1. The competition is organised by the BBC. 500 Words is supported by Oxford University Press in a co-production partnership.
2. The BBC's Code of Conduct for Competitions and Votes applies to this competition. You can read more about it here: BBC Competition Policy.
3. Entry to this competition is open to persons who will be aged between 5 and 13 years on the 8th June 2018 who are full time residents of the UK (including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) except the children or close relatives of BBC employees, the Reading Agency, Oxford University Press, or the children or close relatives of any person closely connected with the competition. Entries must be submitted by an adult (parent/guardian or teacher) on behalf of the child; this adult must have parental consent. This adult may be asked, with parental consent, to provide proof of age, identity and eligibility. Entry will be in two age categories – ages 5 to 9 years (on 8th June 2018) and 10 to 13 years (on 8th June 2018).
4. Entrants must write a fictional short story (no more than 500 words in length). Entry is via an online entry form available at www.bbc.co.uk/500words. The responsible adult submitting the story on behalf of the entrant, will be asked to provide the entrant’s name, gender, region and their age and ensure that they have parental consent to do so. The submitter must enter the child’s story in the text box provided for submission.
5. All stories should be submitted in English.
6. We can only accept stories which are 500 words or fewer according to the word counter on the online submission form; the BBC cannot accept word counts from any other software. Please make sure you check the word count on our form if you are pasting from another piece of software, such as Microsoft Word.
7. Entries can only be accepted online; postal entries or entries sent over email will not be read or considered. Entries sent over email before the deadline because of technical errors will not be considered.
8. The adult submitting the entrant’s story, will be required to approve the entry and agree to these Terms and Conditions (including the BBC’s use of the story submitted and the fictional nature of the story) on behalf of the entrant, by way of a check-box in the online form. The adult may be the child’s parent, guardian or teacher. The adult must provide their own contact and personal details (not the child’s). Teachers submitting stories on behalf of pupils must seek parental consent and if requested by the BBC, provide evidence of a consent in the event of an enquiry or complaint.
9. For the top 50 shortlisted entries, if permission to enter was given by a teacher, the BBC will contact the teacher and ask for confirmation of permission from the entrant’s parent or guardian.
10. Entry opens on Monday 15th January 2018 at 08:00. Entry closes on Thursday 22nd February 2018 at 19:00. Submissions received outside of this time frame will not, under any circumstances be considered, so the BBC advises users not to wait until the last minute to submit entries. The 500 Words website receives a lot of entries in the last few hours of the competition. The BBC cannot be held to account if the website runs slowly.
11. If entrants have emailed the administrators and are awaiting a response, the competition deadline still stands. Unless the competition administrators have explicitly instructed otherwise, all entrants must submit stories before the deadline in order to be considered in the competition.
12. Entries can only be entered individually. Only one entry per child is permitted and the story must be wholly written by the child; stories cannot be written by more than one person. If more than one entry is submitted, only the child’s first submission will be considered.
13. Entries must be an original piece of fiction and not an account of real events – either historical or current. However, stories can feature well known public figures from present day or from history (e.g. Wayne Rooney or Charles Darwin), take place in historical eras (e.g. the English Civil War) or use real-life experiences as a creative springboard as long as the story is FICTIONAL. If entrants are unclear on whether the content of a story contradicts these Terms and Conditions, they may email the competition administrators at email@example.com. The entrant warrants that they have not used material or depicted events that actually took place or used the personal details of any living persons in the story. As the stories will be published it is important that entrants do not include any personal details about themselves. The entrant must not include their name in the title or body of the story; entries which do contain this information may be removed from the competition.
14. Entries cannot be returned so please remember to retain a copy. Unsuccessful entrants will be contacted in respect of their entry but no feedback on any entry will be provided.
15. All entries must be the original work of the entrant and must not infringe the rights of any other party. The BBC accepts no responsibility if entrants ignore these Terms and Conditions and entrants agree to indemnify the BBC against any claim by any third party from any breach of these Terms and Conditions.
16. Entries must not contain defamatory, obscene, offensive, or any other unsuitable material; the BBC reserves the right to disqualify entries containing such matter. Entries must be suitable to be broadcast, published or used online by the BBC for audiences of all ages, but in particular for a child audience. Please see the following for further information: BBC Editorial Guidelines, If the story has troubling content the BBC may if required take advice from the NSPCC, and may refer the Troubling Content to the relevant authorities BBC Child Protection Policy.
17. Entrants retain the copyright in their entries but grant to the BBC a perpetual non-exclusive royalty-free licence to publish, broadcast (across all media) and post the entry online and on any other platforms yet to be envisaged. This licence will be deemed to include all the necessary rights and permissions to enable such use by the BBC, to fulfil the prizes and to complete the administration of this competition.
