Guide on How to Write a Reflection Paper with Free Tips and Example
A reflection paper is a very common type of paper among college students. Almost any subject you enroll in requires you to express your opinion on certain matters. In this article, we will explain how to write a reflection paper and provide examples and useful tips to make the essay writing process easier.
Reflection papers should have an academic tone yet be personal and subjective. In this paper, you should analyze and reflect upon how an experience, academic task, article, or lecture shaped your perception and thoughts on a subject.
Here is what you need to know about writing an effective critical reflection paper. Stick around until the end of our guide to get some useful writing tips from the writing team at EssayPro — a research paper writing service
What Is a Reflection Paper
A reflection paper is a type of paper that requires you to write your opinion on a topic, supporting it with your observations and personal experiences. As opposed to presenting your reader with the views of other academics and writers, in this essay, you get an opportunity to write your point of view—and the best part is that there is no wrong answer. It is YOUR opinion, and it is your job to express your thoughts in a manner that will be understandable and clear for all readers that will read your paper. The topic range is endless. Here are some examples: whether or not you think aliens exist, your favorite TV show, or your opinion on the outcome of WWII. You can write about pretty much anything.
There are three types of reflection paper; depending on which one you end up with, the tone you write with can be slightly different. The first type is the educational reflective paper. Here your job is to write feedback about a book, movie, or seminar you attended—in a manner that teaches the reader about it. The second is the professional paper. Usually, it is written by people who study or work in education or psychology. For example, it can be a reflection of someone’s behavior. And the last is the personal type, which explores your thoughts and feelings about an individual subject.
However, reflection paper writing will stop eventually with one very important final paper to write - your resume. This is where you will need to reflect on your entire life leading up to that moment. To learn how to list education on resume perfectly, follow the link on our dissertation writing services .
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Free Reflection Paper Example
Now that we went over all of the essentials about a reflection paper and how to approach it, we would like to show you some examples that will definitely help you with getting started on your paper.
Reflection Paper Format
Reflection papers typically do not follow any specific format. Since it is your opinion, professors usually let you handle them in any comfortable way. It is best to write your thoughts freely, without guideline constraints. If a personal reflection paper was assigned to you, the format of your paper might depend on the criteria set by your professor. College reflection papers (also known as reflection essays) can typically range from about 400-800 words in length.
Here’s how we can suggest you format your reflection paper:
How to Start a Reflection Paper
The first thing to do when beginning to work on a reflection essay is to read your article thoroughly while taking notes. Whether you are reflecting on, for example, an activity, book/newspaper, or academic essay, you want to highlight key ideas and concepts.
You can start writing your reflection paper by summarizing the main concept of your notes to see if your essay includes all the information needed for your readers. It is helpful to add charts, diagrams, and lists to deliver your ideas to the audience in a better fashion.
After you have finished reading your article, it’s time to brainstorm. We’ve got a simple brainstorming technique for writing reflection papers. Just answer some of the basic questions below:
- How did the article affect you?
- How does this article catch the reader’s attention (or does it all)?
- Has the article changed your mind about something? If so, explain how.
- Has the article left you with any questions?
- Were there any unaddressed critical issues that didn’t appear in the article?
- Does the article relate to anything from your past reading experiences?
- Does the article agree with any of your past reading experiences?
Here are some reflection paper topic examples for you to keep in mind before preparing to write your own:
- How my views on rap music have changed over time
- My reflection and interpretation of Moby Dick by Herman Melville
- Why my theory about the size of the universe has changed over time
- How my observations for clinical psychological studies have developed in the last year
The result of your brainstorming should be a written outline of the contents of your future paper. Do not skip this step, as it will ensure that your essay will have a proper flow and appropriate organization.
Another good way to organize your ideas is to write them down in a 3-column chart or table.
Do you want your task look awesome?
If you would like your reflection paper to look professional, feel free to check out one of our articles on how to format MLA, APA or Chicago style
Writing a Reflection Paper Outline
Reflection paper should contain few key elements:
Your introduction should specify what you’re reflecting upon. Make sure that your thesis informs your reader about your general position, or opinion, toward your subject.
- State what you are analyzing: a passage, a lecture, an academic article, an experience, etc...)
- Briefly summarize the work.
- Write a thesis statement stating how your subject has affected you.
One way you can start your thesis is to write:
Example: “After reading/experiencing (your chosen topic), I gained the knowledge of…”
The body paragraphs should examine your ideas and experiences in context to your topic. Make sure each new body paragraph starts with a topic sentence.
Your reflection may include quotes and passages if you are writing about a book or an academic paper. They give your reader a point of reference to fully understand your feedback. Feel free to describe what you saw, what you heard, and how you felt.
Example: “I saw many people participating in our weight experiment. The atmosphere felt nervous yet inspiring. I was amazed by the excitement of the event.”
As with any conclusion, you should summarize what you’ve learned from the experience. Next, tell the reader how your newfound knowledge has affected your understanding of the subject in general. Finally, describe the feeling and overall lesson you had from the reading or experience.
There are a few good ways to conclude a reflection paper:
- Tie all the ideas from your body paragraphs together, and generalize the major insights you’ve experienced.
- Restate your thesis and summarize the content of your paper.
We have a separate blog post dedicated to writing a great conclusion. Be sure to check it out for an in-depth look at how to make a good final impression on your reader.
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How to Write a Reflection Paper: Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1: create a main theme.
