Observation Essay Writing: Reflect, Don't Analyze

An observation essay is usually written after the writer has observed the given circumstance or situation. The actual “observation” part of the essay could be anything from watch how a squirrel acts around people to notice how people act on an elevator to a principal observing how a teacher teaches. But in any case, your job as of a writer of an observation essay is to relate their experience and their findings to your reader. It is important in an observation essay to note that you are again only relaying the details as specifically and internally as possible, as your reader will only know the situation as well as you can describe it. The author of an observation essay will depend on vivid, descriptive language to help make the words and experience come alive for the reader.

How to Write an Observation Essay

An observation essay does not follow the standard format of an essay, but there are still steps that should be taken to ensure a quality essay that will relay the information. First, you need to take meticulous notes on the observation that is being experienced. Keep in mind that one of the most effective ways of doing this is to focus on the five senses:

  1. sight,
  2. sound,
  3. smell,
  4. taste, and
  5. touch.

You must create the same atmosphere for your reader as you experienced and taking good notes is a good way of starting that. Be as detailed as possible and include as much descriptive language as can be used. This will help to convey the experience.
The next step is the actual writing of the observation essay. Try to leave out personal interpretation and analysis, although some is bound to come through as you are retelling not interpreting. Once the details are laid out there might be a chance for you to share some personal insights and analysis.


There is very little consistent form to an observation essay. Usually there is some sort of flow to the writing, however. One approach is to break the observation up to address the five senses individually. Another is to chronologically relate the observation. In any case, you need to provide whatever structure makes sense for them and your observation.

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