How to Write a Good Reflective Essay That Fetches Excellent Grades?

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A reflective essay may seem easy on the surface. However, it can be a real challenge if you don’t know how best to go about it. The good news is that with the right guidance, you can compose a great reflective essay that fetches you high-flying grades.

So, how do you write a great reflective essay that impresses your tutors? This post contains practical tips to help you excel in this assignment. Keep reading to learn more.

What Is a Reflective Essay?

Let’s define a self-reflective essay before examining its full details in the remaining sections. A reflective paper is an assignment that requires you to express your opinion on a matter or topic. This assignment analyzes and reflects upon how an experience, book, or academic lecture shaped your viewpoint or thoughts on a matter. In this task, you don’t need to worry about giving the wrong or right answer because your instructors want your opinion and not the correct answers.

Great reflective essay examples usually come in two main types: experiential or textual. Let’s examine these two forms in detail below.


An experiential reflection essay analyzes a personal experience or observation. Here, you can study experiences and assess the accuracy of a given theory that resonates with them. You observe the experiences objectively, summarize them, and highlight the underlying principles and theories that back your analysis of them. This assignment is common in professional programs such as education, business, and medicine because they assist students in relating principles and theories to practical life experiences.


A textual paper analyzes a text, which may be a book, article, or essay. The essay contains your analysis, interpretation, and opinion on the materials. A textual essay might not feature personal anecdotes because it focuses purely on the contexts of texts. This assignment reacts to and evaluates reading materials.

Tips on How to Start a Reflective Essay

This section shares tips to guide you on your writing journey. Keep reading these tips to sharpen your skills and write a perfect reflective essay for university.

Choose a Title and Summarize the Material

Choose an appropriate title and summarize the material or experience you want to write about. This stage includes memorable information or particular quotes, preexisting thoughts and feelings, and how the material has influenced you. Selecting an interesting main theme is crucial because it sets your paper’s tone and makes it more engaging for readers.

Review and Analyze the Material

You must review and analyze the material you wish to write about. This analysis helps you form coherent themes by digging deeper into the thoughts and meaning behind the text. Your analysis and review will help you answer questions regarding:

  • How the material has affected you;
  • What you have learned;
  • How the material catches your audience’s attention;
  • If there are unsolved questions or critical issues;
  • How the material will influence your future thinking.

Connect Your Opinions

Give your essay a coherent structure and flow that connects your opinions. This way, you give your paper a clear outline of what to include in the body paragraphs and allow it to flow well.

Use Enough Details

Use sufficient details to make it come to life. Utilize different techniques, such as varying sentence patterns and symbolism.

Consider Your Readers

Always remember about your readers and learn when to switch from the first person. Only write in the first person when conveying an important idea to avoid making the reader feel out of place.

Touch the Readers’ Emotions

Exert all efforts to let your readers feel the situation or emotion you are trying to explain.

Don’t Preach

Don’t turn your paper into a sermon. Instead, demonstrate your opinions and feelings by simply reporting what occurred. Use description appropriately to paint a clear picture of an event.

Plan Your Essay’s Wording

Plan your paper’s wording and structure to focus on a central subject or emotion, such as grief, pain, fear, and joy.

Avoid Dull Elements

Don’t add dull elements that can reduce your essay’s effectiveness and edge. Only include components that will enhance the emotion or understanding you want to convey.

Ensure Constant Progression

Your reflective paper should have a constant sense of progression. Consider whether the event you are describing has positively influenced you or those surrounding you.

Keep Your Information Relevant

A typical reflective paper contains 250 to 800 words. Thus, only include relevant information. Avoid all lengthy summaries and tangents to convey your points within your permitted word count.

Use a Professional Tone

While this task allows you to discuss your thoughts and opinions, always remember that it still requires you to use a professional tone suitable for academic writing.

How to Structure a Reflective Essay?

While knowing what to include in a self-reflective essay is vital, remember other vital elements. You may feel confident about your knowledge and thoughts, but never start writing without a clear plan. Ignoring your assignment’s structure could cost you good grades.

Although this assignment doesn’t need references, outlining its structure is indispensable. Outlining your assignment does the following:

  • Helps you determine the details you wish to leave after narrowing down the draft before working on the final task.
  • Prevents you from concluding the essay prematurely because you can easily realize when something is missing.
  • Provides a clear, concise roadmap that prevents meandering, wandering, and racing into dead ends.
  • Saves you the time you would have wasted removing what you didn’t intend to include or remembering what you forgot to include. This way, you finish your work on time.
  • Helps potential readers avoid falling off the main points when reading your reflective essay partially.
  • Orders your thoughts and serves as a skeleton.
  • Helps you easily remember your important points.

