How to Write a Reflective Essay

A reflective essay is much like any other essay out there in that  essay writer regard. We explore in detail how to write a great reflective essay in this guide, including some advice on the writing process and what makes a good structure.

The format

In a reflective essay, the term ‘reflective’ means a writer primarily examines his or her life experiences. You’ll most often see it in a learning log format or diary entry but reflective writing can be presented in various formats.

Depending on the target audience, the format of a reflective essay may change. Reflective essays may feature more broadly as a part of a general piece of writing for a magazine, for instance, or it can be academic too. For class assignments, the purpose generally remains the same, while the presentation format can vary.

A focus on personal growth:

This is a type of reflective essay often used by tutors as a strategy for helping students to learn how to analyse their personal life experiences to promote emotional growth and development. The student can get a better understanding of both themselves and their behaviours through this essay.

A focus on the literature:

This is a kind of essay which requires students to provide a summary of the literature, based on a student’s own life experiences.

There is one element that will mostly remain the same, and that is the structure while the format of a reflective piece of writing may change. You may be relieved to know that, a reflective essay is typically comprised of an introduction, body, and conclusion, much like an essay.

Reflection:

It’s important you get it right from the outset as it may sound obvious, but the reflective process forms the core of writing this type of essay. You really need to think about how the personal experience you have chosen to focus on impacted or changed you. To determine the implications for you on a personal level use your memories and feelings of the experience.

It’s really important you study it thoroughly and spend a lot of time trying to think about it vividly, once you’ve chosen the topic of your essay. Write down describing it as clearly and fully as you can and remembering everything about it you can. Be sure to use adjectives to describe your experience and keep your five senses in mind as you do this. At this stage, you need to ensure that you’re recording your responses, perceptions, and your experience of the event and also you can simply make notes using short phrases.

To ensure that you maintain a high standard of analysis, consider using models of reflection before, during, and after the learning process.

The plan:

Here’s a very useful tip: do NOT start writing your essay until you have worked out a comprehensive, well-rounded plan although you may feel well prepared with all that time spent reflecting in your arsenal! Your essay will likely achieve higher marks as your writing will be so much more coherent, your ideas conveyed with structure and clarity.

Introduction:

Your reflective essay must begin with an introduction that contains both a hook and a thesis statement as this is the case with all essays. To grab the attention of your audience or reader from the very beginning, the point of having a ‘hook’ holds good. You stand the best chances of holding your reader’s interest by portraying the exciting aspects of your story in the initial paragraph. Don’t give too much information away or you risk your reader becoming disinterested, remember to give a quick overview of your experience.

Body:

Planning the body of your essay is next. It’s easy to waffle and repeat yourself both in the plan and in the actual writing, this can be the hardest part of the entire paper. Only for them to tell you to ‘cut the long story short’, have you ever tried recounting a story to a friend? You can draw on the following tips to help you do this well, the key here is to put plenty of time and effort into planning the body:

The chronological approach is something you should try to adopt. As it happened in time means working through everything you want to touch upon. Your work is systematic and coherent will be ensured by this kind of approach. Working chronologically will prevent you from providing a haphazard recollection of your experience but keep in mind that a reflective essay doesn’t necessarily have to be linear. To clearly see how to piece your narrative together, lay out the important elements of your experience in a timeline.

Ensure the body of your reflective essay contains appropriate critique and reflection and is well focused. You should not only summarise your experience, so, the body should explore them as well as the lessons that you have learned as a result. Opposed to summation, the emphasis should generally be on reflection. A reflective posture will highlight your personality and your ability to deal with or adapt to particular situations and not only provide readers with insight on your experience.

Conclusion:

You should focus on bringing your write-up together by providing a summary for both the points made throughout and what you have learned as a result, in the conclusion of your reflective essay. Why and how your attitudes and behaviours have been changed are some points you should try to include. How your character and skills have been affected also should be considered.

For the ultimate phase indeed of an essay, the  process, you now have the tools to create a thorough and accurate plan which should put you in good stead. We wish you luck to write your next reflective essay!

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