The Junior Achievement® Essay Competition is judged by a panel of business professionals from Greater Washington selected by Junior Achievement. Following the close of the judging process each year, Junior Achievement invites the judges to provide their advice, feedback, and comments to the applicants. Below are the comments we have received:

  • Run a word count before submitting the essay to be certain that you are within the 1,000 - 1,500 word limit.
  • Ensure that you capitalize words properly.
  • Be careful about using apostrophes correctly, as in the case of "it's" and "its."
  • Be sure that you use the words "capital" and "capitol" correctly.
  • Always cite any works you take information from to avoid accidentally plagiarizing them.
  • Perform a spell check to ensure that you don't have any misspelled words.
  • Avoid commenting on your chances of winning the essay competition.
  • Above all else, have fun, be creative with your responses, and enjoy the opportunity to explore new ideas!


  • Congratulations for stepping up and participating! You are to be commended for taking time to learn more about the topic, researching and writing your essay. The process is just as valuable as the outcome.
  • In addition to proofreading (spell, grammar, punctuation checking), allow time to revise. The revision process should take at least twice as long as your initial research and draft.
  • Ask yourself, “Is this essay clear and cogent?” Look for ways to pare down redundant sentences / words and ensure your word choice makes sense. Avoid becoming a “thesaurus – rex”.
  • Ask yourself, “Did I address the topic / prompt?” If it is a persuasive essay, take a clear position and maintain the thread throughout the essay.
  • Remember not only to present the analysis of your position, but also to synthesize your thoughts into a conclusion / summary paragraph.
  • Keep writing! It is a vital skill that is critical to your success no matter what field you choose.
  • Avoid using jargon when writing your essay. For example, our economy is not based on “All about the Benjamins”.
  • Thoroughly research the examples and facts that you are including in your essay.
  • Have a strong statement in the first paragraph of your essay that explains your point of view with the essay’s theme. Use the body of your essay to support your point of view. Use your concluding paragraph to restate your original point of view.
  • Have one person or more people to read your essay before submitting it. Seek their advice for the following: grammatical errors, spelling errors, understanding of the essay topic and organization.
  • Use a thesaurus for emphasis on what you are trying to say. Seeing the same word repeated in the same paragraph or in the entire essay loses emphasis on the point you are trying to make and interest to the reader. Example: instead of equal, use balanced, evenly matched, identical, same, parallel, equivalent, etc.

  • Remember the goal of a persuasive essay: to provide an answer to a question, back it up with examples or logic, and ultimately, convince the reader to agree with you.
  • Most writers know to back up opinions with facts. Better writers never list facts without properly explaining how and why they strengthen their argument. The best writers acknowledge counterexamples and explain how they don’t weaken their arguments much or at all.
  • Anticipate your readers and the questions they might have such as “how does this point relate?” or “why does the author believe this?” Even better, have someone else read your essay—what questions do they still have? The best essays provide an answer, not more questions.

About Junior Achievement Essay Competition sponsor David M. Rubenstein

David M. Rubenstein is a Co-Founder and Co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, one of the world’s largest private equity firms. Mr. Rubenstein co-founded the firm in 1987. Since then, Carlyle has grown into a firm managing more than $199 billion from 38 offices around the world. To honor his many accomplishments, Mr. Rubenstein was inducted to the Washington Business Hall of Fame in November 2007.