18. By submitting a story the entrant agrees that the BBC may at its sole discretion edit, adapt, abridge or translate the entry for the purposes listed in clause 17 above.
19. Entrants agree in clause 17 that the BBC may publish the stories on their website for the duration of 5 years, after which all names and attribution will be removed.
20. In the event that the entry is published online at www.bbc.co.uk/500words, for the avoidance of doubt, this will not be part of, or influence in any way, the judging process. Only the story title, entrant’s name and age will be published with an entry.
21. Entries will be judged on the following criteria:
22. The first round will be judged by teachers and librarians across the UK. Each teacher and librarian will receive a batch of anonymised stories, from entrants located in a different area of the UK, to read and score using the criteria above. Each teacher and librarian will be emailed all stories (via a secure login) along with details of the criteria and how to score the stories. The 5000 highest scored entries from this round will be put through to the next round. This process will be overseen by a BBC Editorial Figure. Parents or teachers of entrants may sign up to judge in the competition.
23. In addition to the 50 Finalists of the competition, 6 wild card entries will be selected. These stories will be jointly selected by literacy experts at the Reading Agency (1085443 (England & Wales)) and the BBC. These stories will have been judged to demonstrate outstanding creativity and originality. These 6 stories, 3 in each age category, will be judged alongside the Top 50 and will be in contention for the Bronze, Silver and Gold medals in each age category.
24. All teachers and librarians taking part in the judging will automatically be entered into a draw, the winners of which will be randomly selected, to receive a pair of tickets to attend the broadcast of The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Friday 8th June 2018.
25. The Top 50 shortlisted entrants will receive a pair of tickets to the Final (for the entrant and a parent or guardian). All entrants of the competition will entered into a random ballot to receive a pair of tickets (for the entrant and a parent or guardian) to the Final; this ballot will be run among the remaining entrants after the finalists have been selected, and winners of the ballot will be notified in May. We cannot notify unsuccessful members of the ballot. The BBC cannot pay for the travel and accommodation of winners of the ballot.
26. The 5000 highest scored entries from the first round of judging will be collated and considered by a judging panel from The Reading Agency, in partnership with a BBC Editorial Figure. The Reading Agency panel will read and score these anonymised stories using the criteria above, to produce a shortlist of the top 50 entries comprising the top 25 entries from each of the two age categories. The Top 50 stories will be verified by a BBC Editorial figure and the ages and identities of the writers confirmed.
27. These top 50 entries will be read and judged by a guest panel chaired by Chris Evans. 3 finalists with 1 overall winner will be selected in each age category (gold, silver and bronze – gold being the overall winners).
28. The Top 50 shortlisted entrants (25 in each age category) will be invited to attend the Final at a London location on Friday 8th June 2018 for the live broadcast of the BBC Radio 2 Chris Evans Breakfast Show. The full names of the 6 finalists and the overall winners will be announced during this live broadcast, subject to parental consent. We will request parental consent for pictures of the Top 50 children for use during the broadcast. These pictures are not for online publication.
29. The entries from the 6 finalists will be performed by an actor or well-known figure and broadcast on Radio 2. In addition, the entries of the 6 finalists may be published in a national newspaper. An anthology of the top 50 entries (25 in each age category) may also be published.
30. Prizes will be awarded to the 3 finalists in each age category: the 2 Gold winners will win Chris Evans' height in books (6.2") and 500 books each for their school. The 2 Silver winners will win Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall's height in books (5.6"). The 2 Bronze winners will win their own height in books. In addition to these prizes, the 6 winners will be treated to a short ride in the car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the 500 Words Final on the 8th June; they will also be invited, along with a parent or guardian, to join Chris Evans for breakfast canapes on board a boat on the river Thames. This boat experience will last approximately 40 minutes.
31. The parents or guardians of the top 50 successful entrants will be contacted by a member of the production team at the beginning of May 2018; further proof of age, identity and eligibility may be requested at this stage. The BBC will contribute a limited amount towards travel expenses and endeavour where possible to provide one twin hotel room to share for the child and a parent or guardian to attend the broadcast of The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Friday 8th June 2018, however the BBC cannot cover any additional travel and accommodation that may be incurred by any other family or friends of the entrant.
32. The BBC's decision as to each stage of this competition, the top 50 (25 in each category), the 6 finalists and the choice of gold, silver and bronze in each category is final. No correspondence will be entered into.
33. The BBC reserves the right to disqualify any entry which breaches any of these Terms and Conditions, or to withhold a prize if in its opinion entries do not reach the required standard.
34. The BBC reserves the right to amend these Terms and Conditions or cancel this competition at any stage, if deemed necessary in its opinion, or if circumstances arise outside of its control.
