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Complete Guide to Write a Reflective Essay with Examples

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Published on: Aug 18, 2020

Last updated on: Apr 19, 2023

Reflective Essay

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Essay writing is an important task that has to be done by every student. Writing an essay is not a waste of time. Instead, your critical thinking and analytical senses are judged through this task. There are many types of essays that are given to students to judge their different analytical skills.

Among the different types of essay, one of the easiest is a reflective essay. It does not require prolonged research and sources. Rather it depends more on real-life experience and examples of writers.

Writing a reflective essay doesn’t require extensive research. However, that doesn't mean you should put down all the weapons. You have to research but to an extent.

Keep reading this blog for a comprehensive reflective essay guide along with its outline and free samples.

What is a Reflective Essay?

Reflective essay definition states that essay is written to describe an event or past experience. The aim of writing this essay is to address some old memory or personal experience. And also to analyze its effect in the past and now in the present.

A writer needs to create a vivid description of an event or situation that is under discussion. Writers’ words should speak up about their thoughts and feelings related to a particular event. You can write about your real experience, imaginations, or anything that is related to “you” and “your life experience”.

Therefore reflective essays are creative academic essays. These are creative essays and do not require extensive research to write on them.

Let us discuss the main purpose of these creative reflective essays.

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Purpose of Reflective Essay

The purpose of a reflective essay is not limited to high school tasks only. It serves as the basis of many professional examinations also. Your instructor can dive into your real-life experiences and get to know how well you are accomplishing in your life.

Here are some types of reflective essays that are provided to you to perceive your experiences. Every essay needs to be written in a different way to justify according to the essay’s nature.

Below are a few examples that help you understand the purpose of this essay in different fields.

  • Literary

    It asks you to understand the provided situation and rewrite it by comparing it with your own life experience.

  • Professional

    In professional life, this essay helps better to understand the working nature of employees and employers. It also helps us to understand how to do our jobs in a better way.

  • Educational

    Sometimes your instructor asks you to respond to a particular lecture according to your own thinking. Such type of speech or written paper is also reflective speech and reflective writing.

Model of Reflection

A reflective essay is the representation of your emotions through writing. If you want to write a reflection essay or simply just a paragraph, you must follow the given reflection steps.

How to Make a Reflective Essay?

A reflective essay is the easiest kind of essay yet many students are unaware of its formations. There are two vital elements that help to form a reflective essay. One of which is a reflection and the other is the plan.

Let discuss them one by one for better understanding:

  • Reflection

    Once you have decided to write an essay the next task is to remember your experience according to the topic. You have to explain every aspect of your event, experience, responses, and implications. A writer has to explain vividly so that the essay arouses the same thoughts and feelings in the reader’s mind.

    Still, if you have all the details, then start writing! Still, if you think you cannot represent your experience’s reflective image, try out answering the following reflective questions.

    • What have you learned from your experience?
    • Has this incident developed anything new in your life? If yes, how? If not, why?
    • What positive or negative impact have you had after this incident?
    • Looking back, do you regret anything about it?

    These questions are enough to kick-start your reflective thinking. Keep thinking in this way, and you can have plenty of stuff to write about any particular event. These are the main aspects that your personal experience should reflect on through your essay to impress your readers.

    This was about how you can incorporate the reflection process in your essay. The next part is to plan.

  • Plan

    Once you have gathered your details and all the questions are clear in your mind, plan to create an essay outline. Outlining your essay is very important.

    Never! We repeat, never ever start your essay randomly, without thinking of an interesting introduction and a strong conclusion.

    Always plan your essay if you want to inspire students with your amazing essay for better scores. Planning a reflective essay includes creating an outline of it or a rough draft.

    It helps in:

    • Removing extra information that may cause readers to deviate from the main idea.
    • Adding some important points that are left out during research.
    • It helps save time while writing the final version of an essay.

    Hence planning is very important before writing. There are more steps that are included in the outline of an essay. Further in this blog, we will have a look at those points in detail. It will help smooth your essay writing process as you have a mind map in front of you.

Reflective Essay Format & Outline

The format of a reflective essay is the same as that of any academic assignment. It can be written in any one of the known formats such as:

  • APA
  • MLA
  • Chicago style

The main considerable factor is your audience. You have to choose the format according to the audience. In most cases, your instructor will guide you according to the format you have to write an essay in.

An essay outline is not limited to only putting up all the important points on a paper and focusing on them. Instead, there are way more things included in an outline of an essay.

Following are the important elements of a reflective essay outline:

  • Choosing a topic
  • Gathering information
  • Creating rough draft
  • Writing the introduction
  • Drafting the body paragraphs
  • Outlining the conclusion

How to Write a Reflective Essay?

“How do you write a reflective essay?”

Every essay has the same parts and follows the same structure. Unless there is some special instruction provided by the instructor. Like other essays, a reflective essay also includes an introduction, thesis statements, body section, conclusion, and references.

Let’s read below and explore the steps to write a great reflective essay in detail:

1. Reflective Essay Introduction

Students find it difficult to write an introduction to an essay. They often think about where to start from? There is no need to worry! If you have created an outline of your essay, you will not find it difficult.

