Understanding the format of a reflective essay

Reflective kind of writing is something that helps students think and understand more about themselves, as well as about the world surrounding them. It makes students think about who they are, about their purpose in life and their goals, about who they used to be and how they changed throughout their lives. In other words, reflective essay is aimed at examining our experiences in life and making important conclusions, taking into consideration those changes that happened to us and situations that influenced us a lot and helped us grow.

As for the format of this kind of writing, it may depend on different circumstances. First and foremost, the format is usually determined by the professor who actually gives this task. At the same time, it is also influenced by the target audience that you are planning to reach.

For example, if your target audience is your professor in college, there’s going to be a list of requirements that he will give you together with the assignment. However, if you are going to write a reflective article for a journal or a magazine, your target audience is going to be quite broad and requirements will differ significantly. Consider these circumstances before you start working on your paper and make sure you know what you are expected to write about and how. At the same time, no matter what your target audience is, every reflective essay should consist of several essential parts, which are described below in the article.

What makes a reflective paper different

By now, you must have written many kinds of essays and you’re probably interested what exactly makes this kind any different from all the rest that you already know. Here are three main differences that make it so special.

  • The major point you need to pay attention to is that in this task, you will have to reflect on the things that are related to you personally. You may write about tonnes of things, including places that you’ve been, your family or people that you’ve met, your hobbies or your goals, or any particular experience or situation that influenced you as a person.
  • This is probably the only kind of academic writing, where you will not have to deal with researching, going to the library, gathering facts, arguments and counterarguments and so on. On the contrary, everything you need is already in your head. All you have to do is to think and reflect on it.
  • The best way to make your essay interesting, is to be honest. Whatever you’re telling about yourself, make sure you’re honest with your audience and with yourself as well and that will bring you the best results.

Dealing with the structure of a reflection essay

Just like in any other academic paper writing, this one can be completed only if you organize your thoughts properly. No matter what the topic is, one of your goals is to give information in a clear and concise manner. Sometimes when dealing with this task, students think that since there’s no need for the research, they may just write whatever they want and how they want so they start writing about everything and nothing all at once. Well, it couldn’t be further from the truth. That is why we recommend you creating an outline, which is beneficial for the following reasons.

  • An outline will give you an understanding of what facts and details you want to include into the paper and what you would like to avoid. This is so important because you will know it from the beginning before actually writing so when you finish, you will know for sure that nothing is missed.
  • Having a good outline helps you keep your point clear and prevents you from jumping from one thought to another, which is very confusing for the reader. It will give you a general view of your essay before you even start writing on it.
  • Finally, a proper outline will definitely save your time. Since you will have your plan and you will follow it, you won’t have to spend time on thinking what you should write next. Of course, you can make changes while writing, but the ground for your paper will be already prepared.

Creating an outline

Taking into consideration that this kind of paper differs from others, such as argumentative, its structure may also be a little bit different. But still, there are common rules that have to do with all kinds of papers. For example, you will for sure have to divide your essay into the introduction part, the body part and conclusion.

The introduction comes first and this is where you are going to introduce your topic to the target audience. More than that, introduction is exactly that part of your essay where the reader will decide whether he or she is going to continue reading or not. That is why, make sure you included the following parts into your introduction.

  • The hook in the first sentence is essential in order to grab your reader’s attention.
  • A brief preview about what you are going to tell in your story about.
  • The thesis statement. As a rule, it is a brief explanation of what your paper is going to be about in general.

Work on the thesis statement accurately and make sure it gives your essay a focus and a short preview of the whole story.

Building the body part

Not a surprise that the body part is the most essential part in any kind of paper. This is where having a good outline will be the most helpful, otherwise you will get lost in your own thoughts. Since you’re going to write primarily about yourself, we suggest using a chronological order. This will make it easier for your reader to understand your point and for you to put the things together. Remember also writing about the influence of that or another event, place or situation in regard to your personality and your worldview. To cut a long story short, take a look at the following guidelines that will help you deal with the body part of your paper.

  • Define the key themes of your story. This is going to be about the lesson that you have learnt from that or another experience in your life. It’s going to take from one to three sentences.
  • Come up with the most impressive facts in your story. What exactly stands out in the whole experience? Here, you can use quotations, if necessary.
  • Consider creating a chart. This can be quite helpful because charts make logical connections between your thoughts and ideas, which is necessary if you want to be understood. You may use columns where you jot down your key points and supporting ideas. For example, the first column is for the key idea, the second one is for your personal comment on the situation and the third column is for additional details that don’t play such a big role but you may use them just for creating a general impression.
  • Ask yourself questions and answer honestly. If you’re telling about some kind of impact on you, you need to mention how exactly it changed you and explain the difference between the past and the present you. Do you think this is an experience everybody needs to have in his life?
  • Keep your phrases narrow enough and avoid generalizing. Try to be specific and don’t make your reader guess. Instead, provide him with particular statements while not making them too long.
  • Let the reader know about your expectations. Is there something specific that you would like him to think afterwards? What is it and why is it so important to you?

Working on the conclusions

This is going to be about something that you’ve reached due to that or another experience. Every situation in our lives is a lesson and our job is to learn that lesson accurately. So you are expected to share with your audience your understanding of the lesson that your life has taught you. In order to give a good explanation, we suggest using some details and avoid commonly used expressions. In case if you have more than one conclusion, you need to begin every conclusion with a new paragraph. All these paragraphs should identify your key ideas and have a very concrete message.

When you have got your conclusions written, it’s time to make a summary. In your summary, you need to give the overall idea that you wanted to share with your audience using one or maximum two paragraphs.

Use reflective essay examples

To have a better understanding of how your paper should look, you can go online and search for some well-written examples. There are tonnes of them on the internet so you can choose which one you like most. This is rather helpful when it comes to dealing with formatting, especially if you don’t have much experience in essay writing. In addition, a good example can be your guide in dealing with your own task, it can be inspiring and even give you some new interesting ideas.

In case if you still find it difficult to cope with essay writing, consider professional help. Many students around the globe get support from experienced writers, which guarantees them having their paper done on time and at a high level of professionalism.