After you choose your topic, write a short summary about what you have learned about your experience with that topic. Then, let readers know how you feel about your case — and be honest. Chances are that your readers will likely be able to relate to your opinion or at least the way you form your perspective, which will help them better understand your reflection.
For example: After watching a TEDx episode on Wim Hof, I was able to reevaluate my preconceived notions about the negative effects of cold exposure.
Step 2: Brainstorm Ideas and Experiences You’ve Had Related to Your Topic
You can write down specific quotes, predispositions you have, things that influenced you, or anything memorable. Be personal and explain, in simple words, how you felt.
For example: • A lot of people think that even a small amount of carbohydrates will make people gain weight • A specific moment when I struggled with an excess weight where I avoided carbohydrates entirely • The consequences of my actions that gave rise to my research • The evidence and studies of nutritional science that claim carbohydrates alone are to blame for making people obese • My new experience with having a healthy diet with a well-balanced intake of nutrients • The influence of other people’s perceptions on the harm of carbohydrates, and the role their influence has had on me • New ideas I’ve created as a result of my shift in perspective
Step 3: Analyze How and Why These Ideas and Experiences Have Affected Your Interpretation of Your Theme
Pick an idea or experience you had from the last step, and analyze it further. Then, write your reasoning for agreeing or disagreeing with it.
For example, Idea: I was raised to think that carbohydrates make people gain weight.
Analysis: Most people think that if they eat any carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal, and sugar, they will gain weight. I believe in this misconception to such a great extent that I avoided carbohydrates entirely. As a result, my blood glucose levels were very low. I needed to do a lot of research to overcome my beliefs finally. Afterward, I adopted the philosophy of “everything in moderation” as a key to a healthy lifestyle.
For example: Idea: I was brought up to think that carbohydrates make people gain weight. Analysis: Most people think that if they eat any carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal, and sugar, they will gain weight. I believe in this misconception to such a great extent that I avoided carbohydrates entirely. As a result, my blood glucose levels were very low. I needed to do a lot of my own research to finally overcome my beliefs. After, I adopted the philosophy of “everything in moderation” as a key for having a healthy lifestyle.
Step 4: Make Connections Between Your Observations, Experiences, and Opinions
Try to connect your ideas and insights to form a cohesive picture for your theme. You can also try to recognize and break down your assumptions, which you may challenge in the future.
There are some subjects for reflection papers that are most commonly written about. They include:
- Book – Start by writing some information about the author’s biography and summarize the plot—without revealing the ending to keep your readers interested. Make sure to include the names of the characters, the main themes, and any issues mentioned in the book. Finally, express your thoughts and reflect on the book itself.
- Course – Including the course name and description is a good place to start. Then, you can write about the course flow, explain why you took this course, and tell readers what you learned from it. Since it is a reflection paper, express your opinion, supporting it with examples from the course.
- Project – The structure for a reflection paper about a project has identical guidelines to that of a course. One of the things you might want to add would be the pros and cons of the course. Also, mention some changes you might want to see, and evaluate how relevant the skills you acquired are to real life.
- Interview – First, introduce the person and briefly mention the discussion. Touch on the main points, controversies, and your opinion of that person.
Everyone has their style of writing a reflective essay – and that's the beauty of it; you have plenty of leeway with this type of paper – but there are still a few tips everyone should incorporate.
Before you start your piece, read some examples of other papers; they will likely help you better understand what they are and how to approach yours. When picking your subject, try to write about something unusual and memorable — it is more likely to capture your readers' attention. Never write the whole essay at once. Space out the time slots when you work on your reflection paper to at least a day apart. This will allow your brain to generate new thoughts and reflections.
- Short and Sweet – Most reflection papers are between 250 and 750 words. Don't go off on tangents. Only include relevant information.
- Clear and Concise – Make your paper as clear and concise as possible. Use a strong thesis statement so your essay can follow it with the same strength.
- Maintain the Right Tone – Use a professional and academic tone—even though the writing is personal.
- Cite Your Sources – Try to cite authoritative sources and experts to back up your personal opinions.
- Proofreading – Not only should you proofread for spelling and grammatical errors, but you should proofread to focus on your organization as well. Answer the question presented in the introduction.
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How to Write a Self-Reflective Essay
A self-reflective essay is a brief paper where you describe an experience and how it has changed you or helped you to grow. Self-reflective essays often require students to reflect on their academic growth from specific projects or assignments, though others might require you to think about the impact of a specific event in your life. By describing your overall experience for readers, discussing your current strengths and weaknesses as they relate to the experience you wrote about and sharing your future plans for using this new information, you can paint a vivid picture of how you have grown and changed.
An introduction to a self-reflective essay is a preview of what you'll be discussing. Developing a thesis statement that illustrates the major points of your reflection can give readers a preview of the content without giving too many of the details away in the beginning. A student writing an essay on her academic growth, for example, might write as a thesis, "Through my work on my final research paper, I've learned how to do stronger research and use an objective voice, but I still need to work on structure and transitions."
Many instructors may provide you with questions to consider in your reflection. You might be asked to talk about a specific way an experience changed your attitudes or actions, a significant challenge you faced or things you would do differently if given a second chance. If the assignment does not include a prescribed list of questions, you might start by considered what your experience taught you and how it has changed you as a student or person. Specific details and anecdotes from the experience will help to clearly demonstrate your areas of growth.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Self-reflective essays may challenge you to think critically about what you are doing well and what needs to be changed as a result of the experience you're writing about. You can begin by talking about skills, responses and actions that have been strengthened by this experience, then move into a discussion of areas that need work. A student writing about being a camp counselor or doing community volunteer work might write about his strength in finding ways to relate to different kinds of people, and then discuss his need to work on his tendency to prejudge them when they first meet.
