What Should the Conclusion Do in a Reflective Essay?

Bethany richardson, 26 sep 2017.

A reflective essay ponders a life lesson that is made clear in the essay's conclusion.

The purpose of a reflective essay is for the writer to ruminate on past events to discover how they have influenced his life. While the essay should describe the events and encounters that lead to a personal revelation, Literacy Education professor Susan Lee Pasquarelli suggests the writer saves the actual lesson learned for the essay’s conclusion.

Explore this article

  • Make Your Point
  • Stay Focused
  • Stay in Style
  • Get Personal

1 Make Your Point

As in any essay, the concluding paragraph of a reflective piece should restate the main point of the work or the life lesson that you’ve taken away from the experience you’ve described. You’ve probably hinted at this conclusion throughout the essay, but the final statements should put the lesson into clear words, such as, “I now realize that true friends are the ones who stand with you after everyone else has walked away.”

2 Stay Focused

Don’t let your conclusion drift from the essay’s main point by describing unrelated events. It may be tempting to mention other events that have a related theme or other lessons that some may take away from the described events, but don’t fall into these traps. A good reflective essay conclusion wraps up the main lesson that you have taken away from the specific events you have described.

Your conclusion should restate only the essay’s main point — the lesson learned — and not revisit or summarize narrative events. Also, avoid excessive commentary in your concluding statements. If you’ve described events effectively in the essay’s body and chosen an applicable thesis, then it shouldn’t be necessary to explain how your take-away lesson applies. If you find yourself needing to explain your thesis further, then go back and add the necessary supporting details into the body of the essay.

4 Stay in Style

Just as the lesson you describe should flow effortlessly from the story you’ve told, the essay’s conclusion should be a seamless addition to the rest of the work. Don’t make any dramatic shifts in vocabulary or tone, such as changing from a light-hearted essay to a solemn or stiff conclusion.

5 Get Personal

Because the essay is a personal reflection, the conclusion should reflect your individual viewpoint. Write from a first-person point of view, such as “I can now see” or “My observation is” rather than the impersonal “One must conclude that.” Don’t feel like your conclusion needs a universal theme. You’ve described your own journey to personal realization, so focus on the lesson you will take into your own future rather than telling others what they should learn.

  • 1 Teaching Writing Genres Across the Curriculum, Susan Lee Pasquarelli
  • 2 Purdue OWL Engagement: Conclusions

About the Author

Bethany Richardson has been an educator in Texas public schools since 2007. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English rhetoric with a professional writing certificate from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

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what to write in a reflective essay conclusion

How to Write a Reflective Essay: Easy Guide with Pro Tips 2023

what to write in a reflective essay conclusion

Defining What is a Reflective Essay: Purpose + Importance

Being present is a cornerstone of mindfulness and meditation. You must have often heard that staying in the moment helps you appreciate your surroundings, connects you with people and nature, and allows you to feel whatever emotions you must feel without anxiety. While this is helpful advice as you become more focused and avoid getting lost in thought, how can you truly appreciate the present without reflecting on your past experiences that have led you to the current moment?

We don't say that you should dwell on the past and get carried away with a constant thought process, but hey, hear us out - practice reflective thinking! Think back on your previous life events, paint a true picture of history, and make connections to your present self. This requires you to get a bit analytical and creative. So you might as well document your critical reflection on a piece of paper and give direction to your personal observations. That's when the need for reflective essays steps in!

In a reflective essay, you open up about your thoughts and emotions to uncover your mindset, personality, traits of character, and background. Your reflective essay should include a description of the experience/literature piece as well as explanations of your thoughts, feelings, and reactions. In this article, our essay writer service will share our ultimate guide on how to write a reflective essay with a clear format and reflective essay examples that will inspire you.

How to Write a Reflective Essay with a Proper Reflective Essay Outline

To give you a clear idea of structuring a reflective essay template, we broke down the essential steps below. Primarily, the organization of a reflective essay is very similar to other types of papers. However, our custom writers got more specific with the reflective essay outline to ease your writing process.

Reflective Essay Introduction

When wondering how to start a reflective essay, it is no surprise that you should begin writing your paper with an introductory paragraph. So, what's new and different with the reflection essay introduction? Let's dissect:

  • Open your intro with an attention-seizing hook that engages your audience into reflective thinking with you. It can be something like: 'As I was sitting on my bed with my notebook placed on my shaky lap waiting for the letter of acceptance, I could not help but reflect, was enrolling in college the path I wanted to take in the future?'
  • Provide context with a quick overview of the reflective essay topic. Don't reveal too much information at the start to prevent your audience from becoming discouraged to continue reading.
  • Make a claim with a strong reflective essay thesis statement. It should be a simple explanation of the essay's main point, in this example, a specific event that had a big impact on you.

