A review is written traditionally for an English-language magazine, newspaper or website. The main purpose is to describe and express a personal opinion about something which the 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. Description and explanation are key functions for this task and a review will normally include a recommendation to the reader.
CAE Review Example: Music
You see this announcement in an international music magazine:
|Music of your homeland|
We would like to know which pieces of music readers feel represent their country well. Send us a review about two popular pieces of music from your country, comparing them, explaining which ways they reflect the positive aspects of your country’s culture, and recommending which one a visitor to your country should definitely listen to.
We will publish the best review.
Write your review.
At first I was doubting a lot about wich two songs should I pick for representing my Spain, my homeland, but I have decided to select two regional ones.
The first of it is “Ikusi Mendizaleak”. It talks about the place where I was born the Basque Country. The tradition of the song Almost all people here knows it so I think it can be representative for this norther Spain teritor territory. The song talks about a group of people that go to the mountains and see beautifull places with green grass and a lot of forests. It is a great description of Basque Country wich is full of precious, natural places and mountains so worthy to visit. Also it talks about how even al though you can be tired and the path can be hard you can never give up untill you make it to your objective, wich I think is a great and strong message.
The second song I have chosen for representing my homeland is about Seville wich is 1000km far away from the Basque Country. I can’t remember the song title but here in Spain we all know it. It starts with “Sevilla tiene un color espc especial” this meaning Seville has a special colour. It describes the beautifull places the city has and how special th these are for their people. Also talks about how the people there locals are different from the rest of Spain and how happy and well they live.
To summarise if you ever wanted to go to the north of Spain you should definitely listen to the first one and if you wanted to go South to the second, both of them are marvelous places to visit and stay!
|Content||5||All content is relevant to the task.|
The target reader is fully informed. There is information about two pieces of music and how they relate positively to the country of origin, particularly in terms of the characteristics of the people living in different regions. A clear recommendation is made, referring to where the reader may want to visit.
|3||The conventions of a review are used effectively to hold the target reader’s attention and communicate straightforward and complex ideas. The tone is positive and encouraging.|
|Organisation||3||The text is well organised and coherent, using a variety of cohesive devices and organisational patterns to generally good effect.|
There is a clear structure to the text through the use of paragraphing and each paragraph has a clear focus and internal structure.
|Language||2||A range of everyday vocabulary, and some less common lexis, is used appropriately.|
A range of simple and some complex grammatical forms is used with a good degree of control.
There are some errors, but these do not impede communication.
Music of my homeland: ‘The River’
Did you know that in China traditional music enjoys just as much popularity as modern Pop music? As someone who usually listens to the younger generation-radio, I could hardly believe the parallel success of the two completely different styles of music – until I listened to the traditional song ‘The River’ for the first time.
Unlike the current number one single ‘little red apple’ in the modern charts, which is full of positive energy and easy to dance to, ‘The River’ provides a deep insight into the Chinese history and its culture. Just by listening to this traditional and sentimental song one gets the feeling of being lifted into another space and time, when thousands of years ago the Chinese farmers were working hard in the rice fields, surrounded by the astonishing sound of massive river waves. If one closes the eyes, one can almost see the idyllic nature of giant China, in front of oneself, long before the Industrial Revolution and wars.
And if you are not a fan of traditional music, don’t be put off by its title. ‘The River’ provides more than simply the description of nature, but it also throws an interesting light on the mentality of the Chinese: the strong mind, the persistance, the never-ending motivation, that still can be seen today.
In conclusion, ‘little red apple’ is for me a good and popular song in China, which can easily cheer you up, representing the positive attitude of the Chinese. But if you want to turn away from Westernized music, ‘The River’ is definitely the Chinese song that I would recommend to anybody who wants to visit my homeland and to learn about the Chinese culture from its earliest stages.
|Content||5||All content is relevant to the task.|
The target reader is fully informed about the two pieces of music and there is a clear recommendation of which one a visitor to China should listen to.
|4||The review is written in a natural, confident style and by addressing the reader directly, the tone is engaging throughout.|
Straightforward and complex ideas, for example when considering the connection between the two pieces of music (first paragraph) and describing the effect of listening to ‘The River’ (second paragraph) are communicated effectively.
|Organisation||3||The text is well organised and coherent. The ideas are connected within and across sentences and paragraphs using a variety of cohesive devices.|
Sentences are generally long and complex and there is some use of organisation patterns, for example ordering information in sentences to create anticipation.
|Language||4||A range of vocabulary, including some less common lexis, is used effectively, although there are occasional instances of less appropriate usage resulting from ambition.|
A range of simple and complex grammatical forms is used with control and flexibility. There are minimal slips, for example with the use of articles and the incorrect spelling of but these do not impede communication.
CAE Review Example: Contributor
You see the following announcement on a website, Great Lives:
Send us a review of a book or film that focuses 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.
Who doesn’t like to watch, even from time to time, an old movie starring an iconic actors and actresses known all over the world? Marylin Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn – we know them all. Although the last one might be known as well as for not only being an actress, but also a voulanteer helping to fight hunger in Africa. Her latest biography – ,,Audrey’s Hepburn life” tells us the story of a girl, who has made an amazing career, became beloved by millions, won several Oscar awards and was concidered to be a fashion icon. Nevertheless this is not everything that she achived. Audrey always wanted to help other people. This is why after ending her career she decided to help people, who needed this help more than anyone else. The book tells us the story of years of exhausting work in Somalia – for people who needed her help the most. Douzens of photograph present how much she cared about them. The most surprising for me, was the fact that she honestly did not do it to have better public opinion, she was never boasting abot it. But thanks to her fame, more and more people started to get interested in poor districts of Africa. The result was magnificent. Her whole life is an amazing example of how hard work pays off. Propably this is why the book turned out to be such a success. I recommend it to anyone interested in her career and life, I promise you won’t regret it!
|Content||5||All content is relevant and the target reader is fully informed.|
This review is based on a biography of Audrey Hepburn and describes her work in Africa, helping people in need. This is an appropriate choice because the subject of the book has made a contribution to society.
