Reflective Essays

A reflective essay examines how you have grown as a result of a particular event in your life. Reflective essays are common components of essay contests, school admission applications, and end-of-year assignments.

Reflective Essay Format

Reflective essays can be in any format, but a three section essay is most common:

  • Introduction – Write a brief overview of your opinions and feelings before a major event took place, and allude to the changes that took place as a result of the event.
  • Body – In three or more paragraphs, describe each aspect of the event and how it affected you personally. Use a logical progression when writing each paragraph: Introduce the event, describe it, and then tell the audience what changed as a result.
  • Conclusion – Sum up your feelings before and after the event, as well as your feelings about the changes you’ve experienced.

Reflective Essay Topics

Reflective essays can be about any life-changing personal experience; however, they are typically written about major life events. Here are some reflective essay topic ideas:

  • Death – Talk about the death of a loved one and how it changed your outlook on life.
  • Graduation – Discuss how you felt after graduating from high school or college and how this influenced your feelings about growing up.
  • Travel – Discuss a significant trip you took and how your feelings changed during and after the trip. For example, discuss something you discovered about yourself on the trip, how your feelings about a particular culture changed, or how you grew closer to your travelling companions.
  • Other Life Events – Write about a seemingly-insignificant event that led to a major change in your life; for example, the moment you realized you wanted to study a particular subject, or something that influenced your spirituality, maturity, ethics or morality.

Ultimately, a reflective essay is about you and your experience, so it’s okay to be personal. A reflective essay can be about anything. What’s important is choosing an event that has made a major difference in your life and has shaped who you are as a person today.


  1. we have to write about what we learned this year and I don’t know what to say!