Reflective essay. The bane of many students' existence. Just recounting a certain event or narrating that one time you went to the zoo as the kid won't fly here. You have to analyze and, yes, reflect on what happened to you and how it formed your opinions, views, and personality.

There is a key to making your essay stand out: thinking like the person who is going to be grading it. Your research advisor is forming an assumption about you. When they process your essay, they try to understand whether you get how what you have learned influences you and what makes you the person you are.

When you start working on this type of task, it's vital to stay focused on the purpose you're doing it all with - showing the real you. With this aim in mind, let's look at some examples of how to pick the most astonishing theme.

Decide on the Topic

If you were given a topic by your teacher, you can safely skip this part. There are many ways of getting a good theme for an essay, and a reflective journal is one of them. If you never kept it, try to think about the following things.

These are complete basics, and you can improve on them and make them more personal. For instance, the second topic from the list can be altered into a reflective essay how you almost drowned when you were a teenager, and how it gave you fear of water so great Poseidon himself wouldn't be able to get you into the sea. Be creative.

You can make the topic over the top, but if you apply some common sense, you should be alright. It should also make for a great topic name that would make your paper look different.

Focus on the important elements

No good topic is going to be convincing if you don't follow the course. You won't get an A if your personal reflective statement is excellent but your message goes astray.

Focus on these parts of the topic:

Create a Plan

You need to create a strong plan that is going to show the writer's composure. This is not about that ordinary reflective essay outline that is well-known and familiar, what with the "sandwich" format being taught to us since primary school. It's important to follow, but it's not nearly as important as planning out your paper paragraph by paragraph.

Create a mindmap of ideas that you want to incorporate in the essay. Outline the causal relationships between your points, think what will be the order you will present the ideas in.

You need the essay outline to help your work look consistent. If you just decide to follow the flow, you may write yourself into a dead end. To the reviewer, your text will be just a bunch of chaotic ideas which the writer never took the time to sort out.

Create a Draft

The best way to create a draft is just to get on with it. Essays are written in many steps, and creating a draft is just one of them, nor does it have to be perfect in any way. You can procrastinate for how long you want, but it won't make your draft great.

You have to get to work and write it the way you can - there will be plenty of time to make it perfect later on. Here are some guidelines on how to make your draft great.

The style

Your style means a lot for the reception of the essay. If the premise is good, but the writing is poor, a novel is never going to become a bestseller. The same goes for any other piece of written text. There are many considerations to be made for the style of your work. You can start with following these core tips from Elements of Style:

Decide whether your overall style should be a more official or unofficial one. If you decide to make it dry, you have to keep it that way in the whole essay. The upbeat unofficial style is easier for some people, as you can address the reader directly, or draw up funny analogies. Some institutions do not allow it.

The research

Some papers do not need research. What you need to do is to reflect on what have you learned in a certain situation and show it in the writing process. Other papers require you to do research.

If you do need to list a number of sources in your paper, you have to look into the following topics:

You can't refer to STEM sciences, as you are talking about your life, which means you have to look for information about how your mind works.

The ending

The ending of your essay is the most important thing. It is going to be in the mind of the reviewer for the whole time that he's thinking about the grade even though they may deny it. Make your final sentence sharp, memorable, and bold.

Proofread your work

You have to edit your essay twice, and you can't rush it. Leave it for half a day, and change your activity: have a walk, or do another task that is due, and when you have your mind sorted, you can do the proofreading. Look for weak statements and anything that would look illogical or incoherent, then correct spelling and grammatical mistakes.

And, you're all set!

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