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How To Write A Reflective Essay

How To Write A Reflective Essay

When being tasked with writing a reflective essay for the first time in their lives, students often don’t feel confident enough they can write a great piece. However, all you need to deliver a convincing reflective essay is to use some helpful tips from the professional writers of our essay writing service. Here is everything you need to know about writing an impressive reflective essay.

What Is a Reflective Essay?

A reflective essay is a type of written assignment where the author analyzes the event from the past using a present point of view. The purpose of a reflective essay is to demonstrate the effect of the past event — specifically, what can be learned from the event and how the event helped shape the personality of the individual writing the paper.

Description vs. Reflection

In a way, a descriptive essay is somewhat similar to a reflective essay. Both refer to an event from the writer’s past and both can be equally rewarding for the writer, allowing them to relive the event in their thoughts and possibly even get some closure.

However, there is one key difference between a descriptive essay and a reflective essay is that the purpose of a descriptive essay is to simply describe a past event without providing an in-depth look on the effect of the event on the writer’s personality and present life.

You can use rich language and various literary devices to describe the event, but a descriptive essay barely requires the writer to do any analysis at all. A reflective essay also describes a past event in great detail, but its main purpose is to express the consequences of the event and how they changed the writer’s life and outlook.

What to Focus on When Writing a Reflective Essay?

The subject of a reflective essay can be nearly anything that influenced your life in a major way. The most popular thing to focus on when writing a reflective essay is a past experience — anything that occurred to you some time in the past. It can be a meeting or conversation with someone that left a lasting impression on you.

Other potential subjects of a reflective essay include:

  • Places or objects that had a significant effect on your life and personality;
  • People you have met who changed your life in any way;
  • Major experiences with books, movies, and works of art;
  • Life-altering events that made you different as a person;
  • An example of your personal growth;
  • Your thoughts or products of your imagination.

Structuring a Reflective Essay

Like most other types of written assignments, a reflective essay has a clearly defined structure that you need to follow if you want your essay to have the right impact on your readers. A typical reflective essay will include the following paragraphs.


If you are no stranger to writing various essays, you are already familiar with this part. The job of a reflective essay introduction is to prepare the readers for what they are about to learn in your paper. 

From your introduction, they should find out why exactly the event in the essay was so impactful for your life and personality. Most importantly, the introduction should be interesting enough to convince the audience to carry on reading.


The body of your reflective essay is both the longest and the most vital part of your paper. In this chapter, you will take your readers on a journey through the events of the past and how they contributed to your personality and life. 

There is no strict structure to follow in the body of a reflective essay, but it’s very important to follow a logical flow of the narrative. Most reflective essay authors prefer to adopt the chronological order, which allows you to describe and reflect on the events in a way that will be easily understood by the readers.

The reflection itself

The crucial part of the essay is the part where you reflect on the event in question. Here you will need to list the reasons why the event proved to be so impactful. After each reason, you will expand on it and analyze the effect this particular aspect of the event had on you in general.

This is a reflective essay, which means you can let your thoughts run wild without being conformed to an obligatory way to describe the effects of the event. You can even add a little speculation to make your writing more captivating to the readers.

In the body of your reflective essay paragraph, you need to put a special focus on the lessons you learned from the event. These lessons will not always be pleasant to write about or depict your personality in the best way, but they are necessary for demonstrating your growth.

Returning to the situation

While summarizing the event is not the most important part of a reflective essay, this part of the paper is essential for allowing the readers to understand where you were coming from. Again, you can be as detailed as you want here, but the description of the past events certainly shouldn’t be longer than the reflection part of your essay.

Understanding the context

If the events from your past took place years or even decades ago, or if the context of the events was very unusual and different from the things we experience every day, the readers may have trouble understanding the background of the story.

In this part of the body of your reflective essay, you are to offer an insight into what your life was like at the time and what social, economic, and cultural background may have impacted the way the events unfolded and their effect on your life.

Modifying future outcomes

The events that happened to you and the impact they had on your personal life story cannot be changed. However, you can give way to your imagination and predict the different outcomes for the story that could have taken place in a different reality.

In this part of the essay, you can also reflect on what you could have done differently in the situation you were in. You can also fantasize about the possible outcome of the events had the people in your life acted differently or the context of the story changed.


The important thing about writing a conclusion for your reflective essay is that you don’t need to offer any new information to your readers. Instead, you need to summarize everything that has been said in the prior parts of the paper and finish the essay with one strong statement that can stimulate the readers to do some additional thinking after reading your reflective essay.

Questions to Ask When Writing Your Reflective Essay

Even though you don’t need to include any actual questions in your reflective essay, asking yourself those questions and answering them in your head or in your drafts will help you craft a more concise and convincing story. Here are 10 questions to answer if you want to write a strong reflective essay:

  1.  Why exactly was this event so impactful to me?
  2.  How did I react to the event back when it happened?
  3.  How did my attitude towards the event change with time?
  4.  Is there anything I could have done differently back then?
  5.  Would I like a chance to change anything about the event?
  6.  How did the event impact me in the short and long term?
  7.  Was the event more positive than negative or vice versa?
  8.  What did I learn from the event?
  9.  Can the event and my reflection on it help other people?
  10.  What would I say to the person going through a similar event right now?

Final Tips From Our Writing Team

When you clearly know what you’re doing, writing a reflective essay is as easy as any other academic assignment. If you follow our tips, you are guaranteed to write a brilliant reflective essay with minimal time and effort. Still can’t complete the assignment? Let our college essay writing service help you write the strongest reflective essay of your career!