How to Write a Reflective Essay: All you need to know

How to Write a Reflective Essay |

Defining a Reflective Essay?

A reflective essay is an essay that outlines a writer’s journey towards exploring their personal experiences. Reflective essays outline how these experiences shaped the writer’s life by growing.

Note: Reflective essays are personal, and therefore, I recommend that you use the first-person narrative. I shall give examples of possible topics for reflective essays:

  • Why I chose diet over-exercise.
  • How the mini-series ‘When They See Us’ changed my life
  • How do you apply the Beneficence while practicing Nursing?

The first two reflective essays let the writers share their experiences. The third reflective essay requires that students taking a nursing course can reflect on the subject. So, I ask, why practice writing reflective essays? They set you to the path of knowing how to apply for jobs, fellowship programs, college, scholarship, and graduate school. 

The process of writing a Reflective Essay

Step 1: Establishing a Topic

In case you do not have specific instructions, writing a reflective essay requires that you chose the topic.

What do you want to write about? 

You can brainstorm topics by listing them as in the example I have given below:

  • Meeting the mayor
  • Being rejected by my high school crush
  • When my parents separated
  •  I moved out of my parents’ home

Note: People have different ways of coming up with topics. Some may use mind maps, book maps, and others list experiences. When choosing a topic, put the audience at the back of your mind.

Why is the audience an important aspect when selecting a topic?

The writer uses the audience to know which format and angle to take when sharing their experience. For example, if a person writes to target new mothers in urban settlements, the angle will be slightly different from a reflective essay required by your college professor. Therefore, the topics in academic discussions shall be different from other formats. 

Step 2. Setting the Outline

I consider the outline to be the starting point towards drafting a reflective essay. The outline provides structure and organization to the personal account of your experience. The outline includes:

  • The introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion 

I suggest that the writer should create a draft of the outline before deciding what information to go into which subtopic. 

The Introduction

Begin with a hook. It can be a famous quote, a sensational statement, or a rhetorical question. I will share the following examples to start you off:

  • A Quote

To indicate how you can use a quote to introduce your reflective essay, I will use the topic of ‘The first time I moved out of my parent’s home.’ When you begin to write, you can say: ‘I always wonder why birds stay in the same place yet they can fly anywhere on the earth. I ask myself the same question – Harun Yahya’ Such quotes engages the reader by drawing them to your essay’s content.

  • Sensational statement

When writing a reflective essay about discovering a hidden potential, you can interest the readers by starting with ‘we are all GOATs.’ After intriguing the readers, you can go ahead and say, ‘We are ‘Greatest Of All Time.’

  • Rhetorical Question

This is also a hook towards developing the reading interest of the audience. You could say, ‘Why bother with education?’ Rhetorical questions play an important role in letting the readers guess where you are heading with this statement. 

After establishing the hook, the writer introduces the thesis of the paper. This is the theory that convinces the reader to keep an interest in the paper. The thesis claims that others may agree or disagree with it. For example: ‘Harum Yahya was justified in claiming that change is hard. It took me moving to my place to realize it takes courage while also understanding why people stay in the same place, yet they can soar anywhere in the world.’ 


The body should be a part of the thesis statement in terms of content. Using the example of the thesis above, the paragraphs shall include:

  • Change
  • Stagnation
  • Understanding


While concluding your reflective essay, you should summarize points from the thesis without adding new information into the essay. In case you stumble upon new information while writing the conclusion, be sure to place it within the body of the essay.

Step 3: Writing the First Draft

Choose one topic that best fits the audience and the thesis. Now you can write about it using the outline I provided above.

Step 4: Editing

After writing, take some time to rest, then read through the first draft. Remove information that seems senseless, then let a recommendable person read it and give notes.

As you can see, writing a reflective essay is simple and easy if you follow the step above. 

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