When you are asked to compose a reflective essay but need help knowing where to start and how to keep your tone throughout the essay, this writing guide will help you. You shall learn about different formats of reflection, master the structure rules, learn how to write a reflective essay step by step and check out several correct essay examples. Read on to find out the purpose of this essay type, see the rules, and have no more fear!
Reflective essay definition
Reflective essay writing is considered one of the most challenging tasks because you must use your imagination, creativity, and analytical writing. Even if you can read through all the lecture notes, writing something on your own is different! So, how does one compose a reflective essay paper? The main objective is to stay focused and use analysis as you check on things! You must talk about an event, an issue, how things have changed, and its meaning, and talk about consequences. As a college student, to start a reflective essay, reflect on important aspects of a subject or a problem that you must research. If you need to establish a certain link between events or explore past studies, reflective essay writing can also help you!
Speaking of a reflective essay definition, you must submit a paper describing your experience. It may be related to events and consequences to help everyone feel connected and understand the emotional impact. As you provide ideas and opinions, you must discuss why they matter and how they make you feel. In most cases, a reflective paper is self-centered as you write in the first person and reveal the chronology or your point of view.
Before you start writing, make sure to consider the following points:
- You must create a bond between your written content, personality, and the setting. Talk about how these are connected.
- By writing a reflective essay, stay sincere about your feelings and never hide them. Expression is the key! Use vivid details and examples to liven things up!
- Use your skills and knowledge to explain things and discuss what you have learned in the conclusion paragraph.
- Since most reflective essay papers are biased, use a narrative tone and do not focus on objectivity. While you may deal with the facts, your memories matter way more here!
Different reflective essay formats
Unless it has been specified in your grading rubric, you must choose between two general formats of reflective essay writing. If you have a specific subject to reflect upon, you must follow the instructions precisely. Narrow things down and adjust to your target audience by choosing a reflective essay format. Likewise, if you are writing to meet the objectives of a college professor, it is one thing. Writing for the general audience helps you talk to students like you or someone who may be interested in your subject. In such a case, you must use the Diary essay format. It is one of the most common types of reflective writing where you use a narrative tone. This is where you discuss things and talk about how one event leads to another. You should talk about the past and the consequences that have helped you to grow psychologically, emotionally, and socially.
Another reflective essay case is where you should keep your essay within strict rules and use an academic tone. To name a typical reflective essay example, a student may have to write a reflective essay based on lectures or materials presented in class. The key element is to show how the skills and mastered content can be reflected in real life or how certain concepts can be expanded or changed. This Academic format would ask you to read through original content and discuss your feelings and thoughts. You must develop critical thinking skills and show how well you understand specific academic materials.
Tip: If you cannot write reflective content well or feel bad about some topic, approaching the best paper writing service will help you achieve excellent essay results!
Basic reflective essay structure and outline
Although no reflective essay is ever the same, it usually ranges from 300 to 900 words or three pages in total. Of course, you may have to write more if you deal with lengthy material that needs a detailed discussion. If you are uncertain, ask your college advisor for a reflection essay outline with a structure template. If you do not have any and your essay grading rubric fails to provide instructions, most reflective papers will ask for an introduction with a thesis statement, several body paragraphs, and a strong conclusion with a moral lesson. It is always helpful to create an outline first to narrow things down and avoid creating a vague reflection. It will help you to avoid being overly detailed as you offer information without overdoing it! Let’s focus on each part in a more detailed way:
Provide a brief description with a setting and background information. It should reflect an event and talk about the consequences. You should ask yourself what happened and why. Tell a story, and do not reveal all the secrets yet! You must start with a strong hook and keep your audience inspired. It is what an introduction should provide. If you want to write a reflection essay based on your thesis, provide several key events to create suspense. It should make your story inspiring and interesting before you get into details! Your thesis statement should state the main idea at the end of the introduction. Since you have to reflect, keep an intrigue to motivate readers!
This is where you develop all your ideas mentioned in the introduction. Start each body paragraph with a topic sentence. You can use a chronology or talk about a single idea. As you introduce some ideas, provide analytical information, explanations, descriptive language, and examples. Do not keep your essay paragraphs overly long! When composing a reflective essay, consider how it affects you and keep things personal. Let’s see how to divide information:
A detailed discussion of the situation and feelings. A brief background that speaks of an event or a problem. This is where you talk about why something is crucial for your reflection.
