How to Write a Reflection Paper: Full Guide

What is a Reflection Paper? A reflection paper is an analytical piece of writing that requires you to think about and draw conclusions from your learning experience. It can be applied to real-world experiences, internships, courses/classes, etc. What are the Main Components of a 5-Paragraph Reflection Paper? Before getting started on how to write a […]

Posted: October 5th, 2021

What is a Reflection Paper?

A reflection paper is an analytical piece of writing that requires you to think about and draw conclusions from your learning experience. It can be applied to real-world experiences, internships, courses/classes, etc.

What are the Main Components of a 5-Paragraph Reflection Paper?

Before getting started on how to write a reflection paper, let’s go over what components need to be included in this type of essay. Whether it’s outlining the process or discussing what was learned during the course of something, it’s important that all these points are covered. Here are the 5 main guidelines for writing a reflection paper:

Introduction with thesis statement Thesis should match stage of development 2 body paragraphs with topic sentences Reflective conclusion with restatement of thesis

1. Introduction with Thesis Statement

Your introduction should include a hook, which is where you grab the reader’s attention right away and make them want to keep reading. In one sentence, you need to provide your argument or reflection in relation to what needs to be accomplished. For example: “In order to write a reflection paper that provides insight into my experience in [course name], I will outline the different stages of development I went through throughout the process,” or “My reflection paper will cover a brief explanation of the steps I took towards writing an essay for [course name] and how it worked out.”

2. Thesis should match stage of development

Your thesis should match the stage of development you are currently at as a writer. If this is your first time writing a reflection paper, the thesis statement would be broad and non-specific, such as “I learned how to write an essay/paper.” However, if it’s your second or third time writing a reflection paper and you’ve started moving towards completing more challenging assignments (ex: course-based learning), then your thesis statement will reflect that level of achievement; for example: “I am able to use my creativity and imagination to better convey feelings and emotions in my essays/papers.”

3. 2 Body Paragraphs with Topic Sentences

Your two body paragraphs should include topic sentences starting with I statements (i.e., “I learned…”, “I noticed…,” etc.). You can use either specific or general examples to support your claims. Make sure you use transition words so the essay flows together nicely.

4. Reflective Conclusion with Restatement of Thesis

Your conclusion should restate the thesis statement and include a call to action for future reflection papers if applicable. For example: “In my future reflection papers, I plan on focusing more on developing my argument by including multiple examples that are interconnected/related to one another.” To make this type of paper even more challenging, try writing it in the first person perspective as if you were explaining everything right now to a friend. This way, you will have to condense all the content into 2-3 body paragraphs that will keep it interesting and engaging to readers.

Reflection Paper Format

A reflection paper is a type of academic writing where students reflect on their experiences while doing coursework, studying abroad, completing an internship, or working in some other way. Many times these papers are required by professors to demonstrate that the individual has taken what they have learned and applied it to practice. A general structure for a reflection paper follows:

I. Introduction [where you set out your topic and summarize your point]

II. Main Body [tell us whatever you think we should know about your experience!]

III. Conclusion [sum up what you wrote and tell if this was helpful]

Reflection papers can be formatted several different ways depending on the guidelines given by professors or universities. The most common types of formatting follow:

I. Title [optional]

II. Thesis Statement [where you state your topic and thesis in one sentence]

III. Intro [optional]

IV. Background Information which helps the reader understand your situation when you were doing this project or studying for this class etc.]

V. Body Paragraphs 1-10 where you write out important information about your experience and how it fits in with what you learned and can apply in life and education] VI. Conclusion [restate what you wrote and add any other info that might be helpful to readers who are considering taking a similar path to yours.]

In conclusion, reflection papers give students the opportunity to use academic material from classes they have taken to practice and demonstrate the knowledge they have gained. Although there are different formats for this type of paper, these essays can all be structured to help students write better reflection papers.

How to Start a Reflection Paper 

Writing a reflection paper is not as easy as it may sound. It’s an assignment that requires more effort on the part of the writer, especially if he/she does not know how to start it.

Here are some steps you can follow to make sure your reflection paper gets off on the right foot:

1) Determine what it is about. You need to understand what exactly the topic is before you even start thinking of how to approach it. Make sure that your thesis statement accurately reflects this understanding. If you’re still unsure, try re-reading the writing prompt or question several times for clarification, then write down any thoughts or ideas you have immediately.

2) Organize your information in an outline form. This will help keep you focused on the main ideas, allowing you to determine what details are relevant.

3) Begin with an introduction. Your instructor will most likely instruct you to write it last, but your introduction should always include a strong thesis statement. This statement will remain unchanged throughout the rest of the paper because it sets up all of your arguments and helps explain why you wrote this assignment in the first place.

4) Provide adequate support for each claim that is made throughout the course of the paper. The amount of information needed for each point may vary depending on what type of assignment it is, but there are several ways to provide support including examples, statistics, analogies, anecdotes and research studies (either current or historical). For more help on how to cite different types of information correctly, check with your instructor.

