Tips to Write Reflective Essay

Reflective Essay Topics & Ideas for Interesting Writing

“An unexamined life is not worth living.”   -Socrates

The great philosopher’s words remind you that mindlessly going with the flow without learning from your past experiences is not actually living. Instead, it’s merely existing.

Perhaps that’s why academic institutes encourage students to become more introspective by assigning reflective essays and reflective essay writer statements. After all, it is only through introspection and reflection on one's past experiences that students can learn from their mistakes and become better human beings.

Defining The Term: What is a Reflective Essay?

Reflective Essay

Have you ever had a falling out with your friend and stopped talking to them, only to realize a few years late how futile the argument was?

That’s exactly how reflecting on past actions through the context of the present works! The same principle is used when writing reflective papers.

In definitive terms,

A reflective essay is a paper where the writer looks back upon a particular event and presents their personal opinions after careful introspection of their feelings and other observations.

Unlike other types of essays, the primary aim here isn’t to present the reader with a bunch of opinions of other scholars. Instead, the focus is entirely on the writer’s perspective of an issue. Hence, it is highly subjective and, therefore, NEVER WRONG!

Now, there are usually three kinds of reflective analysis papers:

Type I – Educational

This kind of reflective essay is the most common in schools, colleges and universities since you have to write my essay a reflective piece on a poem, a book, etc.

For example: Reflect on Hamlet’s character in relation to modern psychological ideas.

Type II – Professional

Professional reflective essays are written by scholars in the education or psychology fields.

For example: A reflective piece on the progress of a student with a learning disability while adapting to a new learning environment.

Type III – Personal

A personal reflective essay topics focuses on your personal experiences and thoughts about a particular subject.

For example: Reflect on the first time you tried something out of your comfort zone.

Reflective Essay Characteristics

The first step to writing a good reflective essay help is to understand the fundamental characteristics that make it unique. Once you've covered these defining traits, you can easily identify a reflective essay.

  • Reflective essays are introspectivepieces of writing.
  • You must present your own opinions.
  • The opinions you reach should be formed logicallybased on your experiences and logical reasoning.
  • The essay should discuss what you have learntfrom the experience or how it has impacted your life.
  • Reflective essays usually follow the Gibbs Reflective Cycle– describe, feelings, evaluate, analyze, conclude, action.

Dissecting the Parts: Crucial Elements of a Reflective Essay

Regardless of how different a reflective paper is from other types of essays, the reflective essay outline contains three crucial elements 

Part I: The Introduction

The introductory section of the essay provides some background information on the topic, along with a thesis help statement that denotes your position on the issue. For example, let’s consider some reflective essay thesis statement options for the topic – The time I defied my senior in college:

  • The experience was an eye-opener and made me realize how much I had been overestimating myself.
  • The experience taught me never to bow down to injustice, even when you have to go against someone you respect.

As evident by the thesis statements, the main idea here is to clearly depict the conclusion that the writer reached after carefully analyzing the past incident of defying their senior.  

Part II: The Body

Have you ever been told, “Just cut to the chase!” when recounting a story to your friend? Then you probably digressed so much from the main story that your friend lost their patience.

Even though you have more freedom to frame the body of the personal essays, it’s best to maintain a chronological sequence of events to avoid going off-topic. Let’s review some pointers that can help you with this section:

  • Summarize the experience
  • Critically evaluateand reflect on the experience
  • Analyze the impact of the experienceon your life
  • Highlight what you’ve learntfrom this experience
  • The body should let readers understand your personality

Part III: The Conclusion

The reflective essay conclusion is the final part of your paper that brings everything together. It includes –

  • A summary of your experience
  • The things you’ve learntfrom the event
  • A brief analysis of how your attitude and behavior have changed
  • The conclusion you’ve reachedbecause of the experience
  • Things you would do differently in the future if faced with a similar situation

Feeling more confident about your reflective essay outline template? Here’s a final tip that can help you compose top-quality essays guide



  • Retelling




  • Relating




  • Reflecting



Finally, let’s cover the rubrics for a reflective essay. These are basically the assessment criteria that professors follow to grade reflective papers. So, before submitting your essays, review the following rubrics carefully, so you have a clearer idea of the sections you should be focusing on to guarantee an A+.

Congrats! Now that you’ve covered all the vital elements of a reflective essay structure, you can move on to reviewing the different kinds of essay formats.

reflective writing rubrics

How to Frame Your Essay? Explore the Different Reflective Essay Formats

When you review some reflection essay samples, it becomes apparent that the format differs greatly from the journal essay format you might be accustomed to. Generally, you’ll be asked to follow two formats for your reflective paper – APA and MLA.

