NEH will evaluate the essays using the following criteria:
- The essay demonstrates a strong understanding of American history.
- The essay reflects familiarity with primary sources related to the subject.
- The essay demonstrates the student's own serious reflection on the question.
- The essay is focused and well-reasoned.
- The essay is written clearly, with correct spelling and grammar.
^ That means your
understanding, and your
reflection. Why would they offer $5000 for someone else's ideas?
I'm entering the essay contest, too, and since we have two months to write it, I would recommend skimming through some books for inspiration, if you're really stuck. Books give you examples and ideas, but they're left for you