetry Competition (run by Christchurch College Oxford). 16-18 year olds
  • Fitzwilliam College Cambridge Annual Essay Competition (different subject each year)
  • Royal Commonwealth essay competition (under 18)
  • Connell Guides Essay Prize (open to all sixth formers)

Humanities

  • Classics and Ancient History essay competition (run by St John’s College Oxford). Open to year 12 students.
  • Young Geographer of the Year (Royal Geographical society) 16-18 years
  • St Hilda’s (Oxford) History Essay Prize. Open to Year 12 students
  • Girton College (Cambridge) Humanities Writing Competition for lower sixth form students

Maths

  • Hans Woyda Maths Competition
  • National Cipher Challenge (organised by University of Southampton).
  • UKMT Maths Challenge

Media

  • French Film Competition (Oxford University). Open to students in years 10-13.
  • Guardian Student Media awards
  • London School of Journalism creative writing competition
  • The Wellcome Trust Science writing Prize in conjunction with The Guardian and The Observer.

Philosophy

  • Edgar Jones Philosophy Essay Competition (St Peter’s College Oxford) open to year 12 students.
  • Lloyd Davis Philosophy Prize (run by Oriel College Oxford). Year 12 students

Science

  • C3L6 competition (Cambridge Chemistry Challenge)
  • Royal Society of Chemistry, Bill Bryson Prize
  • Royal Society of Chemistry Analyst Competition (first year sixth formers studying chemistry)
  • Royal Society of Chemistry Top of the Bench competition
  • RSC Chemistry Olympiad
  • Schools Science Prize (Biochemistry and chemistry). Run by Corpus Christi College Oxford. Open to year 11 and 12 students
  • British Biology Olympiad run by the Society of Biology.
  • Cascades Of Particle Physics (run by Birmingham University for A ‘level and GCSE students)
  • British Science Association Crest award
  • National Science and engineering competition: UK scientist of the year and UK engineer of the year. (11-18 year olds).
  • The Big Science Challenge (11-16 year olds) with Rolls Royce & the British Council
  • UK Space Design Competition (years 9-13)
  • Annual Sixth Form Medical Writing Prize - run by Elite Academic Medical

Psychology

  • Psychology AS Level Essay Competition. (University of Cambridge Department of Social and Developmental Psychology)

Debating

  • Schools Debating Competition (various locations)
  • ESC Schools Mace competition (debating).
  • International Competition for Young Debaters (under 15)

Other

  • DHL innovation award
  • Benedictus: a liberal arts college offers a competition for 16-19 year olds. You can write on any subject but must connect to their forum theme
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