Reflective Writing Reflective writing

Explore the structure, language and topics you may wish to explore in this kind of writing with a particular emphasis on the necessity to reflect fully on your chosen experience.

Reflective writing

A person sitting at a computer surrounded by images reflecting a holiday experience

Reflective writing involves writing about an experience you have had. You should show how you felt about what happened to you both at the time and, if the experience is over, how you feel about it when you look back on it.

This requires that you stand back and look at your behaviour, feelings and reactions in certain situations you have experienced.

As well as trying to give an account of the experience, there are other aspects to be considered. The reader should get a sense of the writer's personality through how they reacted to or behaved during the experience.

The writing should also have a clear structure, with an opening, development of ideas and a resolution.

More guides on this topic

  • Descriptive Writing
  • Discursive Writing
  • Creative Writing

Related links

  • BBC Skillswise
  • BBC Writers Room
  • Skills You Need - Presentation
  • Writing a Descriptive Essay
  • Scottish Poetry Library
  • BBC 500 words

Higher English Blog

Reflective essay examples.

Here are the reflective essays we looked at in class:

Enlightenment

Two Sisters One Room

The Conker Tree

The grades and detailed comments can be found here:

Higher Writing Commentaries

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how to write a personal reflective essay for higher english

How to Write a Reflective Essay: Easy Guide with Pro Tips 2023

how to write a personal reflective essay for higher english

Defining What is a Reflective Essay: Purpose + Importance

Being present is a cornerstone of mindfulness and meditation. You must have often heard that staying in the moment helps you appreciate your surroundings, connects you with people and nature, and allows you to feel whatever emotions you must feel without anxiety. While this is helpful advice as you become more focused and avoid getting lost in thought, how can you truly appreciate the present without reflecting on your past experiences that have led you to the current moment?

We don't say that you should dwell on the past and get carried away with a constant thought process, but hey, hear us out - practice reflective thinking! Think back on your previous life events, paint a true picture of history, and make connections to your present self. This requires you to get a bit analytical and creative. So you might as well document your critical reflection on a piece of paper and give direction to your personal observations. That's when the need for reflective essays steps in!

In a reflective essay, you open up about your thoughts and emotions to uncover your mindset, personality, traits of character, and background. Your reflective essay should include a description of the experience/literature piece as well as explanations of your thoughts, feelings, and reactions. In this article, our essay writer service will share our ultimate guide on how to write a reflective essay with a clear format and reflective essay examples that will inspire you.

How to Write a Reflective Essay with a Proper Reflective Essay Outline

To give you a clear idea of structuring a reflective essay template, we broke down the essential steps below. Primarily, the organization of a reflective essay is very similar to other types of papers. However, our custom writers got more specific with the reflective essay outline to ease your writing process.

Reflective Essay Introduction

When wondering how to start a reflective essay, it is no surprise that you should begin writing your paper with an introductory paragraph. So, what's new and different with the reflection essay introduction? Let's dissect:

  • Open your intro with an attention-seizing hook that engages your audience into reflective thinking with you. It can be something like: 'As I was sitting on my bed with my notebook placed on my shaky lap waiting for the letter of acceptance, I could not help but reflect, was enrolling in college the path I wanted to take in the future?'
  • Provide context with a quick overview of the reflective essay topic. Don't reveal too much information at the start to prevent your audience from becoming discouraged to continue reading.
  • Make a claim with a strong reflective essay thesis statement. It should be a simple explanation of the essay's main point, in this example, a specific event that had a big impact on you.

Reflective Essay Body Paragraphs

The next step is to develop the body of your essay. This section of the paper may be the most challenging because it's simple to ramble and replicate yourself both in the outline and the actual writing. Planning the body properly requires a lot of time and work, and the following advice can assist you in doing this effectively:

  • Consider using a sequential strategy. This entails reviewing everything you wish to discuss in the order it occurred. This method ensures that your work is structured and cohesive.
  • Make sure the body paragraph is well-rounded and employs the right amount of analysis. The body should go into the effects of the event on your life and the insights you've gained as a consequence.
  • Prioritize reflecting rather than summarizing your points. In addition to giving readers insight into your personal experience, a reflective stance will also show off your personality and demonstrate your ability to handle certain challenges.