Throughout your reflection, you should make a case for how the experience has stimulated your personal growth. By the conclusion, readers should have a clear, specific idea of how the experience affected you and particular ways you have made progress. In a reflective essay, you can approach the conclusion by talking about how you plan to use what you learned from this experience in the future. For example, you can talk about how the knowledge and experiences you gained will be useful in future classes, jobs, relationships and other aspects of your life.
- DePaul University: Reflective Essay
- Western Technical College: Types of Writing: Reflective
- Read Write Think: Self-Reflection
Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.
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A reflective essay is a type of writing where you explore how an event, experience, or concept has influenced your development or perspective. It involves deep thinking, self-analysis, and personal reflection. In a reflective essay, you explai what you learned and how you changed as a result of that experience.
In this article, you will learn how to write a reflective essay, and how to highlight impactful experiences. A reflection essay seems easy as you don’t have to defend one’s point of view or convince the reader of something. But it has its challenges, so we recommend to keep on reading and find out everything you need to know about this type of essay. More complex examples are available down below.
What Is a Reflective Essay: Definition
A good question to start with is, “What is a reflective essay?” A reflective essay is a type of academic writing, in which the student has to test personal life experience/position towards a particular topic. Unlike in argumentative writing, the student does not have to defend the personal position. It does not require a complicated, professional language with some terminology. Do not define something - focus on sharing personal life experience, skills, development, and the most vivid examples to illustrate the topic.
Reflective Essay Format
A reflection essay student writes to meet the college writing standards has a different format from the one a magazine writer should present to reach the issue’s audience. However, each reflective paper has a similar outline. Reflective essay format depends on the general requirements your teacher provides. Some of them can ask for a specific format for your essay. APA writing style , MLA, and Chicago are the basic formats you can use. But if you don’t know exactly which formatting to use, you can use reflective essay apa format. This is the most common college essay format, so knowing its requirements is critical: Font: Times New Roman, 12 points Interval: Double interval Margins: 1 inch all round Page Numbers: Insert a title in the upper left corner of each page.
Reflective Essay Outline and Structure
Knowing how to write a reflective essay is essential. Even if you feel confident about your thoughts and knowledge, don’t start your writing without a clear and well-designed plan. Without logical essay structure , your essay will likely achieve lower marks. To avoid this situation, follow 10 easy steps we provided below. The first thing every student needs to understand how to write a good reflective essay is an effective, detailed outline. It has 3 typical sections: introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Writing a reflective essay does not require any references – the only person to refer is the student who decides to share his thoughts & ideas. Let’s look at 4 main reasons to include an outline of reflective essays.
- An outline assists in laying out the details the student wants to leave after narrowing down the draft before working on the final paper. It prevents them from concluding the essay by realizing something is missing.
- An outline provides a clear, concise roadmap, which prevents the writer from taking curvy paths and facing dead ends. It shows the way like a compass in the woods.
- An outline helps to save a lot of time.
- An outline helps the potential readers, including teachers & classmates, to avoid falling off the main point when reading the essay partially.
Reflective essay outline is not much different from other types of essays. Use this reflective essay template in creating your perfect reflective essay:
How to Start a Reflective Essay: Creating an Introduction
Let’s figure out how to write a reflective essay introduction. Start with stating the primary focus of the personal reflection. Avoid being indirect and covering a range of topics; stay direct and concise by underlining the basic purpose of sharing a life experience. Professional Opinion:
Another way to attract attention in the introductory paragraph is to come up with the intriguing hook for essay sentences like statistics, fact, quote, metaphor, rhetorical question, or joke. It depends on the mood of your reflective narrative.
Working on Reflective Essay Thesis
Some people may say that a reflective essay does not need a thesis. However, the example shared in the previous section talking about introduction is an example of the inspiring thesis statement. Include at least a reflective summary of the primary idea. The best idea would be to focus on previewing the peak of the plot development or highlighting the most valuable lesson learned. Let’s take a look at this little reflective essay thesis sample.
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Writing a Reflection Essay Body Paragraph
What is the purpose of a body paragraph ? The body paragraphs of the reflective analysis interpret the way the author evolved or what he/she has absorbed from a particular life lesson (mention 3 different lessons). When writing your reflective essay you should mention the circumstances that forced you to pass a certain way. If you study a subject like English Literature or Arts, the paper’s prompt may ask you to describe how you changed as a field professional during the course of study. It is important to choose a specific interval of time to list the improvements. Compare & contrast the initial skills to the knowledge you have today. It is a great idea to tell the audience the ways various tasks, challenges, and lessons made the author grow since the beginning of his education. There is no need to conduct research to collect the supporting evidence. The author alone is responsible for defending every stated claim with the help of vivid samples that describe the topic the best. Example: In case the student has become more professional in the field of writing, he should list the causes of those changes (new English teacher, more practice at home, part-time job related to the field of writing). Who knows – some of the ideas may be used by other students to succeed!
How to Write a Reflective Essay Conclusion
The question of how to end a reflection paper is not less important. The last challenge is to prepare an impressive, inspiring, and powerful conclusion, which will make the target readers want to develop the same positive way. Write a reflective summary regarding the way you have changed over a given period of time. Share some forecast by looking ahead: how the experiences listed in the essay would influence further personal development. By looking at the past events, decide which of them was the most important. The good idea is to compare & contrast past and future events to stress the gaps between the obtained skills and experience, possibly gained in the future. Don't want to bother with writing any conclusions? Use a summary maker to generate e reflective essay conlusion in seconds.
