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College Board and The Atlantic Launch Essay Contest for High School Students

The College Board and The Atlantic magazine will sponsor an essay contest designed for high school students with a $5,000 prize for the winner and $2,500 for each of six finalists.

Students are asked to analyze one of 25 primary-source U.S. historical documents, such as Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address in 1865 or Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1963  "Letter from Birmingham Jail," and connect the writing to their own experiences.

Eligible high school students for the writing prize must be ages 16-19 and get a teacher to sponsor their submissions. Essays will be accepted Jan. 1 through Feb. 28, 2015. (For more details, look in the December issue of The Atlantic or the College Board's website for the prize.)

The winning entry will be published in The Atlantic. Officials say the new contest will be an annual event.

The College Board first announced the contest when officials unveiled plans for the redesign of the SAT in March, which included an emphasis on critical thinking, analysis, and historical writing.  The New York-based testing organization also revealed that the essay portion of its college-entrance exam would become optional for students beginning in 2016. Details of the contest were released Monday.

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