write a reflection paper

How to Write a Reflection Paper

Are you about to write a reflection paper but unsure about how to do it? Well, you’re in luck. This article is the only one you’ll ever need to ace your reflection essays. Stick around till the end to discover reflective writing tips and tricks.

A reflective essay is a piece of writing that follows an experience or event, explaining the circumstances surrounding it and its significance to you. While reflecting on your experiences, some might ask yourself what was learned, how it changed you, what would have happened if something were different?

A reflection paper is about self-reflection. It allows you to think about figures and events in your life and analyze them. You need to be as detailed as possible: supply names, dates, and locations of the people and places mentioned. You can also explore memories that were triggered by certain events or thoughts caused by those events. The purpose of a reflection paper is not only self-reflection but also analysis of what you learned and how it will affect your future.

Reflection Paper Format

A well-written reflection paper is a one-page double-spaced essay written in the first person with the author as the subject. It must have an introductory paragraph featuring a brief summary of what happened and why it was significant, a middle section describing how this event affected you, and a conclusion that discusses what you learned from it and its significance.

Reflection Paper Outline

When organizing your reflection essay, you need to include the following basics

It is always good to start a reflection paper with an introductory paragraph explaining what happened and why it is significant to you, a body paragraph or two describing how this event has affected you, and a conclusion on the significance of this event to your life.

Preferably, the introduction should be one paragraph; the first body section, two paragraphs; and the final conclusion, one paragraph.

Include a Works Cited or References page at the end of your paper with all sources used in the writing process. Sources include books, newspapers, journals, magazines, or even personal interviews. Include the author’s name, book title and publisher (if any), publication date, and the page number. The format for all sources must be consistent throughout the project; that is, use either MLA or APA style formatting for in-text citations and Works Cited/References list.

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Tips for writing a reflective paper

When writing a reflective paper, it is important to be as detailed as possible. In the introduction, you should explain what happened, why it was significant to you, and where and when it took place. The first part of the paper should talk about how the event affected you. Use anecdotes from your life or those you have collected from other people (interviews, diaries, etc.) to show how the event affected you. The final part of the paper should summarize what you are trying to express in the paper. Alternatively, you can discuss what you learned from this event and its significance in your life. Try not to use generalizations or overuse words like “always” or “never” since these indicate that you speak with authority and use facts that may not be true.

Sometimes it isn’t easy to think about what you’ve learned and why writing a reflective paper feels like an overwhelming task. However, if you take your time and work on it gradually, the assignment will become easier and less intimidating. A good way to start is by taking notes or jotting down your thoughts right after the event. For example, write down how you felt when the event took place or right after. Also, think about what made this experience so memorable to you. If the event was significant because it changed your perspective on life, then describe why that happened. Keep in mind there are no right or wrong answers to these questions! The answer that comes to you is the most relevant and true for yourself.

Lastly, remember that your readers want to know who you are beyond an academic assignment; reflective papers are one way to express yourself- what motivates you, how you see the world, and what lessons you have learned through your experiences.

Create the main theme.

When writing a reflection essay, you need to come up with main themes that will guide the trajectory of your paper. The best way to create the main theme is by looking at the reflection paper assignment. Every assignment has a different focus, so make sure you pick one that works for your essay topic.

Once you have picked a topic or theme, start collecting evidence from your life related to it. Make sure all of this evidence fits into the topic you chose since it will make or break your essay.

Start writing the paper.

The intro should be brief but enough to get the reader engaged. This is why it’s important to know what you want to do with this reflection paper assignment before you start writing! Introductions are often the same across all types of essays, focusing on setting up the type of paper you’re writing and where it’s going. For example:

“In this reflection paper, I am going to talk about the most important lesson I’ve ever learned and how it changed my life.”