5) Include a summary, conclusion and final thoughts in the last few paragraphs of your paper. Your main ideas can be summarized here in addition to offering some closure on the topic. This is also the section where you might want to include any alternative solutions or future considerations regarding the assignment’s position. For example, if you work for an organization that has taken up this stance in regard to one of their policies, explain how that could affect them in the future.

6) Proofread! Checking for spelling errors or typos will not only make you look more professional but it will also help demonstrate your understanding of the material by making sure there are no misunderstandings about what you’re trying to say. If you do not have time to thoroughly go over your paper, ask someone that you trust (a classmate or friend) to read it through for you.

Writing a Reflection Paper Outline

Writing a reflection paper outline can be helpful in completing the assignment successfully. A reflection paper is basically a composition of writing made up of facts and opinions about something, while an outline is a series of points that will be discussed in the composition. In order to effectively write a reflection paper, an outline should be created beforehand.


To start writing a reflection paper outline, one should begin with creating two or three main topics that will be incorporated into the essay itself. For example, if one were assigned to write a reflection paper about basketball , he/she could incorporate how it helps build teamwork skills and social relationships between players, as well as how it impacts their physical health . The main topic ideas should also be narrowed down to make sure they are not too broad or too narrow. For example, topics about how basketball impacts health throughout the body should be narrowed down to just one aspect of physical health , such as cardiovascular activity .

Once the main topic(s) have been chosen, list two to three sentences for each main topic. These can either be fact-based statements or opinion-based opinions so long as they relate back to the reflection paper outline topic at hand. After these points have been made, it is important to provide reasoning why these topics were chosen in order to strengthen them and give them more meaning within the essay itself. One could also include additional information that contributes to each point in separate bulleted lists that come after each point on its own line. For example, if one’s main topic was how basketball helps build teamwork skills , he/she could include facts like there are five players on the court for each team at any given time and that these teams battle against other teams for an entire game. He/She could also provide his own opinion by stating how he thinks it is beneficial to see everyone working together in order to accomplish something great, rather than seeing individuals trying to accomplish their goal alone.


After finishing writing facts and opinions about each main topic, it is important to summarize them all at once before concluding. One can begin with a sentence including his/her personal opinion of the reflection paper outline topic , followed by both fact-based statements and opinion-based opinions . An example of this is saying “Basketball helps build teamwork skills and social relationships between players, as well as impacts their physical health . It is beneficial to see everyone working together in order to accomplish something great.” after incorporating all main topics.

How to Write a Reflection Paper: Step-by-Step Guide

Writing reflection papers is now becoming a common practice in almost every field. A reflection paper (also referred to as reflective essay) serves as an assessment of the student’s learning process and understanding throughout the course of his or her study.

Writing reflection papers involves thoroughly analyzing one’s own behavior, thoughts, and actions. It also requires self-reflection on your personal strengths and weaknesses by looking at your performance based on specific criteria defined by your teacher or instructor. This can be either academic or nonacademic depending on what kind of subject you are studying.

Reflective essays normally start with an introduction that includes an explanation about how it will work, setting expectations, defining criteria needed for evaluation, etc., followed by the body paragraphs where the writer simply clarifies things. It must end with a conclusion that summarizes everything you’ve said in your paper.

While writing reflection papers may not be easy, it is nowhere near being an impossible task. That’s why we have come up with this step-by-step guide to help you write one on your own:

1) Determine the type of assignment – Before you start writing down anything, determine first what kind of reflective essay or paper you are supposed to write. This can be done by checking out the guidelines set by the instructor if they are provided, or just simply guessing based on his or her requirements during class time.

2) Set goals for improvement – To improve your of doing well academically, you need to set some goals first. A good example is “I want to improve my English essay writing skills by the end of this semester.” You can also say, “I want to raise my score in Statistics by 0.5″ or “I want to get an A in American Literature.”

3) Make a list – After setting your goals, it is time now to write down all the lessons that you have learned during class or lecture on different subjects. This will serve as an outline for your paper where thoughts and ideas may be pooled together.

4) Organize your thoughts – Once you’ve finished writing everything down, reorganize the contents of your list according to what you think are important points of discussion about each topic. Organizing will help you easily identify what needs to be included in your paper.

5) Draft the introduction – The introduction of your paper is where you set up expectations, explain how it’s going to work, or just simply state the purpose for writing this reflective essay. It should also include the criteria that will be used for grading purposes.

6) Include body paragraphs – After drafting your introduction, proceed now with creating the body paragraphs that are needed to support everything being discussed in your paper. These can include examples and experiences that have helped improve yourself academically.

7) Write down conclusions – As stated earlier, the conclusion of every essay must always summarize itself by pulling all points together to make sense of it. You can do that by restating what you’ve written in your paper and how it has helped improve specific aspects of your life.

8) Proofread and edit – This is the final step before submitting everything to your teacher or instructor. Go through all body paragraphs and check if there are any misspelled words and grammatical errors that need to be fixed. If possible, ask a trusted friend who knows how to write well for assistance.

Writing reflection papers may sometimes be difficult but it can also yield great benefits if done correctly. Always remember that the purpose of every essay always boils down to sharing knowledge that would help others become better persons as well. You wouldn’t want anything less from this process too, don’t you?




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