Reflective Essay Body Paragraphs

The next step is to develop the body of your essay. This section of the paper may be the most challenging because it's simple to ramble and replicate yourself both in the outline and the actual writing. Planning the body properly requires a lot of time and work, and the following advice can assist you in doing this effectively:

  • Consider using a sequential strategy. This entails reviewing everything you wish to discuss in the order it occurred. This method ensures that your work is structured and cohesive.
  • Make sure the body paragraph is well-rounded and employs the right amount of analysis. The body should go into the effects of the event on your life and the insights you've gained as a consequence.
  • Prioritize reflecting rather than summarizing your points. In addition to giving readers insight into your personal experience, a reflective stance will also show off your personality and demonstrate your ability to handle certain challenges.

Reflective Essay Conclusion

The goal of your reflective essay conclusion should be to tie everything together by summarizing the key ideas raised throughout, as well as the lessons you were able to take away from experience.

  • Don't forget to include the reasons for and the methods used to improve your beliefs and actions. Think about how your personality and skills have changed as well.
  • What conclusions can you draw about your behavior in particular circumstances? What could you do differently if the conditions were the same in the future?

Remember that your instructor will be searching for clear signs of reflection.

Understanding a Reflection Paper Format

The format of reflective essay greatly differs from an argumentative or research paper. A reflective essay is more of a well-structured story or a diary entry rife with insight and reflection. You might be required to arrange your essay using the APA style or the MLA format.

And the typical reflection paper length varies between 300 and 700 words, but ask your instructor about the word length if it was assigned to you. Even though this essay is about you, try to avoid too much informal language.

If your instructor asks you to use an APA or MLA style format for reflective essay, here are a few shortcuts:

Reflective Essay in MLA Format

  • Times New Roman 12pt font double spaced;
  • 1" margins;
  • The top right includes the last name and page number on every page;
  • Titles are centered;
  • The header should include your name, your professor's name, course number, and the date (dd/mm/yy);
  • The last page includes a Works Cited.

Reflective Essay in APA Style

  • Include a page header on the top of every page;
  • Insert page number on the right;
  • Your reflective essay should be divided into four parts: Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.

Reflective Essay Writing Tips

You may think we've armed you with enough tips and pointers for reflective writing, but it doesn't stop here. Below we gathered some expert-approved tips for constructing uncontested reflection papers.

tips reflective essay

  • Be as detailed as possible while writing. To make your reflective essay writing come to life, you should employ several tactics such as symbolism, sentence patterns, etc.
  • Keep your audience in mind. The reader will become frustrated if you continue writing in the first person without taking a moment to convey something more important, even though you will likely speak about something from your own perspective.
  • Put forth the effort to allow the reader to feel the situation or emotion you are attempting to explain.
  • Don't preach; demonstrate. Instead of just reporting what happened, use description appropriately to paint a clear picture of the event or sensation.
  • Plan the wording and structure of your reflective essay around a central emotion or subject, such as joy, pleasure, fear, or grief.
  • Avoid adding dull elements that can lessen the effect of your work. Why include it if it won't enhance the emotion or understanding you wish to convey?
  • There must be a constant sense of progression. Consider whether the event has transformed you or others around you.
  • Remember to double-check your grammar, syntax, and spelling.

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Reflective Essay Topic Ideas

As a reflective essay should be about your own views and experiences, you generally can't use someone else's ideas. But to help you get started, here are some suggestions for writing topics:

  • An experience you will never forget.
  • The moment you overcame a fear.
  • The most difficult choice you had to make.
  • A time your beliefs were challenged.
  • A time something changed your life.
  • The happiest or most frightening moment of your life so far.
  • Ways you think you or people can make the world a better place.
  • A time you felt lost.
  • An introspective look at your choices or a time you made the wrong choice.
  • A moment in your life you would like to relive.

You may find it convenient to create a chart or table to keep track of your ideas. Split your chart into three parts:

Reflective Essay Topic Ideas

  • In the first column, write key experiences or your main points. You can arrange them from most important to least important.
  • In the second column, list your response to the points you stated in the first column.
  • In the third column, write what, from your response, you would like to share in the essay.

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Reflective Essay Sample

Referring to reflective essay examples can help you a lot. A reflective essay sample can provide you with useful insight into how your essay should look like. You can also buy an essay online if you need one customized to your specific requirements.

How to Conclude a Reflective Essay

As we come to an end, it's only logical to reflect on the main points discussed above in the article. By now, you should clearly understand what is a reflective essay and that the key to writing a reflective essay is demonstrating what lessons you have taken away from your experiences and why and how these lessons have shaped you. It should also have a clear reflective essay format, with an opening, development of ideas, and resolution.

Now that you have the tools to create a thorough and accurate reflective paper, you might want to hand over other tasks like writing definition essay examples to our experienced writers. In this case, feel free to buy an essay online on our platform and reflect on your past events without worrying about future assignments!

