How to Write a Reflective Essay | 48 Examples (Guide & Tips)

A Reflective Essay is a form of writing that describes a writer’s thoughts, feelings, actions, or a particular occurrence in a writer’s life.

A reflective essay is about your reflection that brings out a specific image that the reader tends to picture after reading it. When writing a reflective essay, you have to give detailed information about the event or a particular action. In a reflective essay, you will analyze a past event from your present perspective and point to the relevant lessons you learned.

Reflective essays examples act as an inspiration for those who have no clue about writing essays by giving them an overview of how it is written. In addition, someone who is not conversant with writing reflective essays may look for examples of essays and read through to see the structure, format, and ideas for writing his essay.

Reflective essays may be written from a personal experience or perhaps made up through imagination. You should discuss how the event happened and how it made you feel, including the lessons learned.

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Reflective Essay Sample Introduction

    Purpose of Reflective Essay

    A reflective essay is written from personal insight and self-reflection to help recount a particular event. These essays are written in school as assignments to connect the theoretical and practical aspects of teaching. Professionally written reflective essays enable workers to reflect on their experiences and what they have learned from the job.

    The following are some of the types of reflective essays that you can write:


    A literary self-reflection is based on your thoughts about a literary piece you have read. You are supposed to give your opinion based on your experiences to demonstrate how you relate to the piece of literature.


    Employers and employees use professional reflective essays to gauge their knowledge about a particular aspect and how they can handle it.

    The following are some of the fields that frequently use reflective essays.

    Medical students

    Medical students use reflective essays to describe patients based on their interactions to help suggest correct medication. Through medical reflective essays, students can reflect on their examination of a patient and conclusions made and later determine if it worked or what can be changed later.


    Medical doctors use reflective essays to evaluate their interactions with customers to gauge their strengths and weakness in service delivery and providing treatment. Doctors use reflective essays to internalize their communication methods, treatment processes, and body language when treating a patient to establish areas that need improvement for increased effectiveness.

    Nurses and medical assistants

    By writing reflective essays, nurses and medical assistants can reflect on certain incidences they have encountered in the past and better handle stress, pain, and illness. Nurses and medical assistants experience stress and emotions from patients, having a self-reflection can help them deal with it and perform their roles.

    Lecturers and teachers

    In the teaching profession, reflective essays help the lecturers learn and understand students’ strengths and weaknesses. Reflective essays help teachers understand the growth and development of the students by reviewing their emotions.

    Social workers

    Social workers can write a reflection on various environmental issues and problems their clients face. They also use reflective essays written by their clients to find the causes of certain experiences and how they can solve developing issues highlighted.


    The business field uses reflective essays to analyze certain aspects of the business that they are experiencing. These essays help them come up with possible solutions for the challenges faced and offer better services.


    In educational institutions, lecturers and tutors use reflective essays to gauge the level of understanding on a particular assignment or topic covered. When students write these essays, they can create a form of interaction with the lecturers. In addition, the lecturers can understand the students’ views on particular topics in learning through reflective essays.

    Tip: Writing personal reflective essays can enable one to learn and understand specific experiences in their life and how to handle them. Reflective writing can enable you to understand your emotions, and you can be able to grow as a person.

    Reflective Essay Example Ideas

    From our definition above, you can write reflective essays from various perspectives. There are multiple ideas from where you can write your reflective essay without being limited. These essays are written from an actual event or imagination.

    The following are example ideas for reflective essays you can write:

    A real experience

    A reflective essay is written based on a real-life experience that you had a personal connection. In this real experience reflective essay, you will talk about something factual rather than imagination.

    For example:

    You may write a reflective essay based on a job you lost, a wedding event you attended, or an emotion you felt.

    In this type of reflective essay, you have to give a detailed description of the particular events and the lessons learned.

    Something you imagined

    An imagination reflective essay is written about a creative feeling or an event that comes from your mind. This type has no facts and is an idea that has been thought of or speculated.

    A place or a special object

    A reflective essay about a place or an object may be written about a town you had visited or a car you love. This essay talks about that specific place or objects positively or negatively depending on the writer’s perspective.

    An indirect experience

    A reflective essay may be written from something that you have read, such as a book. It can also be written from what you have seen, such as an event or about a meal you have tasted or something that you have smelled, or a story you have heard. You should portray what you felt to the reader and its effect on you with the above-mentioned ideas.