How to Write a Reflective Essay: 10 Easy Steps
Writing personal reflection helps students to stress their individuality by highlighting various skills, knowledge, behavior, feelings, and even mood. The purpose of writing a reflective essay is to show how the person changed over time and what factors played an important role in those metamorphoses. Keep on reading this section to learn steps that will make your reflective writing perfect. Step 1: Think of the questions that interest you the most. It may be your experience, feelings, or an event in life. Make sure you analyzed the question well. Check credible sources and collect relevant information. Step 2: Decide what you want to write about. Make sure you know how to title an essay . Identify the topic. Step 3: After you decided on a topic, create an appealing title that will entice readers. Make sure your title is clear and to the point. Step 4: Create an outline of your essay. Step 5: Create an attention-grabbing hook for reflective essay. It should be some intriguing sentence or phrase that will arouse the interest of your readers. Step 6: Create an introduction of your reflection paper. Step 7: Think what you will include in the main body of your text. Start writing your body paragraphs. Step 8: Diversify your text with all the necessary details to make your readers see a clear picture of the environment in your story. It can be some place, people, atmosphere, etc. Step 9: After the reader is already familiar with the setting and characters, you should tell about yourself. What were your feelings? How has the situation affected you? What did you learn from this situation? Step 10: Conclude your reflective essay. Briefly summarize all the points that were mentioned in your text and provide a short moral with recommendations. You can use these steps as a checklist for your writing process. In case you need another step-by-step guide on response essays or any other type of writing, we've got you covered.
>> Read more: How to Write Essays
Reflective Essays Sample From Successful College Students
No recommendations, tips & tricks help the students to understand the way a particular assignment should look like in the end as effectively as the examples. The article contains one of the up-to-date reflective essay examples from a college student.
Writing a Reflective Essay: Bottom Line
Congratulations, we have learned how to write a reflective essay. We really do hope that our guidelines, tips, and examples were useful to you. Now, you can definitely work on your reflection assignment with a clear understanding of its structure and main points. So start your writing, and the sky's the limit!
In case you need more writing tips, feel free to browse our Blog. Be it a diagnostic essay , a synthesis essay or a response paper , we have tutorials for any type of writing.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Writing a Reflective Essay
1. what is a common mistake when writing a reflective essay.
A common mistake when writing a reflective essay is to drift away from the subject you're writing about. It usually happens when you don’t stick to your initial plan. So plan your writing well and if you feel that you go a bit off topic, be sure that you return to the same topic you originally discussed.
2. What is the purpose of writing a reflective essay?
The purpose of writing a reflective essay is to make a student write about their personal experience, explore it, reflect on it and find positive and negative aspects. The goal is to analyze how a student changed due to this experience and what made them change. What lesson a student learned is an essential point in persuasive writing.
3. How to write a reflective essay on a book?
If you are writing a reflective essay on a book, the main task is to show your teacher how you reflect on a chosen book, how you understand the problem presented by an author. To create a good essay, start with brief information about the author. Then, without spoilers, briefly summarize the main points of a book. After that explain the main conflicts, share your impressions. Ask questions like: “What are the peculiarities of the main characters?”, “What did an author want to say by indicating the main issues?”
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“Giving a preview of the most exciting part of the story is a clue. The target reader may lack time to read the full piece from cover to cover. “There are many things I have learned from Marketing class. The most valuable lesson I have obtained is checking the effectiveness of 2 different approaches or services through utilizing so-called A/B testing.” It will make the reader think about what is special about this specific method. The reader will go on reading the body paragraphs to find out!” Professor Hemsworth, History & Anthropology teacher and academic writer at StudyCrumb
How to Write a Reflection Paper
Why reflective writing, experiential reflection, reading reflection.
- A note on mechanics
Reflection offers you the opportunity to consider how your personal experiences and observations shape your thinking and your acceptance of new ideas. Professors often ask students to write reading reflections. They do this to encourage you to explore your own ideas about a text, to express your opinion rather than summarize the opinions of others. Reflective writing can help you to improve your analytical skills because it requires you to express what you think, and more significantly, how and why you think that way. In addition, reflective analysis asks you to acknowledge that your thoughts are shaped by your assumptions and preconceived ideas; in doing so, you can appreciate the ideas of others, notice how their assumptions and preconceived ideas may have shaped their thoughts, and perhaps recognize how your ideas support or oppose what you read.
Types of Reflective Writing
Popular in professional programs, like business, nursing, social work, forensics and education, reflection is an important part of making connections between theory and practice. When you are asked to reflect upon experience in a placement, you do not only describe your experience, but you evaluate it based on ideas from class. You can assess a theory or approach based on your observations and practice and evaluate your own knowledge and skills within your professional field. This opportunity to take the time to think about your choices, your actions, your successes and your failures is best done within a specific framework, like course themes or work placement objectives. Abstract concepts can become concrete and real to you when considered within your own experiences, and reflection on your experiences allows you to make plans for improvement.
To encourage thoughtful and balanced assessment of readings, many interdisciplinary courses may ask you to submit a reading reflection. Often instructors will indicate to students what they expect of a reflection, but the general purpose is to elicit your informed opinions about ideas presented in the text and to consider how they affect your interpretation. Reading reflections offer an opportunity to recognize – and perhaps break down – your assumptions which may be challenged by the text(s).
