How to Write a Reflective Essay?

November 19, 2018
How to Write a Reflective Essay

Reflective essays are those type of papers that appear quite easy from the outset but are actually quite hard to write. It is common for students to find themselves staring at a blank screen, without a clue how to begin this assignment. Well, if you find the process challenging, then you are luckн. Here, you will find informative tips on how to start and complete a quality reflective paper.


What Is a Reflective Essay?

In your academic life, you will likely meet numerous types of assignments with different formats and requirements. The reflective essay is one of the most common tasks instructors use to assess students’ writing ability. In this respect, the reflective essay is a paper describing an experience or event, then analyzing its implications and lessons learned. An essay is only said to be reflective when the author examines a past event from the present perspective.

To effectively write this type of work, you will need to open up your thoughts and emotions so as to paint a vivid picture of your personality, history, or individual traits. A good author includes a lucid summary and description of the experience allowing the reader to step into your shoes.

Reflective essays are often assigned to encourage students to consider what they are learning and the progress they have made in life. Literary reflections, for instance, allow students to summarize and respond to the material as to understand it better and relate it to real-world scenarios. Reflective papers are not a preserve of academia. In fact, many professions use this type of paper to encourage workers to learn.

How to Start a Reflective Essay?

One of the most challenging tasks in writing a reflective essay is how to start it out. Many writers, even the experienced ones, confess to spending valuable hours staring at a blank screen, without a clue where to start from. Here are some tips to ensure that you begin the writing as soon as possible.

Start by brainstorming several options for your topic and noting down anything that comes to your mind about the subject. The goal of this paper is to describe the subject vividly. The ideas you collect will form the basis of your outline.

The next step should be choosing an interesting topic to write about. Of course, you may be assigned a topic to work with. If given free rein to select your own topic, make sure you pick something that you find interesting and which you will have enough material to write on. Look at our list of reflective topics for inspiration or ask our experienced writers for assistance.

The most important part of planning for the writing process is the reflection. The core activity is thinking about how the personal experience has changed you or impacted your perception. Use reflection questions to help think deeper about the subject.

Useful Tips on How to Write a Good Reflective Essay?

As with all written assignments, drafting a reflective paper can be challenging. However, if you have taken the time to prepare a detailed plan, the actual writing should be easy. Here are some points to get you started on the drafting process.

Read samples from our site and from magazines to get an idea of the format to use for your paper. Don’t spend too much time thinking about how to start your first sentence. Instead, use freewriting. Noting down anything that comes to mind. At this stage, don’t be concerned about such things as grammar and syntax. There will be time later to edit and proofread the work. Please note that, while freewriting is useful in getting your ideas flowing, try to observe the outline you created in the prewriting phase.

In addition, use specific words to describe your exact feelings and write in the first person. Be honest with your opinions and beliefs. Your instructor will most likely expect a deep level of reflection, rather than a superficial review of your emotion and experiences. Move beyond mere description to incorporate critical analyses. Make sure to highlight your “Aha!” moment or the turning point, as well as the lessons learned from the experience.

Feel free to use wider sources to demonstrate your understanding of the experience from a theoretical point of view. The sources you choose to include will depend on your field of study. They will be proof that you have studied widely and that you understand the implications of the literature on day-to-day experiences.

Read more: 50 Reflective Essay Topic Ideas

Reflective Essay Outline

As previously noted, while freewriting can get you going, having a concrete plan helps to organize your ideas and provide flow to your writing. Writing from an outline is particularly important when writing a reflection paper since most students tend to stray from the topic and get disorganized as they narrate life experiences. An outline helps you to establish the basic details that should be included in the text and should help you pick out any unnecessary information. When writing from a plan, you are able to make your writing as succinct as possible.

Reflective Essay Structure

Like every type of academic writing, reflective papers are organized in a particular way. While the format may change slightly depending on the course and the target audience, the organization mostly follows the three-part approach used for most essays. Your paper will include an introduction, body, and conclusion. All of these sections are connected and perform unique, yet interdependent functions.

Reflective Essay Introduction

As you read through various essay writing guidelines, you may notice that emphasis is placed on the introduction section, for a good reason. This is the first part of your paper that your readers get to see when they glance at your work. In fact, studies show that most readers make judgments on a piece after reading the first paragraph. Given its importance, most students feel overwhelmed when writing the introduction. As you will notice, this part of the essay is actually not that complicated to write.