    Pre-Writing Essentials

    Before writing a reflective essay, you need to have a clear plan on what to write. First, take your time and list all the ideas and topics you want to write about. Then, you need to brainstorm and have some questions about the topic ideas.

    The following part will highlight some of the steps you may follow to attain the perfect outcome, whether it is a school reflective essay or a professional one:

    Identify the topic you will be writing on

    The first step in writing a reflective essay is coming up with the topic you want to write on. In the institutions of learning, a subject is given for you to write. To write it excellent, you have to choose a topic you are confident with and have a vivid description. In cases where the topic is not given, you will need to employ your imagination and creativity to develop a topic.

    Study your subject

    When writing a reflective essay on a specific topic, you may have to relive that moment to have a clear picture of the events. In addition, you may need to meditate and note down the key points you intend to write.

    Note down the relevant ideas

    In this step of writing the reflective essay, you might have to take notes of the relevant ideas related to your topic. This will help you connect the ideas, simplify writing, and give you a clear direction. You might also try to have a diagram sketch and link related topics, ideas, and theories that you intend to write in your reflective essay.

    Pick reflection questions

    Reflective questions are questions that you ask yourself to help you plan your work when writing a reflective essay.

    Some of the examples of thoughtful questions are stated below to help you:

    1. What did I find out?
    2. What was my feeling towards this?
    3. What made me feel this way?
    4. What lessons have I learned?
    5. What impact has it had on me?
    6. What effect did it have on people around me?

     These questions will act as your compass when writing your reflective essays. You can have as many questions as you want, as this will give you many ideas to write in your essay.

    Answer the questions you selected

    After formulating the reflective questions that will guide you in writing your essay, you have to develop the relevant answers to your questions. The answers to these questions will be the ideas that you will write.

    For example:

    What did I find out?
    “While on my short holiday I took my time off and went hiking on the mountains. This hike happened to be one of my toughest hikes. The hill has a thick forest, and I had to navigate through it to find the way. Also, the place is cold, and I had to keep myself warm during my hike.”

    What impact has it had on me?
    My time at the university was very interesting because of the people I met from different background races and cultures. Having lived in the countryside, I can appreciate people from diverse cultures and their beliefs. In addition, I was able to attend different festivals and interact with classmates on a personal level.

    Identify the meaning of your experience

    Before you embark on your reflective essay writing, you need to identify the most crucial lesson you learned through that experience. This will form the basis on which you will be writing your essay. This experience will be your main subject in your reflective essay.

    Keep your ideas connected

    At this point of our planning, you have the topic you want to write and the ideas connecting. You can now use the ideas you have come up with to guide you through your reflective essay writing. Also, note the primary experience in your writing so as not to go out of the topic.

    How to Write a Reflective Essay

    When writing a reflective essay, you need to follow the standard for writing a typical essay.

    The following steps outline a step-by-step that you follow to write a great reflective essay:


    In the introduction part of the essay, you have to outline the topic you want to write about and give the reader a general view of the event’s effect on you. When writing your introduction, interesting aspects of your story have to be indicated to increase your chances of getting your reader’s attention.

    The hook in the introductory paragraph is to bring your audience or reader to attention from the very start. You need to describe exciting and interesting aspects of your essay to make the reader motivated to continue reading. For example, there is a thin line between life and death, one moment, you are happy and healthy but you don’t know what the next minute holds.

     A thesis statement summarizes the main subject of your essay and it’s usually the main experience and the influence it had on you.

    For example:

    My passion for cars and machines was one reason that made me pursue a mechanical engineering career.

    When writing an introduction, you should start your paragraph with a catchy phrase that can easily capture the reader’s attention and motivate them to continue reading your reflective essay


    The body of the essay is the most integral part of your writing and carries the whole message and clear description of the events. You can have several paragraphs to talk about your reflection from your perspective and the impression the experience had on you and those around you.

    For example:

    In a reflective essay on “Why Money is Important,” you can discuss the reason why money is important to you like “ I think money is a valuable asset because you need it to afford the basic things in life”.

    In paragraph one, you need to talk about the experience you had. Since this is a reflective essay, you need to write with an open mind and write your thoughts.

    For example:

    “I lived in the streets when growing up because my single mum could not afford rent money”

    You need to discuss another reason in your second paragraph further why the subject you are talking about had an impression on you by giving detailed information to portray the picture to the reader of the reflective essay.

    For example:

    ” inability to afford basic necessities like education, food, clothing, and shelter because of poverty reminds me of all the opportunities I missed because of lack of proper education”.

