How to Write a Reaction & Reflection Essay

A reaction, or reflection, essay may seem different from other essay assignments because it feels less formal, but it’s still work to be taken seriously. After reading a book, watching a film or looking at a piece of art, you will have certain impressions. While a response essay is different because you are encouraged to write in first person, you will still need to include an opinion, or thesis, and provide evidence to back it up.

Step 1

Begin your essay by brainstorming. Getting your ideas on paper is the first step. Don’t worry about the essay’s organization at this point. You may need to go over these ideas a few times to develop them. From these ideas, develop your thesis. Decide what your key points will be and develop your paragraphs accordingly. Sometimes making an outline is helpful.

Step 2

Write what you have learned from the piece. Include how you learned something and how your opinions may changed as a result. The best way to do this is to provide examples. If a particular movie challenged how you feel about death, say so and explain why.

Step 3

Analyze the components of your impressions or opinion. For example, you may have enjoyed learning about a particular character in a novel set in the Deep South during times of slavery; however, the dialect was difficult to read. Try to consider separate details of the work to make your point.

Step 4

Write about your overall reaction to the piece. Try to be specific; if you liked it, explain why. Describe scenes, passages or characters in movies or books that caused you to react in certain ways. These do not need to be positive reactions, but they should be honest. If you did not enjoy something, explain why. If a movie was difficult to follow because the narration seemed illogical, say so.

Step 5

Write with confidence. When you are expressing your reaction to something, there is no wrong answer, according to Metropolitan State University. State your point of view with certainty and back it up with evidence.