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Short Story Contest 2023

The 2023 Short Story Contest is now open! The deadline to submit a story is March 20, 2023 at 11:59 PM local time. Read on to learn more about the contest and submit a story.


Your story must address the topic of your division, but be creative! There are many ways to approach each topic. Here are the topics:

  • Lower Division (Grades 5 and below): Write a story where an ordinary object turns out to be incredibly important.
  • Upper Division (Grades 6 and above): Write a story where a mystery is solved accidentally.

Dates and Guidelines

The contest will end March 20, 2023 and winners will be announced in late April, 2023.

Students must be currently enrolled in a math or language arts class to be eligible for the contest. To be considered for the contest, your story must:

  • address your division's topic
  • be 1500 words or less
  • be age-appropriate for your grade level*

* Please keep in mind that this contest is open to students from elementary to high school. While no story will be disqualified on the basis of content, winning stories dealing with topics not suitable for younger readers may not be shared with the wider AoPS Academy community.


Winners in each division (lower-grade and upper-grade) will be awarded Amazon gift cards in the amounts shown below:

  • Grand Prize (1st Place): $100
  • 2nd Place: $75
  • 3rd Place: $50
  • 4th - 6th Places: $25
  • 7th - 10th Places: $10

Prizes will be awarded after the conclusion of the contest.

Grand-prize winners will participate in a mentor meeting with their campus Language Arts Director. During this meeting, the Campus Director will offer feedback on the story. If the grand-prize winners implement the feedback, their story, headshot, and bio will be featured on the Student Author Page on the Academy website.

Grading Criteria

Here is a list of helpful questions to ask yourself as you work on your story!


  • How well does my story address the prompt?
  • Does my story display creativity?
  • Does my story have an effective title?

Story Elements:

  • Does my story have a clear plot with a beginning, middle, and end?
  • Are the characters interesting and well-developed?
  • Do I use descriptive details to establish the setting?
  • Do I use an effective mix of dialogue and narration?


  • Do I display a command of mechanics and grammar?
  • Have I corrected any grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors?
  • Is this a polished piece of writing?

Still need help? The best way to learn about writing is by reading! Crack open your favorite book and look at how the author creates their story.

Have questions?

Check out the Contest FAQs!
  • I'm not sure if my submitted story was received. How can I check that?
    • If you scroll to the top of this page and see a green text box that says "Success!", then your story has been received! Even if you've submitted your story and you see this text box, you are still able to edit your story at any time until the contest closes on March 20th. If you decide you want to make changes, you can make edits in the submission window below and click “Submit Story” to save your changes.
  • Can I upload a PDF instead of using the submission form?
    • No, contest submissions must be written or pasted into the submission window below.
  • The submission portal is now closed, can I still submit a story via email?
    • No, contest submissions must be submitted on this page before March 20th.
  • How will winners be announced? I submitted a story and never heard back from anyone.
    • Due to the high volume of submissions, grading will take several weeks to complete. The winners will be announced in a campus-wide email blast when grading is complete!
  • Who judges the stories?
    • Short Story Contest submissions are graded by a panel of judges from the Language Arts teaching team!
  • Can I get feedback on my story? What was my score? Why did I not place?
    • Unfortunately, due to the high volume of submissions, we are not able to give individual feedback to all students.

Submit a Story

Students must be logged in to submit their stories. If your student would like to view the submission form and submit a story, please have your student log in with their own account.