What is a Reflective Essay?
What is a reflective essay? Students often ask us this question, as it is not a typical assignment and has several peculiarities, which one needs to remember to perform in the best possible way. However, the definition of a reflective essay is quite simple: you need to describe a certain event or personal experience, analyze it, and describe the lessons you have learned. The word ‘reflective’ means that you look back to the past and analyze the matter from a present point of view.
Such assignments require you to be honest and open about emotions, thoughts, and events to be able to depict a real picture of a personality, story, or any other issue. That is why you need to be very detailed and vivid in your description and render your emotions to the reader. He or she should feel involved in the story, participating in every event and feeling every emotion.
Here are the subjects which are usually discussed in a reflective task:
- Experience from the past;
- Your imagination of an event;
- A place or an object;
- A thing you have touched/tasted/heard or smelled;
- A book or movie that influenced your personality.
Here are the main tips on how to write a reflective essay and always stay relevant:
- Write about objects or events. You should base your reflective essay on your experience or on an object but not on a real person;
- Always remain brief, although using bright and colorful language. Usually, a reflective essay is limited to 400-600 words, so you need to put all your thoughts into a limited number of symbols. Make sure you follow all the guidelines carefully;
- Examine the vocabulary to enrich your lexis. When you are describing a certain event or appealing to someone’s feelings, it is important to make your language live and attractive. Don’t hesitate to use synonyms and avoid common phrases to make your essay colorful and juicy;
- Always use transition phrases to connect paragraphs together. Such phrases keep parts of an essay together like glue, so neglecting them may result in poor organization and loss of interest in the work. Don’t forget to use such phrases as ‘for example’, ‘the opponents think that’, ‘as a result’ and so on;
- Edit your essay multiple times. If you think that creating a powerful message is enough, you are wrong! Any professor will lower your grades if the paper contains lots of typos, grammar and lexical mistakes, and many other imperfections. If you are not sure whether you are able to do it on your own, ask your friends for help or upload your essay online and let the computer check it.
Try to avoid these mistakes if you want to get the highest possible score for your reflective task:
- Using the first person. It is a common rule, so you need to remember it not to have to rewrite the whole essay anew. However, you should use credible evidence to support your point of view;
- Using slang. A reflective assignment is serious work, so even if you want to add a joke or some humor, you should still keep your language and vocabulary professional;
- Plagiarism. You may be tempted to simply download reflective essay examples and deliver them as your own. However, most of the professors know how to use plagiarism software and detect whether your work has copied parts or not.
By using all the above recommendations, you make sure that your reflective assignment has a great structure, follows all the guidelines, and is able to impress the audience with outstanding vocabulary and style!
Reflective Essay/Paper Examples
However, this assignment may become a real disaster for students who lack time, motivation, or writing skills. In such a situation, a reflective essay example will be a great way out.
There are thousands of them online, and you only need to select the one according to your requirements and topic. Download an example, make notes on the structure and interesting elements, and start writing your own essay with ease!
Format & Outline of Reflective Essay
Once you are ready to start your paper, you need to create a reflective essay outline. It is a plan for your future work, which contains all the elements you want to discuss and examine. Take a separate piece of paper, write down even the slightest detail, and range them according to importance and place of appearance.
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To write a reflective paper, you need to work on three main sections:
- Introduction. The first paragraph of your essay aims to give a definition and explanation of the discussed matter. Your reader needs to understand what you are going to discuss and what impact the topic had on you. Your introduction should include a thesis statement and a hook. Thesis is the heart of the whole work, which contains the key information on the whole essay. Try to make it interesting and catchy, adding provoking details or a catch. A hook is a final sentence, which stirs the interest of the audience: it contains an anecdote, an unknown fact, or a rhetorical question;
- Main paragraphs. The number of body paragraphs depends on the quantity of your arguments. Every argument or claim should be described in a separate paragraph. Start with writing about a subject or event, that made impact on you and then explain why. In this type of essay, you have a chance to speculate the feelings of others, so use this powerful tool to make your essay strong. Proceed with explaining your reasons in the second and third paragraphs;
- Conclusion. Your reflective paper should end with a conclusion. It is a summary of the completed work, where you explain all the reasons and obtained results. Make final thoughts on the subject and give a prognosis for the future if the topic allows.
Don’t be afraid to seem too vulnerable or reflect too much on your past. It is not only a great way to get high scores but also to learn something new about your personality.
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Reflective Essay Topics and Ideas
In most of cases, your professor will give you the freedom to choose a topic on your own. This may be a great solution for many students, but in some cases can greatly complicate the process.
If you also don’t know how to choose a matter to discuss, here is a list of reflective essay topics you may find useful:
- A discussion that pissed you off;
- A dialogue which left you disappointed and out of your spirits;
- When your parents said they were proud of you;
- The moment when you fell in love for the first time;
- When you met your relative after a long period of separating;
- Picking fruits and berries in the wood;
- Smelling flowers in your granny’s yard;
- Climbing a hill for the first time;
- Watching the sea waves;
- Going on a hike with your college friends;
- The town you were born in;
- The best place you have worked at;
- The house you love staying in;
- Renovating your house;
- The best vacation you have ever had;
- Packing your things and moving to a new apartment;
- Visiting a foreign country for the first time;
- Your favorite family holiday;
- A surprise party for your friend;
- Having a long and interesting conversation with the people you love.
When reading the list above, you may feel love, passion, or nostalgia. Just pick the one that warms your heart and share your experience with the world!