How difficult can it be to reflect on your past, locate a memorable experience, and write about it? Doesn’t it appear to be simple? That is until you sit down to actually write the essay. You are at loss for words and fail to string them properly even when they do come. It is like revealing a past through your writing.

A reflective essay is a critical outlook of a life experience in order to learn from that experience or have a clearer insight of what could have been different if things were done otherwise. It is like exposing a section of your diary to the public in a formal tone while exploring vast possibilities of a different result given different circumstances. There are some examples of reflective essays depending on the format chosen by a writer: 

Focus on Personal Growth

This type of reflective essay is geared toward making students analyze their personal life experiences to spark up positive changes, growth, and individual development. It gives you a better understanding of themselves and their characters.

Focus on Literature

Here, you give a summary of the experience and find an applicable scenario in his life experience. Unlike the focus on personal growth, this personally highlights the topic the writer should write about.



Below are some basic steps to follow to help guide writing a reflective essay:

Deciding on the topic

This is the fundamental part of your essay because your result is dependent on your thoughts, so you allow yourself to drown in your thoughts with hopes that you will find an experience that has made an impact in your life. The impact can be something small but the ability to make people perceive that impact in its uniqueness depends on how you interpret the thought.  Do you want a painful or a learning experience? The end process is to reflect on something that has shaped your growth as an individual.

When you have decided what to write about, critically study it and jot details of all you can recall, as regards the occurrence. Employ the sense organs to allow your readers to feel the emotions and feelings you tried to germinate with your writing and while this will promote effective communication, ensure to keep it simple and formal.

Once you have exhausted the content of the event, the reflection phase began as this will help you analyze how that said experience has helped you evolve and this will answer the question of your personal growth since the event. Reflection models such as Gibbs or Kolb cycles should be adopted before, during, and after the learning phase to ensure a high standard of analysis.

Map out your plan

Once you have a sketchy but clear idea of what to write about, the next thing to probably do is sketch out your plan to approach your essay in the most organized manner. While creating your plan, ask yourself relevant questions that will help shape your essay. These questions will help expose the changes in you since your experience. This exercise will give an idea of what the essay should be like and it will help probe you for deeper insights on which your work will originate. Write down your thesis and let your theme center around it as it will help in the overall structure of your essay. Finally, determine a sequence for your paragraphed thoughts and work on them accordingly. This will ensure conciseness and step pattern.


An eye-catching introduction will draw the attention of your reader. It will help attract engagement from them. So, the introductory work should be tempting to keep the readers trailing each line wanting more of your piece. Portray all exciting aspects of your story in the initial paragraph to be opportune with grabbing your reader’s interest.  However, while trying to achieve that, steer clear of unnecessary details and filter mindless words. Despite being a personal essay, use a formal tone of writing and try to be original and real in your work. Readers want something or an experience that is relatable and real. Try to be genuine while writing a compelling story – don’t shy away from your feelings and emotions. Finally, your introduction should not give away too many details that would make your readers disinterested.


This is the major part of the work. This is where the detailed explanation comes into play and here, try to employ the descriptive method because you are basically retelling a past. This will help keep the essay engaging for people. In the context of your work, make good use of storytelling skills as it keeps the readers in hope and makes them want to keep the engagement. Use examples where necessary and be sure to employ the five senses. Also, keep in mind that the story doesn’t necessarily have be follow a linear pattern to prevent haphazard recollection.  


The concluding paragraph is a summation of your reflection on the lessons learnt as a result of the experience. Try to highlight why and how your character changed The emphasis should be how the experience helped you in your personal growth and what you could have done differently. Also, you can write about how you intend to apply the lessons learnt in the real world.

In summary, when writing a reflective essay;

  1. Ensure to speak in first person pronoun since it is a personal encounter
  2. Adopt a formal writing tone
  3. Write your ideas in a descriptive manner
  4. Despite being a personal encounter, there should be some factual references in the piece.

Feel free to explore your personal encounters to come up with an impactful personal essay. And if you have more questions, or need assistance putting these tips into practice, our essay writing services and assignment writing services are there for you.