American Legion Essay Contests

Although created by the Ohio American Legion, the Americanism and Government Test program is a joint venture and partnership with the Ohio American Legion Auxiliary, which is a cosponsor of the program.

The Americanism and Government Test program is open to students in grades 10, 11, and 12. Students in grade 9 may take the test for practice only.

The Americanism and Government Test is a fifty (50) question test comprised of True/False, multiple choice, and fill-in the blank.

A three hundred (300) word essay is also part of the Americanism and Government Test and every student taking the test writes on the same essay topic.

The essay is utilized in the various judging levels of this program as a Tie-breaker.

The essay topic is selected/written each year by members of the Department Americanism Committee and Department Americanism Director.

A feature of the Americanism and Government Test is that the students themselves do not advance in the competition, the student’s test paper does.

The Americanism and Government test is NOT designed to have one student compete against another. It is designed to test an individual student’s knowledge of the following:

The United States Flag The Declaration of Independence The United States Constitution State government in Ohio County government in Ohio

City government in Ohio Township government in Ohio Village government in Ohio School District government in Ohio

The 50 questions of the Americanism and Government Test are written in such a manner to be current and topical to events, studies, and information being presented in Ohio high schools and events happening in the state of Ohio and the nation.

On average, over 65,000 students participate in the Test program annually.

Through a number of judging levels in the state of Ohio to select Post, County, and District winners, the initial field of 65,000 students is narrowed to 84 district winners, whose winning test papers are submitted to a State Judging Committee for this program.
From the field of 84 District winners, the State Judging Committee selects 18 winners in the following categories:

  • Grade 12 (Seniors): Six (6) State winners/three (3) men and three (3) women
  • Grade 11 (Juniors): Six (6) State winners/three (3) men and three (3) women
  • Grade 10 (Sophomores): Six (6) State winners/three (3) men and three (3) women

The State Award from the Ohio American Legion for the 18 State winners is a five (5) day, all expenses paid trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. under the direction of the Department Americanism Director, accompanied by representatives of the Ohio American Legion and Ohio American Legion Auxiliary.

A highlight of the trip is a Wreath Laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Ohio American Legion and Ohio American Legion Auxiliary have had the honor of laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns every year since 1936.

An objective of the Ohio American Legion through the Americanism and Government test program is that if by taking the test a young person is inspired to learn more about government, the United States, and to appreciate the freedoms enjoyed by the nation’s citizens, the effort put forth by the Ohio American Legion and the Ohio American Legion Auxiliary is worth the expense.

The Americanism and Government Test program is unique to the national America Legion organization as only two other states, Indiana and Wisconsin, have versions of the program, which both adopted/adapted from the Ohio American Legion, but neither program is the size or scope of the Ohio program.

Since the inception of the Department of Pennsylvania state Essay Contest in 1935, The American Legion has awarded well over $500,000 in scholarships, while local American Legion Posts, counties, Districts and Sections have also offered suitable awards and prizes for their respective best essay winners.

Through the annual Department of Pennsylvania American Legion Essay scholarship contest, students are provided an opportunity to showcase their talents and abilities in English by using originality, accuracy and research as evidence, while learning that the responsibilities and duties of good citizenship can be both rewarding and fun.

As American Legionnaires, we fully believe that education is the cornerstone upon which the future of America is built. Education becomes the first requisite of good citizenship and the relationship of The American Legion to Pennsylvania citizens is of prime importance as a means of keeping us a free civilization.

Our approach to supporting solid educational principles is direct and positive. We agree with the current PA Department of Education initiative of “writing across the curriculum” and reward the efforts of involved students through our annual essay scholarship program.

Any student enrolled in grades 9 thorough 12 in a public, private or parochial School or who is home schooled in Pennsylvania is eligible to participate.

Prizes To Be Awarded

The Department of Pennsylvania State Essay First Place Winner will be awarded a $3500 scholarship, a plaque and a trip to this years PA American Legion Convention in July to read the winning essay to the assembled delegates.

The Second Place Winner will receive a $3000 scholarship and a plaque.

The Third Place Winner will receive a $2500 scholarship and a plaque.

Grades 9 – 12 Topic–“What Does Being a Patriot Mean to Me?”

2018 Essay Brochure for Grades 9-12


The Department of Pennsylvania is encouraging Posts to participate in the Essay Program for students in grades 6 -8.  This will prepare students for the high school aged Department Essay Program.

Grades 6 – 8 Topic–“What can be done to build respect for our State & Local Law Enforcement?”

2018 Essay Brochure for Grades 6-8


To participate or to find out additional information contact Department Headquarters at 717-730-9100

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