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Home / Essay Writing Tutorials / How to Write a Reflective Essay (2022 Edition)

How to Write a Reflective Essay (2019 Edition)

reflective essay

  • Published Date: July 30, 2018

Table of Contents

  • 1 What is a Reflective Essay
  • 2.1 How to Start a Reflective essay
  • 3 Reflective Essay Format
  • 4.1 Introduction Example
  • 5.1 Conclusion Example
  • 6.1 Outline Example
  • 6.2 Outline Template
  • 7 Reflective Essay Template
  • 8.1 Nursing Topics
  • 8.2 High School Topics
  • 8.3 Middle School Topics
  • 8.4 College Topics
  • 8.5 Current Event Topics
  • 9 Reflective Essay Example
  • 10 In Closing

A reflective essay offers you the unique opportunity to engage in personal growth as you complete an assignment for your education.

This type of writing assignment gives you the chance to look inward and draw conclusions about your choices, the course of your life, things you’ve learned and ways that you’ve grown.

It’s a chance for you to not just show off your analytical skills, but to demonstrate how you can step back and view your life objectively.

A reflective essay asks you to do something no other piece of writing does. It asks you to write using knowledge gained from both your head and your heart.

You have to use your intellectual mind in order to engage in critical analysis.

But you have use your heart or your more intuitive, wise sense of understanding in order to glean a deeper insight into what it all means.

What is a Reflective Essay

A reflective essay forces the write to take a step back and take a look at the overall  journey the writer has made in regard to a specific experience or arena of life.

For example, teachers often love to assign such essays in regards to the students’ writing portfolio.

A painfully common example of a reflective essay prompt might be something like: “Reread all of the works in your writing portfolio in chronological order.

Reflect on some of your strengths and weaknesses as a writer.

How has your writing improved?

How does it need to improve?

What do you appreciate?

What are your plans to continue taking it to the next level?”

Teachers love assigning writing prompts just like that because it makes the student think critically and thoughtfully about their own work.

They also enjoy assigning these types of essays because the type of prompt they select can push a student to consider how their writing needs to further evolve.

However, reflective essays don’t have to be focused on the topic of writing or anything academic.

A reflective essay can be focused along literally any type of subject. It can be the ever familiar: “Think about your summer vacation?

What did you learn?

How have you changed over this two-month break from school?”

Another reflective essay topic could ask you about your family, your parents, their marriage, the state of the world, fine works of art, enigmatic pieces of literature, philosophical conundrums, times you’ve failed, times you’ve succeeded, your strengths, your short-comings and how you plan on furthering your own evolution and development.

Literally any subject can be adjusted to be a reflective essay topic because any subject can require thought and introspection.

Some teachers say that successful reflective essays are successful for the insight and honesty they demonstrate.

While this is true, often times the best descriptive essays are the ones that harness descriptive vocabulary words.

Using highly descriptive words indicates for the reader that one is confident in what one has written and has thought deeply about the subject.

Reflective essays often ask one think deeply about a subject and to weigh how a subject has impacted them and vice versa.

It’s also important to bear in mind that using first person pronouns within this type of essay specifically is indeed permissible and even expected.

Given the fact that a reflective essay asks the student to think so deeply and come up with insights, it’s also wise to engage creatively with the prompt.

After all, as a student you want to come up with meaningful insights and thoughts into the essay question, and relating creatively to the material can be quite useful.

One of the most enjoyable parts of a reflective essay is that most of the time, there isn’t a strong need to assemble facts and figures.

Some essay prompts might require a certain extent, such as one that asks you to reflect on how the development of impressionism influenced the final products of the art form and you as a spectator.

Other essays, such as ones that ask you to reflect on people who’ve influenced you, or relationships or experiences that have shaped you, will not require research.

Most of the time, you’ll just have to harness a highly personal tone while keeping your style within the confines of what is considered academic.

what to write in a reflective essay conclusion

How to Write a Reflective Essay

How to start a reflective essay.

Starting a reflective essay is vastly predictable.

The best way to start is by, well… reflecting.

Honest reflection is key to writing an essay that is not derivative and that demonstrates real perception into self.

Take a moment to read and reread the prompt, to make sure you understand it perfectly. Take a minute to look up any unclear words and rewrite the prompt if necessary with more accessible and familiar ones.

Then take a few minutes just to think, allowing your mind to work unfettered.

Jot down ideas about your thoughts on the prompt and do so without censoring yourself. Don’t judge what you write down, just allow yourself to get the ideas out. Then look at your best thoughts or ideas on the prompt and circle them.

Do this until you have at least three very insightful thoughts on the prompt.

Reflective Essay Format

The good news about a reflective essay format is that it’s not wildly different from the format of other essays that you’ve written.

You still need an introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion.

The essay still needs to orbit around a thesis.

However, because this is not the most research or argument heavy, you have more leeway in your tone, presentation and the supporting “data” that you offer.

Reflective Essay Introduction

Just like any other type of essay, your essay needs to start with a “hook” specifically intended to seize the interest of the reader.

The great news in the case of a reflective essay is that you can get a little creative with the type of hook you select.

