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David Jaxon

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Key Difference Between Response Paper and Reflective Paper


A response paper and a reflection paper are both important parts of a student's academic career since they are among the most typical writing tasks that professors give to their students, regardless of the course or degree. Despite the fact that these two essays are immensely popular in the realm of academics, many students don't know how to tell them apart. Students frequently make the error of writing these essays interchangeably because they do not understand the distinction.


If you are also someone who thought that a response paper and a reflective paper are two similar things then this post is for you. In this article, I will highlight the key differences between both these types of essays through which you can easily differentiate among them. However, I would warn you that there is not much difference that one can find among these essays as they are quite similar. If you do not understand how to do it, then you can take help from your friend or from an online essay writing service.


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Before diving into the main topic of this article, let me first give a little background on what these two types of paper are.


Reflective Paper

A reflective paper is the one in which a writer sheds light on his/her personal experiences regarding a certain thing, place, or event. Any student who is not even a good essay writer would be able to write a reflection paper as it purely includes your perception or viewpoint on something instead of using a solid piece of evidence to support your thoughts.


Response Paper

A response paper is the one in which a writer responds or gives a reaction to a certain creative piece such as a book, art, movie, song, poem, etc. This type of paper has two major components. One is the summary or overview of the creative piece that is under evaluation, while the other is the part in which the writer gives an unbiased opinion/reaction on that piece which is not only logical but is also backed by solid evidence. A response paper is also known as a “reaction paper.”


Key Differences Among a Response Paper and a Reflective Paper

Below are a few points that might help you in understanding that a response paper and a reflective paper are not synonyms.


The difference in the type of focus that student places

One of the significant differences among both these essay types is the kind of focus that a student places on the paper. The main focus of the writer while writing a reflective paper is to recount a particular event or experience of life and see how that event/experience has changed him or what the writer has learned from it. On the other hand, a response paper is meant to give a student’s opinion on a creative piece of someone else. That opinion may be formed by personal experience or from the experiences of someone else.


In short, a reflective paper is meant to reflect on personal experiences to see how he/she has learned from it while the reaction/response paper is meant to see the opinion of the writer on someone else’s creation.


The difference in the depth of perception

Another major difference among them is that a response paper looks for shallow perception on a topic and does not go into more in-depth analysis, while a reflection paper gives a more comprehensive and in-depth opinion on a certain event or experience.


This may sound a little tricky to you but once you start writing the paper, you will know exactly the kind of depth needed for the paper. When I used to write my essay, I always knew the kind of depth that I needed for it. It usually comes naturally to many students as reflection papers usually come with questions to dig deeper into the student’s feelings or ideas while a response paper is left open for student’s choice. A student can choose to dig as much deeper as he or she wants but usually keeps it shallow.


The difference in the thinking process

A response paper is usually driven by an external stimulus such as opinions of the people of the group from which the writer belongs or other impression groups, as a response paper usually does not involve high-level thinking. Rather, it uses external research and sees what other scholars or experts have to say about that thing. After reviewing the response of others, the writer chooses to build an opinion that is close to his/her own feelings and perceptions.


On the contrary, the thinking process of writing a reflective paper is more internal than external. The student has to use his/her own high-order executive thinking skills to become aware of the experience and what they think about it.


This difference is highly technical, and you may not understand it now if you are a high-school student, but as you advance in your educational career, you will start to understand how your opinions are driven through external or internal stimuli. Only then you will be able to know which thinking process to use for different kinds of essays.


The above three key differences among the two types of essays may be a little too much for you to understand now but don’t get overwhelmed. All you need right now is the right guidance and a little push to challenge your limits in writing. If you want help from a professional, look for essay writing service called These professionals have vast experience in the field of writing and know exactly how to help a student with writing assignments.


I hope you find this guide helpful. Good luck with your future writing assignments!



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