Once the basics of an essay are done – good structure, intelligent evidence, varied sentence patterns and tenses – it is worth considering adding some extra ‘flair’ to make the essay stand out.

The following are some ideas (remember not to go crazy with them):

Literary Devices

Simile – as…as…; (is) like…

More liberal parents believe the carrot is as important as the stick, with children obviously motivated by reward. 

Metaphor – using the ideas of one concept to describe another

Whereas international policies such as the Kyoto agreement should have acted as a sweeping river cleansing polluting manufacturing techniques, it has instead stagnated as many major countries and businesses have attempted to dam the progress.  

Analogy – comparing one situation with another

There is a possibility that the Snowden revelations could yet become the NSA’s Watergate, claiming high-profile scalps and bringing public attention to government illegality.  

Note: Some literary devices are probably best avoided in an essay: rhyme, alliteration, onomatopoeia, rhetorical questions, sarcasm and hyperbole can all look a little odd if too obvious.

Loan Words

Adding a touch of French, German or Latin has the effect of raising the readers interest. It may also show the examiner you know their influence on the English language.

Many people believe modern society is addicted to fame, yet whilst there are some people for whom celebrity is a raison d’etre the majority continue to simply want a happy life.


Idioms can be difficult for non-English speakers who tend to use them as the fundamental idea in a sentence, rather than as an aside.

Try not to force idioms into sentences, but use them with the main idea.

For many smaller nations luxury tourism can be a cash cow, although development must be managed carefully. Indeed, it may be important to draw a line in the sand and reject full development in order to maintain an attractive environment.