It can be a with an assertion of honesty (“Throwing up at the prom in front of my math teacher turned out to be the best moment of my life”) or it can be a question posed directly to the reader (“Have you ever had a painting reach out and touch your soul?”) Alternatively, it can be a riveting description from a moment in your life that connects directly to the prompt.

(“Running down the hall with my trousers covered in lime jelly, screaming for my best friend to chuck a tennis ball at my face, while a group of kindergartens cheered, I realized I had found the meaning of life.”)

The hook is your first chance to really engage the reader and since you have a longer “leash” in this type of essay, take advantage of it.

Introduction Example

“Don’t talk about the beach. Don’t talk about your summer job. And don’t talk about hanging out with your friends,” my teacher commanded as she gave us instructions for a reflective essay on what we learned about ourselves over the summer vacation. These words were very formidable as essentially that was all I did this last summer: When I wasn’t at my summer job, I went to the beach with my friends. I was stumped. Furthermore, I was convinced that I had learned literally nothing over the summer other than the fact that my part-time job as a intern (gofer) at a local newspaper was nothing but drudgery, my friends were cool and the beach was a sanctuary. If someone had a gun to my head and asked me what I learned over the summer, I might say… “Life is often monotonous.” So I stopped and took some time out to really think. What had I learned? About myself? About the age that I was at? About my friends? Upon reflection, I had learned something really important. One day a local reporter was interviewing a woman whose house had burned down in a fire. Her family lost everything. The reporter had forgotten to get the woman to sign an agreement to run her story, so they sent me to the motel where she was staying to get her signature. I was deeply humbled when I drove up to a ramshackle motel where she was staying. I knocked on her motel room, and when she opened the door, I saw that she was staying there with her three kids and her husband and dog—it was a very humbling sight. But what made the biggest impression on me was that her and her family looked so happy and grateful to be safe and together. I realized that the connections we have with others really are the foundation for all of life’s happiness.

Reflective Essay Conclusion

A reflective essay conclusion functions in the way that your conclusions to so many other essays should.

It wraps up the essay, giving your reader a sense of closure and a sense of the crux of all your main themes.

The thesis of your reflective essay needs to be restated, but in a way that links it to the notion of something greater.

Since a reflective essay gives you more freedom in general and more leeway to be creative, don’t shy away from having fun with this task and attempting to do something bold.

what to write in a reflective essay conclusion

Conclusion Example

And thus, while my summer vacation was filled with much monotony, this experience showed me that while monotony at times might be unavoidable (along with other negative experiences), often our relationships with others can give us a certain amount of resiliency in these matters. Our friends can reflect our own humanity back to us, shining a light on a our strengths and flaws, and helping us to become better than we are. Likewise, certain friends can drag us down, impeding our growth and development, making our lives harder than they actually need to be. However, our good friends grow as we grow and our lives remain entangled together, like ivy creeping up the side of a building. Our good friends are always supportive (even if they don’t agree with our life choices), non-competitive, and understanding that even if we’re not succeeding at the moment. Good friends can create a refuge for us that protects us from the sometimes senseless and cruel world. Such relationships need to be treasured and guarded.

Reflective Essay Outline

Just as with so many essays, an outline can help you keep your thoughts organized. However, creating an outline is particularly useful when it comes to drafting a reflective essay.

The reason for this is that reflective essays can too easily become rambling and stream of conscious, leaving the reader wondering what the overall point is.

Jotting down ideas in a rambling and stream-of-conscious manner before your create your outline is great.

It helps you purge all your good (and bad) ideas in a way that is useful and uncensored. However, taking all of those notes and shaping them into an outline is one of the most useful things that you can do before you write.

This will ensure that all your body paragraphs continue to revolve around your thesis and they continue to help you illustrate your point.

A reflective essay outline will make sure that you have supporting points and examples that buttress your thesis in a way that is highly engaging.

Outline Example

Hook: My teacher assigned a reflective essay task and said we couldn’t talk about hanging out, the beach or our summer jobs.

Thesis: “My summer vacation was so boring, but it forced me to realize the power and necessity of friendship”

Body Paragraph 1: My friends hated their summer jobs, but showed me that it was still important to give it your all, as they did.

Body Paragraph 2:  My friends showed me that sometimes the most boring jobs are the ones that challenge us and force us to develop.

Body Paragraph 3: When I was ultimately fired from my summer job, after working myself to the bone all summer, it was my friends who offered me comfort and refuge.

Conclusion: Friendship can help you get through life’s challenges.

Outline Template


  • Creating/Engaging Hook Sentence (anecdote, quote, joke, adage):
  • Two to Three Sentences Describing Overall Theme:
  • Thesis Statement (what did you learn/discover/realize):


  • First Topic Sentence connecting to thesis:
  • Discoveries/realizations in connection to this topic sentence:


  • Second Topic Sentence illuminating thesis:
  • Supporting thoughts, findings and clarity on this sentence demonstrating the importance:


  • Third Topic Sentence emphasizing thesis:
  • Supporting thoughts, ideas, connections that provide further illumination:
  • Restate your thesis with new, non-repetitive vocabulary:
  • Recap your supporting points:
  • Connect your reflections to a larger concept within life/society/history/the future:

Download this reflective essay outline template in word or pdf format

Reflective Essay Template

After you’ve drafted your outline, sometimes harnessing the help of an actual reflective essay template can really help your writing stay focused.

