A reflective essay is a type of essay that describes personal thoughts, opinions, or experiences that are vivid in the mind or creative thoughts. The context is always based on personal ideology, personal feelings, and to some extent opinions stating how you were affected in the event in question.

Writing a reflective essay may sound like jargon if it’s your first time or when you have no idea how to arrange your thoughts. On the contrary, reflective essay writing is fun and is like a walk in the park when you have the correct tips at hand.

A reflective essay can be categorized as educational, professional, and or personal. In every aspect, there is a difference in the tone used in the writing. See below elaborations:

  1. Education educational essay could be a response to a book, education film, or lecture lesson Professional reflective essay is rather common to the teaching fraternity and to the social workers. It is majorly focused on the analysis of their personal traits.
  2. A personal essay is concerned with expressing personal feelings and more intimate feelings

How do I write a reflective essay?

There are specific steps for writing a reflective essay. The first step is to have your thoughts aligned with the instruction and ready to pen them down. Decide on one story you want to talk about before you start to avoid mixing stories in the body.

Your essay introduction must specify what you’re reflecting upon. Be careful to ensure that your essay informs the reader of your stand, general feeling, and your opinion on the topic statement. To write an effective reflective essay, below are some of the steps to follow:

  1. Understand the subject topic

Understand if the essay is educational, personal, or professional. This will help you stay in line with the instructions provided. To avoid mix-ups, seek clarity from your instructor.

  1. Research and analyze

Carefully analyze the requirements of the material to help you have enough content to write. Align your thoughts with the subject statement.

  1. Have draft

Draft your thoughts and try the flow. Articulate your thoughts and stay within the theme of the topic statement to be able to achieve an effective essay. You could use essay format in the draft.

  1. Write an introduction

An introduction is your guide of the story to the reader. An introduction will help the reader understand what your essay is about and will either draw them to read or repel them. Ensure that your introduction is breathtaking and attention-capturing.

  1. Write the body

The body of your essay is the main meal to the reader. Write coherent details and have a smooth transition from one scene to the other. Have all the necessary content on the subject topic. Ensure that all your paragraphs are logically structured.

  1. Have a good conclusion

Have a good conclusion describing the content of your paper. You can jot down your learned lessons and your general experiences.

  1. Proofread and edit

Delivering an essay that is not proofread is like presenting half-baked bread. Ensure your work is proven using below techniques;

  1. Read out loud to yourself
  2. Read out loud to your family and friends
  3. Give your friends to proofread for you

The above techniques will see you deliver a perfectly edited essay.

Tips for writing an undisputed reflective essay

Before you set down to write an essay using the above steps. Below are just tips for an outstanding reflective effective.

  1. Understand the tone to use

Depending on the type of essay, be sure to understand the tone to use.

  1. Be concise

Do not have a lot of words that do not have meaning. Be conservative with words and straight to the point.

  1. Include arguments

When necessary argue your points with minimal words.

  1. Source referencing

Do not forget to write your source referencing to give your work more authentication and validity. This will also vindicate your work from being disqualified for plagiarism.

There are two possible approaches that can be adopted in writing a reflective essay. These are:

  1. Express the main idea in a thesis statement and develop it in the body. This is done by providing supporting arguments and facts in the topic statement.
  2. Start a conversation on the topic then hints at the conclusion. Provide analysis of the body. Although these structures are rarely used academically because of the confusion that can be experienced by students.

The academically accepted format is the major three-part structure of the essay that are the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.

The introduction

Make your feelings known on the subject topic but holding up do not appear too emotional. This is the most important aspect of reflective essay writing.  Express your opinion responsibly with the articulated sentiment.  The standard should be academically accepted. Tell the reader what to expect in the body. Build a strong ideology for the reader and create suspense that will lead the reader to the paragraph.