Approaches to Reflective Inquiry
You may wonder how your professors assess your reflective writing. What are they looking for? How can my experiences or ideas be right or wrong? Your instructors expect you to critically engage with concepts from your course by making connections between your observations, experiences, and opinions. They expect you to explain and analyse these concepts from your own point of view, eliciting original ideas and encouraging active interest in the course material.
It can be difficult to know where to begin when writing a critical reflection. First, know that – like any other academic piece of writing – a reflection requires a narrow focus and strong analysis. The best approach for identifying a focus and for reflective analysis is interrogation. The following offers suggestions for your line of inquiry when developing a reflective response.
It is best to discuss your experiences in a work placement or practicum within the context of personal or organizational goals; doing so provides important insights and perspective for your own growth in the profession. For reflective writing, it is important to balance reporting or descriptive writing with critical reflection and analysis.
Consider these questions:
- Contextualize your reflection: What are your learning goals? What are the objectives of the organization? How do these goals fit with the themes or concepts from the course?
- Provide important information: What is the name of the host organization? What is their mission? Who do they serve? What was your role? What did you do?
- Analytical Reflection: What did you learn from this experience? About yourself? About working in the field? About society?
- Lessons from reflection: Did your experience fit with the goals or concepts of the course or organization? Why or why not? What are your lessons for the future? What was successful? Why? What would you do differently? Why? How will you prepare for a future experience in the field?
Consider the purpose of reflection: to demonstrate your learning in the course. It is important to actively and directly connect concepts from class to your personal or experiential reflection. The following example shows how a student’s observations from a classroom can be analysed using a theoretical concept and how the experience can help a student to evaluate this concept.
For Example My observations from the classroom demonstrate that the hierarchical structure of Bloom’s Taxonomy is problematic, a concept also explored by Paul (1993). The students often combined activities like application and synthesis or analysis and evaluation to build their knowledge and comprehension of unfamiliar concepts. This challenges my understanding of traditional teaching methods where knowledge is the basis for inquiry. Perhaps higher-order learning strategies like inquiry and evaluation can also be the basis for knowledge and comprehension, which are classified as lower-order skills in Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Critical reflection requires thoughtful and persistent inquiry. Although basic questions like “what is the thesis?” and “what is the evidence?” are important to demonstrate your understanding, you need to interrogate your own assumptions and knowledge to deepen your analysis and focus your assessment of the text.
Assess the text(s):
- What is the main point? How is it developed? Identify the purpose, impact and/or theoretical framework of the text.
- What ideas stood out to me? Why? Were they new or in opposition to existing scholarship?
Develop your ideas:
- What do I know about this topic? Where does my existing knowledge come from? What are the observations or experiences that shape my understanding?
- Do I agree or disagree with this argument? Why?
- How does this text reinforce my existing ideas or assumptions? How does this text challenge my existing ideas or assumptions?
- How does this text help me to better understand this topic or explore this field of study/discipline?
A Note on Mechanics
As with all written assignments or reports, it is important to have a clear focus for your writing. You do not need to discuss every experience or element of your placement. Pick a few that you can explore within the context of your learning. For reflective responses, identify the main arguments or important elements of the text to develop a stronger analysis which integrates relevant ideas from course materials.
Furthermore, your writing must be organized. Introduce your topic and the point you plan to make about your experience and learning. Develop your point through body paragraph(s), and conclude your paper by exploring the meaning you derive from your reflection. You may find the questions listed above can help you to develop an outline before you write your paper.
You should maintain a formal tone, but it is acceptable to write in the first person and to use personal pronouns. Note, however, that it is important that you maintain confidentiality and anonymity of clients, patients or students from work or volunteer placements by using pseudonyms and masking identifying factors.
The value of reflection: Critical reflection is a meaningful exercise which can require as much time and work as traditional essays and reports because it asks students to be purposeful and engaged participants, readers, and thinkers.
How to Write a Reflective Essay
Reflective essays describe life experiences. At first, this seems like a straightforward task, but when you begin writing, it becomes clear that this academic assignment requires a conscientious approach and attention to every detail to ensure coherence and expose relevant information. The author of a reflection essay analyzes their own life experience and transformations, becoming influenced by particular circumstances and conditions. The purpose of reflective essay writing is to reveal more details about an author's personality. It helps to analyze what they have read, seen or heard—how this experience impacted their life and changed world perception. Let's get into more details about how to write a reflective essay, popular topics, format of reflective essay and more!
Writing a reflective essay can be a deeply personal journey of self-discovery and intellectual exploration. It provides a platform for you to examine experiences, learnings, and the evolving understanding of various life events. Similarly, the phase of transitioning from high school to college is a period ripe for reflection, as it marks a significant milestone on the educational and personal growth trajectory. As you introspect on your high school journey and prepare for the adventures that lie ahead, it's prudent to also consider the financial aspect of further education. Scholarships are a crucial resource that can significantly alleviate the financial burden of college. There is a plethora of scholarships available for high school seniors, and identifying the right ones can be a game-changer. To aid in this endeavor, check out the top 10 scholarships for high school seniors that can provide a substantial financial cushion as you embark on your collegiate journey. As you reflect, plan, and write, remember that each step taken is a stride towards a promising educational venture, made easier with the right financial support.
