High school competitions are a great way to stand out in the application pool! In the college admission process, if your standardized test scores are entry passes to enter the college’s door, extracurricular activities are what make you stand out to the admissions officer. And more importantly, some extracurricular activities will make a stronger impression than the rest.
For example, a student who received an international prize in Physics will stand out more than a student who won a regional prize in a physics competition. In terms of extracurricular activities, Aralia Education believes participating in academic competitions is an advantage for every student. Participation and recognition showcase a student’s academic excellence; contest selection reflects their passion as well as their soft and/or hard skills.
At Aralia Education Technology, we keep track of all international prestigious high school competitions and stay updated with deadlines and information. With our help, we want parents and students can easily navigate through the world of competitions and be able to make the best judgments on which competitions to attend. For students who want more practice and improvement in certain subjects as preparation for competitions, we also offer multiple courses from instructors and professors who are experts in similar fields.
Feel free to save the infographic at the end of the article to keep track of all competitions for high school students happening throughout the year. Please keep in mind that the infographic provides a deadline for competitions; however, the actual preparation time can range longer, from 2 weeks to several months. If you want to quickly read through some of the top competitions internationally, keep reading.
High School Competitions: Writing Competitions
New York Times Magazine has announced their high school competitions for the academic year 2023-2024. All competitions welcome middle school and high school students from across the world. Tens of thousands of students from around the world participate in their contests each year, from creating podcasts and writing editorials, to responding to the news. Since Aralia Education is only providing information about competitions for this year, here is a list of competitions that New York Times Magazine is having in 2024:
Students have to write a short description of how to do any task. In addition, they have to find, interview, and quote one expert on the subject throughout the piece.
- One-Pager Challenge (December 6 to January 10, 2024)
Students are invited to create a one-page illustrated response to an article from The New York Times. Along with the submission, students have to respond to two questions explaining their creative process.
- Where We Are: Photo Essays About Community (February 14 to March 13, 2024
Students send 5 to 7 images with captions and short introductions about any kind of offline community they like and feature people of any age.
- Vocabulary Video Contest (February 2 to March 27, 2024)
Produce a 15-second video about the meaning of one of the New York Times’ Words of the Day.
- Open Letters: Our New Opinion Writing Contest (March 13 – April 17, 2024) (Replace Student Editorial Contest)
Participants are invited to make a persuasive argument in 450 words about something they care deeply about. In the open letter format, they must address their letter to a specific target audience, recipient, institution, or group that has the power to bring about meaningful change.
- Podcast Challenge (April 17 to May 15, 2023)
Podcast Challenge invites students to submit a podcast of five minutes or less about any topics they prefer
- Summer Reading Contest (June 7 to August 16, 2024)
Summer Reading Contest invites students to choose something in The Times that has sparked their interest, then tell us why. At the end of every week, judges from the Times newsroom pick their favorite responses, and the winner’s work will be published in the NY Times.
Deadline: January 31, 2024
In connection with the Library of Congress, River of Words invites students aged 5-19 to participate in an international poetry and art contest. River of Words is an international poetry and art contest for kindergarten through twelfth-grade students. The contest promotes awareness and appreciation of the natural world and encourages young people to express their thoughts and feelings about the environment through art and poetry. The contest is held annually and is open to students from around the world. It is organized by the Center for Environmental Literacy and the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Washington, in partnership with the Library of Congress. Winners’ and finalists’ art and poetry will be published in our annual River of Words anthology and on our Web page.
Deadline: Early January – Early March, 2024
The Annual DNA Day Essay Contest is an annual competition organized by the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). It is held in celebration of DNA Day, commemorating the DNA structure’s discovery in 1953 and the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003. The contest is open to high school students in the United States and worldwide. It aims to encourage students to learn about and think critically about the field of genetics and its potential to impact society.
Many human diseases have a genetic component. Some diseases result from a change in a single gene or even multiple genes. Yet, many diseases are complex and stem from an interaction between genes and the environment. Environmental factors may include chemicals in the air or water, nutrition, microbes, ultraviolet radiation from the sun and social context. Provide an example of how the interplay of genetics and environment can shape human health.
In this category, we’ll point out some of the top national science competitions within STEM. For the full list of all competitions, please refer to the 8 best STEM high school competitions for students.
Deadline: AMC 10 and AMC 12’s deadlines vary
Since first taking place in 1950, AMC has now become the leader in strengthening the mathematical capabilities of the next generation’s problem-solvers worldwide. There are dozens of participating countries, including nearly 3,000 schools in Canada, Britain, France, Singapore, South Korea, India, Belgium, Finland, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. 350,000 students and 6,000 schools register for the competition in the United States every year.
Local Exam: March 1-24, 2024
The American Chemistry Olympiad has been organized by the American Chemical Society (ACS) since 1984. It is an influential high school chemistry competition in the United States. It aims to stimulate and cultivate a new generation of young students’ passion for pursuing chemistry in higher education. As one of the top competitions in the United States, nearly 1,600 American young scientists participate every year.
Registration Deadline: February 26, 2024
The Physics Bowl American High School Physics Competition is organized by the American Physics Teachers Association, the only academic institution in the U.S. specializing in popularizing and improving physics education. The association provides the latest physics frontier ideas and the richest physics education resources for American universities and high schools through conferences, forums, and competitions every year.
