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How one can Write a Reflective Essay: A Complete Information

You’re most likely used to responding to totally different sources in essays. For instance, in an instructional essay, you may evaluate two books’ themes, argue for or in opposition to a place, analyze a bit of literature, or persuade the reader with information and statistics.

In a method, a reflective essay is much like an instructional essay. Like an instructional essay, a reflective essay can talk about concepts and ideas from books, literature, essays, or articles. Nonetheless, not like an instructional essay, it focuses on how your private expertise pertains to these items.

What’s a reflective essay?

Reflective essays are a sort of private essay during which the author examines a subject by the lens of their distinctive perspective. Reflective essays are extra subjective about their topics than an instructional essay, use figurative language, and don’t require tutorial sources. The aim of a reflective essay is to discover and share the writer’s ideas, views, and experiences.

Reflective essays are sometimes written for faculty purposes and canopy letters as a method for the author to debate their background and reveal how these experiences formed them into an excellent candidate. For instance, a school applicant may write a reflective essay about how shifting each few years due to their dad or mum’s navy service impacted their idea of residence.

Typically, reflective essays are tutorial assignments. For instance, a scholar could also be assigned to look at a movie or go to a museum exhibition and write a reflective essay in regards to the movie or exhibition’s themes. Reflective essays may also be items of private writing, resembling weblog posts or journal entries.

Reflective essay vs. narrative essay

There are a couple of similarities between reflective essays and narrative essays. Each are private items of writing during which the writer explores their ideas about their experiences. However right here’s the principle distinction: Whereas a story essay focuses on a narrative about occasions within the writer’s life, a reflective essay focuses on the modifications the writer underwent due to these occasions. A story essay has most of the similar parts as a fictional story: setting, characters, plot, and battle. A reflective essay will get granular in regards to the circumstances and modifications pushed by the battle and doesn’t essentially intention to inform a full story.

Reflective essays primarily based on tutorial materials

You is perhaps assigned to write down a reflective essay on an instructional textual content, resembling an essay, a ebook, or an article. In contrast to a reflective essay about your individual private experiences, this sort of reflective essay entails evaluation and interpretation of the fabric. Nonetheless, not like in an analytical essay, the place you assist is knowledgeable by your individual opinion and perspective quite than solely by the textual content.

How to decide on a subject

A reflective essay could be about any matter. By definition, a reflective essay is an essay the place the author describes an occasion or expertise (or collection of occasions or experiences) after which discusses and analyzes the teachings they derived from their expertise. This expertise could be about something, whether or not large life occasions like shifting to a brand new nation or smaller experiences like attempting sushi for the primary time. The subject could be severe, lighthearted, poignant, or just entertaining.

In case your reflective essay is for an project or an utility, you is perhaps given a subject. In some circumstances, you is perhaps given a broad space or key phrase after which need to develop your individual matter associated to these issues. In different circumstances, you won’t be given something. Irrespective of which is the case to your essay, there are a couple of methods to discover reflective essay concepts and develop your matter.


Freewriting is a writing train the place you merely write no matter involves thoughts for a set time period with out worrying about grammar or construction and even writing one thing coherent. The aim is to get your concepts onto paper and discover them creatively, and by eradicating the strain to write down one thing submittable, you’re giving your self extra room to play with these concepts.

Make a thoughts map

A thoughts map is a diagram that reveals the relationships between concepts, occasions, and different phrases associated to at least one central idea. For instance, a thoughts map for the phrase ebook may department into the next phrases: fiction, nonfiction, digital, hardcover. Every of those phrases then branches to subtopics. These subtopics additional department to subtopics of their very own, demonstrating simply how deep you’ll be able to discover a topic.

Making a thoughts map generally is a useful solution to discover your ideas and emotions in regards to the expertise you talk about in your essay.

Actual-life experiences

You will discover inspiration for a reflective essay from any a part of your life. Take into consideration an expertise that shifted your worldview or dramatically modified your each day routine. Or you’ll be able to deal with the smaller, even mundane, components of life like your weekly cleansing routine or journeys to the grocery retailer. In a reflective essay, you don’t simply describe experiences; you discover how they form you and your emotions.

