Essay Criteria

The academic panel reserves the right to not bestow awards if entries do not meet academic publication standards. Additionally, the academic panel also reserves the right to expand the categories to a third, post bachelor's degree division.

General Criteria

Word limit:

  • HIGH SCHOOL: 1000 words
  • COLLEGE: 1500 words

Style:

MLA only

Anonymity:

Remove all identifying information (e.g., your name, schools) from the essay.

Sources:

  • COLLEGE: The strongest college essays will use evidence from primary sources, both theological and historical, as well as from scholarly secondary sources.
  • HIGH SCHOOL: The strong high school essays will make reference to theological & historical sources.

Specific Criteria

Creativity and Originality

You exceed the parameters of the assignment, with original insights, creative synthesis of sources or a particularly engaging style.

25 points

Argument

Your central argument is clear, interesting, and demonstrable, based on evidence and not opinion. The claims made in the body of the paper clearly and obviously support your central argument. Your arguments and claims reflect a robust and nuanced understanding of the issues raised in the topic.

25 Points

Evidence

The essay uses evidence from primary sources, both theological and historical, as well as from scholarly secondary sources. The evidence used is rich, specific, varied and unambiguously supports your claims. Quotations and illustrations are used appropriately, with good framing and explanation in your essay.

25 points

Structure

Your ideas are presented in a logical and coherent manner, with strong topic sentences throughout the paper. The reader can effortlessly follow the structure of your argument.

25 points

Clarity

There are no spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors. Quotations are properly cited.

25 points

Overall Score

150 possible points total

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