Your instructor just told you that your next writing assignment will be a reflective essay.
Reflective essays are about you, so you go home and take a good long look in the mirror.
Before you start writing about what you see on the surface, keep in mind that a reflective essay involves more than just a cursory glance. It requires taking a deeper look at yourself, stepping through the looking glass, so to speak, to discover and show important parts of yourself to your readers.
Image by sammydavisdog via flickr
Below, I’ll show you how to create a killer reflective essay outline, and I’ll even give you a downloadable template you can use to make your own outline.
What Is a Reflective Essay and How Is It Different from Other Essays?
So you may be asking yourself what a reflective essay is exactly. You’ve written many other types of essays for many different classes, so how is this any different?
First things first… a reflective essay is one in which you reflect on your personality, places you’ve been, people you’ve met, or experiences that have influenced you. This type of essay lets you tell the reader who you are and what/who has made you that way.
Unlike most other types of essays you may have written, reflective essays typically don’t deal with researching facts and figures. They are much more personal in nature and can be more fluid in structure and style.
It can be tempting to just jump right into writing, but hold on! A good reflective essay can be a great reflective essay with the proper planning.
Using a Reflective Essay Outline to Organize Your Thoughts
The goal of any essay is to write clearly and concisely about whatever topic you choose or are assigned. Unfortunately, with reflective essays, some people tend to get a little disorganized and start sounding like the Walrus, talking about anything and everything in no particular order.
Don’t be like the Walrus!
Using a reflective essay outline can help your writing in a few ways
- An outline can help lay out exactly what details you want to use before you start writing. This is tremendously helpful because you won’t end up on your last paragraph and suddenly realize that you forgot to include a crucial element or two.
- An outline gives you a clear roadmap instead of curvy paths and dead ends. You don’t have to wonder what’s supposed to come next because it’ll all be in the outline. In other words, you won’t have to spend time “in Wonderland.”
- Because you can look at your reflective essay outline and follow it as you’re writing, ultimately you’ll save some time in your writing. Second-guessing what comes next, in what order the supporting details should go, or going back for big revisions because you forgot something important are all wastes of time.
Are you convinced yet that creating a reflective essay outline is the best option?
Good! Now let’s get to actually making that outline!
How to Craft a Good Reflective Essay Outline
Because the subject of reflective essays is different from that of, say, an argumentative essay, the structure and organization can also be quite different. However, some rules still apply. To start organizing, your reflective essay outline should include sections for the introduction, body and conclusion.
For the purposes of giving examples, let’s say Alice just got back from her adventures in Wonderland and is working on a reflective essay outline to tell about her experience there.
Image by Jessie Wilcox Smith via Wikimedia Commons
As with any essay, your reflective essay should begin with an introduction. The parts of your introduction to include in your outline are:
- The hook: you want to grab your reader’s attention from the very start. If you’re telling about an experience, give a quick preview of the most exciting part of that story.
- The thesis statement: In a reflective essay, the thesis statement will usually include a brief statement of what your essay is about as well as how the specific person, place, or experience has influenced you. You will expand on this later, so don’t give away too much in the beginning.
Alice’s introduction might go something like this:
I don’t know how I had gotten myself into such a mess, but I found myself running down a seemingly endless path with the Red Queen’s entire court shouting, “Off with her head!” I had long yearned for adventure and excitement, but my time in Wonderland made me realize that adventure comes with some serious risks.
The next part of your outline is perhaps the most important. Without your reflective essay outline, the body can get muddled and confusing. I can’t tell you exactly how to organize the body of your essay because every essay is going to be different. However, I do have a couple of tips.
- If you are writing about an experience or an event, use a chronology that makes sense. It doesn’t have to be completely linear, but if you jump around in the timeline too much, it can confuse both you and the reader. Laying out the important parts in the outline will help you figure out in what order to put everything.
- No matter what you’re writing your reflective essay about–an experience, person or place–you should include the impact it has madeand what, if anything, you learned. This should be at least as long of a section as the description of the event, person or place. It’s what shows off who you are and it’s what the reader will be most interested in.
The body paragraphs of Alice’s reflective outline may look something like this:
- Following the white rabbit down the rabbit hole
- Description of what happened
- Learning to look before I leap
- Meeting the Caterpillar
- Description of what happened
- I learned how to control my size
- I started to realize just how strange the people were in Wonderland
- Mad Tea Party
- Description of what happened
- Although a lot of fun, the tea party was very stressful
- The people I met were progressively crazier
- Croquet with the Red Queen
- Description of what happened
- It’s very hard to play croquet when the other person is cheating and threatening to behead you
- It was at this point when I realized that Wonderland had no rules, and that a world without rules is insane
As you can see, Alice’s timeline includes different events within the entire experience and with a moment of reflection on each. The final lesson learned is the epiphany–the aha! moment.
Your outline does not have to look just like this. It could be a summary of the entire experience, followed by what you learned from it. Like I said, every essay is different.
The conclusion of your reflective essay should be the finishing touch that brings the whole piece of writing together nicely. Include a brief summary of your main points (as stated in the body paragraphs), as well as the overall takeaway from your reflection.
For example, Alice’s conclusion would be similar to this:
The White Rabbit, Caterpillar, Mad Hatter, and the Red Queen are certainly faces that I’ll never forget. They each contributed to the sheer madness of Wonderland. But those people–that madness–made me thankful for the peace and security of my own home and family and its rules.
More Resources to Help with Your Reflective Essay Outline
I hope you have a better understanding of why and how to draft a good outline. To give you a bit of extra help, here’s a downloadable reflective essay outline template.
Reflective Essay Outline Template.
This outline template follows a 5-paragraph format, but you can add paragraphs and rearrange the body paragraphs to fit your needs. Just fill in the blanks with your own information, and you’ll be one step closer to a stellar essay.
