Reflective essay always have an introduction, where the speaker shares, either directly or indirectly, what the overall focus of the reflection will be. Many popular essay writers might be a bit indirect about their main topic, or about what part of their lives they will focus on. However, an academic writer should be more direct in explaining what aspect of his or her experiences that he or she will talk about.
The body of the reflective essay explains how the writer has changed or what the writer has learned. It also explains what things caused the writer to change. For example, many academic writers are asked to reflect on how they improved as writers over the semester or quarter. Those writers often share how different assignments and lessons made them stronger writers.
In the conclusion of a reflective essay, the writer sums up how he or she has changed or the effect of those changes. The writer also might look ahead or look backward. If looking ahead, the writer shares how he or she thinks the experiences in the essay will change him or her in the future. If looking backward, the writer will note how different he or she was in the past. Often, the writer will compare past and future selves to emphasize the difference.