APA style format for a reflection paper

When academic writing  a reflection paper in the APA format, you should follow these points:

  • Font style– Times New Roman
  • Font size– 12
  • Spacing– Double spaced
  • Margins– 1” margins
  • Header at the topof every page
  • Page number on the rightof every page
  • Components– Title page, abstract, introduction, body, conclusion, references

Here’s a reflective essay sample introduction following the APA referencing:

 reflective essay sample

MLA format for a reflection paper

When writing a reflection paper in the MLA style, keep these formatting points in mind:

  • Font style– Times New Roman
  • Font size– 12
  • Spacing– Double spaced
  • Margins– 1” margins
  • Title is centered
  • Your last name and page numberat the top of every page
  • Header inclusions– your name, professor’s name, course number & date
  • Include Works Citedafter the paper

Here’s a sample reflective essay introduction following the MLA format:

MLA format for a reflection paper

Making the Right Choice: How to Choose Reflective Essay Topic Ideas?

Reflective Essay Topic Ideas

If you’ve been using a reflective essay title generator to come up with topic ideas, STOP! The suggestions from these online tools are usually recycled topics that will ruin all your chances of leaving a favorable impression on your professor's mind.

So, when searching for good ideas for a reflective essay, follow these useful dos and don’ts:




ü Pick a topic that isn’t too broad or narrow. For example, a reflective essay on Hamlet is quite a broad topic. Therefore your writing will lack precision. However, a reflective essay analyzing Hamlet’s indecisiveness would help you write a more focused paper.

ü Always check the deadline and ensure you can complete the topic within the allocated time.

û Do not choose a topic you’re not interested in. A reflective paper focuses on your experience and the knowledge you’ve gathered because of it. So, if you don’t find any interest in the topic, it’ll be hard to reflect on it critically.

û Do not write a summary of the experience. Make sure your primary focus revolves around critically analyzing the situation and covering what you’ve gained through the experience.


140 Topics for a Reflective Essay

Have you run out of creative reflective essay topics for your assignment writer? Fret not because this blog covers 140 carefully-curated essay ideas on various themes. Browse through this list, and you might just chance upon the perfect match.

Reflective Essay Topics on Statistics

  1. Reflect on how sales improve once businesses start using statistical data.
  2. The time when you accidentally ruined a presentation because of using the wrong statistical methods
  3. Discuss your experience of conducting city-wide surveys for a college project.
  4. A time when you had to work on a statistics project overnight
  5. When did you realize you would love to pursue statistics in college?
  6. What have you learnt after facing the challenges of collecting statistical data?
  7. How can small businesses reach more customers with a proper plan using statistics assignment?

Reflective Essay Topics about Movies

  1. Movies in single-screen theatres vs movies in multiplexes – State your views.
  2. What is your opinion on the usage of cheap thrills, suspenseful music and loud jumpscares in modern American horror movies?
  3. Which movie provides the most realistic version of war?
  4. Reflect on your opinions about movies criticizing society.
  5. “Movies are meant to be understood by everyone”– Agree or disagree?
  6. Recount your experience of watching an open-ended movie.
  7. The time you went to the movies and had to deal with loud movie-goers

Clinical Reflective Essay Topics

  1. How will you handle a situation where your decision determines the life or death of a patient?
  2. Discuss the chaos you witnessed during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. The first time you had to convey the death of a patient to their family member
  4. What feelings do you try to suppress while working under intense pressure in the ICU?
  5. The time when you participated in a campaign to raise awareness about public health
  6. What are your thoughts on the rising cases of depression in college students?
  7. Analyze your observations of the effects of PTSD on children from abusive homes.

Reflective Essay Topics for English

  1. Write a reflective analysis piece on Lady Macbeth.
  2. What was the last poem that made you think about life?
  3. Have you ever experienced an existential crisis reading prose?
  4. How do you think contemporary times affect the literature produced in an age?
  5. Does your relationship with a certain text change with time?
  6. Analyze the effects of a single text on an entire generation.
  7. What makes a text classic? – Discuss with reference to Alice in Wonderland.

Easy Reflective Speech Topics for English Class

  1. What aspects do you consider when writing a character analysis essay of literary characters?
  2. Describe an intense conflict with your parents and your way of coping with the consequences.
  3. The time you went to a museum with your classmates
  4. Describe the time when you and your friend went camping.
  5. When was the last time you had a heart-to-heart with somebody?
  6. Describe your experience escaping a near-death situation.
  7. How have you dealt with disappointment in your life?

MBA Reflective Essay Topics

  1. Describe a time when you had to swallow your pride for a project to succeed.
  2. Reflect on effective ways to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  3. Would you consider body language a crucial factor to consider when appearing for an interview?
  4. Do you think luck plays a role in determining a business's success?
  5. What are your views on the Blue Revolution?
  6. “A strong mentality is all you need to succeed” – Express your opinions on this viewpoint.
  7. Do you consider listening to be a vital skill that every manager should possess?

