Calendar template

Our 2021-22 student competition calendar

Note: this calendar is available as a Printable pdf.

Tens of thousands of students from around the world entered our competitions in the 2020-21 school year, creating podcasts, writing editorials, making videos, reviewing arts and culture, composing stories , investigating scientific phenomena, documenting their pandemic experiences, discussing politics and more.

Teachers tell us that they value our contests because they invite students to use the skills they learned in school and use them to create for an authentic audience. Students tell us they love the variety of ways they can express themselves – and, of course, the confidence that increases when recognized for their efforts. For us, these competitions deepen our daily mission: to help teens get involved in what is happening in the world and to show them that their voices and ideas matter.

All of our regular annual contests are back this year, including an updated edition of last fall’s Coming of Age challenge. And we’ve added something new for next spring: a contest that invites students to find, interview, and photograph an interesting person, and then feature that person in a journalistic profile.

For most competitions, we now allow middle and high school students to participate.

As they go live, we will add a link on this page. For competitions that have taken place in the past, you can find out more now by clicking on the “Rules and Guidelines” for each, and reviewing both the related unit and the work of previous winning students.

To learn more about our contests in general, scroll to the bottom of this article. If you have any further questions, please write to us at L[email protected] or post a comment here.


15 Sep-Oct 27, 2021

As a new school year begins, the world is still grappling with a crisis that has challenged and changed us all. Who are you now How do you think the past year and a half has shaped – and will continue to shape – you and your generation?

What can you show or tell us that might help explain what it’s like to be a teenager in 2021?

We want to hear your answers to these questions the way you want to answer them, whether in words or pictures, audio or video. Like last fall’s Come Adulthood in 2020 contest, this challenge is an invitation to document, reflect and creatively express yourself on any aspect, big or small, of this. what does it mean to grow up in this extraordinary moment.

For inspiration, take a look at the work of the 2020 winners and visit the associated writing unit. (Note: This year the competition is open to students from all over the world.)

OCT. 13-NOV. 17, 2021

Write a short, powerful story about a meaningful experience in your life – in 600 words or less. Here are the rules for this year. For inspiration, take a look at the work of the 2020 winners and visit the associated writing unit.


10 Nov-Dec 15, 2021

Comment on a book, movie, restaurant, album, theater production, video game, dance, TV show, art show, or any other type of work that The Times reviews. Here are the rules and guidelines for this year. For inspiration, take a look at the work of the 2020 winners and visit the associated writing unit.


Dec 1 2021-Jan. 12, 2022

Produce a 15 second video on the meaning of one of our words of the day. Here are the rules and guidelines for this year. For inspiration, take a look at the work of past winners and check out our little monthly challenges that also help students develop their vocabulary skills.


Jan 5 Feb 5 16, 2022

Pick an interesting person to research, interview, photograph and write in an article inspired by New York Times columns like Character Study and The Saturday Profile. Students can work in pairs.

Coming soon: a complete unit, including lesson plans, mentoring texts, writing instructions and more, to help participants through the process.


February 2 March 9 2022

Explain a complex and interesting scientific, mathematical, technical or technological concept to a general audience, using the Science Times Trilobites column as a template. Here are the rules and guidelines from last year. For inspiration, take a look at the work of the 2020 winners and visit the associated writing unit.


March 2 APRIL 13 2022

Write an editorial on a topic that matters to you. Here are the rules from last year. For inspiration, take a look at the work of the 2019-2020 laureates and visit the related editorial unit.


APRIL 6-MAY 18, 2022

Create an original podcast of five minutes or less that informs or entertains listeners. Here are the rules and guidelines from last year. For inspiration, take a look at the work of the 2019-2020 laureates and visit the related editorial unit.


10 JUNE-AUGUST. 19, 2022

Tell us what you read in the Times and why. Every Friday for 10 weeks, we post a new invite like this, and you post a comment in response. Here are the rules and guidelines for this year. For inspiration, take a look at the work of past awardees and the related editorial unit.


Throughout the school year, we host additional challenges to inspire and celebrate students. Our monthly vocabulary challenges encourage students to develop vocabulary knowledge, and our weekly conversations about current events encourage students to submit comments in response to our writing prompts.

Sept. 2021-May 2022

Our first list of one-year vocabulary challenges invites students to engage with words through writing, drawing, and video production, and relate vocabulary words to things they read in the journal and observe in their own life. Check out our Monthly Vocabulary Challenge Calendar to learn more.

Sept. 2021-May 2022

We invite students to respond to the news via our daily writing prompts, and each week we post a selection of their comments in a roundup for the world to read. Plus, we applaud the new schools joining the conversation.


Why do we have so many contests? We believe in the voice of the students. We want young people to be active content creators, not just consumers. And we’re proud to offer places where they can create for an authentic audience of students, teachers, parents and other readers around the world.

Here is how they work:

  • All of our competitions except one are open to students aged 11-19 who are in college or high school from around the world. For students in the United States, we consider middle school to begin in grade six. Pupils in lower grades cannot participate.

    Please note our one exception: because the focus is on adolescence, the coming of age in 2021 is open alone to those between 13 and 19 years old, although participants can register from anywhere in the world.

  • All contests, except Summer Reading, start and end on Wednesdays. On the start day of each competition, we will add a link here on this page to the competition announcement so that students and faculty can submit their applications.

  • The work students send us is always viewed by our staff and other experts.whether they are Times journalists, external educators from partner organizations, or professional practitioners in a related field. For example, we have members of the Times podcast team who help judge our podcast competition, and editors and opinion writers help judge our editorial competition. The judgment for our contests is blind. This means that we only see the entries themselves, not the names of students or schools when making our decisions.

  • Approximately eight weeks after the competition closes, we will announce the winners, finalists and honorable mentions. We usually celebrate dozens of students for each competition.

  • Winners see their work published on The Learning Network. Some may also be featured in a special New York Times print section.

  • Our contests are an integral part of our free writing program for the school year, which offers daily writing activities, mentoring texts, and related lesson plans to prepare students for each competition.

  • Please read our additional eligibility rules (for example, on students taking a gap year) and our submission rules (for example, on plagiarism) on this page.

Want to make sure you don’t miss any contest announcements? Sign up for our free weekly newsletter, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

We can’t wait to see what the students will create this school year!



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