Talk about evaluation and develop an idea. Provide more analysis and discuss a situation’s impact on your life and studies. Talk about whether it has been good or bad. Talk about what you have learned.
When you start with the final paragraph of a chosen reflective essay structure, let your audience know you are nearing the end using transition and conclusive words. It can be “Considering what has occurred” or “In the end, we always learn that” phrases. You must state all of the main points again. Talk about how the events have changed you and what you have learned during your reflection process. If you have some free essay space left, discuss recommendations for others, like what to do in a similar situation.
Tip: In certain cases, you may have to conduct research, so learning how to start a research paper might be necessary! It is necessary to double-check your facts and educate your readers!
How to start your reflective essay?
Without a doubt, the most challenging task is to start writing a reflective essay. This is where most students feel lost and do not know how to compose a reflective essay introduction or the first paragraph. If you want to reflect on something challenging, create a plan first and develop great topic sentences. As you start writing, it will come down to your attitude and sincerity that you use for writing purposes. To sum things up:
- Identify all the subjects that you plan to explore. It will help you work with your thesis and determine the essence of your reflective essay. It also helps to narrow things down and focus on possible essay topic sentences.
- Reflect on what you already know about the topic you have in mind. Focus on the most relevant and personal elements that will help to keep things emotional. Discuss it with a college professor or consult your grading rubric if you need help deciding what to include.
- Take notes as you explore things, as it will help you to create a hook sentence at the beginning of your essay. While it may take time to write a reflective paper this way, it will help you in the long run. You can even create a special table where you write down all the “before”, “after”, and “why” parts. You may focus on cultural influences, beliefs, settings, your experience, and more.
- Before you come up with the final essay thesis, ask yourself questions. It will work as a special guide and help you to see how the situation or a problem has affected you.
Step-by-step reflective essay writing guide
If you are still feeling lost and do not know what to do, follow these steps as we break them down into several steps for you. Let’s summarize all the critical points!
Step 1: Choose your reflective essay idea.
The most important is to choose something that inspires you unless you have been given something specific. Any experience that had a big impact on you is suitable. Keep things real if nothing comes to mind, and talk about what you know well. You may talk about environmental issues, social problems, or childhood experiences.
Step 2: Explore your personal experience.
Think about your personal experience, as it is the heart of any reflective writing. Ask yourself all the relevant questions and take notes to compose a thesis statement for reflective essay paper. You can create an outline for each paragraph and focus on how you coped with something or what you have learned.
Step 3: Focus on the relations.
Think about how things relate to the target audience, society, and all the related aspects. As you develop topic sentences, explain what may not be a common language. Remember to include brief background information in the essay introduction.
Step 4: Use descriptive language.
Use vivid descriptions as it helps to create an emotional background. If it is possible, include details. For example: “When I saw John ignore all the cases of bullying, my heart skipped a beat as I understood that not every athlete is a courageous hero. I could not think until I understood that even weak people can stand for themselves and work together. It taught me that anyone can make a change, as we should not judge a book by its cover!”
Step 5: The impact aspect.
Think about the impact and explain it in each body paragraph and the conclusion. It will help you to complete your narration. Talk about what you have learned again, and focus on the thesis statement by explaining and supporting it. If there are any further reflection recommendations, use them in the final essay section.
Step 6: Editing and proofreading.
Do not forget about doing some editing first. Once done, continue with proofreading by doing so aloud. It will help you check the tone and avoid repetitions or weak parts with insufficient logic or an irregular flow. If you have a good friend, read your reflective essay and ask them to reflect on it verbally!
Helpful reflective writing examples
When you start with a reflective essay, you may still ask for an example, especially if you have not done such a reflection-type assignment in the past. Keeping this in mind, we have chosen several reflective essay samples:
- Reflective essays by Australian National University.
- Reflective essay examples by EduBirdie (Our research writing partner).
- Final reflective essay by Old Dominion University.
- Examples from reflection essays by the University of Texas at Austin.
Take your time to check each reflective essay template, and feel free to ask questions if you have something left. Our experts are always ready to help you with any writing or editing assignment 24/7!