Opening sentence designed to entice the reader, while introduce the overall theme of the essay.

  • Background sentence.
  • Background sentence that connects to concept of thesis.
  • Transitional statement. Statement of thesis

Topic sentence offering support/illumination of thesis

  • Discussion of relevance
  • Supporting details provided
  • Clear connection to how this topic sentence re-clarifies thesis
  • Description of importance
  • Supporting details or further description
  • Discussion of relevance to thesis
  • Discussion of significance
  • Connection to thesis

Restatement of thesis using new vocabulary words

  • Recap first main point.
  • Recap second main point.
  • Recap third main point.

Connection of thesis to greater issue or theme in the world or realization about self.

You can view or download this reflective essay template in word or PDF format .

Reflective Essay Topics

Nursing topics.

  • What does patient centered care mean to you?
  • How has being a nurse increased your own humanity?
  • How have your flaws impeded your level of care?
  • How have you developed as a nurse?
  • How has your nursing education opened your eyes regarding healthcare in America?
  • What is the most important lesson your patients taught you?
  • What have you learned about working with doctors?
  • What is the worst mistake you have made as a nurse and what did you learn from it?
  • What can you do to become better?
  • How can healthcare change in order to deliver more effective patient care?

High School Topics

  • Describe an adult in your life who has influenced you tremendous and explain why.
  • Think of a moment of failure that was most educational and discuss.
  • Think of a friend from childhood who you no longer see and describe what that person gave you.
  • Dreams change: often we abandon the dreams of our youth. Why do you think that is?
  • Discuss a friendship that has taught you something about yourself.
  • Describe a place that gives you deep inner peace and explain why.
  • Discuss a time when social media made you feel bad and what you learned from this experience.
  • Reflect on a belief you believed as child and now know to be false.
  • Discuss a childhood fear you had to face.
  • Describe a place that you think is magical and explain why.

Middle School Topics

  • What have your friends at school taught your through their actions and words?
  • Describe a time you broke the rules and what you learned.
  • Disliking people is more about how we feel about ourselves. Explain.
  • Discuss a teacher you thought was mean and describe what you learned about humanity through this experience.
  • Describe your worst day in middle school and what it taught you about yourself.
  • Think of an article of clothing that you own that gives you comfort and explain why.
  • Think of a smell that brings back a certain memory and describe why you like or dislike it.
  • Explain why many students hate their middle school years and what adults can do to fix that.
  • Think of a bully you know of and explain why people bully others.
  • Describe an item that you lost once and why you miss it.

College Topics

  • Reflect: College years are the best years of one’s life.
  • Reflect: The people you meet in college is a big part of the experience.
  • Discuss your worst day in college and how that has shaped you.
  • Consider what you’ve learned about yourself through the challenges of college.
  • College is forced independence: reflect.
  • How has the college experience prepared you for adulthood.
  • How has the college experience not prepared you for adulthood.
  • Discuss the most profound and meaningful thing you have learned in college.
  • Describe the most disappointing thing you learned about humanity through college.
  • Describe the most uplifting thing you learned about human behavior in college.
  • Describe how the college experience has taught you about your own flaws and strengths.

Current Event Topics

  • Reflect on how your perspective on politics has shifted over the years.
  • Discuss the complexities around the second amendment and your perspective.
  • Select a weather related disaster and describe how it impacted you.
  • Are you a feminist? Why or why not?
  • Why does racism still exist?
  • Have you ever been discriminated against?
  • How did the media influence you when you were growing up?
  • What is the role of the human being as caretaker of the earth?
  • Reflect on your thoughts about Trump’s presidency.
  • Reflect on your opinions regarding the veracity of the press.

what to write in a reflective essay conclusion

Reflective Essay Example

The work of art that impacted me the most as a young person was Nighthawks by Edward Hopper . This work of art had the most profound influence on me as a teenager growing up in New York, and made me a lifelong fan of the artist. The reason that this famous painting was so influential was because it appeared to meditate on the theme of reversals, inversions and opposites. This masterpiece demonstrated to me in my youth that there was beauty in the perceived darkness.

Hopper, in portraying the still beauty of a New York diner at night, is able to subvert the theme of loneliness into beauty. The loneliness of the image cannot be denied. The man and woman are not making eye contact despite sitting next to each other. It is unclear whether their hands, which rest on the counter, are touching or not.  Across from them, another diner eats by himself. The clerk hunches over, staring out vacantly. There’s a marked sense of solitude that each person experiences, there, in the middle of the night, away from all else, even among the presence of others. Rather than giving the painting a sense of the oppressive quality of loneliness, the painting finds a way to subvert the tone of loneliness into something beautiful and compelling.