Reflective Essay Conclusion

The goal of your reflective essay conclusion should be to tie everything together by summarizing the key ideas raised throughout, as well as the lessons you were able to take away from experience.

  • Don't forget to include the reasons for and the methods used to improve your beliefs and actions. Think about how your personality and skills have changed as well.
  • What conclusions can you draw about your behavior in particular circumstances? What could you do differently if the conditions were the same in the future?

Remember that your instructor will be searching for clear signs of reflection.

Understanding a Reflection Paper Format

The format of reflective essay greatly differs from an argumentative or research paper. A reflective essay is more of a well-structured story or a diary entry rife with insight and reflection. You might be required to arrange your essay using the APA style or the MLA format.

And the typical reflection paper length varies between 300 and 700 words, but ask your instructor about the word length if it was assigned to you. Even though this essay is about you, try to avoid too much informal language.

If your instructor asks you to use an APA or MLA style format for reflective essay, here are a few shortcuts:

Reflective Essay in MLA Format

  • Times New Roman 12pt font double spaced;
  • 1" margins;
  • The top right includes the last name and page number on every page;
  • Titles are centered;
  • The header should include your name, your professor's name, course number, and the date (dd/mm/yy);
  • The last page includes a Works Cited.

Reflective Essay in APA Style

  • Include a page header on the top of every page;
  • Insert page number on the right;
  • Your reflective essay should be divided into four parts: Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.

Reflective Essay Writing Tips

You may think we've armed you with enough tips and pointers for reflective writing, but it doesn't stop here. Below we gathered some expert-approved tips for constructing uncontested reflection papers.

tips reflective essay

  • Be as detailed as possible while writing. To make your reflective essay writing come to life, you should employ several tactics such as symbolism, sentence patterns, etc.
  • Keep your audience in mind. The reader will become frustrated if you continue writing in the first person without taking a moment to convey something more important, even though you will likely speak about something from your own perspective.
  • Put forth the effort to allow the reader to feel the situation or emotion you are attempting to explain.
  • Don't preach; demonstrate. Instead of just reporting what happened, use description appropriately to paint a clear picture of the event or sensation.
  • Plan the wording and structure of your reflective essay around a central emotion or subject, such as joy, pleasure, fear, or grief.
  • Avoid adding dull elements that can lessen the effect of your work. Why include it if it won't enhance the emotion or understanding you wish to convey?
  • There must be a constant sense of progression. Consider whether the event has transformed you or others around you.
  • Remember to double-check your grammar, syntax, and spelling.

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Reflective Essay Topic Ideas

As a reflective essay should be about your own views and experiences, you generally can't use someone else's ideas. But to help you get started, here are some suggestions for writing topics:

  • An experience you will never forget.
  • The moment you overcame a fear.
  • The most difficult choice you had to make.
  • A time your beliefs were challenged.
  • A time something changed your life.
  • The happiest or most frightening moment of your life so far.
  • Ways you think you or people can make the world a better place.
  • A time you felt lost.
  • An introspective look at your choices or a time you made the wrong choice.
  • A moment in your life you would like to relive.

You may find it convenient to create a chart or table to keep track of your ideas. Split your chart into three parts:

Reflective Essay Topic Ideas

  • In the first column, write key experiences or your main points. You can arrange them from most important to least important.
  • In the second column, list your response to the points you stated in the first column.
  • In the third column, write what, from your response, you would like to share in the essay.

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Reflective Essay Sample

Referring to reflective essay examples can help you a lot. A reflective essay sample can provide you with useful insight into how your essay should look like. You can also buy an essay online if you need one customized to your specific requirements.

How to Conclude a Reflective Essay

As we come to an end, it's only logical to reflect on the main points discussed above in the article. By now, you should clearly understand what is a reflective essay and that the key to writing a reflective essay is demonstrating what lessons you have taken away from your experiences and why and how these lessons have shaped you. It should also have a clear reflective essay format, with an opening, development of ideas, and resolution.

Now that you have the tools to create a thorough and accurate reflective paper, you might want to hand over other tasks like writing definition essay examples to our experienced writers. In this case, feel free to buy an essay online on our platform and reflect on your past events without worrying about future assignments!

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