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Write a Reflective Essay like a Pro and Get Top Grades

how to write a reflective essay

Reflective essays are types of academic works that look so easy, but students always complain that they are so hard to write. Therefore, if you find yourself stuck for hours, not knowing where to start or how to proceed, you are not alone. To help you with the problem, here is our comprehensive guide on how to write a reflective essay.

What is a Reflective Essay?

A reflective essay is a type of academic work where a college student is required to examine personal experiences in life. Teachers love to assign students reflective essays because they help them explore how they have changed or grown from specific experiences.

Consider a reflective essay akin to a personal diary, except that other people (your teacher in this case) will be reading it and requires a good structure and better coherence.

How to Write a Reflective Essay

When writing your reflective essay, you should start by identifying a good topic for your paper. Then, develop a good outline to guide you on what to write at what point of your paper. Here is a breakdown of a reflective essay outline:

Title of Your Paper: Great Reflective Essay Ideas

As we mentioned earlier, a reflective essay requires a lot of personal input because it captures personal experiences. However, here are some great essay ideas to get you started:

  • The most enthralling holiday experience that you will never forget.
  • A review of the most difficult choice that you have ever made in your life.
  • The one special moment when you overwhelmingly overcame fear.
  • A closer look at a time when your beliefs were challenged.
  • The most frightening moment that almost made you change your belief.
  • A reflection of a time when you felt lost.
  • Looking back at a time when you made a choice about something.
  • The moment in your life that you would want to relive.

How to Start a Reflective Essay Introduction

The introduction is the first section of your essay, and you should use it to capture the attention of the reader. So, here is how to start it and set the stage for a great paper. First, provide a hook statement to capture the attention of the reader and make him/her want to read the rest of the paper.

Then, you should provide some background for your essay to give it a strong premise. For example, if you are writing about something such as a “great holiday experience,” it will be important to tell the reader where exactly it is located and what is found there.

Then, close the introduction with a thesis statement. This statement captures your stand on the essay and will be evident throughout the essay. A common mistake when writing a reflective essay is to fail to make the thesis clear because it can confuse readers.

Overall the introduction should be short because the main details of the paper will be captured on the body. The rule of thumb is that your college reflective essay should be about five to ten sentences.

Reflective Essay Body

After the introduction, the next part of the reflective essay format is the body, which captures the bulk of the content that you want to discuss. Therefore, start by identifying the main points that you want to bring out in the essay and then discuss each of them in its own paragraph.

When working on the body paragraphs, you should start with the topic statement that brings out the main point and then use additional sentences to support it. Although you are talking about personal experiences, try to get a way to incorporating good resources. For example, if you are talking about the events that almost made you change your faith; consider capturing some quotes from the bible.

Repeat the same procedure until all the points are made. Note that you should target a smooth flow of points starting from the reflective essay title through the body, to the conclusion. For example, if you want to talk about the most distressful holiday, points showing how you prepared for it should come first in the body of the essay.

How to Write a Reflective Essay Conclusion

The conclusion is the last part of your reflective essay, and you should use it to summarize the main points. So, start by restating the thesis statement that you brought out in the introduction and then summarize the main points in just one paragraph.

Note that if you used additional resources for your essay, they should be cited well in the essay, and their full details captured in a separate reference page at the end.

Special Tips for Writing a Reflective Essay

After outlining the best reflective essay structure and detailing what each section should contain, you might be asking, “Is there a way of improving the reflective essay to make it sparkle more and rake higher grades?” Here are some expert tips that you should consider to make your reflective essay standout.

  • Write in First Person

Because you are talking about personal experiences, you should ensure that the essay is done in the first person. So, try to use statements such as “I prefer,” and “my point of view is,” among others.

  • Start by Working on Your Draft and Keep Improving It

If you want your work to sparkle, do not simply rush into writing the final paper. Instead, start by working on a draft, and refine it over time to create the final copy. A draft allows you to progressively improve your work by adding more points to make it conclusive.

  • Proofread Your Work Thoroughly

A common mistake that many students make when writing their reflective essays is failing to proofread their work well. If your teacher identifies mistakes, such as broken sentences and grammatical errors, he/she will award you low grades. Therefore, it is paramount to proofread your essay well to clear all the mistakes and ensure the points are presented well.

  • Read Another Top-rated Reflective Essay Sample

If you want to become a pro in crafting top-rated essays, it is paramount to ensure you read what other top writers have done. So, select one or several samples of excellent reflective essays and check how the writers did it. Then, practice writing something better.

  • Make Your Essay Concise and to the Point

Are you wondering how long should a reflective essay be? In most cases, the essays are five to seven paragraphs, which translates to a maximum of about 400-700 words. However, the goal should be following the number of words recommended by your teacher.

Reflective Essay Examples

To demonstrate how a reflective essay is done, here is an example with the little, “My Small Brother.”

“My Small Brother

In my life, there are dozens of experiences that I can quantify as life-changing. Every experience was, at some point, a new experience. Whether good or bad, each experience had impacts that changed my life. However, the most transformative was the arrival of my younger brother.

David is a baby my parents often referred to as a happy accident. When David was born, I was 12, and Steve, my other brother, was seven. We were what everyone would consider the perfect family, but we never realized what we were missing before David was born.

As a fact, I hated the idea that another sibling was about to join us from the feeling that we were having the best time. At 39, my mom was categorized high-risk because of age, and true to the doctor’s word, the pregnancy was full of complications. My 12 year-mind was thrown into a roller-coaster of trying to comprehend one question – why does a new sibling just come to disrupt us with all the trouble? However, the experience helped me to become more flexible and learn to handle what life inevitably throws my way.

On the day that David was born, my mom took me to the hospital instead of dad. Because dad and Steve were feverish, I was considered the perfect alternative. Sitting with mom through every contraction, I got a new respect for how strong a woman can be when others consider the time to be her weakest point.

Encouraging her with tears dropping in my cheeks, I developed a special connection with mom than I did not realize was missing before… “

Now that we have looked at the mechanics of writing a reflective essay, we hope you can craft one and rake good grades. However, you should also not hesitate to contact us for help because we have professionals capable of handling all types of academic works, including reflective essays.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ

How can I start a reflective essay?



When writing a reflective essay, the introduction must serve three very important functions. It must start with a hook that will guarantee the reader’s interest in the remaining essay. It must describe the setting of the experience you are going to describe. Moreover, it must establish your stance on it.

How long is a reflective essay?



A self-reflective essay is ideally between 400 and 700 words. On average, it contains 5-7 paragraphs including the introduction and the conclusion. However, depending on the experience you are recounting, you can make it smaller or longer, but not too much.

What is a personal reflective essay?



A personal reflective or self-reflective essay is one in which you have to write about a personal experience that affected you in the way that the teacher has mentioned in the prompt. Writing a reflective essay is very much like writing a personal diary, except for academic purposes.

How to make a good reflective essay?



Writing a reflective essay requires you to start with a proper introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction prefaces the premise, the body outlines the event and your perception of it, while the conclusion ties it all in with the prompt.


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