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Who can enter?

The competition is open to nationals or residents of all Commonwealth countries and territories, as well as residents of Hong Kong, Ireland, and Zimbabwe. Residents of non-Commonwealth countries where there is an operating RCS branch or affiliated/partner organisation are also eligible; however, entries must be submitted via the local RCS branch or affiliated/partner organisation.

Tips from the Judges

The following guidelines provide some useful insights from previous judges who have had experience recognising what makes a good piece of writing, and may help you get started on your submission:

  1. Choose to answer one of the topics, and you are encouraged to interpret this in any way you wish. 

  2. Think carefully about the form of writing you use to answer the topic. There are a variety of forms and styles to play with.

  3. Make sure to use your own voice and your own words. Judges are very good at spotting work that is not original.

  4. We understand that English is a diverse language and there are different and innovative ways of using it around the Commonwealth. We encourage diversity and creativity of language in submissions.

  5. Ensure you take into account grammar and punctuation whilst writing your piece. Do not submit an entry without proof-reading.

  6. Presentation is important: think about the visual appearance of the entry as well as the quality of the content.

Guidance Notes

  1. Participants are expected to show originality and flair, linked to sound academic standards and competent use of English as a written language. This includes a good standard of spelling and punctuation, neat presentation and clear hand-writing or word-processing.

  2. Entries must respond to the topic. Each year a number of good entrants must be disregarded because they do not fully answer/reflect on what the topic has asked them to do.

  3. Entrants are encouraged to be creative in their response to a topic. Entries can be submitted in a number of different formats: for example, a poem, letter, article, story, essay or a short play/script.

  4. Illustrations are welcomed, particularly in Junior entries, but they must enhance the written text and add to the overall quality of the entry.

Winning Categories

Junior Awards Categories (Under 14s)

  1. Junior Winner

  2. Junior Runner-up

  3. Gold Awards

  4. Silver Awards

  5. Bronze Awards

  6. Certificate of Participation

Senior Awards Categories (Under 14-18)

  1. Senior Winner

  2. Senior Runner-up

  3. Gold Awards

  4. Silver Awards

  5. Bronze Awards

  6. Certificate of Participation

What if I'm too old to participate?

If you're over 18 by the deadline, you'll still be eligible to compete for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

Are there prizes for the winners?

One Winner and Runner Up will be chosen from each category. Winners and Runners Up (accompanied by one adult/guardian) will be brought to London for a week of educational and cultural events, culminating in a special Awards Ceremony. A number of Gold Finalist, Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards will be given in both the Senior and Junior categories, rewarding excellence in writing. All successful entries will receive a Certificate of Participation. Local RCS branches often hold local and regional ceremonies or offer prizes so if you were made aware of the competition by your local RCS branch, please contact them after the competition closes on 15 May to inquire about any activities they might have planned.

Is there a word limit?

Can I write on more than one topic?

No, students may only submit one essay each, which means that you have to choose one of the four topics in your relevant category.

Where can I find the topics for the 2024 competition?

Topics for The Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition 2024 can be read online or downloaded.

How do I know if my entry was successfully submitted?

At the end of the online submission process, you will receive a notice that your entry has been successfully submitted. This notice will contain a unique identification number, which will also be emailed to your nominated email address. If you are encountering difficulties, please email for assistance.

How do I download my certificate?

Certificates are no longer able to be downloaded by entrants. Entrants to the QCEC 2024 will have their certificates sent to their nominated email address at the end of the judging process in September 2024.

How do I submit my essay online?

Please click here to submit your entry online. Please note that we do not accept entries sent by email.

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