What Is a Reflective Essay
So, let's first address - 'what is a reflective essay?'. The reflective essay talks about the writer's personal experiences and opinions concerning certain subjects. It's essential to choose an appropriate title before you start writing an essay. You must set the direction of your thoughts. A formulated reflective essay topic will help narrow the field of information search.
Don't be afraid to experiment. The reflective thinking process will lead you to the right way out. But first, you need to identify particular and crucial facts and circumstances that influenced your life experience during a specific time. For example, you can discuss school and student years, internships, or interchange programs.
The most important thing is identifying strong points that helped you to cover your knowledge gaps and form opinions on specific subjects and topics. Focus on strengths and weaknesses, successes and difficulties that accompany you to achieve the goal.
The emotional component is essential. Describing your feelings from a particular action or phenomenon that influenced your worldview always generates interest. It doesn't matter if you are writing a reflection paper on a free topic or an assigned one by your educator.
You should pay attention to the ability to consistently develop a topic and keep your thoughts and ideas well-structured. Or, you can use a paper topic generator to easily create a reflective essay format.
Think about the event that changed your world perception, made you learn lessons, and associate it with your life experience. First, create a mind map, allowing you to avoid many mistakes. You will have a structured plan, and step by step, you will continue filling the gaps in the argument. Note ideas that may be related to the essay topic and try to get them together, establishing connections and sequencing. Remember, write down your thoughts at any time, even if they may seem strange. It's a draft, and you always have the option to edit. Preparing to write a quality essay requires time and effort and is no less important than writing itself. For several days, keep a record of your ideas and thoughts. After, please sit down and carefully reread them, establish semantic links, cause-effect relationships, etc.
Use the vocabulary carefully to transmit feelings and emotions during your reflective writing. The descriptive component is vital in reflective essays; in other words, it must contain many specific adjectives with insight connotations.
Reflective Essay Structure
While writing a reflective paper, you may focus on your personal growth, self-development, and emotional stability. You describe circumstances, obstacles, and conditions that helped you to become who you are.
Overthinking is not favorable. Put your fingers on a keyboard, start typing the first sentence, the whole paragraph, and remember that you always have the option to rework and edit it. Learning how to write an essay takes time and practice. Remember, almost nobody has an innate talent to write a perfect assignment from the first attempt. Don't be shy to try using a strategy that suits you best. The only thing you need to follow is your plan.
We recommend you create a chart or table to follow your ideas. For example, divide it into three parts:
- your experience
- your feelings in emotions of this experience
- how you overcame this situation/experience
To help your reflection process, our paper writing service authors prepared a list of specific questions that can help you:
- How has this life situation or experience influenced your worldview?
- Do you consider these changes to be significant?
- What did you learn about yourself, and what features did you discover after this experience?
- Have you become a better person and developed professionally?
- What impact has this experience had on your life? Here you can give an example of both positive and negative effects.
- Look back, and if there is an opportunity to change something in the past, would you do it?
- Would you like to relive this experience?
- As time passes, do you think your attitude towards this experience has changed?
- Did you do the right things and make the right decisions?
The most popular topics of a reflective essay
- My first job interview experience?
- The most important features of a good friendship.
- The fears of the first dates.
- A break-up that I will never forget.
- The moment I overcame the fear of…
- One of the most difficult choices of my life.
- The happiest or worthiest moment of my life.
- Fears about my future career.
- Uncertainty of the future.
- Qualities that annoy me in people.
- How to survive the betrayal of a loved one.
- A journey that changed my life.
- The book that turned my life upside down.
- My emotions when I saw the ocean for the first time.
- Looking at a sunset.
- I am moving to another city, fear of the unknown.
- The feeling of the first victory
How to Start a Reflective Essay
It's fundamental to get acquainted with the structure of a reflective essay before you start writing it. This essay's structure doesn't differ much from others, but it's obligatory to follow all the requirements. The main parts are the introduction, body, and conclusion. If you want a high-class reflective essay, you can get help from our order essay service. Or, meanwhile learn here how to start a reflective essay.
To introduce the paper, you should briefly expose the main idea, explain some key features that will be discussed in an essay body, and make an eye-catchy statement on how this experience has influenced you. The introductory paragraph allows an author to, directly or indirectly, express the main idea of the article and use an essay hook to focus on the aspects that will be covered.
The introduction part empowers you to attract the attention of the reader from the beginning. Try to find curious characters and mention them in the first paragraph to keep the reader engaged. The reflective essay thesis statement must be perfectly formulated. It is a summary of the specific facts that influenced you significantly. Avoid giving too much information from the very beginning; leave some mystery to keep your reader interested. Consider using different engaging techniques and start the introduction with a quote, a short personal story, or flashbacks. You can use one or more quotations to make your introduction sound more authoritative.
How to Write a Reflective Essay Body
Specify the reasons that motivated you to select this topic, and what you expect to achieve with this essay. For example, there are two ways of scientific research: deductive and inductive. The first means research by testing a theory or hypothesis on a real case. In contrast, the inductive method generates theories and explanations to understand why something happens in real life.
This part of a reflective essay allows you to analyze the experience and how it affected your life. For statements and reflective essay examples, use only verified and reliable sources. Ideas and conclusions should be logically connected. The first sentence of the paragraph should set out the primary purpose. The body text should be a natural combination of your thoughts with references to other sources.
Acknowledge the essential elements of a lifetime coherently and systematically. It is crucial to follow chronological succession. Provide appropriate critique and reflections about the main idea. The reflection essay allows you to be honest and tell a true story, and don't be shy about describing what went wrong or would be improved. Reflections about learned material, underlining important nuances, and conclusions about the gained experience are always welcome.
