Reflective Essay: Tips and Examples That Will Help You Write a Winning Essay

Reflective essay is a tricky type of a written assignment because at first they seem very easy to write, but when you begin doing it you realize you may be facing some difficulties. Let us first clarify what is a reflective essay?

This type of writing describes a situation from the life of its author or their life experience, its analysis and lessons it gave the writer and the readers. Its peculiar feature is that the author gives their opinion of the past event but from the perspective of the present.

Designing a reflective paper the author is expected to open up, reveal their emotions and feelings, impressions and experience, thus letting the audience see the author’s character, personality. Remember to add your ideas about the feelings you have about the event.

It is also important to provide details of the situation in questions. And, you should compose the text in such a manner that your audience can live through the situation while reading it.

In the essay one should cover the following aspects:

  • Real experience from one’s life
  • Imaginary event
  • A place or an object with special meaning for the writer
  • Something a writer has experienced through senses: sight, touch, smell, hearing or taste.

Essay Format

Reflective essay may be written in different formats, the choice depends on the purpose of the paper. In most cases it is written as an entry in your diary. This format helps to analyze the progress of thoughts and feelings through the lens of time.

These essays can be written in an academic style or have broader format if written for a magazine/newspaper. Normally, a teacher indicates the format of the paper students need to write. What teachers want from students is that they develop critical thinking on a specific event from their life, share their experience and learn from that experience.

Students may choose to cover:

  • personal growth – this type of paper helps students analyze themselves and their behavior better;
  • Literature issues – in this type of paper a student is to analyze a piece of literature and see how it reflected or can reflect on their life.

Not matter of the format you chose to write, the reflective essay structure should be standard. It usually consists of an introductory part, body part and conclusive part.

What Can You Write About?

When you design a reflective essay, remember that this paper should be very personal. You do not simply describe the event from the past, you share your feelings and emotions about it, and how it impacted your inner world, your life.

You may write about both negative and positive experiences of your life. Your teacher will probably want you to focus on one specific episode and describe its results. Writing it you have to engage all your senses to make it look and feel deeply personal and emotional. It is more important to focus on the outcomes of the event than its description.

How to Reflect?

After you have made up your mind about the topic, take time to remember this episode to the smallest details, refresh your feelings at that moment. As you begin remembering make notes of everything you recollect.

When it feels like your memory is empty proceed to reflecting. Using special reflective questions will assist you in coping with the task:

  • Did I discover anything new about myself in the end?
  • Was the experience positive or negative?
  • Would you change anything if you could go back in that situation?
  • What made you take actions that you did at that moment?
  • Was that a useful experience?

How to Start a Reflective Essay

Beginning your work without taking some preparatory steps is not the best idea.

Your primary task is selecting the topic. Sometimes you may be given the topic by your teacher, but in most cases you can give your imagination real freedom. Maybe you had decisive events in your life, or some recent event that still worries you.

You definitely need to develop an outline, it will simplify the writing process. As it was mentioned before reflective essays have their specific structure. You can add some details, of course, but the main aspects should remain unchanged.

Reflective Essay Structure

The structure contains:

  • Introduction
  • Body consisting of several paragraphs
  • Conclusion.

Introduction of a Reflective Essay

Same as any type of written papers, reflective one should start with the introductory part. Reflective essay introduction normally contains the hook and author’s thesis.

The hook is used to grab your audience’s attention to your paper from the very beginning. Here you may reveal exciting facts about your topic to heighten the readers’ interest to the further details.

In thesis you briefly describe what the essay will be about, it’s key idea.

Body of a Reflective Essay

After writing the introduction you proceed to the biggest part– the body. It is usually divided into several paragraphs to describe a different aspect in each of them.

We know that if you catch your muse you can discourse upon your life experience forever. In the essay, however, you have to keep your story rather brief, sticking to the recommended volume.

You can use a chronological approach writing the body part. It means that you introduce aspects of the event in question one by one as they were happening. This strategy will help you keep everything logically connected and not violate the structure of your text.

Each paragraph should describe one aspect, its analyses and outcomes. It is not only about summarizing the events, but describing the experience you had.

Conclusion of a Reflective Essay

In this paragraph you summarize everything you said above – you put together the experience you obtained as a result of the event. Give examples of what in your behavior changed – how it was before and how it is after.

Reflective Essay Examples & Samples

When designing a reflective essay many students use examples. These examples help them see how it should be written and avoid possible mistakes. A lot of examples can be found in the internet.

As for mistakes, in most cases students:

– fail focusing on the main idea;

– are unable to describe their feelings and emotions;

– do not give sufficient explanation of the event outcomes;

– fail sticking to the format, etc.

When you look through such ready-made examples pay attention to every little detail, from the composition to the language used to write a paper.

Personal Reflective Essay

In this type of writing you describe events from your personal life, something from your childhood or recent past that helped you become the person you are now, helped you realize things, changed your attitude to certain things or life, etc.

Nursing Reflective Essay

This essay is written to share your nursing experience, emotions and feelings you were having at those moments. You analyze and make conclusion how this experience is reflected in your present life.