Cambridge Advanced Reviews

In the Cambridge Advanced exam, writing a review is one of the tasks you may be asked to do in Part 2. Here we will look at what you need to know.

What you find in the Cambridge C1 Review

A review can consider almost any topic in the Advanced exam and it is not just the more traditional book, film or music themes. In fact, a review may be about a book, magazine, film, play or concert; it may also be about a product or a service. The example below is a film review.

Review example

C1 advanced review writing

What you need to do

Regardless of the topic, the C1 Advanced review asks you for an evaluation. This will include both positive and negative factors and the exam also generally expects candidates to make a recommendation based on that evaluation.

While it is impossible to predict the actual topic , the structure of reviews is basically very similar. So, a paragraph layout like the following would be typical.

Review – Advanced Review sample layout

Introduction – Here you present basic details of the topic – what it is , name, locations, authors etc. 

Description  – Give clear information on location, activities, stories etc.

Positive factors – Offer positive, noteworthy points that would be of interest to readers.

Negative factors  – Point out negative elements to alert readers to – poor service, bad performances, bad organisation etc.

Recommendations – Summarise and indicate whether you believe a reader can expect a positive or negative experience.

Some Review Writing Tip

  • Be descriptive
    Much of the time you will need to offer a range of descriptions so you should add a good range of adjectives to your vocabulary. Make sure you also structure your paragraphs with good topic sentences and support ideas.     
  • Opinions
    A reader expects to hear your view on the topic and you need to be able to produce opinion or language that can be used to offer an opinion. By adding attitude words like unsurprisingly, obviously, clearly etc you can more clearly indicate where you are stating your opinion.
  • Find your Voice
    Readers will always appreciate direct opinions even if they don’t completely agree with them so develop a style that captures the attention of your readers.
  • Read Other Reviews
    Any review of any kind will help, just to understand how people structure what they write. Whether it’s news media sites or review sites there are ample examples online for you to study.

Completed Review Example

Paragraph 1:Introduction to the topic
While biographies or autobiographies tend to focus on those of greatest fame or notoriety every so often you come across one that describes someone that you might consider as hidden or largely unknown.  This is where the title Hidden Figures comes from.

Paragraph 2: Summary of the film plot
Set in the 1950s and early 1960s it focuses on a group of African American female computers at NASA. These computers, as they were called, verified and produced the mathematical calculations necessary for the early space flights. The main character in the film is Katherine Johnson, an exceptionally important individual in the history of spaceflight. For many people, her significance in this period of history is unknown and the film explores her contribution to the space programme along with that of a number of other equally talented women.

Paragraph 3: What I learnt
What follows is a traditional path of biographical storytelling, highlighting her brilliance as a young child and moving then to the period she was involved in NASA, while drawing attention to the problems of US society at that time.  The story itself chooses to focus on one key moment of space flight, the first American astronaut flight into space. As the film tells its story it makes reference to the racial divide and laws of the time as well as the challenges for women. It also draws attention to the strength of the individual characters , both in their professional and personal lives.

Paragraph 4: What I understood better
For me personally Katherine Johnson was a person I was aware of,  but I was quite astonished at how incredibly influential she was in that era and subsequently in the history of NASA. Not only that but I also learned about the concept of computers , also something I had not known beforehand. At its core is a reminder that we need exceptional people and that we should not put any barriers of race or gender in their way.

Paragraph 5: Recommendation
As a film it is thoroughly enjoyable even though it’s clear that on occasions the film makers have taken liberties with history and events. But it’s all for the sake of great entertainment so it should definitely not discourage people from watching this terrific film!

Find out more about other Cambridge Advanced writing tasks