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How to write a review? | C1 Advanced (CAE)

Level: C1
Article navigation:
C1 Advanced (CAE) Review: Structure
C1 Advanced (CAE) Review: Writing Guide
C1 Advanced (CAE) Review: Example reviews
C1 Advanced (CAE) Review: Example topics
C1 Advanced (CAE) Review: Tips
C1 Advanced (CAE) Review: Mark Scheme
C1 Advanced (CAE) Review: Useful phrases
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A review is usually written for an English-language magazine, newspaper or website.

The main purpose is to describe and express a personal opinion about something which the essay writer has experienced (e.g. a film, a holiday, a product, a website, etc.) and to give the reader a clear impression of what the item discussed is like.

C1 Advanced (CAE) Review: Structure

1. Title + Introduction
Name what you are going to be reviewing, state its genre etc.
2. Main content: Paragraphs 1-2
Can be used to describe good/bad points respectively
Paragraph 3 (optional)
 You can outline the negative points or compare the ones mentioned above.
3. Recommendation
Contain your general impression and your verdict.
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C1 Advanced (CAE) Review: Writing Guide

1. Title + Introduction:

Use the introductory paragraph to name what you are going to be reviewing, state its genre (i.e. a science fiction novel, a horror movie and so on).

It is possible to write about the author’s other notable works if there are any. To make your introduction more engaging, you may briefly state your general impression of it. Make your introduction at least 2-3 sentences long.

Example:

2. Main content

The body paragraphs can be used to describe good and bad points respectively. Unlike essays your paragraphs don’t have to be of the same length — if you liked the described thing then your paragraph with good points will be naturally bigger than the other one.

Example:

4. Recommendation:

It will contain your general impression and your verdict. Use this paragraph to sum up the good and bad points to make an objective assessment of the reviewed material. You may then recommend or dissuade your readers from seeing/attending it.

Example:

Let’s sum it up…

Content:

  • Remember to mention what you are reviewing by name.
  •  Include both factual information and opinion.
  •  Add a recommendation unless the review is negative.
Communicative achievement

  • Write in a consistently serious or light-hearted style, depending on the target
    reader.
  •  Communicate your ideaseffectively.
Organisation

  • Organise your review in paragraphs.
  • State some basic facts in an introduction.
  • Finish with a recommendation or reasons to avoid.
Language

  • Use a range of tenses and passive forms.
  • Include a variety of adjectives and adverbs.
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C1 Advanced (CAE) Review: Example reviews

Question:

You have seen this announcement on your favourite music website.

Have you ever been to an amazing concert venue?

Write a review of the best music venue in your local area and tell us about what makes it so special. Say who you would recommend it for a why?

The best entries will be published on our website.

Model answer:

The Apollo: The Theatre of Dreams

Never before have you seen such an amazing spectacle as you will see in the Apollo. It´s not only the facilities and personnel that make this venue so great, but also the amazing acoustics of such a large venue.

From the moment you enter the place there is an awe about it. All of the greatest acts of recent times have played here and you can feel the buzz as soon as you enter. The crowd are so close to the stage that they can literally feel the droplets of sweat coming off of the brows of their favourite artists, this creates an amazing connection between the musicians and the audience and I can tell you, the fans go wild!

I´d definitely recommend this venue to anyone, it has a great feel to it and the prices are at the lower end of what you would expect to pay in such a place. They also don’t go over the top on drinks prices, and through it sounds weird, it´s not all that difficult to get to the bathroom which is a plus. So, without a doubt, the next time your favourite group is playing, come on down to the Apollo, oh, and did I mention it is in London? It couldn´t get any better.

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Question:

You see this announcement in an international magazine.

The most UPLIFTING and the biggest DOWNER.
It’s sometimes hard to choose a film that fits your mood purely on the basis of the poster or the description on the cover of the DVD. That’s why we want to publish reviews of the most uplifting and the most depressing films our readers have seen, so that others know what to watch and what to avoid.
Send in a review which describes the most uplifting film you’ve ever seen and the one you found the biggest downer. Make sure you give reasons for your choices.

Write your review in 220-260 words in an appropriate style.

Model answer:

A tale of two films

If I were to present two of the most contrasting films about overcoming adversity it would be The Blind Side (2009)  and Doctor Zhivago (1965). Whereas the former left me with a huge grin on my face, sadly, the latter left me feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders.

Doctor Zhivago, directed by five-time Oscar winner David Lean, is set in the Bolshevik revolution and follows the title character, who must adapt to the new order while pining for Lara, the beautiful wife of a political campaigner. The director succeeded in creating a film that is thoroughly engaging but full of gritty realism, cruelty and tragic irony. Take the tissues!

The Blind Side, which is based on a true story, is also a bit of a tearjerker, in a completely different way. Starring Sandra Bullock, who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of a rich white mother in Tennessee who takes a homeless black teenager under her roof. Understandably, the gentle giant thinks he isn’t good at anything but his new mother sees his potential to become a football star and part of the family. The plot is based on a true story, making it all the more touching.

