Posted on December 3rd in REACH Blog

Our Best Hallmark Awards Tips

Hallmark Awards Winners at Catalyst

It’s that time of year again. No, we aren’t talking about those familiar holidays that dot our calendars from now until the start of a new year.

We’re talking about a season known only to Phi Theta Kappans – Hallmark Awards writing season!

Here’s a look at our top tips for completing entries:

Finish strong. By now your chapter has likely done a lot of the heavy lifting needed to reach your end goal. Don’t stop. Finish strong and showcase your projects and leaders by submitting Hallmark Award entries.

Plan now. Avoid panic later. Entries must be submitted by 5 pm, Central Standard Time, on the due date. “Make sure you start working on your entries well in advance of the deadline to give your chapter time to edit and improve the first draft,” recommends PTK’s Vice President of Student Engagement Dr. Blake Ellis.

Important Due Dates

Advisors, report Hallmark Awards Chapter Delegates. These are individuals from your chapter who will have access to the award entry forms. Log in at and report your delegates asap. Learn more. The designated Hallmark Chapter Delegates will copy and paste text into the entry forms instead of simply uploading a document.

Develop a communication plan. Having a clear plan for how your team will collaborate is essential. Many chapters find that a mix of virtual and in-person meetings works well. Try tools like Zoom videoconferencing, Google Docs, Microsoft Teams, or your college’s LMS for virtual collaboration. Add a couple focused, face-to-face meetings to help the group narrow and refine ideas quickly.

Give everyone a job that matches their strengths. For example, engage the entire team in early brainstorming, and then rely on a few of your strongest writers to translate those ideas into text for the final award entry.

Build in plenty of time. In addition to writing time, include time for proofreading, editing, gathering feedback from outside reviewers, and even a little extra for the unexpected.

Refer to the rubric. The rubric tells your team everything your entry should include and how each part will be evaluated. Revisit the rubrics through each step of the application process to ensure that your team stays on track.

Know what’s new. If you’ve prepared Hallmark Award entries before, know that things change. Refer to the rubrics for full details, but here are some changes to know.

  • Optional materials may now be included in Honors in Action and College Project entries. For each award category, a chapter may include up to three items to further illustrate the project. Optional materials may include charts, tables, and/or pictures.
  • Full APA citations are required as part to the Honors in Action entry.
  • Yes, citations count toward the 2,600 word count for the entry.
  • The word count for College Project entries increased from 1,200 to 1,600 words.
  • Entries are now evaluated for writing quality in addition to spelling and grammar.

Do not restate the questions in your answers. Doing so eats away at your word count. The judges will see the questions with the answers when they review the applications.

Explain it like you would to your nana. Remember, like your nana, the judge reading your application has no knowledge of the project or individual about which you are writing. Use your words to explain the “why” and “how.” For example, instead of saying, “Omar was a supremely outstanding officer who went above and beyond to make a substantial impact on our chapter” try “As VP of Fellowship, Omar created an option for members to join meetings virtually using Facebook Live. As a result, engagement in chapter events increased by 50%.”

Always check for the tricky “and” in the question. Answer every part of the question. Don’t leave anything out, especially the process. Don’t simply state your chapter’s specific goals; summarize the process the chapter used to set those goals.

Involve readers outside your chapter. “A good idea is to have your chapter’s draft entry read by a professor or administrator who has not been involved in the project,” says Ellis. “See how they score your entry compared to the rubric and make revisions based on this feedback.”

Leave time to edit, edit, edit, edit. Read the entry aloud during the editing process so you will know if the entry reads the way you want. We highly recommend completing the application questions offline using a program like Word or Google Docs first so you can refine it before entering your final version at

Need help? Try these resources.

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