Reflective essay define


A reflective essay’s introduction paragraph wants to incorporate:

  • A hook
  • A thesis assertion

The hook is the sentence that catches the reader’s consideration and makes them need to learn extra. This may be an surprising truth, an intriguing statistic, a left-field commentary, or a query that will get the reader’s thoughts fascinated with the essay’s matter.

The thesis assertion is a concise assertion that introduces the reader to the essay’s matter. A thesis assertion clearly spells out the subject and offers the reader context for the remainder of the essay they’re about to learn.

These aren’t all of the issues {that a} reflective essay’s introduction wants, nonetheless. This paragraph must successfully introduce the subject, which regularly means introducing a couple of of the concepts mentioned within the essay’s physique paragraphs alongside the hook and thesis assertion.

Physique paragraphs

Your essay’s physique paragraphs are the place you truly discover the expertise you’re reflecting on. You may evaluate experiences, describe scenes and your feelings following them, recount interactions, and distinction it with any expectations you had beforehand.

Until you’re writing for a particular project, there’s no required variety of physique paragraphs to your reflective essay. Usually, authors write three physique paragraphs, but when your essay wants solely two—or it wants 4 or 5—to completely talk your expertise and reflection, that’s completely high-quality.


Within the remaining part, tie up any unfastened ends from the essay’s physique paragraphs. Point out your thesis assertion within the conclusion, both by restating it or paraphrasing it. Give the reader a way of completion by together with a remaining thought or two. Nonetheless, these ideas ought to mirror statements you made within the physique paragraphs quite than introduce something new to the essay. Your conclusion must also clearly share how the expertise or occasions you mentioned affected you (and, if relevant, proceed to take action).

6 suggestions for writing a reflective essay

Select a tone

Earlier than you start to write down your reflective essay, select a tone. As a result of a reflective essay is extra private than an instructional essay, you don’t want to make use of a strict, formal tone. You can even use private pronouns like I and me in your essay as a result of this essay is about your private experiences.

Be conscious of size

Usually, 5 hundred to at least one thousand phrases is an acceptable size for a reflective essay. If it’s a private piece, it might be longer.

You is perhaps required to maintain your essay inside a common phrase rely if it’s an project or a part of an utility. When that is the case, be conscious to stay to the phrase rely—writing too little or an excessive amount of can have a damaging influence in your grade or your candidacy.

Keep on matter

A reflective essay displays on a single matter. Whether or not that matter is a one-off occasion or a recurring expertise in your life, it’s vital to maintain your writing centered on that matter.

Be clear and concise

In a reflective essay, introspection and vivid imagery are belongings. Nonetheless, the essay’s language ought to stay concise, and its construction ought to observe a logical narrative.

Keep skilled

Though you aren’t certain to a proper tone, it’s typically finest to make use of knowledgeable tone in your reflective writing. Keep away from utilizing slang or overly acquainted language, particularly in case your reflective essay is a component of a faculty or job utility.


Earlier than you hit “ship” or “submit,” make sure to proofread your work. For this final read-through, try to be centered on catching any spelling or grammatical errors you may need missed.

Reflective essay FAQs

What’s a reflective essay?

Reflective essays are a sort of private essay that examines a subject by the lens of thewriter’s distinctive perspective. They’re extra subjective about their topics than an instructional essay, use figurative language, and don’t require tutorial sources.

What’s the distinction between a reflective essay and a story essay?

Whereas a reflective essay focuses on its writer’s emotions and views surrounding occasions they’ve skilled or texts they’ve learn, a story essay tells a narrative. A story essay may present modifications the writer underwent by the identical conventions a fictional story makes use of to indicate character progress; a reflective essay discusses this progress extra explicitly and explores it in depth.

What are instance matters for a reflective essay?

  • Shifting overseas and adapting to the native tradition
  • Recovering from an athletic damage
  • Weekly telephone conversations together with your grandmother
  • The funniest joke you ever heard (and what made it so humorous)

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