A good introduction contains a hook, some background information, and a thesis statement. The hook is the very first sentence in your introductory paragraph. It serves to capture the attention of the reader. Use this part to present the exciting elements of your story. Once you have the reader interested in your work, the next element is to file the central claim of the thesis statement. This is a brief summary of your essay’s focus. Avoid the temptation to provide too much information in the introduction.

Reflective Essay Body Paragraph

After the introduction, the next element of your paper should be the body paragraphs. Your outline should help you organize this section and avoid repetition. For the reflective piece, try using a chronological approach, presenting events as they occurred in time. Please note, however, that this paper does not have to be linear. Most importantly, ensure that your work is focused and contains proper reflection and critique.

Reflective Essay Conclusion

The final part of your reflective paper is the conclusion, where you provide closure by bringing together your main points. Use this part to reiterate the lessons you have learned from the experience. Keep in mind that your instructor will expect proof of reflection.

The tips highlighted here are meant to give you an idea of how to start and successfully complete your reflective paper. If you still find the process challenging, then it may be a good idea to get professional writing assistance from our service. We have competent masters and Ph.D. writers ready to help with drafting a custom paper for you. All you need to do is place an order.

Reflective Essay Example

The Problem of Abortion

One of the gravest moral and ethical issues facing people today is that of abortion. The two sides of the argument are very polarized, neither brooking any opposition. The positions are so seriously engrained and so emotional, that people are sometimes killed debating this issue of whether a woman has the right to terminate her pregnancy and what period of the pregnancy an abortion can be legally or morally acceptable. The truth of the matter is that it is a woman’s body and so it a woman’s choice to decide what happens within that body. The only other person who can have some input (but not make a final decision) is the woman’s doctor. In some cases, an abortion may be too risky.

Roe v. Wade is currently good law in the United States, though there are always people seeking to undermine it. For my part, I understand that people believe a baby is a living being when it has a heartbeat. You can detect a heartbeat with an ultrasound at 4 weeks past conception. If someone dies when their heart stops, shouldn’t life begin then? That for me is the simplest way of putting this difficult issue from the perspective of the pro-life camp. The debate about abortion is often framed by people’s personal experience. Some people may have been impregnated by a rapist or incestuously—that will plainly alter the way they look at the value of their pregnancy. Other people will have been working hard to get pregnant and see all pregnancies as a gift. The debate is between impersonal factors and personal factors. Because the abortion issue involves so many of both, the waters are muddied.

That for me is the crux of the issue, but others have more complex reactions. Some people believe that abortion opens up many metaphysical questions—for example, should we enlarge our definition of family to include unborn children? Exactly when does life begin—at the moment of conception, at the moment of heartbeat, at the moment the baby crowns? According to Thiroux, ethics and religion are closely linked. Sometimes this is good and sometimes it is bad. Part of the reason the debate is so difficult is because there is obviously no clear-cut definition that can be reasonably or scientifically upheld and yet the question forces us to come to a conclusion—even if this may not be possible. That conclusion must be grounded in something. Why not in the human rights of the woman?

Certainly questions about abortion have exploded in recent years, as the author points out, because of the way technology is changing the moral dimensions of our lives. We can now see foetuses in the womb using ultrasound technology and can tell a lot about them and their health early on. Some people even post photos of their ultrasounds on Facebook, effectively announcing to the world: “I’m having a baby”—even though the baby has a long way to go before being born. We see the “baby” much earlier, we know much more about the science. Does this make it easier to decide? Perhaps not.

In the end, though, it comes down to the woman’s body. She has the rights to that body so she must decide what medical procedures that body undergoes.

Work consulted

Jones, Rachel K., Darroch, Jacqueline E., Henshaw, Stanley K. (2002). Contraceptive Use Among U.S. Women Having Abortions in 2000–2001. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 34 (6).’

Pregler, Janet P.; DeCherney, Alan H. (2002). Women’s health: principles and clinical practice. pmph usa. p. 232.

Thiroux, Jacques (2009). Ethics, Theory and Practice, 10th edition

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