How to write a portfolio essay

Written by shawndra russell
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How to write a portfolio essay
Portfolio essays allow students to assess their own progress. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Students may be asked to create portfolios for courses, such as an art portfolio, a poetry portfolio or a writing portfolio. The goal of any academic portfolio is to showcase the creator's work. The portfolio essay introduces the reader to the works in the portfolio and requires the creator to review her work, analysing its strengths and weaknesses, and examining her interests and growth.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Examine the items in the portfolio carefully, ideally from first item created to last. Take notes on your observations. Note the changes, similarities, differences and improvements. These notes will serve as a rough outline for the portfolio essay.

  2. 2

    Start the essay by introducing the items that make up the portfolio. List the titles, subject matter or both for each piece, along with a brief description. Say which item is your favourite and why.

  3. 3

    Summarise the conclusions from the notes taken during the self-assessment. Include strengths and weaknesses found, along with improvement found.

  4. 4

    Explain what you learnt through creating the portfolio. This section is probably the most important and should go into great detail. Students should focus on the styles, content, forms and methods that they learnt during the unit, and on anything additional they have learnt about themselves, their interests or their talents.

  5. 5

    Edit thoroughly, looking for errors or awkward wording.

Tips and warnings

  • Write a portfolio essay reflecting pride in and enthusiasm for the subject matter.
  • Most portfolios and portfolio essays are assigned as an assessment instead of a traditional test, so teachers expect thorough, detailed and informational essays. Take as much time writing the portfolio essay as you would studying for and taking a test.

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