Start the introduction of your essay with the opening statements related to your topic. Provide some background information, and then end on the thesis statements. You have to hook your reader to read the body section through interesting details from the introduction.

2. Reflective Essay Thesis Statement

thesis statement comprises the last part of the introduction. Your complete scope of a topic is dependent on the thesis statement. It must be interesting and clear enough to engage the reader. In addition, it should depict the main idea of the topic.

3. Reflective Essay Body Paragraphs

The body section is the longest section of an essay. It includes all the explanations, comparisons, analyses, and examples that support the thesis statement. It is advised to add a minimum of three paragraphs in a body section.

All the body paragraphs must have a transition between them. This essay follows a storytelling style but still makes sure one idea is discussed in a single paragraph at a time. Adding up more than one idea in a paragraph deviates the reader from the core theme of an essay.

Also, in this way, the structure of an essay is not disturbed, and the focus remains on the main theme.

4. Reflective Essay Conclusion

The conclusion of a reflective essay is subdivided into three main sections. A strong conclusion must not miss these details. It includes rephrasing the thesis statement in one or two lines.

After that, merge all thoughts and emotions that reflect the event’s impact in your life to discuss that in conclusion. Then, based on this reflection, add your impression about the essay’s topic.

5. Add references

Adding references in an essay elevates its importance. Providing a bibliography at the end of an essay or citing your essay means that your essay is plagiarism-free. Make sure to cite all your sources properly for the authenticity of your essay.

6. Proofread Your Essay

It is important to look into your essay for any grammatical and sentence structure issues. Do go over it again right then. Take time to read carefully. Reading aloud also helps in figuring out mistakes.

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Reflective Essay Examples

A reflective essay is an expression of the writer’s own thoughts and emotions. But still, every writer goes through essay samples before writing any fresh essay. In this way, a writer also gets an idea for molding the content to avoid plagiarism.

“What are reflective essay examples?”

Following are the reflective essay samples for your consideration:

Reflective Essay Rubric

Another term which you also would have heard is “reflective essay rubric”. It is the criteria according to which your reflective essay is analyzed. A rubric chart has the marking points against different headings, including the structure, depth of reflection, evidence, and practice.

A sample of the reflective essay rubric is attached below:

Reflective Essay Topics

Since a reflective essay is the most interesting type of essay among all. Thus, its topics are also engaging to grab the reader’s attention.

Such reflective essay topics incorporate different ideas. It ranges from a place you have visited, recurring thoughts, important people in your life journey, to your impactful experiences.

Following are the specific topics for a reflective essay related to the above-mentioned niches:

  • A conversation you wish to had with
  • A time when you helped a poor lady
  • The behavior trait that embarrassed you
  • A trip with old friends
  • A house you have grown in
  • The best time you spend with someone
  • The moment when you become the parent of a child
  • The first word your baby learned
  • Behavior that discourages me
  • When someone made you scared

Reflective Essay Do’s and Don’ts

Besides having a correct structure and being loaded with information, sometimes essays still get rejected by the instructors. This is because students lack some of the basic tricks and tips for writing a reflective essay.

Here is a quick go-through for students to avoid such mistakes and score well in their reflective essays.

Descriptively write your ideas for the reader to understand your viewpoint.Avoid being personal while writing. After all, it’s an essay, not a letter to a friend.
Reflect your thoughts but remember it is an academic paper, and you have to be formal.Do not try to fit in all the related experiences. Just add the ones you feel are more appropriate.
Reflective essay tone is more like storytelling but sticks to the classic structure while writing, i.e., introduction, body, and conclusion.Do not load all the experiences in one paragraph. Nicely built the structure of an essay with one experience in a single paragraph.
Do add some factual information along with personal experience.Do not provide flooded information. Logically organize your thoughts.

All the aspects of a reflective essay are explained extensively in this blog. If you still find yourself uncertain about writing this essay, consult for any help needed.

We are the best essay writing service provider with preeminent writers that have extensive knowledge in writing an essay. We love to answer your queries and share your tiring college task burden.

So, place your order now and leave the rest on us!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is reflective essay writing?

Reflective writing is an analytical style of writing in which the writer explains the real, impactful experiences of certain incidents. A writer reflects their thoughts, emotions, and thoughts about that event.

Is a reflective essay first person?

Yes, it is written in the first person as it has a personal tone. As the writer reflects personal experience and thoughts, it is mainly written using “I”.

How long is a reflective essay?

The average word count of a reflective essay varies from 600 to 1200. In case your instructor has provided some extra instructions, you should write according to them.

How to start a reflective essay?

Here are the steps to start a reflective essay perfectly.

  • Start Early
  • Brainstorm the Topic
  • Research and Gather the Information
  • Organize the Research Material
  • Create an Outline
Nova A.


Nova A., Marketing, Literature

Nova Allison is a Digital Content Strategist with over eight years of experience. Nova has also worked as a technical and scientific writer. She is majorly involved in developing and reviewing online content plans that engage and resonate with audiences. Nova has a passion for writing that engages and informs her readers.

Nova Allison is a Digital Content Strategist with over eight years of experience. Nova has also worked as a technical and scientific writer. She is majorly involved in developing and reviewing online content plans that engage and resonate with audiences. Nova has a passion for writing that engages and informs her readers.

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