Home Blog How to Write a Reflective Essay: Step by Step Guide

How to Write a Reflective Essay: Step by Step Guide

 How to Write a Reflective Essay: Step by Step Guide

Have you been assigned to write a reflective essay?

If yes then it will be a great chance for you to polish your creativity and writing skills.

If you are one of those school or college students who lack knowledge about how to write such an essay, you are at the absolutely right spot.

This article is the complete guide for you to write an impressive and good reflective essay. Dive in and learn.

What Is a Reflective Essay?

If you want to learn what is a reflective essay, here is the reflective essay definition:

“A reflective essay describes an experience or event and analyzes the meaning of that particular experience and the lessons it delivers.”

One thing that makes it a reflective essay is that the writer analyzes an event of the past from the present.

When writing a reflective essay, you are required to open up about your emotions and thoughts in order to paint a clear picture of your personality, history, and individual traits.

It is required that you include a description and a vivid summary of the experience; it will make the reader feel that he has experienced it as well. Moreover, you need to explain your reactions, thoughts, feelings and emotions.

How to Write a Reflective Essay

Writing a reflective essay is a great chance to polish your skills of writing and enhance your creativity. However, sometimes, it gets difficult and confusing to write it. There are many high school as well as college students who get confused thinking where to start.

Remember one thing going in a sequence is always your best bet of getting everything right. So, we have curated step by step instructions to answer your question.

Thinking about how to start a reflective essay strong? Below is a set of instructions that will help you start and write the perfect essay:

Choose Your Topic Carefully

If you are given freedom of choosing a topic and you don’t have any idea regarding it then the best way of doing it is to brainstorm and research some trending and good topic ideas. A common mistake when writing a reflective essay is to choose a topic that is too broad or too narrow.

Such a topic will take you nowhere so choose a topic that is broad but has a focused appeal.

Research About Your Subject

Make sure you do thorough research on your topic first. Close your eyes and start imagining or remembering. Watch, listen, and read the information regarding your topic.


Before you even start writing, brainstorm your ideas first. It is always a wise step to take before writing anything.

Choose Reflection Questions

Take a look at the questions below to get a better idea:

  • What did I notice?
  • What do I feel about it?
  • Why am I feeling this way?
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Answer the Questions You Have Chosen

After selecting your questions, you need to give their answers. Start from one essay question, make sure you answer it properly. After that, head on to the next one.

Recognize Your Experience Meaning

Before you even start writing, you need to choose what is that most significant lesson you have learned from your experience. This “most significant lesson or thing” is going to be the thesis of your essay.

Follow the Structure

Like all the other essays, reflective essay has also the same format which comprises the introduction, body and conclusion paragraphs.

Proofread and Edit

Never ever submit your blog without editing or proofreading . Even though you have spent hours of effort and put a lot of hard work in doing your essay, your essay will have no worth if you haven't proofread and edited it.

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Reflective Essay Outline (PDF)
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Reflective Essay Ideas

Check out these reflective essay ideas on the most common subjects you can write about:

  1. Something from your imagination
  2. Something you have experienced in real
  3. A special object
  4. Something you have seen, heard, read, watched, touched, or smelled.

I am sure these subjects must have sparked your imagination, but here are a few essay topics that will help you get the bigger picture. These topics will help you understand the kind of topics teachers like to assign.

  1. The desert, mountains, countryside or beach
  2. A special room or hideaway
  3. The house you grew up
  4. Home of some relative
  5. A relative's home
  6. New Experiences
  7. Special date
  8. Important conversation
  9. Significant memory
  10. The time you overcame your fears

All these topics will help you get a picture of what good ideas are like and how to come up with one of your own.

Reflective Essay Format

The reflective essay format is similar to other essay formats. Here is the structure for you to learn how to start a reflective essay:

  • Introduction

To understand and know how to start a reflective essay introduction, you must first understand that an introduction is a brief information about the main topic and its background. In the reflective essay introduction, you will recognize the subject and provide the reader with an overview of the impression you have taken from it. The introductory paragraph of your reflective essay needs to include a thesis statement which will act as a focal point of your paper.

  • Body Paragraphs

The first body paragraph should include one reason your subject has made an impactful impression on you. After mentioning that reason state why it had an impact on you. Whatever the kind of essay, a body paragraph full of facts will help strengthen it further.

The body of your essay is also where you will describe most of the ideas you touched in your introduction.

  • Conclusion

Restate your thesis statement and summarize all the reasons that you have mentioned in the body paragraphs of the essay. After that, sum up your essay with your final thoughts on the subject; close your essay with some reflective thoughts.

A reflective essay is slightly different from other essays as it requires a personal point of view of a chosen subject. You need to analyze a particular subject with your personal experience, understanding and knowledge.

The only key to write a reflective essay is that you need to be more expressive. The more expressive you are, the merrier it will be for your essay. Feel free to talk about life experiences that are valid to your topic. Writing your reflections can actually be a strength in this kind of essay.

Remember this article or revisit it every time you are assigned to write a reflective essay and amaze your teacher with your outstanding content. Get the downloadable version of the reflective essay template below.

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Reflective Essay Format and Template (PDF)
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Reflective Essay Samples

We know that learning from examples is easier and simpler than presenting everything in hard facts and statements. To ease the process for you, we have added some good reflective essay examples below.

Personal Reflective Essay Examples

A personal or self reflective essay explains a personal experience and how the narrator feels about it. It can include anything from a travel experience to a picnic, or anything else. Get the samples below.

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Personal Reflective Essay Examples (PDF)
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English Reflective Essay Examples (PDF)

A question that many students are always asking and wondering about is why is shooting an elephant classified as a reflective essay. The work is a short story, written by George Orwell and narrates the writer’s time that he spent in Burma. The story is considered as a reflective essay because it follows the usual reflective essay format and explains Orwell’s various emotions and feelings that he experienced during the incidence and the time.

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