6 tips for writing a well-organized reflective essay

A reflective essay is not as sophisticated as an argumentative or analytical essay, however, it must have an academic tone, a well-organized structure and a coherent introduction, body and conclusion. Generally, reflective essays are used for college applications. The writer has to state their opinion on a specific topic and explain what he has learned after experiencing a certain event. This can be anything from volunteering at a dog shelter, reading a book, going to a conference or attending an internship.
6 tips for writing a well-organized reflective essay
Regardless of the experience, all reflective essays have one thing in common: they express the feelings, opinions and emotions the writer felt before, during and after the event. If you want to learn how to write a well-organized and powerful reflective essay, these pointers will help you get started.

1. Understand the Assignment
Before you start drafting the outline of your reflective essay, you have to make sure you are prepared and that you fully understand what your instructor or teacher is expecting from you. Being prepared is an important first step in producing a well-organized essay.

The assignment from your teacher might be short and general. In this case, you can let your imagination free and pick any experience you want to write about. If the assignment comprises several requirements, take your time to read them carefully until you’re confident you understand what the teacher expects from you.

2. Choose the Right Idea
A reflective essay should be personal, reflecting your own ideas and feelings. If you are allowed to write about any topic but you’re uncertain what to pick, here are some suggestions to spark your creativity:
  • An extremely difficult choice you had to make.
  • An experience that challenged your beliefs.
  • An event that helped you overcome a fear.
  • A time when you unearthed something life changing.
  • An event you would like to live again.
  • An event or a choice in your life you would like to change.
  • A book that made you rethink your life.
  • A speech/conference that helped you better understand something.
  • A moment in your life that changed your perspective on something.
  • The scariest/happiest experience of your life.
The experience or event you choose to write about doesn’t necessarily have to be ground-breaking. Your interpretation of the event, your viewpoint and your writing skills weigh far more than a shocking or unheard-of event.

3. Write a Powerful Introduction
As with any other essay, the introductory paragraph has to captivate the readers and make them want to keep on reading. In the case of a reflective essay, your introduction should comprise the key points that can be found in the body of the paper. Try not to give too many details, but include a short summary of the experience or event, touching on your first reaction. Mention your feelings and first impressions at the moment and conclude with a thesis statement that leads the reader to the body of the essay.

4. Pay Attention to the Style
Even if your reflective essay includes your personal opinions and genuine feelings, you shouldn’t be too familiar or use slang terms. Only include appropriate experiences and information. You should also carefully consider the people you choose to include in the essay and focus your writing on facts and actions rather than portraying other people negatively. Maintain a professional tone and don’t give unnecessary details that don’t add anything to the essay.

5. Spend Time on the Conclusion
Don’t skip this part. The conclusion is a very important part of a well-organize reflective essay. The last paragraph of your paper should sum up how the experience, reading or event has changed your perspective on something. You can also touch upon the expectations you had before the event and mention how the new insight is bound to change your actions or your way of thinking in the future.

6. Polish Your Paper through Formatting
Formatting, spelling and grammar should never be overlooked. No matter how well-organized and powerful your essay is, typos and errors can make you come across as sloppy or lazy. If you want to deliver an excellent reflective essay, spend the extra time to proofread it carefully and format it accordingly.

If you are handing in your essay, make sure the font is not too big or too small. Times New Roman 12 is the safe choice. It looks professional and is easy to read. When you’re proofreading your essay, keep an eye out for knotty sentences, long paragraphs, wrong word choices and incorrect punctuation. Don’t rely wholly on a spell-checker as they are often not 100% reliable. Read your paper at least twice before handing it in. Don’t forget to number the pages and include your personal information such as your name and class details in the upper right corner.

Written by:
John Stuart

Tamuno Reuben

Those who seek knowledge seek power because the pen is mightier than the sword.


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