The first point (Did you learn anything new?), is addressed by the candidate when they describe what they found ‘surprising’ (she honestly did not do it to have better public opinion). The second point is more implicit in the text because we are told that [she] always wanted to help, which implies why she made this important contribution.
|3||The conventions of the task are used effectively to hold the target reader’s attention and there are examples of descriptive language, language of explanation and a recommendation at the end. The register is neutral, and the tone is engaging (Who doesn’t like to watch; The book tells us the story of; Douzens of photograph; The result was magnificent; I promise you won’t regret it!) which has a positive effect.|
Both straightforward and some more complex ideas are communicated clearly (Although the last one might be known as well as for not only being an actress, but also a voulanteer helping to fight hunger in Africa; but thanks to her fame, more and more people started to get interested in).
|Organisation||3||The text is well organised and coherent. Despite only having one paragraph, there are breaks in the text and a variety of cohesive devices are used to signal connections and changes in topic (Although; but also; Her latest; Nevertheless; This is why; But thanks to; The result was; I recommend).|
Organisational patterns are evident in the construction of some of the longer sentences where information is contrasted or developed (Her latest biography – ,,Audrey’s Hepburn life” tells us the story of a girl, who has made an amazing career, became beloved by millions, won several Oscar awards and was concidered to be a fashion icon).
|Language||3||There is a range of vocabulary, including some less common lexis used appropriately (iconic actors; beloved by millions; years of exhausting work; Douzens of; boasting abot it; poor districts; hard work pays off).|
There is a range of simple and more complex grammatical forms used with control and flexibility, particularly in the construction of extended sentences which communicate the more complex ideas.
There are some errors, mainly spelling, but these do not impede communication.
CAE Review Example: Holiday
A travel website has asked you to write a review of a holiday resort you have been to, explaining what kinds of people the resort is likely to appeal to, and which aspects of the resort you would most recommend to other visitors. You should also suggest at least one way in which you feel the resort could be improved.
Write your review.
A dream holiday
Have you ever thought of yourself sitting under a palmier tree with a long drink and with an endless tourquise-green water in front of you?
I’ve got this experience of my life last year when my husband and me decided to have a dream holiday and we chose Dominican Republic, more specific Punta Cana as our destination.
We have to choose from a lot of resorts, but finnaly we made up our mind for Palladium Resort which is an enormous, stunning complex of villas, all having their own terrace.
There are six restaurants with their specific and open-bars all over the place, but ‘the piece of resistence’ is the pool – big, clean, with chaise longs directly in the water and, of course, with its own bar. If you’ll come at Palladium, it’s a must.
I have the chance to try scuba-diving and I can tell you that it was the most thrilling moment of mine. Swimming along with lots of tiny creatures of the sea, seeing one sheep?? sinked and transformed into a refugee ?? for small fish, not to mention the corals, was a dream-life come true.
There are also lots of places to visit, like cacao and coffee farms in the mountains where you arrive in big, old trucks with their engines working accordingly. It’s an experience that is worthwhile – full of flavours, colours and joy. Also, you can learn something about the history of the island. Small children are offering you flowers and they lead the way to the farms for a penny.
Only a weak point – there were few chaiselongues on the beach, but apart from that, I can tell you – is a dream holiday.
|Content||2||There are some minor irrelevancies in this review as the candidate mainly focuses on describing their own experiences whilst on holiday. There are descriptions of trips and the resort, and due to the positive angle taken, it is implicit that the candidate recommends these activities.|
At the end the candidate writes that there were not enough chaise longues on the beach but there is no explicit suggestion of how this could be improved.
The target reader is on the whole informed about these two points.
The first point about what type of people the resort would appeal to is completely omitted, possibly due to misinterpretation. The candidate describes what they were looking for in a holiday resort and why this one was suitable, but doesn’t expand on this. The target reader is minimally informed about this point
|3||The candidate uses the conventions of the communicative task effectively to hold the target reader’s attention, although some of the points are not fully addressed. There is a positive tone throughout which is reflected in the choice of language used (stunning complex; the most thrilling moment; full of flavours …) and the register is consistently neutral.|
There is language of description, opinion and evaluation used to effectively communicate straightforward ideas about the topic
|Organisation||2||The review is generally well organised and coherent.|
The text is connected with a variety of linking words and cohesive devices, including relative clauses and linking words used at sentence level to connect ideas (and; but apart from that; not to mention; Also).
|Language||3||There is a range of vocabulary, including less common lexis, used appropriately, particularly when describing the resort (endless tourquise-green water; dream holiday; stunning complex of villas). There is a confusing vocabulary error (one sheep [ship] sinked and transformed into a refugee for small fish) but this may be linked to pronunciation and in the context of scuba diving, it is unlikely to impede.|
There is a range of simple and some complex grammatical forms used with a good degree of control. Although the review is written in both past and present tenses, errors very rarely impede communication.