Hopper’s use of color and light in the painting is able to create a sense of warmth and reassurance that mitigates the loneliness of the surrounding night. Outside of the café portrayed, a blue dark night and an empty street await. The enormous metropolis that surrounds the café is not as imposing given the stillness, warmth and light that the café offers. There are places to sit, coffee, and other comforts that give the individual a sense of reassurance. All of these elements help work together to ensure that the darkness of the cruel world that awaits them is not as intimidating and becomes more manageable.

This painting had such a profound impact on me because it suggested that perhaps other forms of discomfort in my life were also beautiful. Hopper’s painting was able to suggest that if there was beauty in loneliness in a big city, then perhaps there are beauty in other difficult experiences—such as in fear, uncertainty, jealousy, disappointment. Hopper is able to suggest through imagery, shade and atmosphere that there is a way to find solace even when things seem impossible and deeply imperfect. As a youth growing up in New York City, this was such an important thing to realize because it suggested to me that no matter how difficult things got, I would always have the city to go to. If I was mad at my parents or if I didn’t have my friends or had a bad day, I could still go to the city and take refuge there. The noise, the sounds, the traffic, the skyscrapers, the public places, the cafes—they were all there for me. This was something that I realized in communing with Edward Hopper’s painting.

Thus, Hopper’s world-famous painting Nighthawks explores the subversion of loneliness through color and content. This painting had such a tremendous impact on me by teaching me about the power and beauty in subversion. Nighthawks taught me a crucial lesson about how negative experiences don’t have to be all-dark. There is beauty to be found in the unpleasant, the difficult and the mysterious and that one should not shirk from such lessons. Finally, Hopper’s painting gave me a tremendous reminder that no matter how I felt or what growing pains I was going through, there was always the entire city of New York to take me into its embrace.

A reflective essay gives you a nice break from so much of the researching and fact finding that is such a big part of traditional essays.

With reflective essays, the research you do is inward, and you must explore through your own thoughts, experiences and feelings to gain clarity.

This can be a valuable experience as in writing this type of essay, you can learn a lot about yourself.

The most important thing to remember when writing such an assignment is to give yourself time to self-explore, and be always certain to answer honestly, even if you think your perspective is odd or unpopular.

Honest introspection will deliver more clarity about yourself and your place in the world than anything else.

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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:

Reflective essay outline

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:

“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

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.

“Now I realize the value of sports in the life of every student. The swimming courses I have attended since I was 13 are a great example of the way to support positive thinking and a healthy body.”

If you find it challenging, rely on our  professional essay writing service  and have your reflective essay done with academic standards in mind. 

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. 


Consider  buying essay papers  in case you've got other plans for the evening. Submit your details to StudyCrumb and get an astounding paper written in line with your requirements. Your assigned writer will handle any assignment with a blink of an eye!

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?”


Daniel Howard is an Essay Writing guru. He helps students create essays that will strike a chord with the readers.


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reflective essay

How to Write a Reflective Essay

what to write in a reflective essay conclusion

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?

reflective essay

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

tips 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

Looking back:

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. 

Final Thoughts    

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 Reflective Essay: Ultimate Guide + Example

What Is a Reflection Essay?

How to write a reflective paper and format it correctly, reflective essay outline: paper structure, how to start a reflective essay, how to formulate a strong thesis statement, writing the main body, how to conclude a reflective essay, choosing a good reflective essay topic, significant places and events, personal reflective essay ideas, helpful tips for writing a reflective essay, reflective essay example, final thought, frequently asked questions, 1. how long should a reflective essay be, 2. what is the difference between reflective essays and narrative, 3. how to write a reflection paper on an interview, 4. how to write a reflection paper on a book.

Reflective writing requires analytical skills. You should not just narrate a story or retell the plot of a book. You should be able to explain why it is important, how it influenced you or helped you grow . This essay type is rather personal. Thus, you should take your time to pick a topic that is interesting for you to write a good paper.

We have collected the most helpful tips to create an ultimate guide on reflective writing. It contains useful information on:

  • Reflective paper structure and outline.
  • Effective writing tips.
  • Good topic ideas.
  • Excellent reflective paper examples.

If you need guidance to understand how to write a good reflective essay or just extra information to improve your paper, check the article. It contains helpful tips and excellent examples. In case you are looking for a ' do my essay ' service, don't miss out on your chance to collaborate with the true experts in academic writing. 

A reflection essay is a type of writing in which you reflect on a particular topic and present your thoughts and opinion on it. It can be an event, phenomenon, concept, book, article, or some personal experience. This type of academic writing requires critical thinking to express your viewpoint . The most common are reflective papers on books and reflection personal essay .

However, the purpose of this piece of writing is not only to tell the story or share an opinion. You also explain how this particular situation, book, or person has influenced you, how you overcame problems, what emotions, thoughts, and feelings those situations or things evoked. You should also describe how those things or situations have changed you.

