The Four-Way Test Essay Contest

 The Purpose of the Contest

District 7720 is pleased to again sponsor a 4-Way Test Essay Contest to provide junior high school students (7th and 8th grades) with a simple and straightforward tool to use in making decisions in their everyday lives. This essay contest is designed to introduce students to the Rotary principles of personal ethics and service in their community. It also is aimed at encouraging young people to learn to articulate their values coherently, in writing. In nearly every profession they may consider in their future, the ability to express one’s thoughts and ideas clearly, concisely, and persuasively is an important skill. Additionally, the 4-Way Test Essay Contest is meant to encourage and involve local Rotary Clubs with the youth of their communities.

4-Way Test Background

From the earliest days of Rotary, Rotarians have been committed to promoting high ethical standards in their professional lives. One of the world’s most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics is the 4-Way Test, which Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor created in 1932 when he took charge of a company facing bankruptcy. This twenty-four-word test for employees to use in making decisions in their business and professional lives became the guide for sales, production, advertising, and all relations with suppliers and customers. The company survived and prospered and this is credited to this simple philosophy. Adopted by Rotary in 1943, the 4-Way Test has been translated into more than a hundred languages and published in thousands of ways. It asks the following four questions, requiring each individual to provide the answers:

Of the things we think, say or do:

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?


Any junior high school student, in grades 7 or 8, in a town/city represented by a Rotary club in District 7720 is eligible to participate, whether public, private, or home schooled. Previous District First Place winners may not compete this year.

 Judging Criteria

Clubs should organize their own competitions, using the rules contained in this guide. At the District level, contestants will not be identified by name or Club, only by a contestant number. A panel of three judges will be selected for the District contest. Each judge shall assign points for the following:


Organization, originality of thought, success in addressing the topic (the Impact an application of the 4-Way Test has on the topic chosen), clarity, and expressiveness of language, grammar, syntax, and vocabulary.


Proper completion of the Entry Form

Judges will determine the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners and the clubs submitting these essays will be notified by the District Essay Contest Chair. Arrangements will be made with each club to arrange for the presentation of the cash prizes designated for each winner of the District’s Essay Contest before the end of the school year.

$150 Top Cash Prize for District Winner

The 1st Place winner of the District Essay Contest will receive a cash prize of $150.  Cash prizes will also be awarded for 2nd ($100) and 3rd ($50) Place winners. All students submitting an essay to the District Contest will receive a 4-Way Test Ribbon Bookmark to recognize their participation.


  • March 31, 2020 – All local submissions are due to Ayden Rotary Club.
  • April 29, 2020 – The District Essay Test Committee Chair should receive an electronic copy of the club’s First Place Winner no later than April 29th for presentation to the District judges.
  • May 18, 2020 – The District will announce a First, Second and Third Place winner on May 18th.

June 2020 – All three winning essays will be published in the District’s June Newsletter.

Contest Topics For 2020

Students must choose one topic from the following list;

  • How can the 4-Way Test impact my ability to make better decisions and serve my community?
  • How can the 4-Way Test help me confront or deal with difficult or adverse situations?
  • Can the 4-Way Test be used to evaluate public policies, news reports, or social media posts?

Local winner will be awarded with cash prizes as follows: First Place – $75, Second Place – $50, Third Place – $25.

Ayden Rotary Club 1st Place Winner will compete at District Level in May 2020.

2020 Essay Contest Guidelines for Schools Entry