What Makes A Good Reflective Essay Examples

Have you ever logged in to your class to check your grades and sat there staring blankly in amazement because you failed a test or got a big fat “F” on an essay?

After you got the anger (and maybe a few tears) out of your system, did you think about why you failed so miserably?

Maybe you reflected on the situation and learned a valuable lesson about the importance of time management. As a result, you’re now a more conscientious student.

If you spent any amount of time pondering your failed assignment, then you already know something about writing a reflective essay. It’s this type of thinking about what you’ve learned or how the experience changed you that is the essence of a reflective essay.

In this post, I’ll give you a short tutorial on what makes a reflective essay, well, reflective. I’ll also point out the strengths of two reflective essay examples to help you get started.

The Reflective Essay

If you look at your own reflection in a mirror, you’ll see yourself as you are today, not as you were yesterday.

Wow—that sounds pretty deep, doesn’t it? But it’s true. Each day you change in some way.

If you’re writing a reflective essay, you’ll think about (or reflect on) how you’ve changed or perhaps how an event changed you.

For example, if you were walking to class yesterday and were almost hit by a car as you crossed the street, you might reflect on how the near-death experience changed you forever.

If you’re still not quite sure what it means to reflect, read How to Write a Reflective Essay That Is Interesting or check out this informative SlideShare.

But even if you know what a reflective essay is, that doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to write a good reflective essay.

Here are two reflective essay examples to help illustrate what makes a reflective essay good.

Reflective Essay Example #1: A Personal Account of Anorexia

Even though this essay isn’t very long, it’s a good example of the core component of the reflective essay: an explanation of how an event or experience affects the writer.

The writer of this essay discusses a personal struggle with anorexia. She explains how the experiences shaped her view of herself and how they helped determine her career goal.

A Personal Account of Anorexia


Reflective Essay Example #2: The Pressures of College

Reflective essay example #2 offers a different take on this type of essay as it includes a response to an article.

The writer of this essay reflects on personal pressures he faces in college and discusses strategies to overcome these pressures.

The Pressures of College

  Final Thoughts on Our Reflective Essay Examples

As you can see, like most essays, the reflective essay follows a basic essay format. It has a solid introduction, a clear thesis statement, examples and evidence to support body paragraphs, and a strong conclusion.

Now you know what makes a reflective essay good (thanks to my helpful article and our reflective essay examples).

If you still don’t know what to write about, here are 15 topics to inspire you. You can also check out more reflective essay examples. Here’s a few worth looking at:

If you’re already inspired and have a topic in mind but don’t quite know how to organize your ideas, try outlining. Use this reflective essay outline to get started.

Now that you’re a more conscientious student, after reflecting on your academic career, be proactive. Let a Kibin editor help revise and perfect your paper.

Happy reflecting!

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Below we offer two examples of thoughtful reflective essays that effectively and substantively capture the author's growth over time at California State University Channel Islands (CI). We suggest that you write your own essay before reading either of these models-then, having completed your first draft, read these over to consider areas in your own background that you have not yet addressed and which may be relevant to your growth as a reader, writer, or thinker.

Any reference to either of these essays must be correctly cited and attributed; failure to do so constitutes plagiarism and will result in a failing grade on the portfolio and possible other serious consequences as stated in the CSUCI Code of Conduct.

View the examples

View Sample Reflective Essay #1

View Sample Reflective Essay #2

Want to become a better writer? 

CI's Student Writing web site has how-to videos, writing samples for different subjects, and many other resources to help with your writing.  

View CI's Student Writing site

Careers in English and Writing

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  • English teacher
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  • Media production (film, TV, internet)
  • Print and digital publishing
  • Law
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