The introduction should:

  • It should be very informative, concise, and eye catchy.
  • Should be able to ask the reader a reflective question.
  • Should be written at the end after the body


The body of an essay is where you explore the subject topic. Talk about the essay subject in detail. In at least 3 paragraphs introduce the topic, talk about the experience, and how it influenced you. The following are hints of what to include in the body of the essay:

  1. You justify the choice of your topic
  2. Vividly explain and structure the paragraphs and have smooth transitions
  3. Be logical in your ideas
  4. Include quotes, phrases, and sourcing references
  5. You could show the impact of the subject on you


Have a solid conclusion and is more striking to the reader. This is the last bow to your whole essay that clearly shows that your ideas were well-informed and well-planned. Wind up your conversation strongly in the conclusion.  Leave the reader with a convincing image of you and food for thought to reflect on. Your conclusion should highlight:

  1. Highlight the main points.
  2. Make the conclusion effective and sound persuasive
  3. Answer what you asked in the intro.

Witting a reflective essay can take different formats depending on the chosen instruction by the instructor. The following are the academically accepted:

  1. Reflective Essay in MLA Format
  2. Font type must be Times New Roman
  3. Fonts size 12 pt considering the double spacing rule
  4. Must have 1” margins;
  5. The top right must have the last name and page number on every page
  6. Titles are to be centered
  7. The header should include your name, your professor’s name, course number, and the date (dd/mm/yy);
  8. The last page should include works cited and appendices if available

Reflective Essay in APA Style

  1. fonts in Times New Roman
  2. Font size should be 12 pt
  3. The rule of double must be considered
  4. There must be a 1” margin at the beginning of every paragraph
  5. Include a page header on the top of every page
  6. Insert the page number on the right on all pages
  7. Your reflective essay should be divided into four parts: Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.

The recommended word count should be between 250 and 750 unless instructed otherwise.

Mistakes When Writing a Reflective Essay

Despite the steps and the tips provided there are some simple mistakes that can make your essay lose meaning and mislead the reader. Below are some of the notorious mistakes in writing a reflective essay.

  1. Disclosing too much personal information

Including too much of personal information in the reflective essay could be detrimental to you as the writer. This can make the reader develop an attitude toward your article. Your main aim is to render your opinion and analyze the impact of the subject topic. The essay is not about your biography.

  1. Wrong or no structure for the essay

Ignoring the structure of an essay is a wrong move. This will make you look like it’s all over the place with no structured paragraph.  The reader will not be able to understand your work plan.

  1. The tone of your essay

You must ensure to use the correct tone for each type of essay. Using a professional tone for a personal essay is out of place.  Use the appropriate tone.

What are some of the reflective essay topics?

There is a vast list of reflective essay topics that you can choose from. Personal, professional, or educational are available for you to choose from. Below are some of examples of the topics that might interest you:

  1. A conversation when you were extremely angry
  2. That time when you were disappointed with something someone said
  3. Experiencing the ocean breeze with your feet buried in the sand
  4. Your favorite place in the world
  5. Watching the sunset from the shore of the lake
  6. The things that inspire you.
  7. How do you deal with stress?
  8. What do you feel when telling lies?
  9. The biggest challenge in your life
  10. Top ten qualities that are important in people
  11. How do you spend your Christmas holiday?
  12. How was your experience on your first visit to a museum or zoo?
  13. The things that inspire you.
  14. How to deal with stress.
  15. A person/event/situation that has changed your life.
  16. An outstanding person (you choose) and their role in history.
  17. How social media and television affect how we make decisions.
  18. How technologies will alter the future in 100 years.
  19. What is your childhood dream that has come true and which one never will?

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Still, asking how to write a reflective essay?

Well, writing a reflective essay is putting your thoughts, opinions,s, and ideas on paper. Reflective essay tonal variation is dependent on the nature and type of the essay. Mistakes like revealing too much personal information may create a different picture in the mind of the reader. The three major parts of the essay are the introduction the body and the essay. The most important tip is that the statement topic should be catchy and precise. The academically accepted formats are MLA and APA. With 12 pt Times Roman and 1’’ margin that cuts across. Looks interesting right?

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