Elements of a Strong Essay

A strong essay:

  • demonstrates an understanding of political courage described by John F. Kennedy in Profiles in Courage. 
    For more information on political courage, see Helpful Tips for Writing Your Essayexcerpts from chapter one of Profiles in Courage, and the Profile in Courage Award.
  • tells a story about an elected official that has not yet been told. 
    We encourage students to choose an original subject. We do not recommend writing about Presidents, past Profile in Courage recipients, or subjects of past winning essays. See Helpful Tips for Writing Your Essay.
  • outlines the obstacles, dangers, and pressures the elected official encountered as a result of his or her positions and actions. 
  • This aspect of the essay is essential in demonstrating that proves the official risked his or her career (or more). Read the stories of Profile in Courage Award recipients to learn more about this aspect of political courage.
  • cites at least five varied, reliable sources.
    Citations and bibliographies are carefully reviewed by judges. They determine whether students have selected reliable sources and how they have used them. Strong essays include critical analysis of secondary and primary source material. See Guidelines for Citations and Bibliographies.
  • is interesting to read, well organized, and has correct grammar, syntax and spelling.

Read past winning essays to see examples of strong essays.