Essay samples come in many forms and they can be used to help write your own essays and do your own research. Do not copy them verbatim because that is plagiarism, and be careful of copying their themes or ideas in any big way. Do not forget that if they are free samples then they have probably been used by others, and there will be students out there that have copied the themes and ideas to the letter.
You can steal the ideas you see on essay samples
Do not steal themes and ideas from essay samples, but you can pull an idea or two without doing too much harm. It is the difference between seeing a car and deciding to build one, and seeing a car and then stealing manufacturing plans from Mercedes. It will be obvious if part of your essay has the same themes and ideas that an essay sample has, but you may find one or two points in the sample that you can twist and make your own.
You cannot use essay samples to cite from
A student is able to cite from journals, books, and numerous other sources, but you are not allowed to cite from, or reference, essay samples. This is because citing from an essay sample is like citing from an essay your friend wrote. It is just not allowed, primarily because the professor is not likely to be able to find the things you are trying to reference. The point of referencing is so that the reader may find the research that inspired you or that fed your research. It is highly unlikely that an essay sample will be something that colleges and Universities will allow you to reference.
You can use other reference sections to build your own
Essay testing is flawed, and if you have written enough academic essays in your time then you will know some of the loopholes and flaws in the system that you can use to your advantage. One of the easiest tricks is to use the references that other people have used in their essays.
Adding more references will help you get a higher grade. For every paragraph, you should be able to produce at least one reference to show where you got your information, or show what you studied, or what inspired the idea you put on your essay. You may not have a reference because you may have written your essay based on what know. In which case you can scan the works of other people, look at their references and add them in to your work.
You can look at what they were writing about when they added their reference and you can discern which references are going to suit your needs that way. Or, you can just look at the bibliography/reference section and see what looks like it may fit with your work or fit with the paragraph you are trying to create a reference for. Many times references in the reference section will be self-explanatory. The writer will have referenced a book or a journal that has a title showing exactly what the piece is all about, therefore showing you if it fits in your work.
You can use other reference sections to inspire your own research
Use the references that other people have used in order to honestly do your research. Look through essay samples that are about similar topics to your essay and look at what and whom they have referenced. Use this information to start your own research, as there is a good chance that they will have many of the same references that you will need.