A Complete Guide on How Do You Write a Reflective Essay

You would think it is quite easy to write a reflective essay about your personal experience until you sit down and discover you have no words, to begin with. This, unfortunately, is a problem faced by many students.

A piece of reflective writing contains an evaluation, analysis, and reflection on an experience. Just as it is with all other essays, a reflective essay outline follows the same format, consisting of an introduction, multiple body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

This article will provide you with a complete guide on how to start a reflective essay, including some examples and advice on the writing process.

What is a reflection in writing?

A reflection, in simple terms, refers to deep thought or consideration. In writing, this can be understood as the consideration of a topic in light of a writer’s personal experience. In this type of essay, the writer analyses their personalities, traits, and feelings from an experience in such a way that this experience is projected onto the readers.

The goal of a reflective essay is for the writer to examine how the experience changed him or her, or the lessons learned from that particular experience. In this type of writing, the structure of a reflective essay revolves around certain reflective questions that fulfill the purpose of the essay. Some of these questions include:

  • How did this experience change me?
  • What did I learn from this experience?
  • Why did I feel a certain way?
  • Did others experience it differently? If so, why?
  • Was there something I could have done differently?
  • How can the lessons I learned be applied in the future?
  • Has my perspective changed from this experience?
  • What effect did this have on me and why?
  • Why did I react the way that I did?
  • Could I have reacted differently?

The formats of a reflective essay

A typical reflective essay format focuses on two things: personal growth and literature. A focus on personal growth allows the writer to examine personal experiences for the promotion of mental and emotional growth. A focus on literature, on the other hand, necessitates the writer to summarize a specific piece of literature and connect their personal experiences with those of the characters in the literature.

Topics for this type of writing can be gotten from: places you have visited; personal life-changing events; recurring or significant thoughts; impactful experiences (a post on social media, a concert, a book, a movie, and so on); and important people (family, friends, coach, enemy, a person who hurt you, a lover, and many more).

How to write a reflective essay

As earlier stated, a reflection essay structure comprises an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Below is a step-by-step guide to writing a reflective essay.

  1. An introduction

The first paragraph should include your theme or subject as well as your impression of it. Here, you provide your readers with background information on the topic you intend to write about. Think of it as an overview that introduces your topic. Your thesis statement should also be included here, as this will become the center of your essay.

  1. A body

Depending on the specific length required of you by your teacher or lecturer, your body can contain up to 3 or more paragraphs. These paragraphs should consist of supporting and developing sentences that examine your experience. Each paragraph should contain one reason, analysis, or impression. Keep in mind that in a reflective essay, your purpose is to examine and analyze. There are no false or true answers in a reflective essay. Here, you simply attempt to answer the reflective questions previously listed above.

  1. A conclusion

Your concluding paragraph should include a recap of your thesis statement and the reasons stated in your body paragraphs. After summarizing, you can round up your essay by writing a reflective thought.


The first step to starting a reflective essay is choosing a topic. After that, you study the subject, do research and brainstorm, answer the reflective questions you chose, and identify the meaning of your experience. The above steps will guide you when writing your reflective essay.

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