How to Write a Reflective Essay: Easy Guide with Pro Tips 2023
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.
- 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:
- 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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What Is the Format for a Reflective Essay in APA Style?
A reflective essay, a type of personal essay assignment, asks a student to look back on and "reflect" on what he learned. The reflective essay is used in a wide range of academic courses, from English to botany to anthropology. If you want to write a reflective essay for a social sciences course, including science, history, law and psychology, the APA (American Psychological Association) format is ideal.
Your reflective essay needs to be typed and double-spaced with 1-inch margins on all sides to meet APA style standards. Using standard-sized printer paper -- 8.5 inch by 11 inches -- use 12-point lettering in a Times New Roman font. When you begin writing your reflective essay, ensure you know what your word count is for the paper. Note that you can always extend the length or your essay later, as a personal project.
Before you begin writing, include a page header, which should be no more than 50 letters long. Position the header so that it appears at the top left of every page. The page header should be the title of your essay, in all capital letters. For instance, if you are writing a paper on reflections on a psychological study on inpatients with depression, you may title your paper THOUGHTS: BRINGING DEPRESSION PATIENTS BACK TO LIFE. Be sure to insert page numbers in the right corner of every page so that your reader can refer to different places in your essay she may want to re-read, or quote for a study.
A title page acts like the cover of a book, letting the reader know the title of the essay, the author's name and the institutional affiliation, such as the name of your school, class or department. Using the example above, you may write your title, THOUGHTS: BRINGING DEPRESSION PATIENTS BACK TO LIFE, on the top flush left, preceded by the words "running head"; and then center your name and institution underneath with single-spacing. The page number 1 should be flush right top, as well.
You will need to create an abstract, a concise summary of the main points of your essay. Since your essay is reflective and not founded much on research, if any, make the abstract of summary of your main ideas.
For example, you may write that in the depression patients you met and talked with, it seems they lack a luster for life because of an emotional block or an emotional trauma or loss that keeps them from seeing beyond it. Usually the APA calls for a second- or third-person voice in abstracts, but first-person is acceptable, according to Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL).
Do not indent the abstract. Instead, make it into block text form so it looks like a vertical rectangle of words. Include your conclusion points in the essay, too, which for a reflective essay may be your final remarks or opinions on a topic. Keep the abstract to 150 to 250 words.
- Purdue University OWL: General APA Format
- Purdue University OWL: APA Style
Noelle Carver has been a freelance writer since 2009, with work published in "SSYK" and "The Wolf," two U.K. literary journals. Carver holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from American University and a Master of Fine Arts in writing from The New School. She lives in New York City.
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APA Reflective Essay Writing
Writing imaginative reflective essays is a great way to improve your analytical thinking abilities. When writing this type of paper, you have the potential of refining your thinking and enhancing your critical skills.
Before you start with the writing process, it would be a good idea to browse through a couple of reflective essay examples. You need to think of the ideas that you are going to present in your paper. This way, you’ll find it easier to keep record of your thoughts, and you’ll be able to likelihood of create a spectacular reflective essay . To understand the purpose of this type of paper, think of it as a personal diary in which you present your ideas and emotions on a particular subject in a manner that can keep the audience engaged. As such, when deciding on a subject for your reflective essay, you should think about something that activates your feelings. Pick a topic that you’re passionate about! For instance, you could write a reflective essay about your favorite movie, literary work or theatrical performance. This being said, it’s pretty obvious that you are fully in charge of choosing a topic.
In case you’ve already made a decision about the subject, consider the questions listed below.
Questions to Ponder on When Writing the Essay
- What emotions does the subject generate in you?
- How does this particular subject impact your personality?
- What are the reasons for which the topic influences you in this manner? Or why does it fail to influence you?
The questions mentioned above are in some way related to your personality; as a result, they are the primary target of a reflective essay. This type of paper enables you to showcase your emotions. Once you manage to find answers to all of these three questions, you’re all set to start the essay writing process! If you want to write an APA style reflective essay, you should know that this also involves following a precise set of rules.
The Essential Rules of Writing a Reflective Essay
- To begin with, you must know that an APA style paper has to include four essential sections: The Title Page, the Abstract, the Body and the Bibliography. The Title Page includes writer's name and the institution they belong to.
- The abstract is a succinct outline that showcases the essential ideas of your study. An abstract shouldn’t be too lengthy. As a general rule, it should be made of 150-250 words. This section introduces the subject of your study, the study participants, and queries, the techniques you utilized when carrying out your analysis, as well as your findings.
- The main body of your paper ought to showcase the development of your research as well as the manner in which your ideas and emotions have been impacted by the study you’ve carried out. A particularly efficient method is indicating the factors that led to a re-evaluation of the subject. Point out to the discrepancy between your mindset before the study and after it. You should attempt to seize each particular idea while carrying out your investigative work. This way, you’ll find it easier to show the big picture and grab the audience’s attention.
- The primary goal of the conclusion is that of presenting the way in which your mindset has been modified. You shouldn’t be puzzled by the fact that this idea has already been highlighted in the earlier phases of your writing process. Keep in mind that the conclusion is the section that your readers will remember the most. Therefore, you should use it as an opportunity to seize the audience’s attention and make the readers aware of the findings of your study.
If you take a look at an example of an APA reflective essay, you’ll come to see that it features the same structure as the one we’ve presented in this article. If you follow the guidelines precisely, you can be sure that your paper will be successful!
The Reference Section
Now that we’ve dealt with all of the other sections, it’s time to talk about citing. Your bibliography section should include all of the sources you used while undertaking your study. Bear in mind the rules of citing an APA essay, as this style has some important particularities.
It is important to cite all of your materials in two ways: by including a reference in the body and by citing it in the bibliography section. In an APA reflective essay, the references may differ (such as books, journal articles or online websites). Keep in mind that in addition to the writer’s name and the title of the publication, you must also specify the year and the place of the publishing. If you follow these pretty straightforward rules, you’re bound to get a high grade, so best of luck with the paper!
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