How to Write a Reflective Essay Introduction for University Prompts

Most people formally encounter reflective essays in college or university. However, you may not have been aware that you have been subconsciously reflecting your whole life. Thinking about past experiences is something we all do, especially in the case of negative experiences, so that we can learn from them or avoid repeating them.

A complete guide to writing a reflective essay
A complete guide to writing a reflective essay

As you advance in your education and career path, reflecting will become more common. Reflection can prove to be a useful learning tool.

1.    What is a Reflective Essay?

Reflective essays comprise a description of a significant life event or experience and an analysis of the same. At the same time, it also encompasses the meaning of the experience and a valuable lesson derived from the event. The crux of a reflective essay is that the writer analyzes experience in the present.

These types of essays require the writer to share their thoughts and emotions. Writers should describe this in a way that genuinely depicts their history, individuality, and personality.

The essay should include a detailed overview of the experience that is clear enough for the reader to create a mental picture of the event. An explanation of the writer’s feelings, thoughts, and reactions or responses at the time of the experience should be provided as well.

2.    Personal and Professional Significance of Reflective Essays

Reflective essays can also be found in a personal development plan. These essays can be useful since some experiences can be more life-altering than others.

Some events can propel you in a particular direction, depending on how you internalize them. For instance, losing a loved one to sickness could cause you to want to become a medical doctor, in the hope of preventing the reoccurrence of such an event.

In such a case, a reflective essay can easily transition into a personal development plan. If you identify a given goal as a result of experience and hope to accomplish this goal, you may write a reflective essay in your development plan.

Doing so will require you to set your particular goal and identify the skills you need to bring the purpose to fruition. After identifying these skills, you could pursue to learn and master them within a specific timeframe to achieve your intended goal.

A wide variety of professionals, such as teachers, doctors, and social workers use this writing to learn better ways to do their jobs.

Reflective Essay Writing

For instance, a reflective essay in nursing may require a nurse to think back on different cases and their responses to patients’ needs. This, in turn, may cause a nurse to understand better how to help patients to deal with stress, pain, or illness.

This type of writing can help nurses deal with the emotional stress they may experience while interacting with doctors, patients, or even the patient’s family.

Reflective essay writing can help you in evaluating personal performance in any given area.

After reflecting on your return on paper, you may use a SWOT analysis to identify and understand your strengths and weaknesses as well as how to address them appropriately. And also how you will engage the opportunities and threats that arise in connection to your performance.

3.    Format of a Reflective Essay

You may be wondering about the exact outline for your reflective essay paper.

If you have questions like, “how do I write my reflective essay introduction?”, ”how many paragraphs does a reflective essay have?” or “how do I conclude my reflective essay?” wonder no further. We will provide you the appropriate framework for your reflective essay.

The outline of a great reflective essay is quite similar to other types of academic articles in that it must contain an introduction, body, and conclusion.

  1. Introduction

This is where you introduce the experience or event and provide a summary of the effect it had on you. It would be best if you made this section as attractive as possible so that you hook your reader’s attention, like a short preview.  

Your introduction should likewise include a reflective essay thesis that will serve as the backbone of the paper. It should be a concise statement that sums up the purpose of your essay.

  • Body

The structure of your body should be presented in an orderly fashion. Arranging your reflective paragraphs in chronological sequence is considered the ideal way to structure this section. It doesn’t have to be wholly linear, but you should avoid jumping around the timeline since this may confuse the reader.

When describing the event or experience, use the interrogative pronouns, who, what, where, and when to add significant details. The reader should be able to view the experience through your writing.

Identify the best order that will ensure a smooth flow of ideas from one reflective paragraph to the next. This will aid the reader in understanding why you responded or reacted the way you did. It will also help the reader to know how the event became impactful to you.

As you describe the impact of the event, mention the emotional state you had during the experience. Understanding how you felt at the time may assist you in putting together why you responded in a particular way.

After reflecting on the details, you may think about why things took place as they did. Identify how you, others, and the situation interacted at the time. Was there room for improvement in how you handled the situation?

This will bring you to the arguably most important stage in reflecting. Identify what you will do differently in the future should you find yourself in a similar position.

Your timeline may include different occurrences within the entire experience. If so, include a moment of reflection on each until you reach the place you realized the significant influence of the whole experience on your life.

  • Conclusion

Your reflective essay conclusion should be the final piece that sums up your entire write-up. It should include a summary of your main points as well as the overall take of your comprehensive reflection.

If you are still feeling stuck, take a look at our reflective essay examples.

Reflective Essay Introduction Tips


The steps involved in writing a reflective essay have benefits both to your personal and professional life. Through practice, the reflection will aid you in self-improvement, and you will become a better learner.

Reflective essay writing is a vital part of advancing your career on paper and, if practiced well, will increase your value.

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