Guidelines for Writing a Reflective Essay
Our essay writers from ' write my essay for me ' service, prepared the guidelines of writing reflective essay. Reflective papers have specific requirements and formats. To receive a good mark, you need to follow them:
- margins – 1 inch on all sides;
- full space between lines;
- use Times New Roman 12-pt.
Practical Tips That Will Help You with Writing a Perfect Essay
Our custom essay service team prepared a list of useful words and phrases to help you write your academic assignment:
Interpretation words and phrases:
Meaningful, relevant, coherent, useful, significant
Clarifying the nature of learning points:
Element, issue, idea, matter, experience, aspect
At that time, at first, initially, previously, later, then, subsequently, as a consequence
Expressing your viewpoint:
think, consider, feel, question, realize, expect
Emphasize and highlight specific situation:
Indeed, as a case in point, in fact, equally, unlikely, similarly, alternatively, etc
To clarify your statement, use the following words and phrases:
For example, as an example, to be specific, to clarify, by way of illustration, to explain, in more detail, namely, in other words, etc
To distinguish concepts:
In the same way, in a typical situation, typically, as usual, usually, to be used to, etc
To conclude, suggest implications, and make inferences:
To suggest, based on, as given, previously explained, as seen in, can be seen, etc
Reflective Essay Sample
To understand the reflective essay format even better, read the essay sample written by one of our write my essay for me service professionals.
The voyage that changed my life
I am going on a train that carries me to meet my dream and get acquainted with Venice. For me, as for many people in this world, travel is the best way to know myself through the prism of the world around me. I can't say that I have visited a few places, I travel a lot, but the list of my must-see cities has not yet collected all the checkmarks. However, there is one trip that I will remember for a long time. I'm not afraid to claim that it changed my world perception.
La Serenissima ("the most serene") is the capital of the Veneto region of Italy and the pearl of Adriatic. I always dreamed of visiting this city during the carnival. Feel the emotions and plunge into the atmosphere of balls, dances, intrigues, and secrets. When I was planning my holiday getaway, I did not suspect how it would turn out. After spending two hours on the train on the road from Milan to Venice, and marking on the map new places to visit, I finally relaxed and anticipated meeting the miracle. Anyone who has ever been to Italy and saw Lake Garda's landscapes will claim that they inspire. I almost forgot one crucial detail; I don't know a word in Italian.
My friends warned me about the raging Venetian pickpockets. That can take everything you have in an eye blink. Slack-jawed, I continued watching landscapes and left my belongings unattended. Naturally, when I noticed its absence, it was too late. I was cut off with nothing, with documents and cell-phone—a perfect beginning of the weekend of a dream. A sense of hopelessness, misunderstanding of further actions, and despair took hold of me. I felt like an ant in the vast sea of giants. Perhaps, now, looking back at this situation, I believe that I slightly exaggerated the seriousness of the problem. However, for me, it seemed that the end of the world had come.
As you know, nothing in this world happens by chance. Certain events take place to realize something and meet certain people who help us change our life perception. I got off the train, sat on the steps at the exit of the station, and started to cry—further events developed in the best traditions of Hollywood melodramas. I will not go into details. I will only say that the meeting that fate had prepared for me in the city of my dreams overshadowed all the negative aspects. I decided to share this story and show that no matter how terrible the situation may seem, everything happens for something. Three years ago, at this station, I met the man of my life. Now we live together, and recently we have become parents of a wonderful girl.
Due to this fabulous experience, I found that it is unnecessary to tear hair out and sob if something goes wrong. This situation taught me to look positively at things. To believe that everything that awaits me on the way is beneficial, even if at first it does not seem so.
Reflective essays help you analyze the author's life, personality, notable events, and encounters that influenced, changed, and transformed the writer's character. This type of essay aims to express personal emotions and attitudes regarding significant life incidents. Remember to reread your reflective essay template several times to be confident you comply with all the requirements or ask to help our writers from EssayService .
If writing a reflective essay still seems too complicated, you don't have enough time to complete the task and understand that the deadline is very close, always remember that you can buy an essay on our platform. Our highly experienced authors will take your academic writing to the next level by providing a quality reflective essay sample for you.
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How to Write a Reflection Paper
Last Updated: July 8, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Alicia Cook . Alicia Cook is a Professional Writer based in Newark, New Jersey. With over 12 years of experience, Alicia specializes in poetry and uses her platform to advocate for families affected by addiction and to fight for breaking the stigma against addiction and mental illness. She holds a BA in English and Journalism from Georgian Court University and an MBA from Saint Peter’s University. Alicia is a bestselling poet with Andrews McMeel Publishing and her work has been featured in numerous media outlets including the NY Post, CNN, USA Today, the HuffPost, the LA Times, American Songwriter Magazine, and Bustle. She was named by Teen Vogue as one of the 10 social media poets to know and her poetry mixtape, “Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately” was a finalist in the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 3,747,820 times.
Reflection papers allow you to communicate with your instructor about how a specific article, lesson, lecture, or experience shapes your understanding of class-related material. Reflection papers are personal and subjective  X Research source , but they must still maintain a somewhat academic tone and must still be thoroughly and cohesively organized. Here's what you need to know about writing an effective reflection.
Things You Should Know
- Write an introduction that outlines the expectations you had and provide a thesis statement in the last sentence.
- State your conclusions in the body paragraphs of the paper. Explain how you arrived at your conclusions using logic and concrete details.
