IELTS Writing Exam

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

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Article navigation:CAE Review: StructureCAE Review: Example reviewsCAE Review: Example topicsCAE Review: Hints & TipsCAE Review: Useful phrases

A review is usually written for an English-language magazine, newspaper or website.

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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.

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Description and explanation are key functions for this task, and a review will normally include a recommendation to the reader.

Let’s see, how to write a successful CAE review:

Introduction:

Open your review with an introduction paragraph that does the following things: catches the reader’s attention and identifies the thing you’ll be reviewing (e.g., the title of the book or movie, genre, the author, star, or director, if appropriate).

Paragraph 2:

Here you describe the plot and the action while informing the reader which actor plays which role. In a restaurant review, describe the setting and the type of food or service.

Paragraph 3:

Here you analyse the film, talking about the director and then the actors, looking at good things as well as bad things. In a book if the characters are well described or if the writing is good enough. In a restaurant it analyses the service and the quality of the food.

Recommendation:

Here you make a judgment about the book or movie or whatever, saying whether it is good or bad (some reviewers give ratings, like four stars or two thumbs up) and it recommends that the reader go to the movie or read the book or buy a meal at the restaurant (or not).

CAE Review: Structure

Introductory paragraph Name what you are going to be reviewing, state its genre etc.1 st body paragraph Give a short summary of the reviewed material2 nd body paragraph Can be used to describe good and bad points respectively3 rd body paragraph Can be used to describe good and bad points respectivelyConclusion Contain your general impression and your verdict.

CAE Review: Example reviews

CAE Review Sample 1

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

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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!

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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.

CAE Review Sample 2

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

In this review I am going to compare two contrasting tales about overcoming adversity. Whereas The Blind Side (2009) left me with a huge grin on my face, sadly, Doctor Zhivago (1965) 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!

CAE Review: Example topics

CAE Example topic 1

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?

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Write your review in 220-260 words

CAE Example topic 2

You see this announcement in an international magazine called Cinefilia.

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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.

CAE Example topic 3

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)

CAE Review: Hints & Tips

  • A title is advisable.
  • Think what you are trying to achieve and, in the introduction, of the structure of your review.
  • You should also start a new paragraph for every item/aspect you are addressing in your review.
  • Try to make it interesting by using a wide range of vocabulary comparisons to describe something; specialised topic vocabulary.
  • Give your assessment of what you are reviewing and points mentioned in the task input.
  • 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.
  • Language of opinion (positive, negative), recommendation, description is necessary.

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

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