A reflective essay is usually given to students as a task that is related to a class topic but should express student’s impression of a particular experience or event. The reflection can be based on some book read, article, lecture, performance, exhibition etc. This type of paper allows the student to communicate with the teacher and share his or her reaction and thoughts.
Stage 1. Preparations for Writing
- Make a short outline which can summarize the experience you are going to write about.
- Note the most outstanding material which you memorized: direct or paraphrased quotations, the summary of the event and so on.
- Ask yourself why the particular experience caught your attention or changed your way of thinking if it challenged or conflicted with your previous beliefs.
- Think of what the intention of the author was if he touched upon some global issues.
Stage 2. Writing a Reflection Paper
- Keep your essay concise. Check if your professor requires a specific word count and follow it.
- Indicate your expectations about the event, book, or article in an introduction. You may tell what you expected the object you are writing to be based on: its title, author, the abstract from it or reviews of other people.
- Your introduction must end with a thesis statement: it should be a short clarification of whether your expectations were realized.
- In fact, thesis is the main focus of your reflective paper, that is why pay enough attention to it and compose it in as clear and precise manner as possible.
- Body paragraphs should explain your assumptions about your experience. Bring a lot of details to your essay, do not be abstract but illustrate your explanations with the examples, facts and quotes.
- Each of your body paragraphs should correspond to the conclusion or idea you elaborated. Also, they should include a topic sentence that reflects the major concepts of your paper.
- Summarize and conclude. The conclusion part should tell about the overall impression that you received from your experience or reading. Define the results: write if it taught you something, changed your way of thinking, or brought new feelings or understanding of some idea.
Stage 3. Check Your Style and Grammar
- Although the reflective essay should reveal your personal experience, try to keep it in a formal tone of writing.
- If you feel uncomfortable about writing some details, you can just avoid these places and make an accent on the aspects you can describe well or use general and abstract terms (if it is not avoidable).
- Read your paper a few times and make sure you have corrected all the mistakes.
- Do not use slang, jargons and internet abbreviations like BTW, OMG and so on. Remember the paper should be composed in an academic manner.
- Reflective essay is one of the types of papers which can be written in the first person. Do not hesitate to use “I”-pronoun for telling about your experience.
- Do not forget to associate your personal feelings and impressions with the general topic.
- Use transitional words and phrases to unite sentences and paragraphs and make your essay flow.
Remember that the aim of the reflective essay is to express your impressions about some reading and experience, expectations and their realization.
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Some Important Remarks on Your Excellent Writing
At first sight, a reflective essay may seem to be very similar to what you know as a narrative essay. Roughly speaking, both these types of academic essays can be based on a story from your own life. Your main task is to present it so vividly, that your reader could literally see what you saw and feel what you felt. On the other hand, however, a really good reflective essay would cover not only the logical and chronological sequence of facts and the outcome of your story, but also your analysis of these facts and explanation of this outcome.
Actually, this is what some smart student guidebooks usually say. To put it all simply, you should focus more on the lesson which a particular situation taught you, and less on retelling the story behind this situation. Have a look at the suggestions below to provide yourself with some effective tips for your successful work. They will help you highlight the most essential aspects of the reflections which you are going to use as the sources for your writing.
- When composing the reflective essay, you describe your very memorable personal experience which can concern any aspect of your life.
- With the help of such description you should try to find out what influence it has had on you. So, you should also mention who you think you were before you had that experience, and what changes it has caused in your character or life in general.
- Besides, you can think what you or the other character of your narration could have done differently, and how that could have affected the situation.
- Finally, you can muse over the questions about what you have learnt about your personality and how it has developed.
Some Practical Language Hints
These nice simple recommendations can make your story both expressive and impressive. What it means is that you will be able to present clearly what you think and feel, as well as to impress you reader and make him/her sympathize with you.
- Use synonyms to the most common adjectives like “interesting”, “happy”, “sad”, etc.
- Select original comparisons or associations for the above-mentioned adjectives and other words.
- Come up with synonyms or metaphors for common actions like “go”, “tell/say”, “cry”, “smile”, etc.