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If you have ever read reflective essay examples, you would know that these types of written works examine the writer’s life experiences. When you write a reflective paper example, you write about your own experiences and explore how you’ve changed, grown or developed because of those experiences. There’s no standard format for this essay as it may vary depending on the target audience.

What is a reflective essay?

A reflective essay is a type of written work which reflects your own self. Since it’s about yourself, you already have a topic to write about. For reflective essay examples, readers expect you to evaluate a specific part of your life. To do this, you may reflect on emotions, memories, and feelings you’ve experienced at that time.

Since you’re writing reflection essay samples about yourself, make sure that they’re interesting and exciting. This is very important so that your readers don’t get bored with what you’ve written. Reflective essays are very personal thus, they’re a special type of essay. As you write one, you need to reflect, think, and explain.

In the essay, you should demonstrate and describe different feelings or emotions which you’ve felt in the past. These statements breathe life into your essay as your readers start picturing what you’ve written in their minds. Reflective essays are very honest, personal, and emotional, especially those which describe painful experiences.

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Format of reflective essay

As aforementioned, reflective essay examples don’t have a standard format. They seem easy enough to write but once you’ve sat down to start writing, you may suddenly find the task very challenging! Besides the format, you must think about the life experience you want to write about and remember everything about it.

A reflective paper example is a lot like a personal journal or diary. Of course, the difference is that other people will read your essay. Therefore, you must write it with good structure and coherence. In this regard, reflective essays are a lot like the other types of essays too.

When writing a reflective essay, you will have to examine your own life experiences. The purpose of writing such an essay is to provide yourself with a platform to share your most meaningful life experiences with other people. You can also use it as a way to explore how your experiences have changed you as a person.

You can present reflective writing in different formats. Most of the time though, people use a learning log or a diary entry format. You can use these formats and others. Just make sure that your essay has a good flow and that it’s easy for other readers to understand.

The format to use for your reflection essay samples would depend on your target audience. You can make an academic reflective essay or you can make it as a general and informal piece of writing. If you need to write the essay for a class assignment, follow the format given to you by your teacher.

No matter what format you choose, you may write an essay which:

  • Focuses on your personal growth
    Such an essay helps you learn how to evaluate and analyze the experiences you have had in your personal life. This helps promote emotional development and growth. It also helps you understand yourself and your behaviors better.
  • Focuses on literature
    For this type of essay, you may have to include references to literature and apply these to your own life experiences. Such essays are commonly given as assignments to students in school.

Creating the outline of reflective essay examples

Before you write your reflective essay examples, you must create an outline for them. Although you’d write about your own life, creating an outline gives structure to your essay to serve as a guide for what you want to write about.

Whether you need to write an essay for school, for a magazine or for any other reason, creating an outline is the very first step. With a good outline, you have a better idea of how your essay will flow from one paragraph to the next all the way to the conclusion.

When creating the outline of your reflective paper example, keep it organized. Develop the outline gradually and put a lot of thought into it. In doing this, you make the writing process much easier. Here is a rundown of the steps involved in the essay-writing process:

  • Choose a topic (a significant life experience you want to write about)
  • Gather information
  • Create an outline
  • Write a draft
  • Finalize your essay

Tips for writing reflective essay

As you think about the content of your reflection essay samples, remember that the important thing is that such an essay must be highly personal but also engaging to readers. There’s so much more to reflective essays than just writing your story. You must also reflect on your experiences to engage your audiences.

For your starting point, think about the most significant experiences you had in your life. Those which had either a negative or a positive impact on you as a person. If the reflective essay is a school assignment, your professor would probably specify what you must write about. Here are some tips for you for writing your reflective paper example:

  • Reflection
    The most important part of writing your reflective essay is the reflective process. Think about the personal experience you want to write about. Focus on what happened, how this experience made you feel, and how it affected your life. Explore your memories and emotions for this part of the process.
    As you’re recalling and reflecting on your life experience, take a lot of notes. Write down all the details you remember and try to be as clear and as detailed as you possibly can. Take as much time as you need for reflection. You can even close your eyes as you try to remember those experiences vividly.
    When you’re confident that you have recalled all of the details of your life experience, it’s time to write your essay. To make it more meaningful, try to answer some important questions about your life experience including:
    Did you learn anything new about yourself because of this experience?
    Have you grown or developed because of this experience? If so, in what way?
    Did this experience impact your life positively or negatively?
    If you had the chance to experience this all over again, would you do anything differently?
    Why did you behave in such a way at the time of this experience?
    Did you make the right choices?
    What are your general thoughts and feelings about this experience?
    Can you say that you learned from this experience?
    Did you gain any new perspectives or skills because of this experience?
    These are “signpost questions” which can help you write a more meaningful essay. These are just some examples, you can also think of your own questions to ask yourself. The point of these questions is to make sure that you think critically and deeply about the experience you’re writing about.
  • Planning
    After you’ve reflected on your life experience, it’s time to start planning your essay. When it’s time to start, you might feel as if you’re not adequately prepared even though you’ve done a lot of reflection. This is a normal feeling, especially if you want to create a written piece which people will love reading.
    To ease your anxiety and doubt, come up with a well-rounded and comprehensive plan. The best way to do this is through an outline. With an outline to guide your writing process, you can come up with an essay that’s more coherent and which has a clear structure.
    An outline or plan is important for reflective essays. Since you’re writing about an emotionally-charged topic, you might find yourself getting “lost” along the way. This is especially true if you’re writing about a painful experience which still affects you until now. The outline serves as a map for you to keep your thoughts organized.
    In your outline, make sure to establish all of the fundamental details you wish to include in your essay. This helps you pick out and remove any superfluous information to make it easier to read and understand. Planning the points you want to write about makes it easier for you to stay on point.
    As such, your writing becomes a lot clearer and your readers can follow your line of thought. An outline also prevents you from missing out any relevant information. It’s very difficult and frustrating to go back after you’ve written the whole essay just to fit in this information!
    Planning your essay also saves you a lot of time. Coming up with the structure makes you more familiar with your essay even before you start writing it. Thus, you can spend more time writing, revising, and proofreading your essay to make it the best version possible.


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