I would strongly recommend The Blind Side. It will appeal to a range of people and is a great choice for a movie night. Although Doctor Zhivago is a classic, I think it has more of a niche audience and is best saved for when you want a dose of gloom!

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C1 Advanced (CAE) Review: Example topics

You see the the following announcement on a website, Great Lives:

REVIEWS WANTED Send us a review of a book or a film focusses on somebody who has made an important contribution to society.

Did you learn anything new about the person’s life from the book or film? Did the book or film help you understand why this person made their important contribution?

Write your review in 220-260 words

You see this announcement in an international magazine called Cinefilia.

THE MOST UPLIFTING AND THE BIGGEST DOWNER. It’s sometimes hard to choose a film that fits your mood purely on the basis of the poster or the description on the cover of the DVD. That’s why we want to publish reviews of the most uplifting and the most depressing films our readers have seen, so that others know what to watch and what to avoid. Send in a review which describes the most uplifting film you’ve ever seen and the one you found the biggest downer. Make sure you give reasons for your choices.

Write your review in 220-260 words in an appropriate style.

You see the following announcement in a magazine:

SEND US YOUR REVIEW

Have you read a book or seen a film that has a central character whose life is affected by an event or decision they make early in the story What did you learn about the person’s character? Did the book or flim help you to understand how the person was affected by this event or decision? Send us your review for our next issue

Write your review for the magazine readers. (220-260 words)

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C1 Advanced (CAE) Review: Tips

  • A title is advisable.
  • Think about what you are trying to achieve and the structure of your review.
  • You should also start a new paragraph for every item/aspect you are addressing in your review. 
  • Include a final recommendation or evaluation
  • Don’t forget!  The target reader is specified in the question, so the candidate knows not only what register is appropriate, but also has an idea about the kind of information to include. 

 

  Things to remember…

Don’t talk about yourself

You’re writing for the public, not for your friends. Your opinions are only interesting if you can explain them, justify them, or make them entertaining.

Be interesting:

People don’t read reviews in magazines in order to be bored, If your review isn’t interesting, they won’t read it. To be interesting, you should :

  • give your review a good title
  • start with a good opening,
  • use concrete images and facts, not concepts and generalizations.
  • use precise and interesting vocabulary.
  • know when to finish – and finish in style
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C1 Advanced (CAE) Review: Mark Scheme

Language

The review should include appropriate structures for describing the writer’s experience, including appropriate past and present tenses. Appropriate structures for giving opinions and recommending should also be used.

Organization

The review may be divided into paragraphs separating a description from the writer’s opinions of it. The background may be included, perhaps as a separate paragraph. The reviewed item itself must be identified at the beginning, perhaps in a title for the review. Linking words and phrases should be used appropriately, perhaps to link stages in a sequence of events or to link opinions with reasons for them.

Communication

The review may be neutral or fairly informal. The writer may be completely objective about the item, or take a more personal, informal approach. The reader should have a clear idea of what exactly is reviewed and what the writer thinks of it.

Content

The review should describe the item in some detail and give the writer’s opinions on it, including whether or not the writer recommends it.

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C1 Advanced (CAE) Review: Useful phrases

We will finish it with some useful vocabulary mostly used to organize information. Although it is taking a shortcut, if you learn several expressions for each paragraph in each type of text that could be on your exam, you will certainly be able to create a very consistent and well-organized text.

What I liked

What I liked most was …..
The thing I liked most was ….
I was pleasantly surprised by …..
 ….. would appeal to …..
 If you get a chance to ….

What I disliked

What I disliked most was …..
I was disappointed by ……
I was disappointed with …..
I was very disappointed by …..
 I was very disappointed with ….

Reviews of books:

main character
is set in
comedy
science fiction
thriller
romance
comedy:
author
written by
chapter
factual
fiction
unbelievable
bestseller
chapter
ending

Reviews of films, tv programmes, plays:

lead role
star role
star
star actor
star actress
starring
secondary role
He plays a …….
She plays a …….
written by ….
is set in …..
based on a true story ….
believable
true to life
not very believable
far-fetched
comedy
romance
science fiction
ending

Reviews of hotels, restaurants, etc:

location
service
setting
attractive setting
disappointing setting
owned by
run by
head chef (restaurant)
waiters (restaurant)
staff …….
staff at reception …….(hotel
hotel facilities ….
reasonable prices …..
good value for money …..
excellent value for money …..
expensive
a bit expensive
overpriced
not worth the money
poor value for money
always fully booked
book in advance

Criticism

The script seemed rather conventional/predictable to me.
The plot struck me as completely bizarre/absurd/incomprehensible
The characters are appealing and true to life
The dancers were quite brilliant/amateurish

Recommendations

I would strongly encourage you not to miss/not to waste your money on…
I would definitely recommend seeing/visiting/reading/having a look at …

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