OxBright Essay Competition 2023

Test your academic skills with the OxBright Essay Competition. Designed for bright 15-18 year olds, the competition will challenge you to go beyond the school curriculum and think about the future of your subject.

Think big, stretch yourself – and stand out from the crowd when the time comes to apply to university.

Be one of the first to enter (the first 1,000 students shortlisted get a free ticket for one of our Academic Conferences).

World in the palm of someone's hands
Entries are now open for the OxBright Essay Competition 2023.

At OxBright, we’re passionate about giving you the edge to succeed, find your purpose and make a difference in the world.

We’re optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead and about the potential of young people to make the most of them (read more about our Worldview).

The OxBright Essay Competition gives you the chance to think about the future, challenge yourself beyond the school curriculum, and consider your subject through a wider lens.

All shortlisted entrants will be invited to attend one of our autumn Online Conferences free of charge, and there are a variety of prestigious prizes for the winners.

We look forward to reading your submission!

Essay Question 2023

Many believe we face daunting global challenges ahead. How can long-term thinking in the field of [your subject] foster optimism about the future?





 Computer Science & Coding

 Creative Writing










Watch our Explainer Video

How Our Essay Competition Works

Submit Your Entry

Research and write your essay and then submit it, along with your references, via our short form below. Entries close at 9pm UK time on 30th September 2023!


Next Steps

We’ll be in touch within two weeks of your entry to let you know whether you’ve been shortlisted. The first 1,000 shortlisted entrants are invited to attend one of our Conferences, free of charge.

Awards Ceremony

All shortlisted entrants and their parents and teachers will be invited to attend our Awards Ceremony on 28th October 2023, where the winners will be announced.

Over £100,000 Worth of Academic Prizes

Students in Oxford

Free Conference place

The first thousand students who are successfully shortlisted will be awarded a free place at one of our OxBright Conferences this autumn (worth £95).

Awards Ceremony

All shortlisted entrants and their parents and teachers will be invited to attend our online Awards Ceremony on Saturday 28th October 2023, where the winners will be announced.

Student in library
Students in Oxford

Award Winners

Awards include:

  • Most Outstanding Essay (prize: a place on our sister organisation, the Oxford Scholastica Academy’s residential Oxford summer school, worth £6,495)
  • Best Essay for each subject category (prize: a place on an OxBright online course or internship, worth £995)
  • Highly Commended (for the the top 20% of entries, who will receive a certificate of achievement)


Frequently Asked Questions

Entering the Essay Competition

How will entering the OxBright Essay Competition help me in the future?
Our Essay Competition is designed to give you the chance to think about the future, challenge yourself beyond the school curriculum, and consider your subject through a wider lens.

You’ll be able to mention the essay you’ve written in your university applications as proof of your passion for your subject – and you’ll develop clarity about your future direction and ambitions.

Why do you run an essay competition?

OxBright is about giving students the edge to help them to succeed, find their purpose and make a difference in the world.

We think it’s the greatest time to be alive, but we’re aware that young people face challenges their predecessors didn’t. We’re passionate about encouraging students to be optimistic about the future by being active thinkers interested in collaborating to create a better future for the long-term. You can read more about this in our Worldview.

Our essay competition combines these two elements – encouraging students to think actively about the future, and giving them tools to help them to succeed.

Who can enter?

Anyone can enter – the only eligibility criteria is that you must be aged between 15-18. You don’t need to have previously joined an OxBright programme in order to take part.

Kindly be aware that to be eligible to take up any of the free places offered as prizes, such as our online courses/internships, winning students must be between the ages of 15 and 18 at the commencement of the programme.

Can I write more than one essay?

Sorry, we only accept one essay per student each year. This is due to the volume of essays we receive.

Can I enter jointly with a friend?

No, we can only accept entries from individuals, and it’s important to make sure that your work is entirely your own.

Is there a fee to enter the OxBright Essay Competition?

No, the essay competition is completely free to enter.

When is the entry deadline?

Entries will close at 9pm UK time on Saturday 30th September 2023.

Are you connected to any university?

No, OxBright is an independent education organisation which is not connected to any university.

Writing Your Essay

What are the subject categories I can enter for?
You can see the list of subjects here.
How long should my essay be?
There are three parts to the essay:

  • Essay title: the title of your essay can be up to 100 characters long, including spaces
  • Essay: your essay can have up to 3,800 characters, including spaces (this is about 500 words). This includes everything you write, like the main text and in-text citations. In-text citations are little notes you put in your essay to show where your information came from. For example, if you quote something from a book by John Smith, you would add (Smith, 2010, p. 50) right after the quote. These citations are part of your word count, so make sure to include them
  • References: as for references, there’s no word limit – you can include as many as you need! These are important for showing where your information came from. Please use the Harvard Referencing Style for your references (you can find how to do this in the guidelines provided here). This won’t count towards your essay character limit, so please list all the sources you used


What are the evaluation criteria?

We’ll be assessing essays on the following criteria:

  • Fluency of written English
  • Relevance to the question
  • Coherence
  • Creativity and originality of ideas
  • Use of evidence or examples
  • Relevance to the OxBright Worldview


Should I use references?

Please make sure to include references to your sources, using the Harvard Referencing Style (guidelines here).

What makes a good essay?

Make sure to read our criteria carefully (you can find it in the FAQ above).

We want essays that are thoroughly researched, packed with examples and solid evidence. What really catches our attention are essays with unique analysis. So, we’re not just interested in essays that simply describe things – we want your thoughts, analysis, and fresh ideas.

Don’t forget, it’s crucial to use and mention trustworthy sources for the evidence you provide.

What Happens Next?

When will I hear the results?

We’ll be in touch within two weeks of your entry to let you know whether or not you’ve been shortlisted (all entrants who meet our core standards of relevance and coherence will be shortlisted).

All shortlisted entrants and their parents and teachers will be invited to our Awards Ceremony on Saturday 28th October 2023, when the winners in each subject category will be announced.

How are essays assessed?

You can read about the criteria we use to assess your essay in the FAQ above (“What are the evaluation criteria?”).

Essays are assessed using our proprietary system which combines a mixture of technology and personal assessment. Essays which are deemed to be plagiarised or be written by AI will be rejected and our decision on this is final.

There are two stages to our assessment process:

Our first stage assessment reviews whether the essay is relevant and coherent. If so, your essay will be shortlisted, you will be offered a free place at an OxBright Conference and you will be invited to the Awards Ceremony.

Shortlised essays are then given further assessment by our panel. This includes a review of the References. In the application form, we ask for a the name of a teacher who is familiar with your academic work. If your essay is nominated for an Award, we will ask this teacher to confirm that the essay was genuinely written by you.

What are the prizes?

Please click here for more information about the prizes and awards.

Will I receive feedback?
Unfortunately, due to the volume of entries received, we are unable to provide feedback on essays.
Does everyone who enters get a free place at a Conference?

The first thousand students to who make a valid submission and are shortlisted will be invited to attend an OxBright Conference of their choice, free of charge (worth £95). You can see the list of forthcoming Conferences here. Forthcoming Conferences subjects include Business, Medicine, Law and Psychology. It is optional to attend a Conference.

Does everyone receive a certificate?
Only students who win one of the awards receive a certificate. Certificates are issued in online format.
Do you publish the names of the award winners?

Yes, award winners will be published on this page after the Awards Ceremony.

How can I pass on some feedback about the essay competition?

We’d love to hear from you! This is the first year that we’re running the competition, and we’re open to feedback as we aim to make it the most impactful essay competition out there. Please feel free to contact our Co-Director Lavinia here.