Need more inspiration? Check out these reflective essay examples.
If you’re looking for topic ideas, check out 15 Reflective Essay Topics to Inspire Your Next Paper.
Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.
It's easy. Start from an outline and then just follow your plan. Sometimes it's better to start from the main part of an essay - its body, and after that, write an introduction and a conclusion, according to your intro.
We recommend to choose a reflective essay title before writing it itself. In general, writing a reflective essay does not differ from any other type of paper. The only difference that it should be a reflection of yourself. And here we are going to tell you all nuances and share tips on how to write a reflective essay. Just keep reading.
What is a Reflective Essay?
One of the first things you should consider it to define what reflective essay actually is. This is a reflection of yourself. You will have a definite topic, which concentrates on you. Your reader will expect the evaluation of your life during some period of time. Your teachers and/or professors may ask you to reflect on different memories, feelings, and emotions of your past. They are supposed to be exciting and interesting. This is a critical key. Otherwise, your potential audience will not wish to read a boring author.
I NEED A REFLECTIVE ESSAY
You will have to go back to your previous life experiences and give a clear account of a certain event, happening or feeling. It is necessary to choose the proper words and phrases while reflecting your thoughts and showing what you feel. Therefore, you should decide on the correct word choice to fully describe what you wish.
This is a very special and really personal essay type. You will need a lot of things to consider, reflect and explain. You are to demonstrate various feelings you felt previously. For instance, you may have to show how you have changed since your childhood or how you used to play with your first friends. Your teacher may likewise ask you to highlight some events, which are related to social or political aspects too. Your mind surely has such memories. Nevertheless, you may not have all the details to make the story full. Take some time to reflect all necessities.
In addition, you should identify your own writing style to make the content clearer, readable and positive. Reveal an original manner. Try to share with your audience important and happy feelings. Nevertheless, be honest. If you have something negative, mention it as well.
At times, looking on some other essays may come you in handy too. It is quite possible that an illustration essay may help you. Take a look if you have time.
How to Write a Reflective Essay
Now, that you already know what is a reflective essay you should figure out how to write a reflective essay. This is useful information, and you should study this matter to have a better understanding of how to put the things together.
Of course, you will require a decent plan to develop your paper. It gives lots of benefits. When you create an outline, you will have a clearer view of the further development of your literature work. You have a decent structure, which would reveal how to write your story step by step and page by page.
You should be organized and gradually develop your assignment. Thus, the process of writing will become much easier. Make allowances for the following points:
Reflective Essay Outline
You should outline each part of your written assignments to write it quicker. Consider the following steps:
- Choosing topic
- Gathering information
- Refining informative resources
- Writing a draft
- Writing main parts of the project
- Making references
Reflective Essay Outline Structure
In general, your outline should contain three main points:
- Main body
Introduction to a Reflective Essay
Any academic assignment should begin with the introduction. It should be:
You should explain what you are going to describe and what your main ideas are. A proper start sufficiently increases your chances of success.
Reflective Essay Thesis
The thesis statement should reveal your main purpose. You should:
- Describe a definite event, experience or change;
- Include at least one strong example that makes the picture fuller;
- Show effects, consequences, how some events affected you in person and what your experience gave you.
How to Write a Conclusion for a Reflective Essay
The last paragraph is the general overview and the summary of your paper. The conclusion should:
- Retell the story in other words
- Highlight the main points
- Logically conclude the research
The end should be effective. If you draw proper conclusions, you will show the high level of understanding what you have depicted in your own story.
Under the condition, you are looking for a deep research on the mentioned above essentials you may use the next link. Using this guide, you may discover some other helpful tips to write an appropriate reflective essay.
ORDER A REFLECTIVE ESSAY
Reflective Essay Examples
In order to compose an effective paper, you should read some reflective essay examples. Read those that are typical for your educational institution and meet your goals. The things could become more complicated than you thought before. Except for the main parts of your reflective essay, there are some other essentials to consider. Amongst these there ought to be taken into account the next essentials:
- Making a draft. Depending on your goals, write the first draft to see how the things appear on the paper. Afterward, you may correct all weak places and introduce something you might have missed previously.
- Following the format. You should obligatorily follow a certain format. This may be APA, Chicago, Harvard, etc. Don’t forget to ask your supervisor about this essential moment.
- Writing the right references. Thinking that you have done the whole work after three main parts of your assignment would be a bad habit. Your informative sources should be properly cited. Name the resources you took to complete your task and organize them in accordance with your academic style.
These prompts are helpful. Don’t forget them. Please, mind that you might possibly require some other assistance that differs from reflective essay examples. Consequently, we propose to review the following link – to ease your academic duties. Later on, those tips might come you in handy.
Reflective Essay Topics
At times, you may be missing some good ideas for your reflective essay topics. Even if you are taught how to write the reflective essay, you may not be able to pick up a relevant and interesting topic.
Good Reflective Essay Topics
- Experience you’ll never forget
- What breaks your heart?
- What can inspire you?
- Your special qualities
- How do you reach your goals?
Personal Reflective Essay Ideas
- What do you like about yourself?
- Your biggest fears.
- Your main dreams.
- What should be your future like?
- How do you overcome stress?
Reflective Essay on English Class
Under the condition, you cannot perform a reflective essay on English class make a deeper research. Explore the local libraries and the Internet. This is a good piece of advice. If we were asked where to find proper topics, we would suggest this web resource. Keep it in memory and take some notes to have the ability to choose a suitable topic and complete your assignment.
Of course, you may have some other opinions, and this link might appear to be of little importance for you. Therefore, we encourage you to make a decent analysis of other resources or ask us to assist you in this matter as well.
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