Writing a Reflective Essay: A Guide for Students in the USA

A reflective essay is what, precisely? 

Reflective essays go into extensive depth about a particular experience, occasion, or subject while delving into the topic’s underlying themes. It is reflective because the author considers the past incident from the viewpoint of the present.

A reflective essay should examine your thoughts, emotions, and viewpoints regarding the subject. As a result, it is usually written in the first person and contains the thoughts, convictions, and emotions of the author. 

There are five phases to planning a reflective essay for college 

Writing a reflective essay is a terrific method to share your individual viewpoints and connect with people who have gone through similar experiences.

However, getting started can be challenging. While some people may feel comfortable expressing themselves, others might require assistance in order to start writing.

Here are some pointers to help you begin writing your reflective essay.

1. Consider the life experiences that can assist you to respond to the question 

The writing process for your reflective essay will proceed just like it does for other academic essays once you get planning. To get as many ideas about the subject you wish to discuss as feasible, you’ll start with a brain dump.

This broad method of getting all of your ideas out of your head and onto paper or a screen is also referred to as a mind map.

List your thoughts and experiences in relation to the prompt; it doesn’t need to be nice or ordered.

After that, go over the list and mark the items that will support your present line of thinking by crossing out those that don’t resonate with you.

2. Do your subject matter research

You should do some research to ensure you have the correct information if you are reflecting on a particular topic or subject.

Even if planning a reflective essay is different from writing one, you must still have a firm understanding of your subject before sharing your personal insights and experiences.

You might also take some time to reflect on your topic while making notes about any impressions or observations that come to mind.

3. Specify a focus for your essay 


You’ll still need to choose the best subject for your reflective essay, even though your English teacher or professor may provide you with a specific question. ‘

Consider personal instances that you can utilize in your reflective essay. These anecdotes must relate to the topic and provide sufficient specifics. that you can use to think back on the events and how they affected your life or the current topic.

Join the dots on your list of potential experiences, recollections, and observations to determine which ones will best support the prompt. 

4. Compile a list of inquiries for reflection 

With a clear topic in mind, you should start compiling a set of reflection questions to direct your thought process. 

Here is some reflective writing prompts that you might utilize as you write your paper.

  • How did I feel after having this experience?
  • What specifics did I notice when I thought about this experience or topic?
  • What impact has this had on my private life?
  • What major event resulted from this experience?
  • How can I utilize this knowledge to assist someone who is going through something similar?
  • What new abilities or lessons did I pick up?
  • How emotionally demanding or significant was this experience?
  • What impact does this topic have on me?
  • What, if anything, would I change? 

5. Pay attention to the purpose of your reflection 

Although this phase could seem unnecessary, you should take your reflective writing process a step further by determining the underlying meaning of your reflection. This will ultimately serve as your paper’s thesis statement and serve as your paper’s main argument.

So before you start writing the reflective essay, make sure to spend some time developing this key idea. 

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