Writing a Good Reflective Essay Outline in APA: Ultimate Guide in 2023

Reflective essay outline

According to Herzing University, writing a reflective essay outline is one step to completing an A grade essay. A reflective essay entails sharing your thoughts about the events or experiences caused by an event. The reason why a reflective essay is considered reflective is that the writer is supposed to give an analysis of past and present events. Our essay experts have provided insights on how to write reflective essay outline in APA and MLA formats. If you need assistance in formulating or writing reflective essay, Fleekpapers is your go-to partner.

1.1 Reflective Essay Outline Highlights

The guide is comprised of the following steps that are geared towards writing a good essay

  1. The definition of a reflective essay 
  2. The reflective essay format 
  3. Reflective essay samples 

1.2 What Is the Meaning of a Reflective Essay?

Reflective essays are essays that relate to the events and experiences of day-to-day activities. When writing a reflective essay, you must analyze an experience, the meaning of the experience, and the lessons learned from the experience. This essay format requires one to think outside the box, upon one’s thoughts, and think beyond, thus uncovering your mindset, character, personality, and background. The reflective essay comprises your experiences, thoughts, explanations, reactions, and feelings.

You should maintain a formal tone while writing a reflective essay.

 The reflective essay must always be systematic and orderly; the flow of content in the reflective essay must be constant. We also have a guide on writing a reflection paper when encountering one during your academic life.

1.3 What Is the Main Aim of Reflective Essay Writing?

The term “reflect” means to think carefully. Revealing your identity in detail is the main reason for jotting a reflective paper in academic writing. 

1.3.1 Impacts Reflective Essay outline

It helps you analyze and make conclusions about anything you read, see or hear.

  • You can connect yourself with a text or texts to the world.
  • It helps you think of how the information you have newly acquired can be used and how you feel about the information learned.
  • You can subjectively write, which helps you know more about your interests. 

The reflective p guide will help you write a winning reflective essay.

1.3.2 In a reflective paper, what do I write about?

In a reflective essay, borrowing a topic is tricky because the essay should be based on your thoughts and past experiences.

On the other hand, below are ideas and topics that you can write about.

  • An experience that will never get out of your mind 
  • The time that my strong briefs were challenged 
  • That one time that you overcame your fear 
  • That one time your life was changed by something 
  • The freighting points and the happiest point of your life 
  • In what way do you think humans can make the world a better place
  • That one moment of your life that you would like to relive

The one time that 

  • you made a choice that you knew was completely wrong  
  • One time that you felt lost in your life

Essay experts advise creating a reflective essay outline to keep track of all your ideas. Divide the outline into three sections:

  • In the first column, note your essential experiences and the major elements. You can sort them out from the most attractive to the least or from the ones more important to the least important. 
  • The second column responds and follows the content stated in the first column.
  • In the third column, jot down the experiences and responses you feel comfortable sharing.

1.4 Writing a Reflective Essay

In a particular context, as you are writing your reflective essay, you are supposed to annotate your initial emotions and thoughts when reading the essay. For instance, if you are writing about yourself, you should brainstorm via the idea of a chart containing columns in reflections, descriptions, and past knowledge. Not only brainstorming but also the table will help you structure the introduction of your reflective essay.


  • Experience: offering to work in an animal shelter 
  • Description: the animal shelter is near a clinic operated by a beautiful veterinary doctor; this is where it is located. Four other volunteers, the animal shelter owner, and I were there.
  • Reflection: surprise caught me by the number of animals and tamed homeless animals. Working there, I gained and learned a lot, and the experience was enriching.

1.5 Reflective Essay Outline format

Research or argumentative essay format differs gently from a reflection paper format. A reflection paper is more like a story-based paper that relays the life experiences reflection. Your essay may require you to write through the APA or MLA formats under your instructor’s guide.

A standard reflection paper will range from 300 to about 700 words at most. But at times, it is always good to ask your instructor for more clarification following the instructed words they want to assign to you; try as much as possible to avoid informal language.

