How to Write a Reflective Essay

How to Write a Reflective Essay
Phil Collins

Reflecting writing in general and reflective essay, in particular, is a test of your life experience. Its structure depends on the purpose and is determined by the expectations of the educator. At first, this seems like a straightforward task, but when you start writing, it becomes clear that this academic assignment requires a conscientious approach and attention to every detail, to ensure coherence and exposing 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 the reflective writing consists in revealing more details about the personality of an author. It helps to analyze what he or she has read, seen or heard—how this experience impacted his or her life and changed world perception.

What Is a Reflective Essay?

The reflective essay talks about personal writers' opinions concerning certain subjects. It's essential to choose an appropriate title before you start writing an essay. You must set the direction of thoughts. A formulated 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. You need to identify particular and crucial facts and circumstances that influenced your life experience during a specific time. You can talk about 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 accompanied you on the path to achieving 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 an essay on a free topic or an assigned one by your educator. 

The main thing that you should pay attention to is the ability to consistently develop a topic and keep your thoughts and ideas well-structured. You can use our paper topic generator to facilitate this task.

Think about the event that changed your world perception, made you learn lessons, and associate it with your life experience. First of all, create a mind map; it will allow 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 try to get them together, establishing some type of 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 an 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, sit down and carefully reread them, establish semantic links, cause-effect relationships, etc. 

Use the vocabulary carefully to transmit feelings and emotions. The descriptive component is vital in a reflective essay; in other words, it must contain a significant number of specific adjectives with insight connotation.

Reflective Essay Structure

Reflective Essay Structure

While writing a reflective essay, 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 to a keyboard, start typing the first sentence, whole paragraph, and remember that you always have an 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 to create a chart or table to follow your ideas. For example, divide it into three parts:

  1. your experience 
  2. your feelings in emotions of this experience
  3. 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 impacts.
  • Look back, and if there is an opportunity to change something in the past, would you do it? 
  • Would you like to relive this experience?
  • As time passes, do you think your attitude towards this experience has changed?
  • Did you do the right things and make the right decisions?

The most popular topics of a reflective essay

  • My first job interview experience?
  • The most important features of a good friendship.
  • The fears of the first dates.
  • A break-up that I will never forget. 
  • The moment I overcame the fear of….
  • One of the most difficult choices of my life.
  • The happiest or worthiest moment of my life.
  • Fears about my future career. 
  • Uncertainty of the future. 
  • Qualities that annoy me in people.
  • How to survive the betrayal of a loved one.
  • A journey that changed my life.  
  • The book that turned my life upside down. 
  • My emotions when I saw the ocean for the first time. 
  • Looking at a sunset.
  • I am moving to another city, fear of the unknown.
  • The feeling of the first victory

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How to Start a Reflective Essay          

It's fundamental to get acquainted with the structure of a reflective essay before you start writing it. The structure of this essay doesn't differ a lot from others, but it's obligatory to follow all the requirements. The main parts are the introduction, body, and conclusion. 

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 introduction 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 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, short personal story, or flashbacks. To make your introduction sound more authoritative, you can use one or more quotations. 

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. There are two ways of scientific research: deductive and inductive. The first one means to research by testing theory or hypothesis on the 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 gives you a chance to analyze the experience and how it affected your life. For statements and reflection 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 describing what went wrong or would be improved. Reflections about learned material, underlining important nuances, conclusions about the gained experience are always welcome. 

How to Finish a Reflection Essay

First of all, we want to emphasize that the conclusions should be as transparent as possible, formulated, and based on the information and facts mentioned in the essay. In conclusion, you summarize the work done, briefly and objectively indicate the positive and negative sides of the situation or experience. It is also worth listing the undergone transformations, and whether you find it useful to overcome difficulties on the way to success. 

Keep in mind that your reflection reveals your personality and shows you as you are. A perfect conclusion should retell the story using other words, underlining the main ideas, and the research's logical conclusion. You need to be competent, sound reasonable, and сonfident. 

Guidelines for Writing a 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: 

  • Write about your personal experience; don't invent. 
  • Use formal language; try to follow the scientific style of writing.
  • Use interpretational words and phrases to introduce details. 
  • Don't make your story too long and tedious; try to be сlear and brief. 
  • Avoid the usage of the slang.
  • Support your paper with evidence.
  • Always follow the requirements you were given. 
  • Consider using additional sources to demonstrate your understanding of your experience from a theoretical perspective.

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

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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    

A reflective essay helps take a look and analyze the authors' life, personality, notable events, and encounters that influenced, changed and transformed the writer's character. The purpose of this type of essay consists in expressing personal emotions and attitudes regarding significant life incidents. Remember to reread your reflection essay several times to be confident you comply with all the requirements or ask to help our writers from reflective essay writing service

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 conduct an excellent job and help you get rid of the unnecessary headache.

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