Academic Reflective Essay Topics

  1. A time when you successfully pulled off an A+ despite studying for only a week
  2. Describe your experience of shifting from traditional to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. How can you ensure a positive learning environment?
  4. Reflect on the rising instances of mental health issues in college students.
  5. Does the socioeconomic background of a student affect their learning ability?
  6. Reflect on the need for educational institutions to be more inclusive of physically disabled students.
  7. Critically analyze how students deal with feelings of disappointment and failure.

BLC Reflective Essay Topics

  1. What is the importance of personality in determining a good leader?
  2. Reflect on a time when your diplomatic skills saved your team from trouble.
  3. What influenced you to develop your own leadership style?
  4. What do you consider your strengths and weaknesses as a leader?
  5. Do you think leadership skills are crucial for the proper functioning of a team?
  6. Reflect on the importance of emotional intelligence in a leader.
  7. Describe a time when you were able to earn your team’s trust in a group project.

Marketing Reflective Essay Topics

  1. How have social media influencers upgraded traditional marketing tactics?
  2. Do you think loyalty programs are enough to attract new customers?
  3. What is the importance of innovative marketing in leaving a lasting impression on the customer’s mind?
  4. Reflect on the importance of brand awareness for small businesses.
  5. Do you think digital marketing is better than traditional marketing in terms of reaching more people?
  6. Is negative marketing as effective as normal marketing tactics?
  7. What role do you think marketing plays in determining a business's success?

Innovative Reflective Response Essay Topics

  1. The time when you had to tell a white lie to your parents
  2. Reflect on the emotions you felt after reading through your old journal.
  3. Do you believe religions can coexist together peacefully in the long run?
  4. Describe the coping measures you adopted during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  5. What would have happened to education if online learning was not an option during the COVID-19 lockdowns?
  6. Reflect on whether schools can meet students’ learning needs.
  7. What are the disadvantages of living in an urban area during a zombie apocalypse?

Good Topics for a Nursing Reflective Essay

  1. The first time you had to deal with a patient's death
  2. Reflect on how you can provide the best care to patients in critical conditions.
  3. How do you maintain ethics when providing nursing essay help care?
  4. A time when you saved someone’s life thanks to your quick thinking
  5. Reflect on a time you helped a domestic abuse victim escape from their situation by identifying the right signs.
  6. Do you think all nurses should be trained in sign language to communicate directly with deaf and mute patients?
  7. Reflect on the importance of nurses providing emotional support to sexually abused victims.

Poem Reflection Essay Topic Examples

  1. What emotions bubble within you upon reading the poems of Romantic poets?
  2. How do war poets express their pain and anger at the futility of war?
  3. Reflect on a poem that addressed contemporary social issues and why you found it memorable.
  4. Reflect on the character of Satan in Paradise Lost.
  5. What are the appealing qualities in Shakespeare’s poems?
  6. Do you think feminist movements have been able to use poetry as a proper vehicle to express their ideas?
  7. Reflect on the use of nihilistic humor in post-war poetry.

Psychology Reflective Essay Topic Examples

  1. A time when you collapsed from exhaustion due to academic pressure
  2. The after-effects of growing up in an abusive environment
  3. How were you affected after experiencing a tragic accident?
  4. Reflect on the psychology of human beings to derive pleasure from others' pain.
  5. How is expressing emotions gender-coded in a patriarchal society?
  6. Reflect on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on your mental health.
  7. Which movies or books do you think handled the complex psychology of human beings the best?

Reflective Essay Topics on an Event

  1. The time you won first place at a sports competition
  2. The moment when you successfully pulled for a grand event for the first time
  3. A time when you messed up and ordered the wrong birthday cake for your friend
  4. Describe a memorable event in your life where you gained valuable life advice
  5. What habits did you pick up while organizing an event for your university?
  6. Which historical events have affected your outlook on life?
  7. Reflect on the impact of World War II on modern literature.

DLC Reflective Essay Topics

  1. Analyze the time when you had to share leadership duties with someone who was less responsible.
  2. How did you manage a situation where a team member refused to cooperate in a group project?
  3. Have you ever had moments when you questioned your leadership skills?
  4. A time when you led a team to create a positive school environment
  5. Explain how your mentality has developed after participating in distributive leadership tasks.
  6. How can power dynamics affect the success of a group project?
  7. How did participating in leadership roles influence your overall attitude towards life?

Junior School Reflective Essay Topics

  1. A memorable childhood memory that brings tears to your eyes
  2. The moment you stepped up and defended your friend against baseless accusations
  3. The time you skipped school and got caught
  4. A holiday memory that will always stay with you
  5. How did you deal with the feelings of loss after losing a loved one?
  6. How did growing up with a pet influence your sense of responsibility?
  7. The struggles of being the middle child

Reflective Self-Analysis Essay Topics

  1. The emotional impact of living alone in a foreign city without anyone to rely upon
  2. Analyze your feelings towards criticism.
  3. The time when you accused someone wrongly and had to apologize
  4. The time when you lost your temper and said horrible things to your friend
  5. When did you realize the true value of your family?
  6. The moment when you confronted your biggest fear
  7. Which songs do you associate with certain feelings and why?