A great structure for your reflective essay will have three main sections, as discussed below:

  • Introduction
    • It has an attention-grabbing hook, such as a popular quote or a thought-provoking question.
    • An overview of the topic you wish to discuss.
    • A thesis statement to act as your paper’s strategic guidepost.
  • Body Paragraphs
    • The first paragraph fully describes an event, person, or place.
    • The second paragraph describes your thoughts and feelings.
    • The third paragraph analyzes and evaluates an experience.
  • Conclusion
    • It summarizes the essay.
    • It restates your thesis statement.

How to End a Reflective Essay?

A first-class reflective essay needs a great ending. It’s great to introduce your paper on a flying note to win and retain a reader’s attention. It’s also perfect to guide your reader through a well-crafted body section that fully discusses what you promised them.

However, how you end your paper can either make or break all the good efforts you put in from the beginning. Draft this section to summarize all the points you made and what you learned from them. Include a few points on why and how the experience changed your behaviors and attitudes.

You may also consider how your skills and character have been impacted. For instance, ask the following questions:

  • What conclusions can you make about your problem-solving abilities and skills?
  • What can you conclude about the particular situation?
  • What might you do differently in similar future circumstances?
  • What have you done to fortify everything you have learned from this experience?

Ask these questions, knowing that your instructor will be watching to see the evidence of your reflection at a very high level. Therefore, be careful how you finish your paper and give it a strong footing.

Reflective Essay Outline

A good reflective essay outline can assume different formats. You can write a reflective essay in APA format or MLA format. It’s worth noting that this essay’s format significantly differs from that of a regular research paper or argumentative essay. Why? Because it’s more of a well-formatted story or diary entry but with insight and reflection.

Your instructor may require you to organize your paper in MLA or APA formats. Regardless of their preferred formats, you can use the details below for MLA and APA formats.

A Reflective Essay in MLA Format

  • Times New Roman 12-point font double-spaced;
  • 1” margins;
  • The top right has your last name and page number on each page;
  • Center all titles;
  • The header features your name, your instructor’s name, course number, and the date (dd/mm/yy);
  • The last page has works cited.

A Reflective Paper in APA Style

  • Times New Roman 12-point font double-spaced;
  • 1” margins;
  • A page header on each page’s top;
  • Page number on the right;
  • It contains four parts: Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.

Reflective Essay Introduction

Your essay’s introduction is a make-or-break starting point that creates a lasting first impression. How well or badly you introduce it determines whether readers will want to read it. Remember, it’s like a book cover, which people use to judge a book.

So, draft this section to be your best foot forward to create a positive first impression that grabs and maintains readers’ attention. This section should provide the reader with the context and a quick overview of your essay.

However, don’t spill all the beans here because it could also kill the reader’s desire to keep reading. Just put enough details to tantalize readers and make them want to move to the next paragraphs.

You should also make a strong claim through your thesis statement. This statement should explain your paper’s main argument or position, such as a particular event that significantly impacted your life.

Reflective Essay Body

Your body section is like your paper’s gist. The introduction is like a skeleton that shows readers what to expect. But this part adds flesh to the intro through clear and sufficient details. Whether you are writing with a reflective essay template or not, this section must fulfill the promise you made in the beginning.

Remember, your opening section was a promise to lead readers somewhere. This section is the premise for readers to believe that what you promised them in the introduction was true. Draft this part as a premise to prove to your audience that you didn’t whet their reading appetite in vain. To do this, try doing the following:

  • Adopt a chronological flow. Work through everything you want to touch on as it occurred in time. This technique ensures that your assignment is coherent and systematic. While reflective essays must not always be linear, working chronologically prevents you from haphazardly reflecting on your experience. Therefore, present your experience’s important elements in a timeline to piece your narrative together coherently.
  • Include appropriate critique and reflection. Focus your essay’s body on the necessary reflection and critique. It should summarize your experience, explore its impact on your life, and show the lessons you learned from it. So, focus on reflection and not summation. This way, readers get insights into your experience and see your personality, plus your ability to handle or adapt to specific life circumstances.

Reflective Essay Conclusion

Your paper’s conclusion is like an airplane’s landing. No matter how safely the pilot takes off a plane and cruises it through the skies, failing on the landing runway can erase everything. In fact, a flight isn’t safe until the pilot safely lands the plane.

Likewise, your paper’s flying start and good continuation will be compromised if you end on a weak note. Your conclusion must include reasons for and methods you used to enhance your behavior and beliefs. After all, the professor told you to write this essay to show how a given piece of work or life experience impacted you.

Closing Remarks

There you have it. We’ve spilled the beans regarding everything you need to know about writing a great reflective essay for university. We hope you are better positioned to draft better-quality reflective papers now, with all these techniques and tips at your disposal. The ball is in your court to use these insights and hone your writing skills to perfection, impressing your professor with a depth of reflective analysis and inference.

Written by:
Daniel Torres
Let’s be discrete: no one actually likes academic writing. But requirements stand amid our personal preferences and hackles. There’s a way to ease the burden and even enjoy the process a little. All tips and guides collected here are meant for you who want to write better and invest less time in the process.
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