35. The BBC, its sub-contractors, subsidiaries, agencies and/or any other organisation associated with this competition cannot accept any responsibility whatsoever for any technical failure or malfunction or any other problem with any server, Internet access, system or otherwise which may result in any entry being lost or not properly registered or recorded. Proof of sending is not proof of receipt.
36. These Terms and Conditions are governed by the laws of England and Wales.
Eight Steps Towards a Better Scholarship Essay
Writing a scholarship essay can be very difficult – especially if you want to do it well. Your essay will need to wow the reader, and speak directly to the goals of that organization, as well as the objectives of that award. If done properly, you will very rarely be able to submit the same application to multiple awards – it is not a one-size-fits-all; most essays will need to be tweaked or completely altered to show the reader that you are deserving of the award above and beyond any of the other participant who also applied.
Read on to find eight steps to help you write a better scholarship essay so that you can get the money you need to fund your international education.
Step 1: Read the Essay Prompt Thoroughly
Many schools and other organizations that give out scholarships will give you a "prompt" or a question which the essay is supposed to address. Read the question or prompt carefully and try to "read between the lines." For example, the prompt you are to answer might be, "Describe a book that made a lasting impression on you and your life and why?" Ask yourself, "Are they really interested in my literary preferences or is there something more to this question?" More than likely, they want to get a better idea of who you are—not only what types of books you like but also what motivates you and what sorts of stories or topics interest you. They may also be interested in getting a sense for how promising a student you are based on the type of book you choose and what you have to say about it.
Tip: Always keep in mind that any scholarship essay question, no matter the topic, should demonstrate your interests, your background, and most importantly, highlight the experiences you've had that fit with the goals and mission of the funding organization.
Instead of being given a prompt, you might be asked to write an essay on the topic of your choosing. Although challenging, this is also an opportunity to demonstrate your creativity. Finally, if anything about the directions aren't clear, don't be afraid to contact someone at the funding organization and ask for clarification.
Step 2: Make a List of Important Points and Keywords to Include
Looking for sample essays?
Check out our Sample Essay section where you can see scholarship essays, admissions essays, and more!
Regardless of the essay prompt, you will want to make sure to include the important and relevant information about your experiences and background that makes you an ideal candidate for the scholarship award. To complete this step, it can be helpful to first research the organization to which you're applying and try to find their mission statement on their website. Circle a few key words from the mission statement and make sure to include those buzzwords in your essay.
Scholarship committees are not only looking for good students, they are often looking for a person that fits their organizational goals. You should gather your other application materials such as transcripts and resumes so you can review your qualifications as well as make note of what is missing in these materials that needs to be included in the essay.
For example, if you're applying for a general academic scholarship, you might want to talk about a specific class you took that really piqued your interest or inspired your current academic and career goals. The committee will see the list of the classes that you took on your transcript but they won't know how a particular class inspired you unless you tell them. The essay is the best place to do this. Your list of important points to make might also include:
- Any academic awards or other honors you've won.
- Any AP or college-level courses you took in high school.
- Any outside courses, internships, or other academic experiences that won't necessarily appear on your transcript.
- Why your experience and the mission of the funding organization match.
- What you plan to major in during college and how you think that major will be useful to your future career goals.
- Any special training or knowledge you have, or a project you completed in school or as an extracurricular activity.
- An example of how you overcame a challenge.
- Your financial circumstances that makes it necessary for you to finance your studies through scholarship money.
The challenge now is to integrate those points that you want the committee to know with an essay that answers the prompt. You can see our example scholarship essays to get a better idea of how to do this.
Step 3: Write an Outline or a Rough Draft
Not everyone likes to make an outline before they begin writing, but in this case it can be very helpful. You can start with your list of important points to begin writing the outline. For many, telling a story is the easiest and most effective way to write a scholarship essay. You can tell the story of how you found your favorite book, and how it has changed and inspired you. Start with large headings in your outline that describes the basic storyline. For example:
- High school composition teacher recommended book
- Read it over one weekend
- Made me see the world around me differently
- Inspired me to pursue a career in social justice
Now you can start filling in the subheadings with points from your previous list:
- High school composition teacher recommended book
- Favorite class in high school
- Class opened my eyes to new ways of thinking
- Teacher noticed my enthusiasm—recommended outside reading
- Read it over one weekend
- Was the first time I was so drawn in by a book, I read it very quickly
- I realized my academic potential beyond getting good grades
- Made me see the world around me differently
- Started to look for jobs in social justice
- Interned for a summer at a law firm doing pro bono work for the poor
- This was a big challenge because I realized you can't help everyone and resources are limited
- Overcame this challenge by knowing that small change can be big, and working hard in a field you are passionate about will inspire you everyday
- Inspired me to pursue a career in social justice
- The book is a constant source of inspiration and will keep me motivated as I pursue my career
- The book will always remind me how people with limited financial resources can still make a huge difference in others' lives
Step 4: Write a Strong Statement that Summarizes Your Points
You will want to include one strong thesis statement that summarizes all the major points you will make in your essay. It is often easy to start writing with this simple statement. Your essay doesn't have to begin or end with the thesis statement, but it should appear somewhere in order to tie all the individual sections together.