Narrative Reflection Topic Examples

  1. Your first experience at a music festival without adult supervision
  2. The time you had a supernatural experience
  3. Did you ever feel discouraged by someone’s comments?
  4. The first time you were a victim of a racist remark
  5. Have you ever experienced a nightmare that you can’t remove from your memory?
  6. Explain how an artist/player/actor/writer/poet has changed your life.
  7. What is the most relatable character you encountered in a book, series or movie?

Student-Focused Reflection Essay Topic Examples

  1. A time when you drained yourself trying to keep up with the intense academic competition
  2. The time when you received your first cultural shock after going to study abroad
  3. A time when you had to confront a teacher for misbehavior
  4. Describe the joys of pursuing your passion along with your studies.
  5. Have you had a teacher who played a significant role in your life?
  6. How did academic pressure affect your mental health in college?
  7. Have you ever had to worry about social media ruining your ability to concentrate on assignments?

Reflective Essay Topics on Writing Improvement

  1. The time when my writing improved significantly after reading books
  2. Taking constructive criticism can change one’s writing style
  3. A time when you compared your past writings to your present
  4. The moment you received writing improvement tips from your favorite author
  5. The emotions you felt when your writing received the first prize in a national competition
  6. A time when you were scolded for poor writing quality in your assignments
  7. What did you feel about your writing when it was first published in a magazine/newspaper/journal?

Did any reflective essay topic catch your eye? You can use these topics as they are or find inspiration and alter them as you see fit. Just remember what you've covered in the dos and don'ts section so you don't regret your choices later.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.1. What is the purpose of a reflective essay?

The purpose of a reflective essay is for the writer to “reflect” upon a past experience and analyze how it has changed or affected their lives. Such essays prompt the writer to think deeply about an experience and analyze past actions and their consequences so they can equip themselves better for a similar situation.

Q.2. What are the characteristics of a reflective essay?

The defining characteristics of a reflective essay are:

  • Speculative form of writing
  • Interchange between past and present tenses
  • Personal interpretation of a past experience
  • A critical essay of a past event
  • Exploration of how the event contributed to personal growth

Q.3. Should a reflective essay be written in the first person?

Since reflective essays recount a personal experience, you can write them in the first person. However, many reflective essays are academic papers where professors generally prefer students to use the third person. So, make sure to confirm whether to use the first or third person in the essay with your professor beforehand.

Q.4. Can a reflective essay be based on fiction or poetry?

A reflective paper is usually a critical observation of an academic piece or a personal experience. Therefore, it can be based on fiction or poetry. Such essays explore what you felt after reading a poem or a work of fiction and how it has impacted your life.

Q.5. How long should a reflective essay be?

The length of a reflective paper depends upon the academic level. For example, a high school reflective paper is usually within 500-750 words. In college, this can extend to 1000-1500 words. And at the university level, you might be required to write reflective essays of 2000-3000 words.

Q.6. How to write a reflective essay on a book?

When writing a reflective essay on a book, you should –

  • Provide some details about the author.
  • Include a brief, spoiler-free overview of the book.
  • Highlight the main characters.
  • Explore the main issues that the writer has highlighted.
  • Analyze the literary devices used by the author.
  • Provide a critical analysis, focusing on your impressions.

Q.7. What is the difference between a reflective essay and a journal?

A reflective essay is a piece of academic writing where you must think back critically on a past experience and focus on what you’ve learnt from that event. On the other hand, a journal is a daily reflection of the happening in your life. Here, you don’t have to derive any learning experience from the daily events in your life.

Q.8. Can a reflective essay include research?

A reflective paper might include some background research on a particular topic, but it is NOT a research paper. Suppose you have to write a reflective essay on Hamlet’s character. In that case, you need to research the play for your understanding and not to present ideas or educate the reader. Instead, the focus should be on your personal feelings about the character.

Q.9. What is the tone of a reflective essay?

There are usually two tones to a reflective essay –

  • Conversational tone (when using the first person)
  • Academic tone (when using the third person)

However, since a reflective essay is an introspective piece of writing, it has a more personal tone while also being somewhat formal.

Q.10. How can a reflective essay be evaluated?

A reflective essay is evaluated based on the following:

  • Whether the reflection has been structured according to a reflection model
  • Whether the writer has paid attention to their emotions
  • The authenticity and depth of the writer’s reflection
  • The self-awareness presented in the essay
  • The writer’s use of critical thinking to evaluate an experience

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