Reaction vs. Reflection Paper: What’s the Difference?

If you’re writing a reaction paper, consider emphasizing how the work made you feel or your opinion on the topic. Conclusions for reflection papers might highlight what you learned and how you would encourage others to use your analyses to reconsider their position.

The purpose of writing a reaction or reflection paper is to provide a deeper and more meaningful understanding of a piece of literature, film, or artwork. As students, it is important to learn how to properly analyze and interpret material in order to gain a better overall understanding and appreciation of it. A reaction paper is a more personal and informal response to the material, while a reflection paper is a more formal and analytical reflection of the material. In this blog post, we will discuss the differences between a reaction paper and a reflection paper, and provide tips for how to write each. We will also discuss the importance of each and how they can be used to gain a better understanding of a given work of art.

ACADS EP.1: Difference between reflection paper and reaction paper

What is a reflection paper?

An essay that focuses on what the author learned from an experience is called a reflection paper. The experience could be completing a task, watching a video, or reading a book. Writers frequently discuss how an experience has altered their perspective on a subject. These essays also contain the authors’ descriptions of the events and their emotions.

What is a reaction paper?

A reaction paper, also known as a response paper, is an essay that expresses the writer’s opinions on a particular subject. These essays typically retain a formal tone while expressing the writer’s opinion and their agreement or disagreement with the concepts presented in a book, article, or film. When writing a reaction paper, authors can also evaluate the piece and provide proof to back up their assertions.

Reaction vs. reflection paper

The following are some key parallels and divergences between a reaction paper and a reflection paper:


Reaction and reflection papers tend to have similar uses. For instance, when they want students to respond to a piece of writing, a book, or a film, teachers and college professors frequently assign them. Students can develop analyses and incorporate evidence when using critical thinking, which is useful practice for writing lab reports and other essays. A reflection paper is typically assigned by a teacher when they want their students to respond to an experience. Students’ communication, teamwork, and organizational skills are frequently enhanced when they share what they learned from a lecture or internship.

Format and tone

Despite the fact that reaction and reflection papers include the writers’ opinions, they typically have a formal tone. These papers maintain their suitability for academic settings thanks to an academic tone and format. Teachers can specify the requirements for their assignments, but most students follow an MLA or AP style manual. Additionally, they employ academic vocabulary and sentence constructions that are less conversational than diary entries. Reaction and reflection papers can range in length and format, but they almost always have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

Summary of the work or experience

Writers frequently incorporate a summary of the published work or experience in both types of papers. They try to provide context because they are aware that the reader might not be familiar with their topic. For instance, a writer might briefly summarize a book’s major plot points at the start of their essay. The reader may find it simpler to comprehend the character analyses after reading this explanation. Good reaction and reflection papers frequently include objective summaries that give the reader context without the writer’s personal bias coming through.


The focus of reaction and reflection papers is the primary distinction. Reaction papers highlight the writer’s feelings following a book or video by including their first impressions. Additionally, they are able to evaluate various incidents and offer proof to back up their conclusions. For instance, a student may reference the author’s account of an event to support their claim that they are commenting on a phenomenon that actually exists.

In contrast, a reflection paper focuses more on how the experience or work altered the writer’s perspective. They frequently mention their previous viewpoint and how the subject opened their minds to new concepts. Some reflection papers highlight how the experience or work solidified their preexisting beliefs. For instance, a climate change article could support a student’s conviction that global warming is a real phenomenon. The student may mention this enduring belief in their reflection paper while also highlighting how the assignment exposed them to fresh strategies for tackling global warming.

How to write a reaction or reflection paper

Heres how to write a reaction or reflection paper:

1. Review the reference material

Consider reading the reference material in its entirety if you want to write a strong reaction or reflection paper. You can make sure you comprehend all of the key points by reading the entire book or by watching the entire video. You can also jot down important details to discuss later in notes. As you watch a movie or read a book, for instance, think about writing down any interesting details or queries you have. Try keeping track of your primary responsibilities and interactions with coworkers after each shift if you’re completing an internship.

2. Review your teachers requirements

Before writing your paper, consider reviewing your teachers requirements. You can verify details like word count, formatting type, and whether a reference or works cited page should be included. Knowing the requirements can help you structure your paper and prevent you from having to make revisions later in the writing process.

3. Create an outline

To create an outline, think about using your notes and your teachers’ expectations. Your notes, for instance, could point out three different ways the author introduces a certain theme. These three points can be broken up into paragraphs in your outline, and you can also indicate how long each section should be. Additionally, you can make a note of the quotes and details you want to use in each section.

4. Write an introduction with a thesis statement

The hook in the introduction of reaction and reflection papers entices readers to continue reading. In order to provide context for the reader, it might also include a brief summary of the work or experience. The conclusion of the introduction paragraph should include a thesis statement that sums up your position. If you’re writing a reaction paper, try to summarize your feelings about the work in your thesis statement. These details may also be in the thesis statements for reflection papers, but they usually place more emphasis on how the work or experience shaped your perspective.

5. Write body paragraphs

Writing the body paragraphs that you noted in your outline is the next step. An introduction to the main idea can be made in the topic sentence of each body paragraph. After the topic sentence, go into greater detail about how you analyzed the work or experience and provide evidence to back up your assertions. Although the teacher is typically familiar with the subject you are writing about, you can provide more context if necessary. For example, you can emphasize the main character’s stubbornness if you want to emphasize this quality to make your point.

6. Add a conclusion

Your paper’s conclusion paragraph restates your thesis statement and lists your key points. If you’re writing a reaction paper, you might want to focus on how the piece made you feel or your thoughts on the subject. Reflective essay conclusions could summarize what you learned and how you would persuade others to use your analyses to reevaluate their positions in the future.


Is reaction and reflection the same?

Reaction is largely driven by external stimuli. Contrarily, reflection is a higher-order executive function known as a metacognitive function that calls for awareness and control of one’s own thought process.

What is the difference between summary and reaction paper?

Refine and polish your summary by removing any repetitions or minor details and adding transitions to make the summary read smoothly. The Reaction is a text-based response where you express your opinions regarding the source text.

How do you write a reaction paper?

Write an informative summary of the material. Highlight the work’s main points and important supporting points to condense the content. Use direct quotations from the work to illustrate important ideas. Summarize the content to give the reader a broad understanding of all significant elements of the original work.

What is the purpose of the reaction paper?

In the classroom, reaction papers are frequently used as tools to help students think critically about texts and how they relate to one another or to a larger field of discourse. Research paper topics can also be found in reaction papers.

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