- Conclude the paper with a concise summary of your overall experience.
Sample Outline and Paper
- These sentences should be both descriptive yet straight to the point.
- For lectures or readings, you can write down specific quotations or summarize passages.
- For experiences, make a note of specific portions of your experience. You could even write a small summary or story of an event that happened during the experience that stands out. Images, sounds, or other sensory portions of your experience work, as well.
- In the first column, list the main points or key experiences. These points can include anything that the author or speaker treated with importance as well as any specific details you found to be important. Divide each point into its own separate row.
- In the second column, list your personal response to the points you brought up in the first column. Mention how your subjective values, experiences, and beliefs influence your response.
- In the third and last column, describe how much of your personal response to share in your reflection paper.
- Does the reading, lecture, or experience challenge you socially, culturally, emotionally, or theologically? If so, where and how? Why does it bother you or catch your attention?
- Has the reading, lecture, or experience changed your way of thinking? Did it conflict with beliefs you held previously, and what evidence did it provide you with in order to change your thought process on the topic?
- Does the reading, lecture, or experience leave you with any questions? Were these questions ones you had previously or ones you developed only after finishing?
- Did the author, speaker, or those involved in the experience fail to address any important issues? Could a certain fact or idea have dramatically changed the impact or conclusion of the reading, lecture, or experience?
- How do the issues or ideas brought up in this reading, lecture, or experience mesh with past experiences or readings? Do the ideas contradict or support each other?
Organizing a Reflection Paper
- Verify whether or not your instructor specified a word count for the paper instead of merely following this average.
- If your instructor demands a word count outside of this range, meet your instructor's requirements.
- For a reading or lecture, indicate what you expected based on the title, abstract, or introduction.
- For an experience, indicate what you expected based on prior knowledge provided by similar experiences or information from others.
- This is essentially a brief explanation of whether or not your expectations were met.
- A thesis provides focus and cohesion for your reflection paper.
- You could structure a reflection thesis along the following lines: “From this reading/experience, I learned...”
- Your conclusions must be explained. You should provide details on how you arrived at those conclusions using logic and concrete details.
- The focus of the paper is not a summary of the text, but you still need to draw concrete, specific details from the text or experience in order to provide context for your conclusions.
- Write a separate paragraph for each conclusion or idea you developed.
- Each paragraph should have its own topic sentence. This topic sentence should clearly identify your major points, conclusions, or understandings.
- The conclusions or understandings explained in your body paragraphs should support your overall conclusion. One or two may conflict, but the majority should support your final conclusion.
As You Write
- If you feel uncomfortable about a personal issue that affects the conclusions you reached, it is wisest not to include personal details about it.
- If a certain issue is unavoidable but you feel uncomfortable revealing your personal experiences or feelings regarding it, write about the issue in more general terms. Identify the issue itself and indicate concerns you have professionally or academically.
- Avoid dragging someone else down in your writing. If a particular person made the experience you are reflecting on difficult, unpleasant, or uncomfortable, you must still maintain a level of detachment as you describe that person's influence. Instead of stating something like, “Bob was such a rude jerk,” say something more along the lines of, “One man was abrupt and spoke harshly, making me feel as though I was not welcome there.” Describe the actions, not the person, and frame those actions within the context of how they influenced your conclusions.
- A reflection paper is one of the few pieces of academic writing in which you can get away with using the first person pronoun “I.” That said, you should still relate your subjective feelings and opinions using specific evidence to explain them.  X Research source
- Avoid slang and always use correct spelling and grammar. Internet abbreviations like “LOL” or “OMG” are fine to use personally among friends and family, but this is still an academic paper, so you need to treat it with the grammatical respect it deserves. Do not treat it as a personal journal entry.
- Check and double-check your spelling and grammar after you finish your paper.
- Keep your sentences focused. Avoid squeezing multiple ideas into one sentence.
- Avoid sentence fragments. Make sure that each sentence has a subject and a verb.
- Vary your sentence length. Include both simple sentences with a single subject and verb and complex sentences with multiple clauses. Doing so makes your paper sound more conversational and natural, and prevents the writing from becoming too wooden.  X Research source
- Common transitional phrases include "for example," "for instance," "as a result," "an opposite view is," and "a different perspective is."
- For instance, if reflecting on a piece of literary criticism, you could mention how your beliefs and ideas about the literary theory addressed in the article relate to what your instructor taught you about it or how it applies to prose and poetry read in class.
- As another example, if reflecting on a new social experience for a sociology class, you could relate that experience to specific ideas or social patterns discussed in class.
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- ↑ https://www.csuohio.edu/writing-center/reflection-papers
- ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/assignments/reflectionpaper
- ↑ Alicia Cook. Professional Writer. Expert Interview. 11 December 2020.
- ↑ https://www.trentu.ca/academicskills/how-guides/how-write-university/how-approach-any-assignment/how-write-reflection-paper
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/conclusions/
- ↑ https://www.anu.edu.au/students/academic-skills/writing-assessment/reflective-writing/reflective-essays
- ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/scholarlyvoice/sentencestructure
About This Article
To write a reflection paper, start with an introduction where you state any expectations you had for the reading, lesson, or experience you're reflecting on. At the end of your intro, include a thesis statement that explains how your views have changed. In the body of your essay, explain the conclusions you reached after the reading, lesson, or experience and discuss how you arrived at them. Finally, finish your paper with a succinct conclusion that explains what you've learned. To learn how to brainstorm for your paper, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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