1. Who is this competition open to?

Please see our rules to find our entry requirements here:

This competition is open to students who are in year 12 or in their penultimate year of secondary education, this could also be the first year of college for some students in the UK. If you are an international student this will be the year before you take your final exams for university entry.

2. What if I enter but do not meet the entry requirements?

We will ring up the schools of all shortlisted candidates to ensure they meet our entry requirements. You will be disqualified if we discover you do not meet the entry requirements.

3. I have not received my registration confirmation

Everyone who registers for the essay competition will receive a confirmation email with a link to submit your essay. Please check your junk email as a large number of students have found their email there. If you still have not received it, it may have been blocked by your domain. We suggest registering again with a new email address.

If the problem still persists please email It can take up to 5 days for us to respond to your query, so please ensure you email us in good time. We will be unable to respond to every request that comes in as the deadline grows closer.

4. Can I read previous essay submissions?

Yes. You can read submissions from 2017 here

You can read submissions from 2018 here

You can read submissions from 2019 here

You can read submissions from 2020 here

5. Can I submit an essay for more than one subject?

No, we only have capacity to accept one entry per person. Each entrant may only submit one essay for one subject. 

6. Will you be checking essays for plagiarism?

Yes. To ensure our competition is fair for all our students, we run all submissions through our internal system to check for plagiarism. Your submission should be your own original work. Any plagiarised submissions will be disqualified.

7. Can you give me feedback on my essay?

No. As we receive thousands of entries each year, we do not have the capacity to provide feedback for each submission.

8. How will I know you have you received my essay?

You will receive a confirmation email once you submit your essay. We also send out postcards via post to all entrants letting you know we are in the process of marking it.

9. I have submitted my essay but noticed a mistake - what can I do?

All submissions are final. Once essays are in our system we cannot overwrite them.

We received a large number of emails last year with students wishing to upload new versions of previously submitted essays, however this is not possible.

10. I missed the deadline, can I have an extension?

Our deadline is strict and we do not offer any extensions, no matter the circumstance. There is a 3 month submission window for our competition, allowing students more than enough time to submit their essays.

You will be disqualified if you contact other NCH faculty and staff to accept your essay after the submission deadline.

11. I had internet connectivity issue and could not submit, what do I do?

No matter the circumstance, your essay will not be accepted beyond the submission deadline. Please submit your essay in good time to ensure it is accepted.

12. When will I hear back about my essay?

We receive thousands of essays every year and we like to take time to read every single one which is why it can take us a few months to mark them. Please do not email asking when you will hear back about your essay, as the more time we spend responding to emails, the less time we have to mark your essays. Everyone who submits an essay will be informed of its outcome. Those essays that are shortlisted will be invited to an awards ceremony which will be held at the College. This is a special event where the prize winners will be announced. We aim to announce all prize winners by July 2021.

Please ensure you remain subscribed to our emails after submitting your essay so we are able to inform you if you have been shortlisted. Our emails will not be delivered if you unsubscribe from our mailing list.

See our competition rules here

13. I am a teacher interested in promoting the Essay Competition to my students. How can I get in touch?

If you would like to join our teachers’ mailing list to receive a poster and promotional material, please sign up here


14. I am unsure of whether or not I can attend your award ceremony, if I win will I still be notified?

If you are a winner you will be notified regardless of whether or not you attend our ceremony however it is a very special evening where we honour the efforts and achievements of all students. It is also a great opportunity to meet other students and talk to our academics. We encourage all students to attend. You can see pictures of past award ceremonies here

15. I have RSVP’d but I would like to bring more guests, is this possible?

It may be possible closer to the time to bring an additional guest however we will not know until all guests have RSVP’s and we can see how many spaces we have available. If you would like to bring an additional guest you can register for our waiting list. (The waiting list will be made available to you after we have shortlisted candidates.)

16. I am underage but I am very good at writing essays, can I still enter?

No, this would be unfair to everyone who meets our age requirements. We run this competition every year. Please do apply when you are of the correct age.

17. What is the maximum word count?


We will allow +/- 10% range of 1,500. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions here

18. Are footnotes necessary?

No they are not necessary to include, but referencing will help us understand where you got your points from and what materials helped you write your essay.

19. Do titles count towards the word count?

No, titles are not included in the 1,500 word count.

20. Can I email in my essay?

No, please submit your essay via our form. You will have received a link to this form when you originally registered for the competition. If you cannot find your email, please check your junk mail before contacting us.