Now that you have your thesis statement down getting started is as easy as taking your notes and putting them into a paragraph. Some reflection papers are specific about the number of body paragraphs, but many leave it open to interpretation. The best way to figure out what you should do is using your intro as one paragraph, then have your 3-5 other body paragraphs which support that main idea. Don’t forget each paragraph should have a topic sentence, at least three supporting sentences, and a concluding sentence, as well as an in-text citation at the end of each paragraph.

Make sure your work is organized and easy to read.

You must follow your own writing and all of its ideas, which can be hard if it’s not organized properly. To fix this problem, outline everything you want to say before writing the paper, which gives you a road map for your thoughts.

After you have finished outlining, organize all of your points into one main outline. Since certain topics should come before others, put them in order and figure out where each paragraph will go to ensure that everything flows together nicely at the end.

Once you have your road map, start writing! But remember to edit as you go so that it doesn’t feel too overwhelming.

Make sure to check for grammar mistakes and typos.

Even if you write your reflection paper in the first person, it still needs to be grammatically correct and sound professional. This means checking over your work. Have a few people read the paper to make sure it sounds good and is easy to follow.

Once you’ve made sure everything runs smoothly, proofread your work for any grammatical errors or typos. If you need help with grammar or punctuation, try using free online resources such as those offered by  Grammarly.

Brainstorm ideas and experiences you’ve had related to your topic.

The best approach to finding inspiration for your reflection paper is brainstorming. Look at the assignment and reflect upon what you feel or believe has impacted you the most in life; this might be a personal experience, a lesson you’ve learned, something someone said to you, etc. Once you have an idea of what inspires you to reflect on your personal experiences, it’s time to write!

Use an academic or professional tone.

The best way to check if your reflection paper is professional and written in the correct tone is to read it out loud if it doesn’t sound like something you’d say or write, change it to be more personal but still formal enough for a college essay.

Make connections between your observations, experiences and opinions.

It is important to discuss your opinion to get the biggest impact or reaction from your reader. There are several different ways you can do this, but the most common approach is using “I” statements. This means that you convey your thoughts by speaking directly of yourself and how you feel about them, making your paper more personal.

“I felt grounded after spending time in nature.”

Another way to make your paper more personal is by using anecdotes or stories that you’ve experienced. The purpose of an anecdote is to give the reader a better idea of what you’re trying to say, which can be done by telling them about something that happened to you, someone you know, or something that you saw.

“That day, when I was driving to the grocery store, I saw a car pulled off to the side of the road with its hazard lights on. It reminded me of being stranded in a foreign country, not having any idea what’s going on around me.”

Make sure every sentence has a purpose.

Every sentence in your reflection paper should have a clear point and purpose. The main goal of your paper is to give the reader insight into how you feel about something or what you believe in. This means that each sentence should relay this meaning, which you can do by using powerful verbs and descriptive words when writing about your experiences.

You can also use your reflection paper to tell a story. This means using strong verbs and telling phrases to create vivid imagery for the reader. It also means giving them an example of what you mean by using vivid details that will help them paint a picture in their head.

“It was so hot outside that the pavement felt like it was burning my feet, and I could hear laughter coming from all directions.”

The importance of reflection papers

Reflection papers are important because they give the reader insight into your thoughts and feelings on a certain topic or subject. They allow you to take all of your experiences, knowledge, and opinions about something and put them in one essay.

The best way to get better at writing reflection papers is by doing it often. Practice makes perfect! Remember to record your thoughts and experiences to look back on for future reflection papers because many topics can be seen as cyclical.

Taking your time while writing is also very important. Think about what you want to say before putting it down on paper to have a clear idea of how you feel or what you believe in. After this, you can start writing.

Lastly, essay writing or any academic writing requires practice. The more you put pen to paper, the better your writing skills become. So don’t underestimate the value of putting all your effort into regular writing sessions- they will soon pay off.


Reflection papers are interesting to write because you can always dig into your personal experiences for writing material. However, you still have to remember that it is an essay requiring a thesis statement and correct paragraph structure. Good luck with writing your reflection paper.

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