Are you planning to take the Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) exam?

If so, you will need to complete two pieces of writing during the Writing paper. Part 1 is always an essay, while part 2 gives you two different questions and you must choose only one of them to complete. One of these may be a review.

As writing the perfect review for part 2 can be quite tricky, we have created this handy guide with everything you need to know to impress your examiner and get top marks in your exam.

Let’s get started!


Before you Begin


Imagine this! It’s exam day, you turn the page and see this question:

How to Write a Review for Cambridge C1 Advanced_Oxford House Barcelona_Exam question

Question taken from Cambridge English Language Assessment website. (September 2022)

What is the first thing you need to do after reading your question? Well, you need to consider the following things:

  • Who is our reader? This helps you know what style to write in.
  • What is the topic? What are you writing a review for?
  • What do you need to include? Which questions do you need to address?

We recommend you read the question carefully and underline the key information.

Now that you understand the question, it’s time to plan your review.


Three Steps to Writing the Perfect C1 Advanced Review


Step 1: Plan it

Planning your review is one of the most important steps so you don’t waste time correcting any big mistakes later!

Think of a book or film which focuses on somebody who has made an important contribution to society. When you have one in mind, you can start thinking of the structure of your review. Take a look at the example structure here:

1. An interesting title

2. An introduction

3. A summary of the plot

4. What did I learn about the person’s life from the book/film?

5. How did the book/film help me understand why this person made their important contribution?

At this stage, it is important to also think about the vocabulary you want to use. Remember to use advanced C1 vocabulary in your review (try to avoid ‘very’ and ‘really’).

Here is some advanced vocabulary that you can use to describe films and books:

How to Write a Review for Cambridge C1 Advanced_Oxford House Barcelona_Positive and negative review

Step 2: Write it

Now that you have your plan, it’s time to start writing!

Firstly, think of a title. You can keep it simple if you cannot think of anything too creative. For example, it could just be the name of the book or film that you’re reviewing.

Next is the introduction. A nice feature to use here is a rhetorical question. This is a question you ask your audience to grab their attention, for example:

Have you ever watched a film that has had a long-lasting impression on you?

Or you could include a general statement about the book or film:

The film Super Size Me received glowing reviews from critics. Spurlock’s story is eye-opening and gives the viewers some food for thought.

You could also give some background information about the film or book:

The plot of the film Super Size Me centres around Morgan Spurlock, a director who conducts a social experiment to highlight the effects of consuming McDonald’s fast food for an entire month.

Now you need to move onto the main paragraph. Here you should summarise the plot of the film or book. For example:

At the beginning of the film, Spurlock undergoes a medical examination to ensure he doesn’t cause long-lasting irreversible damage to his health. Throughout the month, he only consumes McDonald’s meals…

After briefly describing the plot (remember, no spoilers!), you can address the two questions.

For the conclusion, you need to sum up your thoughts on the book/film. You can do this by using some of the phrases below:

– Taking everything into consideration,…

– All things considered,…

Step 3: Check it

Checking your writing is probably the most important step. You don’t want to avoid losing out on points over tiny mistakes, right?

Here are some points to think about while checking your review:

  • Have I answered all the questions?
  • Have I stayed within the word limit?
  • Have I used the appropriate writing style?
  • Is my spelling correct?
  • Have I used punctuation correctly?
  • Have I used advanced vocabulary and a good range of grammar?
  • Is everything connected and coherent?

Useful Grammar


Make sure you are using a range of grammatical structures in your exam. Your grammatical accuracy as well as your grammatical range are both taken into consideration by the examiner.

Take a look at some of these grammar points that you will most likely come across in the C1 Advanced exam:



Cleft sentences

Modal verbs

Remember that you will also need to know these for the reading and use of English section of the exam, so it’s a good idea to brush up on your grammar!


Top CAE Writing Part 2 Exam Tips


Here are some important exam tips to help you feel more prepared when writing your review:

  • You have 90 minutes in total for the whole exam
  • Divide your time equally between part 1 and part 2 of the writing exam
  • For part 2, use 10 minutes to plan, 25 minutes to write, and 10 minutes to check
  • You have a word count of 220 and 260
  • The review could be for a film, book, hotel, magazine, restaurant or a product

Remember to get plenty of sleep before your exam so you feel well rested for the big day. Good luck!

Looking for Help with your CAE Exam Preparation?


If you’re looking for guidance and feedback to help you pass your Cambridge C1 Advanced exam with confidence, then take a look at our exam preparation courses. Classes are dynamic and practical and our friendly professional teachers will help you get the score you need.

Glossary for Language Learners


Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.

Gripping (adj): something that holds your interest (usually a story).

Cliffhanger (n): a story which is exciting and suspenseful because you don’t know what will happen next.

Fast-paced (adj): lots of exciting action happening quickly.

Letdown (n): a disappointment.

Second-rate (adj): not impressive, mediocre.

Eye-opening (adj): some information that is new and surprising.

Food for thought (exp): something worth seriously thinking about.

Undergo (v): to experience something, usually something unpleasant or a change.

Irreversible (adj): cannot be reversed.

Coherent (adj): a piece of text that is clear and is connected well.

Brush up on (pv): to improve your knowledge of something that you may have forgotten a little.


adj = adjective

exp = expression

n = noun

pv = phrasal verb

v = verb

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