First Contest: Dec 15-18, 2023
The USA Computing Olympiad (USACO) is a computer science competition for high school students in the United States. It is organized by the Computing Olympiad Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes computer science education and provides competitive programming opportunities for students. The USACO holds a series of online and on-site contests throughout the year, with the top performers eligible to participate in the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI). The contests are designed to challenge students’ problem-solving and programming skills, and they cover a range of topics in computer science, including algorithms, data structures, and computational thinking.
The Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology (BEST) Robotics Competition is a annual robotics competition for middle and high school students in the United States. It is organized by BEST, a nonprofit organization that aims to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and inspire students to pursue careers in these fields. The competition challenges teams of students to design, build, and test robots to perform specific tasks, such as moving objects or navigating through an obstacle course. The teams are judged on the performance of their robots, as well as their engineering design process and presentation skills.
Deadline: January 16, 2023
The Diamond Challenge is a global entrepreneurship competition for high school students. The Diamond Challenge provides a unique opportunity for 10,000+ teens to learn about entrepreneurship while putting their problem-solving ideas into action. High school students participate in a year-long program and develop ideas to address pressing challenges they’ve identified. They will work in teams to develop business ideas and plans.
Deadline: September 15, 2024 (based on last year’s deadline)
The Knowledge@Wharton High School (KWHS) Global Investment Competition is a virtual investing competition for high school students worldwide. It is organized by the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and is designed to teach students about financial markets, investment strategies, and business fundamentals. The competition is open to teams of students, and each team is given a virtual portfolio of $100,000 to invest in a simulated stock market. The teams are judged on the performance of their portfolios, and the winning team is the one with the highest returns.
Deadline: February 15, 2024
The High School Fed Challenge is an educational program that promotes interest in economics among students in grades 9-12, regardless of their prior knowledge of economics. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York designates the competition theme and teams can choose any topic related to the theme for academic research. Bank judges select submissions for publication in the Journal of Future Economists, and all entering teams receive recognition. The competition encourages team collaboration and helps students develop critical thinking, creativity, writing, time management, and research skills to prepare them for academic success and future careers.
Social Science Competitions
Deadline: Early Bird: Jan 8 – 31, 2024
The International Linguistics Olympiad (IOL) is an annual competition for high school students interested in linguistics, the scientific study of language. It is organized by the International Linguistics Olympiad Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes linguistic education and research. The IOL is held in a different country each year and is open to teams of students from around the world. The competition challenges students to solve problems related to the structure, history, and diversity of human language. These problems may involve analyzing data, constructing grammars, or creating translations. The winners of the competition are recognized for their outstanding achievements in linguistic analysis and are eligible to receive cash prizes and other awards. In addition to the annual competition, the IOL also offers a range of resources and materials for students, including training programs and practice problems, to help them prepare for the competition.
Kaggle Competition invites students to find and publish data sets, explore and build models in a web-based data-science environment. Students will work with other data scientists and machine learning engineers, and enter competitions to solve data science challenges. The winners of Kaggle competitions are recognized for their expertise and are often eligible to receive cash prizes and other awards.
Dec 16-19: First Contest
Jan 27-30: Second Contest
Feb 24-27: Third Contest
Mar 24-27: US Open
May 25-June 3: Training Camp
Jul 15-21: EGOI 2023 (Sweden)
Aug 28-Sep 4: IOI 2023 (Hungary)
The competition consists of four increasingly difficult online exams, test students on algorithmic programming and problem-solving skills. You must score high enough on each exam to advance to the next level. Top-performing students are invited to participate in the USA Computing Olympiad (USACO) training camp. They receive intensive instruction and a chance to compete for a spot on the USA International Olympiad in Informatics team.
NSAD invites middle and high school students around the world to participate in the largest academic competition in the world to debate current events, voice their views, and share their stories. The NSDA national competition is held annually and is open to middle and high school students who are members of the NSDA. The competition includes various events, such as public speaking, original oratory, and extemporaneous speaking. Winners will be crowned champions in front of a live audience of thousands and tens of thousands more streaming the events online.
The Harvard National High School Invitational Forensics Tournament, held in Cambridge each Presidents’ Day Weekend, is the largest and most prestigious high school speech and debate tournament in the country, providing opportunities for students to compete in Policy Debate, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Public Forum Debate, Student Congress, and a variety of individual and duo speech events. In addition to in-person tournaments, the program also offers online tournaments in Middle School Congress, Beginner Public Forum, Open Public Forum, and Debate en Español. There is a total of 21 tournaments happening during the tournament date. Further details can be found in the Harvard Tabroom.
Tournament Date: June 16-21, 2024
Deadline: October – November
International Academic Competitions organizes team and individual competitions in history, geography, science, the humanities, and other subjects for primary and secondary students of all ages. Their events are held in the United States, Asia, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other areas across the globe.
The U.S. Academic Decathlon is a national educational program that promotes learning and academic excellence among high school students of all academic backgrounds. The program consists of ten academic events, including tests in art, economics, literature, mathematics, music, science, and social science, as well as speech, interview, and essay components. Each high school enters a team of nine students: 3 Honor students (3.80 – 4.00 GPA), 3 Scholastic students (3.20 – 3.799 GPA), and 3 Varsity students (0.00 – 3.199 GPA).