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Simplified guide to writing a reflective essay: Ideas, topics and examples

By Evans Feb 03 2021

Part of high school and university education is based on writing academic reflective essays. They are effective at showing your knowledge of a subject or experience and demonstrating your ability to collect data and information. Please read this article to learn how to write a reflective essay and a list of different reflective essay topics worth considering.

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What is a Reflective Essay?

A reflective essay describes an experience or event, then reviews the experience's meaning and lessons learned. What makes your essays reflective is you analyzing previous events from the present.

A reflective essay requires you to be open about your emotions and thoughts to bring a picture of your personality, traits, and history. You must include a description and summary of your experience so your audience can relate to you. Moreover, it would help if you had an explanation of the reactions, feelings, and thoughts.

Writing a reflective essay provides training to improve critical thinking skills and express and develop opinions on your topic (it can be assigned by the instructor or of your choice).

Reflective Essay Format

While you might think you are prepared, don't start writing your essay until you have a detailed plan. The plan makes your writing more coherent, conveys ideas with clarity and structure, and increases the possibility of getting higher marks. It is an essential step because most people tend to get disorganized or lost when recounting their life experiences in an unsystematic and erratic way.

An interesting reflective essay structure begins with a catchy hook and kicks off your introductory paragraph. After the introduction, the essay's outline moves on to body paragraphs and ends with a conclusion. Using this format allows your paper to flow in a sensical way.

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What Are the Elements of Your Introduction?

As previously mentioned, the introduction starts with a hook. A good hook means grabbing your reader's attention. It would help if you gave the most exciting aspects of your story in the introduction.

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The next stage of your introduction is a summary of your main points. Your main points should lead to a thought-out and well-crafted reflective essay thesis statement. Including all aspects of the introduction prepares your audience for the essay body paragraphs. However, you should not tell many details. Otherwise, your reader will become disinterested.

Elements of Body Paragraphs

Planning your A reflective essay's body could be the most difficult since it is easy to repeat yourself and waffle both in your essay and the plan.  The solution here is spending a lot of effort and time planning the body. Here are more tips:

·         Adapt a sequential approach: Work through all you want to include as it occurred with time. It ensures the essay is coherent and systematic. While a reflective essay does not necessarily have to be linear but working in a sequence prevents you from giving a disorganized recollection of the experience.

·         Making sure the essay is detailed, well focused and has appropriate reflection or critique. Your body shouldn't summarize the experience. Instead, it must explore the effect that the experience has had on you, your life, and lessons learnt.

Writing the Conclusion

When concluding the reflective essay, you must pay attention to bringing your work together by offering a summary of your main points and lessons learnt. Include points on how and why your behavior and attitude have changed. Also, consider the effects on your skills and character.

Finally, your conclusion should close your paper in the final statement.

How to Choose a Reflective Essay Style

Choosing between MLA and APA is simple when your topic has been assigned and most instructors inform their students of their preference.

APA formats are based on sciences while in MLA format, topics are categorized in arts and humanities. These formats are academically correct and the difference lies in the citation layout. 

Reflective Essay in APA Style

·         Times New Roman 12 font double-spaced

·         Including a page header on top of all pages

·         Page number on the right

·         1 inch margin

·         The essay should be categorized in four parts: main body, references, abstract, and title page

Reflective Essay in MLA Style

·         1 inch margin

·         Times New Roman 12 font double-spaced

·         The last page should have a Works Cited

·         Titles are centred

·         The top right has the page number and last name on all pages

·         Your header should include your full name, date, course number, and professor's name

Reflective Essay Topics

Because a reflective essay requires you to write about your experience, you could choose any event. It is similar to your diary where you take note of your thoughts about a noteworthy life occurrence. It could be about a book you read, people you met, or a problematic situation you faced.

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For instance, you could write about:

·         Watching the sunset

·         When a loved one said something that disappoints you

·         Your childhood

·         Visiting a zoo or museum

·         In what manner was this your turning point?

·         Holidays such as Christmas, Valentines, Thanksgiving, Easter

·         A research project

·         A book you've read

·         Resolving a difficult issue

·         How technology has affected you

·         How COVID-19 has affected your family and way of life

·         The most memorable moment with your family

·         Your most embarrassing moment

Common Mistakes Made When Writing Reflective Essays

Discussed below are what you should not do when writing your reflective essay:

·         Making your essay a free-flowing analysis, including unstructured thoughts, ideas, and insights. Be sure to sort the ideas in a logical order.

·         Do not be too personal. While your essay is founded on your personal experience, please remember you're working on an academic piece, not a letter to your friend.

·         Avoid writing many things at once. Instead, develop a mind-map before making an outline that gives direction to the writing.

·         Cramming all your experiences into the essay. Write only about the most significant and essential moments.

·         Being too informal. Make sure your reflective essay uses a formal tone.

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Hopefully, this article is a good starting point for becoming a skilled academic essay writer. The purpose of your essay is to develop ideas to tell lessons learned from your experience. Good luck with your assignment. If you need help in writing your reflective essay you can contact one of our top writers in English to help you with the assignment.

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