Got a “reflection paper” due and don’t know where to start?
If so, you’ve come to the right place.
Writing a reflection paper can be tricky. It’s different from your typical writing assignments. And if you don’t get it right, your grades will suffer.
In this guide, I’ll not only show you how to write a reflection paper that nabs you an A+, but I’ll also teach you a process to make it as FAST and FUN as possible.
Stretch out your typing fingers…and let’s get started.
What is a Reflection Paper?
First things first, what exactly is a reflection paper?
Well, it’s really just a personal reflection on a specific topic, usually a lecture, film, book, or idea.
Though a reflection paper is a type of academic essay, it’s much less formal than other essays you write in school. You have the chance to take on a more casual tone, adopt the first-person writing style (unless stated otherwise by your teacher), and give your opinion on the chosen topic.
Simply put, a reflection paper is your opinion on what you think about the chosen topic.
That doesn’t mean you can wing it though. You gotta back up those opinions with EVIDENCE.
That said, a reflection paper isn’t an editorial. So there’s no need to explore your topic from ALL angles or address counterarguments.
Your opinion is the most important aspect of this assignment. So spend plenty of time reflecting on your thoughts on the topic before picking up the pen (or pecking away at the keyboard!).
Reflection papers are more than just an assignment. They help you grow as a person. In today’s crazy world, we are bombarded by inputs all day long. Most of the time, we don’t have the capacity to stop to analyze how we feel about them.
That’s where a reflection paper comes in. It forces you to sit down with your thoughts, sort out your opinions and feelings, and uncover valuable insights that help you understand the world (and yourself) better.
Examples of a Reflection Paper
Reviewing examples of effective reflection papers is a great way to get a better idea of what’s expected.
As you’ll see, there are many different “styles” of reflection papers. Try to find a model that matches your assignment’s requirements.
Here are a some strong examples to get your idea juices flowing (feel free to take notes):
These reflection paper examples are good because….
✅ The include specific stories from the writer’s life
✅ They start with a clear theme followed by supporting ideas
✅ They use quotes to support their thoughts, feelings, and ideas
✅ They show how the assignment inspired deep insights and personal growth
However, some of them could improve by…
❌ Using simpler sentences
❌ Avoiding confusing buzzwords
❌ Clearly stating the thesis in the first paragraph
❌ Staying focused and tying each paragraph back into the thesis
How to Write a Reflection Paper
Now that you’ve seen an example of a reflection paper, it’s time to learn how to write one yourself.
So, let’s break down the process step-by-step and write one together.
Step #1.) Understand the Different Types of Reflection Papers
The type of reflection paper you are tasked to write largely dictates the actual writing process.
The three main types of reflection papers are:
Because educational reflection papers are the most common, that’s the type we’ll focus on here.
However, all three types of reflection papers share the same basic ideas, so you can apply the following process across the board.
Step #2.) Pick An Awesome Topic
Normally, your teacher will assign the topic for an academic or educational reflection paper.
This is often a book, film, or lecture you’ve studied in class. Your task will be to write about personal experiences that connect with the subject matter.
Other times, you might be allowed to choose your own topic.
Freedom is nice. But sometimes deciding on the right topic can be a stumbling block.
Here are some tips to make it easier:
Here are some example topics to get your juices flowing…
- The rabbit vs. the tortoise
- What we can learn from ants
- Reflections on the changing seasons
- Reflections on your hardest crying session
- How you and your favorite superhero are alike
- What a Disney movie has taught you about life
- How a loved one passing away has changed your view on death
Don’t rush through the topic selection phase.
By taking time to choose a compelling subject and strong theme, you’ll have a solid foundation to build the rest of your reflective essay.
Step #3.) Brainstorm and Outline
Note taking is an essential part of writing an effective reflection paper. It organizes your ideas so you can crank out your final draft as fast as possible.
To start, write out your theme or main reflection and how it relates to your topic.
From there, jot down a list of potential supporting arguments you could use. Things like…
- Personal stories
- Stories you’ve heard
- Historical events
- Current events
Remember, the idea of a reflection paper is to present your own opinions. The meat of your essay should be PERSONAL reflections. Quotes and events can strengthen your views, but they shouldn’t be the main focus.
Try to list out as many ideas as you can. Later on, you can choose the best ones.
When you finish, you should have a rough outline to guide your writing.