Learning through examples (or inductive learning) is a robust and effective way to acquire new knowledge. Independent conclusions arising from comparison and analysis lead to a deeper understanding. When we learn from examples, the knowledge is retained longer, allowing for better transferability. In other words, we remember our conclusions and can easily apply them to new contexts, which cannot be said of knowledge presented to us in ready-made statements.

This approach also works for college papers and is often used in class in the form of peer assessment. Students rate each other’s essays and analyze what makes one paper superior and what an inferior piece lacks. Unfortunately, not all instructors adopt this approach in their classroom, and students are left with limited fodder for analysis – if they don’t know where to find free essay samples, that is.

The aim of this article is to help you source those sample papers. We will discuss where you can find essays for free and which are the best websites to go to in each particular case.


WowEssays.com – Huge Free Essay Database

This website has everything to make you a better essay writer free: nearly 100,000 academic paper samples, free essay writing tools, and a student-oriented blog with tips and advice on writing and all aspects of college life.

The vast library is, of course, the main attraction. The access is unlimited – you can search and read as many samples as you need for as long as you want. Despite the intimidating size, it is easily navigated. You can sort papers by type (argumentative essay, case study, thesis, etc.), topic (culture, history, biology, etc.), or a particular author it was written by. You can also search by keywords to get more relevant results or use clickable tags attached to every sample to get similar results.

The librarians behind the WOW Essays database took care of everything. They’ve even included bibliographic information after their free essays to copy and paste seamlessly into your references section if you want to quote any of the samples in your own work.

However, if you are looking for plagiarism-free essays to pass as your own or to borrow big chunks from, open-access resources might not be the best solution. You don’t expect to be the only one who has discovered them, do you? If you need a unique sample that no other student can access, your safest bet is to order a customized text written from scratch. In that case, WOW Essay can also be of service!


Every sample has an author profile next to it. If you’d like a unique paper similar in style and topic to the example you’ve just read, click the “Hire this writer” button. Alternatively, copy an ID number from their profile to submit it later as you place the order for your custom paper. Read more on WowEssays in this review.

PaperHelp.org – Brilliant and 100% Free Essays

PaperHelp is, first and foremost, an essay writing service. They specialize in customized writing and deliver high-quality, unique papers – paid, albeit reasonably priced. However, they also have a storefront of free full-essay samples to read at your leisure. The size of the library is much more modest than that offered by WOW Essays: all models put together barely reach a hundred.

That is compensated to an extent with their superior quality. If the WOW library includes occasional student submissions and paper fragments, PaperHelp’s samples are all top-notch. The selection of display pieces is tasked to showcase the quality of papers you can get here if you order, so it makes perfect sense. They illustrate good structure, flow of the argument, work with the sources, and correct use of academic terms. The papers are also all carefully labeled: type of work, citation style, academic level, length, and the number of sources used, so you can assess the volume before you are ready to dive in and read the full sample.

This level of quality and organization is rarely seen in completely free essays online, so despite the limited size, PaperHelp’s library offers excellent learning opportunities. Besides, given the catalog lists about a dozen paper types, there is a possibility that new samples are to come, so you should definitely bookmark this page for later reference.

How to Find More Free Essay Websites

Before you start searching high and low, how about turning to your own school’s website? Every college has a writing center that should supply free essay templates, give writing guidelines, provide research assistance, and suggest topics for papers. If you find all this wealth of information woefully lacking from the school’s writing center, no one said you can’t look elsewhere. Some colleges have online writing labs rivaling in popularity the famed APA, MLA, and Chicago manuals of style. For example:

  • Purdue OWL: style guides, grammar tips, structure and language recommendations, examples, video guides, and more.
  • The Excelsior College OWL: writing and research basics, tips on citation and avoiding plagiarism, style and structure guidelines, and grammar essentials.
  • Writing@CSU from Colorado State University: writing guides, textbooks, course materials, and useful links.

On all of the above, apart from free essays, papers, and project handouts, you can find an odd free essay sample to illustrate a particular format they explain.

There are also independent websites that you can dip into, like ThoughtCo., PrepScholar, and others. They don’t have comprehensive libraries, but their writing guides contain example paragraphs and even complete samples of a particular format, such as a common application essay or a compare-and-contrast essay.

Excellence in writing is best achieved by reading a lot. This adage is often used to encourage aspiring authors to borrow ideas, creative strategies, command of syntax, and vocabulary inventory from renowned literary masters. However, this works just as well for all kinds of writing, non-fiction and academic included. Which makes the few good examples available in the open access even more valuable.