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How to Write a Reflective Essay

How to Write a Reflective Essay

A reflective essay is usually requested by professors or teachers, as they allow you to share your experience with an article, lesson, or lecture. Reflections are very personal and subjective, but they must maintain a formal tone and should be well organized.

EssayPro writing service will share an effective writing guide on how to write a reflective essay with you.

Table of Contents

What Is a Reflection Paper?

A reflection paper is the type of academic writing assignment aimed to reveal more details about your identity. Mastering a reflective writing allows you to:

  • Analyze and conclude what you have read, heard, or seen;
  • Make connections between the text and yourself, or other texts and the world;
  • Think about what you have learned and how you can or will use the newly acquired information;
  • Write subjectively (from your point of view); Identify areas for further reading.

The guide below will lead you to the perfect reflection essay.

Writing a Reflective Paper

If you are writing a reflection on a certain text, annotate your initial emotions and thoughts while reading it. If you are writing about yourself or an event in your life, brainstorm by making a chart with three columns: past experiences, description, and reflection. This table should help you brainstorm and structure the introduction and the body of your essay.

Let's imagine you are writing about your experience at an animal shelter:

Example of Reflective Essay

Annotation of the experience at an animal shelter

Reflection Paper Format

The format of a reflective essay greatly differs from that of a normal argumentative or research paper. A reflective essay is more of a well-structured story or a diary entry. You will probably be required to arrange your essay using the APA format or the MLA format. The typical reflection essay length will vary between 300 and 700 words.

Ask your instructor about word length to make sure you follow the instructions.

Here, it is important to adhere to the academic style of writing. This essay is about you, therefore you should try to avoid too informal language. If your instructor asks you to format your paper in APA or MLA style, here are a few shorthands:


  • Times New Roman 12 pt font double spaced;
  • 1” margins;
  • Top right includes 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);
  • Last page includes a Works Cited.


  • Times New Roman 12 pt font double spaced;
  • 1” margins;
  • 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 Outline

To start organizing your reflective essay, take a look at your brainstorming table. The ‘past experience’ and ‘description’ should constitute less than 10% of your essay. Limit listing events and tell events as little as possible. Instead, show the events in your reflection.

Your Introduction Should Consist of:

  • The hook: grab the reader's attention in a short preview of what you’ll be writing about.

We found Buffy head-to-toe covered in tar, starved and fur in patches, under an abandoned garbage truck.

  • The reflective essay thesis statement should include that ‘past experience’ information; a brief statement of what your essay is going to be about.

That summer’s volunteering experience at the animal shelter inspired me to pursue this type of work in the future.

  • The structure of body paragraphs is best discussed in chronological events. Answer the bold questions in the ‘reflection’ section of the table; this should naturally create a linear storyline. No matter what you’re writing your essay about.

The Body Paragraph Outline Should Look Something Like This:

  • Expectation about the shelter
  • First impression
  • Expectations: "Thought it was going to be boring and mundane"
  • Working experience
  • Finding and rescuing Buffy
  • Other experiences with rescuing animals
  • Discoveries
  • Newly found passion and feelings toward the work
  • A newly developed mindset about animal treatment


Must wrap your ideas up and demonstrate development. Feelings newly found discoveries, and most importantly, plans for the future are important factors of the conclusion.

Buffy’s case inspired me to pursue a career as a veterinarian, hopefully, one day working in an animal shelter.

Do you need some help with your reflective essay outline? Count on the support of our professional writers.

Reflective Essay Topics and Ideas

The reflective essay is probably the one essay you can’t borrow a topic for because the essay should be about your own experiences. However, here are some prompts to help you begin:

  • An experience you can’t forget.
  • The time you overcame a fear.
  • The most difficult choice you had to make.
  • A time your beliefs were challenged.
  • Have you ever discovered something life-changing?
  • The happiest moment or the most frightening moment of your life that far.
  • What can people do to improve the quality of the world?
  • Name a time you felt lost.
  • Are you always making the right choice? Can you think of 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 3 parts.

  • In the first column, write key experiences or the main points. You can grade them from most to least important.
  • In the second column, list your personal response to the points you have stated in the first column.
  • In the third column, write how much of your response to share in the essay.

Visualisation of reflective essay content

Table of your reflective essay ideas

Writing Process

Watch What You Are Writing

A reflection paper is a very personal type of writing because it includes your feelings and opinions about something. Before including something in your paper, ask yourself is this information appropriate to include or not?

If you feel uncomfortable about something personal, avoid including it in your essay, or write about this issue in more general terms.

Stay Professional

Even though a reflection paper is personal, you should keep your mind organized.

  • Avoid slang: Use only correct spelling and grammar. Abbreviations like “LOL”, “OMG” or “ROFL” should be avoided in professional custom writing.

  • This is your story, so there is no need to drag someone else into your custom essay. Even if this person made the experience you are going to talk about, you must maintain professionalism and describe the actions, not the person. Additionally, you should frame those actions within the context of your writing.

Check Twice

Review your paper sentence by sentence to eliminate all mistakes.

  • Keep your sentences to the point. Avoid squeezing two thoughts into one sentence.
  • Don’t leave sentences unfinished; make sure that all your sentences have a purpose.

Put the Cherry on Top of Your Cake

Use transitional phrases to shift between arguments and introduce specific details. Using transitions will help your paper look professional. Additionally, you can ask our experts to smoothen out your writing.

Essay Rubric

Satisfactory essay:

  • The reflection provides the ‘big picture’ of the person’s experiences.
  • The student interweaves information regarding specific artifacts and how these artifacts were beneficial. The student’s experience paints details that are unique.
  • The reflection shows that the student has learned from their experience. Reflection reveals insight into personal goals
  • Demonstrates an ability to reflect on own work and an adequate number of examples are provided.
  • Reflection demonstrates personal perspective.
  • The essay has no grammatical and spelling errors, is an overall organized paper.

Unsatisfactory essay:

  • The reflection provides the pieces of the student’s experience. The essay is not written in a linear manner.
  • The students essay consists of generalizations and is not unique or memorable.
  • The reflection does not adequately demonstrate that the student has received knowledge from experience. The student does not state personal goals.
  • The essay insufficiently reflects on own work.
  • Reflection demonstrates universal perspective.
  • The essay has many grammatical and spelling errors, the paper is incoherent.

Reflection Paper Example

Click on the button to open the reflection paper example.


A reflective essay is a type of writing in which you interact with an audience and describe some moment or experience from your life. This “experience’ explores personal ideas, feelings, and opinions about the event and how it affected you. In order to write a strong reflective essay, you should not only explain the change you underwent but also support it with details and examples. For example, if you discuss becoming more optimistic in life, you would discuss how you took a positive approach and came out with a good outcome.

Got an Idea but Struggle with Implementation?

The fear of the blank page is a common thing among those who faces with writting. No worries, our professional writers here to assist you with your reflection essay. Want to get help with the outline? get help with the outline

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