Let’s cut a long story short and learn the ropes of writing a reflection essay.

When you start writing a reflective essay, first, think of its format and how to present it. If it is a reflective paper on a book, it can be formatted as an essay, with all its structural components. However, it might also be a self-reflection essay. In such a case, it can be written in the form of a diary.

In general, reflective paper has several formats: an essay diary, learning diary reflection, self-assessment essay, reflective note, peer review, journal reflection, and logbook reflection. To choose the right one, check the given instructions and follow them to the letter. If some requirements are ambiguous, don’t hesitate to clarify those questions with your teacher. It is vital to understand all the guidelines to produce a quality paper.

When you are done with the instructions and all the requirements are quite clear, you can start your reflective writing. It encompasses the following steps.

  • Choosing the topic. If the topic was assigned, you can skip this step. In case it wasn’t, start brainstorming to find the one that fits you the most. First write down all the ideas that come to your mind, then start narrowing down your list until the best topic is left. Choosing the right topic, the one that is interesting for you, is a vital step in essay writing. 
  • Gathering relevant information. When you have made up your mind regarding the topic, conduct research. Find relevant information that might be used in your paper to back up your arguments. Read some articles to fill the knowledge gap in terms of the topic. You might also collect examples, interesting facts, and look through some essay examples for inspiration.
  • Creating an outline. With all the necessary information in hands, organize your ideas in a logical order and create a plan for your essay. Write down one main idea per each main body paragraph. When you have an outline, you will complete your essay faster. Read one more of our blogs if you still wonder how to write an essay online . So, there will be no need to think about what to write next. You have logically ordered ideas and just develop them.
  • Writing a draft. Write the first draft without extra focus on mistakes. Rather, concentrate on creating a catchy intro, compelling body paragraphs, and informative conclusion. After you have expressed all your ideas, correct such flaws as wrong wording, unclear sentences, grammar and stylistic mistakes. 
  • Citing properly. An important point in essay writing is citing. If you borrow ideas, properly cite them both in text and in the reference list. Otherwise, it would be considered plagiarism. It’s a serious issue, which even might lead to expulsion.
  • Having a fresh take. After you are done with your reflection paper, take a break. Then, proofread your paper for inconsistencies and mistakes. Do not forget to check it for plagiarism, too.

One more requirement to any type of writing is formatting style. You cannot submit a paper in a random format. It is usually mentioned in the instructions. The most common formatting styles are APA, MLA, Harvard, and Chicago. They all have different requirements to the title page, headings, formatting of in-text citations, and reference list.

If you are working on the paper for psychology, history, science, or law, it is highly likely to be in APA format. Here are the general guidelines of the APA format to the layout of the paper:

  • Margins – 1 inch on all sides.
  • Double spacing.
  • Times New Roman or Arial 12-point font.

Mind, you should not format the paper following any guidelines you know or like. You should follow the requirements provided by your teacher.

Want a helpful tip on how to write a paper fast  and without any mess? Create an outline. It is like the backbone of a paper. It contains all the main ideas discussed in paper presented in a logical order. Basically, the same order they will be discussed in your reflective essay.

Students often underestimate this step, i.e. creating an outline. They say it is a waste of time, and they can do without it. However, when you have a ready outline, you do not have to think about what idea comes next. You simply follow the plan.

How to do an outline for an essay ? There are two options. First, you may write one point per paragraph or heading. Second, you only write ideas per each essay part. Definitely, the more detailed the plan, the better.

Regarding the reflective paper structure. It has the same parts as any essay:

  • Introduction with a strong thesis statement.
  • Main body paragraphs.
  • Conclusion.

Let’s discuss in detail how to write each part of reflective writing and what to include in it.

As any academic writing, a reflective essay starts with an introduction. It should be catchy, informative, and brief. As this is the very first part, its purpose is to get the reader interested. Thus, it usually starts with a hook sentence . It can be a relevant quote, interesting fact or statistics, real-life example, a joke, hint to how the situation influenced you, etc. Reflective essays are rather personal. Thus, a real-life example might be the most appropriate hook sentence.

After this, introduce the topic . Whether it is a reflective paper on a book or a self-reflection essay, inform the reader about the topic or event you are going to reflect on.

Finish the paragraph with a thesis statement .

Thesis statement is the main idea of an essay. Missing this part means your paper misses the direction. It should be clear, succinct, and debatable . A strong thesis statement in essay should demonstrate your attitude to the situation or a thing, as well as present the outcome, the lesson learned, or the conclusion made.

It should be unique for every essay. Thus, your reflective paper thesis statement can not be :

  • A quote from a book.
  • General knowledge.
  • An obvious fact that does not express your opinion.

A strong thesis for a reflective essay should state the subject, your opinion, thoughts and feelings regarding it, or the lesson learnt and conclusions made.

The main body is the largest part of any essay. The number of paragraphs depends on the requested essay length. However, it is recommended to write at least three paragraphs in this part.