    The third paragraph of your reflective essay writing is a continuation of the previous and a different experience that should be discussed in detail and the impression it made on you. ” We lost our dignity begging on the streets to feed our hungry stomachs, which is part of the reason why I  assert that money is important to feel accomplished and help you reserve some self-dignity.”


    In the conclusion of your reflective essay, you need to discuss your thesis statement and the key points you have highlighted in your reflective essay. Then, you can conclude by giving your thoughts about the experience and what you will do differently in the future in case of such an event.

    The closing paragraph or conclusion of a reflective essay should include a recap of your thesis statement, followed by the reason for discussing the subject. Finally, the thesis statement states the essay’s objective, which should be included as a summary in the conclusion.

    For example:

    In my life, I never understood much about life.

    However, my experience as a volunteer with sick people in the hospital made me appreciate life and all the good things.

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        Tips for Efficient Results

        There are a few tips, if which are kept in consideration while writing a reflective essay, efficient results can be attained.

        If you want to write a great reflective essay, here are writing tips that you have to take note of:

        Allow your ideas to flow freely

        After choosing the topic to write about, have an open mind when writing your essay and write from a personal perspective. Let your ideas flow freely without limiting yourself, considering that you will always have time to go through your essay to edit.

        Maintain a high standard of analysis

        When writing your reflective essays, you need to analyze the experiences you are writing about by continually asking yourself questions about the incidents. Take note of the challenges that you might encounter and your knowledge in handling such challenges. By having this in mind while writing, you will be able to handle your reflective essay paper and capture all the experiences, making the reader relive your experience. When writing, you need to ask yourself relevant questions that will keep you on the topic.

        For example:

        ‘What challenges are you facing? What are the lessons learned? What knowledge do I need for me to handle this experience?’

        Well-rounded plan

        After coming up with your topic and gathering all the required information, you need to work out a well-rounded plan. Having a plan before writing ensures that you have a logical flow of writing with ideas clearly conveyed. This is a crucial step in writing reflective essays as some people may tend to have a poor recount of the incidences and have a disorganized essay. A clear plan will act as your guide, which will ensure a good flow of your essay.

        Try adopting a chronological approach

        By adopting a chronological approach, you can arrange the flow of events so that the reader gets a flow of the events. This approach will prevent you from confusing the reader of your reflective essay with a chaotic collection of events.

        Keep the body of the essay focused and relevant

        The body of your reflective essay should contain a vivid explanation of the experiences and the impact it has had on you and people around you. In addition, you should show the reader what character you portray through the way you handled the experience and your ability to cope with such in the future.

         Write using the first-person narrative

        A reflective essay is written from a personal perspective and reflective of your behavior. Therefore, a first-person narrative is used when writing a reflective essay since you are writing from a personal experience.

         Choose vocabulary carefully

        When writing a reflective essay, always choose the most appropriate vocabulary that portrays the feelings and emotions that the reader can easily relate to.

        Be honest with your feelings and opinions

        Reflective essays are about feelings and emotions; thus, you need to be honest in your writing. The reader expects a deep reflection of your honest experiences, feelings, and opinions.

         Use a variety of punctuation

        In your writing, you can engage a lot of punctuation to keep your writing lively. In addition, including expressions in your writing will create a clear picture for your reader about the experiences in your writing.

        Use wider sources

        A reflective paper is about personal experience, but you are free to refer to outside sources related to your writing experience. Referencing a broader source to validate your experiences show deep understanding and research on your writing topic. Also, analyze other sources such as books, journals, newspapers, and magazines for experiences. Quoting from comprehensive sources also indicates your knowledge about the topic that you are writing about.

        Consider tone and structure

        A reflective paper is written from a personal experience, and it carries a personal tone. Therefore, the reflective essay should follow the standard format and structure for writing essays.

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          Reflective essays are an important type of writing that you can use to understand various experiences by profoundly analyzing the situations. Reflective essays allow you to openly discuss your honest opinions, experiences, and personality to help draw important lessons learned from a past event and determine areas of improvement.

          About This Article

          Jake Adams
          Authored by:
          Academic tutoring, learning resources, SAT & ACT prep, college admissions applications
          Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, an online tutoring business based in Santa Monica, California. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients with the best online tutoring experience. He offers a wide range of academic subjects from K-College, specializing in SAT & ACT prep and college admissions applications. Jake has built a network of exceptional undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges across the nation. Holding a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University, Jake combines his educational background with his expertise to deliver effective and comprehensive tutoring services.

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