For example, your thesis statement might be, "You will find that various experiences from both my academic career and my personal life align very well with your organization's mission: shaping community leaders who are working towards a more just and sustainable world." Starting with this sentence can help you organize your thoughts and main points, and provide you with a direction for your essay. When you've finished your essay, be sure to reflect back on your thesis statement and ask yourself, "Does this essay further explain and support my thesis statement?"
Step 5: Fill in the Missing Parts
Now that you have a thesis statement, an outline, and a list of important points to include, you can begin to fill in the missing parts of your story. The first sentence is particularly important: it should capture the attention of the reader, and motivate him or her to continue reading. We recommend starting your story by painting a vivid picture of an experience about which you will be talking in the essay.
For example: "It is 6 am on a hot day in July, I've already showered and I'm eating breakfast. My classmates are all sleeping in and the sun has yet to awaken, but I'm ready to seize the day, as I couldn't imagine spending my summer any other way but interning at a local law firm that specializes in representing the poor. I work a typical 8-5 day during my summer vacation and nothing has made me happier. But I wouldn't be here if it weren't for one particularly savvy teacher and a little book she gave me to read outside of class."
Step 6: Rewrite, Revise, Rewrite
A good writer rewrites and revises his or her work many, many times. After getting a first draft on paper, take a day or two away from the essay and then come back to it with fresh eyes. Make appropriate edits for content, and pay attention to proper spelling and grammar. If need be, you might want to write an entirely new draft and then integrate the best of both into a final draft. Writing a new draft can inspire you to think of new ideas or a better way to tell your story. Some other tips to think about as you rewrite and revise:
- Make sure it sounds like your voice. You want the scholarship committee to feel like they are getting to know you. If you don't sound authentic, the committee will know. It is better to be yourself than to say what you think the committee wants to hear.
- Strike a balance between modesty and arrogance. You should be proud of your accomplishments, but you don't want to sound arrogant. Don't exaggerate a story; instead be clear about what you did and the impact it had and let that speak for itself.
- Check to make sure you are answering the prompt and fulfilling all other requirements of the essay as directed by the committee, such as font preference and word count limits.
- Don't just list your accomplishments; describe them in detail and also tell the reader how you felt during these experiences.
- A scholarship essay is not a dissertation. You don't need to impress the committee with big words, especially if you're not completely clear if you're using them correctly. Simplicity and clarity should be the goals.
- Make sure your essay will be read from the beginning to the end. Committee members won't dedicate much time to reading the essay, so you need to make sure they are given motivation to read the entire thing. If you are telling a story, don't reveal the end of the story until the end.
- Check to make sure the buzzwords from the mission statement appear. It is easy to forget the scholarship committee's goals as you write. Return to their mission statement and look for spots to place keywords from the statement. Be sure, however, that you're not copying the mission statement word-for-word.
Step 7: Have someone else read your essay
Ideally, you could give your essay to a teacher or college admissions counselor who is familiar with scholarship essays and the college admission process. If such a person is not available, virtually anyone with good reading and writing skills can help make your essay better. When your editor is done reading and you've looked over his or her notes, be sure to ask the following questions:
- Was the story interesting and did it hold your attention?
- Were there any parts that were confusing?
- Did you find any spelling or grammar errors?
- Does the essay sound like my voice?
- Does the essay respond appropriately to the prompt?
- Is there anything you would have done differently or something you thought was missing?
After having an editor (or two or three) look over your draft, it is time again to revise and rewrite.
Step 8: Refine the Final Draft
Once you feel satisfied with the draft, review it one more time and pay particular attention to structure, spelling, grammar, and whether you fulfilled all the required points dictated by the committee. If you are over the required word count, you will need to make edits so that you are within the limit. If you are significantly under the word count, consider adding a supporting paragraph.
Essay Writing Center
Misconception: No one actually reads your scholarship essay! – Wrong!
Fact: Your essay is the key to your scholarship application. It is an opportunity to demonstrate to the selection committee that you are a well-rounded individual, that you are more than your GPA, that you are a strong writer, and it gives you a chance to talk about your experiences and qualifications in greater detail than what appears on your resume or transcripts.