If you are required to format your paper in either the MLA or the APA formats, below are shortcuts that will help you maneuver through your essay.

1.5.1 Reflective Essay Outline in MLA Format

  • Font size 12pt Times New Roman, double spaced.
  • 1″ margins 
  • Page number of every page and last name at the top right
  • The title should be at the center
  • In the header, provide your name, the name of your professor, the course number, and the date in DD/MM/YY.
  • On the last page, works cited

1.5.2 Reflective Essay Outline APA Format

Despite being the preferred way to write a reflective essay, most students do not know how to write reflective paper in APA style.

  • Times New Roman, font size 12pt space should always be double 
  • 1″ margins
  • Provide a header on every page
  • At the top right part, insert the page number
  • Your essay should contain four sections: the title page, abstract, main body, and references in that order.

Since you’re writing an essay, it’s good to familiarize yourself with how to write an essay introduction, and we have a guideline on how to write an essay introduction.

1.6 Reflective Essay Outline structure

Look at your brainstorming, and check the chart to start organizing the essay. The earlier experiences and explanations should constitute at least 10 percent of the whole of your reflective essay.

The reflective essay introduction is supposed to comprise of:

  • The hook: here, you are to snatch the reader’s attention through a brief opening of the context of your essay. 

Example:  In tar is how we got buffy covered, from top to bottom, staffed and with fur patches, in a garbage truck abandoned

  • Thesis statement:  a thesis statement of a reflective essay has to include information about the experience, and this should be a brief statement of the whole essay, what it is talking about all in one sentence 

Example: I want to trail this kind of job in the fourth coming days due to the summertime experience at the animal shelter where I volunteered.

In chronological events, the body paragraphs should be discussed in this manner. Thus it would be best if you answered the question in the essay you provided in the table. By answering this question, you will create e a good storyline.

Example of how the paragraphs of the body should look like

  • Explain the situation observed in the animal shelter

“I thought it would turn out to be vague and boring”

  • First impression
  • The experience at the shelter

“Saving Buffy and finding him”

  • Other experiences 
  • The discoveries 

“I discovered that I loved the work and gained a passion for it”

  • Developed mindset

“Your thoughts, how they changed per the animal’s treatment”


Encompass your ideas and demonstrate a sense by encompassing your ideas of the way you changed due to the experience. Describe the feelings and the discoveries to avoid getting further plans.

Example: Buffy’s case inspired me to pursue a veterinarian, hoping to work in an animal shelter similar to this or even a bigger one.

1.7 Tips and Tricks on How to Write Reflective Essay outline in APA

These tricks will help you in writing a winning reflective essay paper:

1.7.1 Take a look at what you are writing

The reflective essay is very personal, including all the feelings and opinions about the paper topic. Before you add something to your paper, ask if the information you want to add is appropriate.

If you get the feeling of being uncomfortable adding the information to your paper, thus keep off from making it inclusive into your paper. You could write the issue in general, not going into deeper details.

1.7.2 Stay professional

We know the reflective paper is personal, but in this case, you should keep it personal and meet academic expertise. Keep off slang language and use correct spelling and grammar. Do not use abbreviations.

The story is yours. Thus, it would be best if you focused on your personal experiences. Keep off from going deep into somebody else’s experiences. Even if the person had a significant role in the specific experience, be brief regarding others.

1.7.3 Proofread your work

Reread your paper and eliminate all the mistakes 

  • The sentences should be on point. Keep off imposing two thoughts into one sentence.
  • Make sure that all the sentences are relevant.

Make your essay interesting; nobody loves reading boring sentences and essays. Make your work as enjoyable as possible.

1.8 How Do You Conclude a Reflective Essay?

In a reflective essay, you must describe a particular moment or experience. This will give you a chance to explore your feeling, ideas, opinions, and personal ideas. So that when you create a reflective essay outline, everything falls into place.

1.9 Bottom Line

Still don’t know how to write reflective essay outline? The fear of blank pages is common in students. Have no worries. Our team of professional writers has tackled tons of essays. They are committed to student’s success and are always happy to help.

Leave a Reply