How to write a reflective essay? Tips For Format, Topics, Examples

Posted: August 01, 2016 - to Tips
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Writing a reflective essay might be harder than you think. Consider that reflective essay topics cover your own experiences and practical situations in which you found yourself instead of writing about research. This gives quite a bit of students a lot of trouble. Writing about you should be easier than writing about some scientific topic that requires lots of research, right? Yes and no.

The trick of reflective essay topics is that they require objectivity and criticism from the student. As with many life situations, being critical about ourselves it just about the hardest thing to do and takes a lot of practice to perfect.

While that may be the case, we can still look at some reflective essay examples and how to write such a paper in the most effective way.

Focus on your topic

Reflective essay topics are all about getting to know you better and writing a paper in the process. Your assignment clearly states what you are supposed to pursue. Make sure that you always follow your reflective essay format according to your assignment. Surely you must have a general topic, a word count, and a format to follow.

Don’t be shy and ask for any reflective essay examples and help from your professors. It’s better to double-check your assigned topic than to do extensive rewrites later. Your professor won’t have to do them, you will. Before getting any proper writing done, ask any questions that you may have concerning the reflective essay topics you will work on. It will give you a different perspective on the assignment and inform you of what you should focus on.

Free write

Many students fall into a trap of writing down everything and anything that falls onto their mind when they see their reflective essay topics. This is not called writing, but rather brainstorming, or free writing. Start writing your paper by scribbling down everything that comes to mind when you think about the specific topic you were given. It doesn’t have to make much sense right now, but it will later.

Free writing is the best way of brainstorming a writing idea before actually going through with it. It doesn’t constrain you to any type of format or style; it’s just you and your pen/keyboard.

Create an outline

Reflective essay format can be more chaotic than any other. The simple reason for this is that you are writing about your feelings and experiences, something very personal to you. It’s different than writing a research paper where you are only remotely connected to your topic. This essay is about you, and as such, reflects the way your mind works.

The best way to show how your mind works is to organize your thoughts. Create a blank space for the intro, the body of your paper and a conclusion to wrap things up. Start connecting the dots between your free writing notes and your outline. Some of the best reflective essay examples out there will tell you to be focused on your topic and organized in your thoughts. The rest will come naturally.

Write chronologically

The perfect reflective essay format is a chronologically written essay. It’s hard to write about a certain topic and how it affected you personally if your thought process is chaotic. Now imagine how the reader must feel when he sees that you are jumping back and forth between events and feelings. Create a timeline of the events that you will write about. Make the entire essay play out in a single chronological order, without any jumping back and forth. You can do this in the introduction or conclusion but never in the body of your essay because it will not only confuse the reader but also make you seem unprofessional. Reflective essay format with less a less chronological flow is possible to write, but very hard to pull off in a right way for someone just starting out.

Make your essay cohesive

Reflective essays are hard enough to write without thinking about how the whole thing comes together in the end. Unfortunately, it’s an essential part of a reflective essay format and one that you should pay attention to. Every one of your three main sections has to come together nicely in the end.

Your intro should give the reader a glimpse into your topic, while the body should contain every bit of writing in proper paragraphs, coupled with headings and subheadings to make it easier to read. In the end, your conclusion should include a finishing touch that connects the whole essay together and gives you a chance to make a point on how this experience has affected you.

When all is said and done, make sure that you ask for feedback from a friend or even your professor before handing in the essay. Check for any proofreading and reflective essay format errors in order to avoid revisions. Don’t be afraid of yourself. While reflective essays may require less research, they are a much more intimate way of writing a paper and as such, they require patience and objectivity to write correctly. 

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