How to Write Personal Reflection Paper

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A reflection paper is the kind of paper that requires you to communicate with your tutor about how a particular experience, lecture, article, or lesson shapes how you understand class-related materials. It’s a common type of paper in universities, and it applies to almost every subject.

How to Write Personal Reflection Paper

As opposed to presenting opinions, a personal reflection paper allows you to express your views on a particular subject. However, you still must maintain an academic tone and still should be cohesively and thoroughly organized. The best thing is that there isn’t an incorrect answer. You have the power to express your point of view in a clear and comprehensible way your reader will understand. Include a vivid description and summary of an experience to make the reader feel as if they have experienced it. Besides your thoughts, also include your reactions and feelings.

In this article, you will get helpful tips to help you write a personal reflective paper successfully.

Types of Reflection Paper

A reflection paper can be personal, professional, educational, experimental, or self-reflection. The tone of each is slightly different.

Personal reflection paperIn this paper, you are required to express your thoughts, feelings, and opinions regarding a topic that directly impacts/affects you.
Professional reflection paperThis is a type of reflection mostly given to social workers and teachers and focuses on analyzing their individual behaviors and development in a specific setting.
Educational reflection paperWith this paper, you are required to respond to a lecture, film, article, or book studied in class. It’s the most common paper you will be assigned in university as it allows you to showcase your interpretation of a particular subject.
Experimental reflection paperThis is a type of reflection where you apply a theory to practice an experimental reflection. It requires you to apply a learned concept and connect them with practical experience within the subject.
Self-reflection paperAt the end of a particular course or at some point in your course, you may be needed to write a self-reflection academic essay. It’s always assigned after a major presentation or project. You don’t have to be so formal as it’s usually a way of a professor trying to see how far you have grown and learned in class.

Follow the Right Paper Format

About the reflection paper format, you need to check the one given by the professor, including referencing style. Since the reflection paper covers your opinion based on personal experience, typically, it doesn’t follow any specific layout. Professors allow you to handle them whichever way you are comfortable with. They will also set the criteria to use once they assign you a reflection paper. The length usually ranges from 400-800 words.

The paper must be appropriately formatted and followed the right referencing style even if you plan to use the citation from the material you used in class. If you don’t know how to format your paper correctly, you can always get help from an essay writing service available online.

Since reflection paper is subjective, you might wonder how your tutor will grade your essay. Ultimately, lecturers usually evaluate how you have interpreted your personal perception, connections you have made to comprehensive thoughts, and the way you’ve communicated your points. They look for the way you address and analyze how your personal experiences have reformed your view of your surroundings and the world.

When writing a reflection academic paper, your professor will be looking for these elements;

  • Organized flow and cohesive clear writing throughout your paper
  • Your capabilities in analyzing the materials and recognizing how your personal experience has shaped your interpretation
  • How you have been impacted by the subject and a clear re-evaluation of your ideas
  • A connection between the broader context of your class or course and the subject at hand
  • Your personal connection and reflection to the subject material

Questions That Will Guide Your Response

When times come to brainstorm, you might struggle to gauge your feelings or pinpoint the responses. First, write down the main themes, topics, or points that come to your mind. Next, consider your personal opinion and responses to those points. Then, create connections between your thought and the topics and use them to form a good reflection paper.

Some sample questions you can ask yourself in this critical writing process includes;

  • How does the reading or experience challenge or connect to your religion, beliefs, emotions, or personal experiences? If so, how? In which way does it catch or bother your attention?
  • Has the experience or reading challenged, changed, or reinforced your existing ideas?
  • Does the experience or reading leave you with questions? What kind of reaction does it leave you with?
  • Has the material used changed your mind about the subject?
  • What elements caught your attention the most in that subject?
  • Have you learned something new in the subject?
  • How is the subject significant?
  • Are there any issues the author failed to address?
  • Did the ideas or issues in the material support or contradict some past readings or experiences?

Reflection Paper Outline

Once you have learned to analyze the material and gathered your thoughts, the next thing in your writing process is learning how to write a reflection paper.

Begin with an outline. Regardless of how opinion-based or subjective a reflection paper is, remember it’s still an academic essay. Hence, it must follow proper college guidelines and has to be organized effectively. Excellent outlining will help you make clear points and ensure your writing is structured. With your ideas well written down in an outline, it will be easier to create a visual illustration of the content and enable you to know where to include them on your paper for a great flow.

Organizing a Reflection Paper

The way you organize your reflection essay is similar to other types of essay writing. Your paper format should be laid out as follows;

Introductory Paragraph

The first paragraph should specify what you’re reflecting upon. Give your readers a general overview of your opinion or position on the subject.

  • Begin by stating what you analyzed – it could be an academic article, a lecture, an experience, a passage, etc.
  • Summarize the work briefly
  • State how the subject has affected you
  • Write a thesis statement that will serve as the pivotal point of your reflection essay.

Body Paragraphs

In this part, examine the experiences and ideas you have gained in the subject. It’s a reflective essay hence highlight the impression you received.

This is a reflection essay; hence you can speculate. As mentioned earlier, there are no wrong or correct answers. For instance, if it’s an educational reflection paper, and you are writing about an article or book, you can reference a passage or quotes.

The body paragraph explains your understanding and the conclusion you reached at the end. A few guidelines you need to keep in mind when writing the body paragraph;

  • Write a separate paragraph for every idea or conclusion you developed
  • Every conclusion must be developed. Give precise details using concrete and logical details on how you arrived at your conclusions
  • Each paragraph must begin with its separate topic sentence, which should identify your main understandings, conclusion, or significant points.

Understand that the paper’s focus is not to summarize the text but to provide the context of your conclusions; hence, you need to draw concrete details from the experience or reading.


Sum up your personal reflection essay with your reflective thought on the subject. Summarize what you learned as you explain how the newfound knowledge has given you a new perspective of the subject. Highlight the overall lesson and the new feeling because of your experience or reading.

You can successfully write a great conclusion of your reflection paper in these three ways;

  • Restate your thesis statement as you recap the newfound understanding
  • Answer the reflective question
  • Combine the main ideas in the body parts and specify the major insights you gained

Additional Tips

  • Maintain an academic or professional tone
  • Relate your reading or experience with relevant classroom information
  • Ensure there is clarity in each sentence
  • Focus on your feelings and thoughts
  • Keep it brief

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