In the body, present your main points, arguments and examples. This is the part of an essay where you express all your main ideas, develop them, express your feelings and emotions. 

The main body paragraphs should:

  • Be logically developed.
  • Discuss only one idea per paragraph.
  • Be related to the thesis statement.
  • Be balanced.
  • Start with a topic sentence.

Reflective writing is tracing your emotions and reactions and answering personal questions. If it is a reflective essay on a book, mention the ideas that caught your attention first. Then, reflect on these parts. Tell what emotions or ideas they sparked in your mind. What is your attitude to these or that action or thing? How would you act or respond in a similar situation. Reflect on why these things impressed you.  When you are writing a self-reflection essay, first describe your experience. Highlight all the important details. Then answer some questions. Tell how you felt at the beginning and in the course of the event. Answer important questions. Use our blog telling how to write an essay about yourself . Its tips will help descripe your thoughts and express your feelins. Did your reaction change in the end or as some time has passed? Has this experience changed you or your perception of things? What lessons have you learned? What conclusions have you made? These answers will serve as the main body of your paper.

The last paragraph is the general overview and the summary of your reflective paper. A good conclusion paragraph should include the following components:

  • Restate the thesis statement.
  • Analyze and summarize (do not repeat) the main points of the paper.
  • Logically conclude the paper by drawing a general conclusion.

Considering that it is the last part of any text, its purpose is to summarize and conclude. Thus, do not introduce new ideas or those that contradict the information presented in your paper. It would be illogical. One of the common mistakes is retelling what was written in the essay. Avoid such approaches. Instead, demonstrate your critical thinking by analyzing and summarizing the key ideas of your paper. It is always better to see once, that's why we offer conclusion paragraph examples  for our users.  

Choice of the topic for a reflective paper is an important step. As it is a rather personal type of writing, you should pick something you want and can reflect on. If you are out of ideas, check the list of reflective essay topics. It might serve as an inspiration for you.

  • A day in life you would like to repeat
  • An experience you’ll never forget
  • A moment in life when you understood you fought your fear
  • How has school contributed to your character development ?
  • A movie/book that has changed your life
  • Place where you feel calm and comfortable
  • Feelings and thoughts when you think of your childhood
  • What do you call home?
  • A moment when you understood you are changing your life
  • Your feelings when you lost something valuable
  • How does it feel to know you have people who will always be there for you?
  • What do you like about yourself?
  • Your biggest fears
  • How do you imagine your future?
  • How do you overcome stress?
  • What does freedom mean for you?
  • Your biggest dreams
  • What makes you feel happy?
  • What breaks your heart?
  • What inspires you?
  • What are your unique qualities?
  • How do you reach your goals?

Follow these simple but effective tips to make a successful reflective paper:

  • Use first person narration. In the reflective paper, you are allowed to write from the first person. However, you should support your opinion and feelings with facts and evidence.
  • Add transitional elements for coherence. Include to your work linking words for smooth transition between ideas.
  • Follow the guidelines. Check out if you have followed the specific requirements to your reflection paper.
  • Don't get too personal. Although you describe your own experience, omit unnecessary details. It's an academic paper.
  • Maintain classical essay structure. Consider writing an introduction, main body paragraphs, conclusion. This is the best way to start if you need to learn how to write a reflection paper.
  • Make sure your paper has a structure. Although it’s rather personal paper, express ideas clearly and develop them logically.

Ensure you follow the classical essay structure ( 5 paragraph essay ), proofread, and check your paper for plagiarism. If you want to save some time, you may try academic assistance. They will help you with your piece of writing.

Reflective papers do not have unique length requirement. You should check the instructions. They should contain all the requirements regarding length, format, and content. Usually, these are short essays, taking close to 500-1000 words. If the word count is not mentioned, you can either clarify this question with your professor or write a medium size essay of about 600-800 words.

These are different essay types. In a narrative essay, you may use the story just to describe the situation or to express your viewpoint. The purpose of a reflective essay is not just to tell the story. You should also describe the challenge you overcome, how you managed to do that, what feelings and emotions it triggered, and what lessons you’ve learnt from the situation. If it is a reflection paper on a book, you should describe what feelings, emotions, questions it raises.

No matter if you are writing a reflection paper on an interview, book, or event, the rules remain the same. There should be a clear introduction with a strong thesis statement, logically developed main body, and conclusion that summarizes the whole paper. Think of the answers you did not like, those that you consider incomplete  or unclear. Reflect on why you think they were not that good, how could you make them better. Also, point to the answers and aspects you are totally satisfied with and also explain why and how it makes you feel so.

If you want to learn how to write a reflection paper on a book, follow three rules, have purpose, be personal, and analyze. It is not about just saying whether you liked it or not. The goal of this essay is to present your insights regarding the book.

For sure, you are not supposed to retell the whole story. You need to demonstrate critical thinking and show that you analyzed the book. Highlight the main ideas of the book.

Even if you are writing not about your particular experience, have a personal approach. Express your position regarding the information read.

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