How to Write a Reflective Paper

Reflective essays are essays that normally ask the writer to reflect on themselves, their experiences, and their beliefs. They are a great way to think about your life and your beliefs and to document your growth and development. Reflective essays give the author a chance to share their thoughts with others and to know themselves better. They can be used in college courses either as part of assignment writing or as personal reflection. Some of the most common reflective essay questions include; Reflection on a project, Course reflection paper, Critical reflection paper, Reflection paper on a book

For this kind of essay, you need to show both critical thinking skills and the ability to express your opinion. This is a good time to train these skills.

When writing a reflective essay there are three things to put into consideration. Firstly, think about what you want to say. It should not be necessarily long to document your growth and development. A reflective essay can be as short as a few paragraphs. You should focus on your own experiences and personal thoughts. Avoid using other people’s experiences when writing a reflective essay. Secondly, be open about how you feel and be honest. Lastly, be sure to give your readers a sense of your own growth and development.

Reflective paper structure



In the introductory paragraph we have 3 rules: express your feelings about a subject, provide insight on the idea you are discussing, and, finally, summarize the central claim of the paragraph as a one-sentence statement to make the reader stay on the line. This is where you write a strong thesis statement that will guide you throughout the essay-writing process.

The introduction should be

  • Catchy, informative, and brief
  • Include a reflective question in the text.
  • Include a thesis statement


Body paragraphs

The body paragraph gives you an opportunity to explore your thesis. You should use three paragraphs to explain your experience and how the experiences influenced or shaped you.  Compare what you have learned with what others are doing in the other paragraph. Lastly, use the paragraph to share what you have learned from the experience.



The conclusion should be solid. It should provide a strong image of the experience. Leave the image of your experience, so it helps readers have some food for reflection after they finish.

  • highlight the key points in the essay
  • be persuasive and brief
  • Answer the question asked in the introduction


How to Format a reflective essay

  1. Font size; Times New Roma, Arial, Calibri, Helvetica among others
  2. Standard A4 paper.
  1. Sides; leave 1-inch margins on each
  2. Text size; 12-point text
  3. Texts; Double spaces between the lines.
  4. Citation according to APA, MLA, Chicago style, [as per the instructions]
  5. Word count – from 250 to 750 (as per the instructions)

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