Proficiency C2 Review Writing

Cambridge Proficiency review writing is an optional exam task in part 2. Here we will look at what is required in a Proficiency review. 

What you find in the Cambridge Proficiency Review

Part 2 of the Proficiency exam, like other Cambridge exams offers different writing options to candidates, one of which is a review. Reviews at Proficiency can cover an extremely wide range of topics. Nevertheless, the task is not a new one to candidates familiar with other Cambridge exams and the format requirements are no different. Here’s a sample CPE review question.    

Proficiency C2 Review sample question

A literary magazine is running a series of reviews of books that people enjoyed reading as a child and would recommend for children today. You decide to send in a review in which you describe a book you enjoyed and the attractions it had for you as a child. You should also explain why you feel it remains relevant for children today.

 Write your review (280-320 words)

Writing a Review

As we mentioned earlier this type of writing task should not be unfamiliar so we will provide a summary of how it should be organised.

Note from the question that there are two elements to this question.

  • A review of the book and its attractions to you as a child.
  • The relevance of this book to children today 

Let’s briefly summarise the structure of reviews via this diagram. For a complete answer all of these items must be included.

Proficiency C2 review plan

Proficiency Review Completed Example

Childhood can be a magical time in so many different ways. One aspect of that time which stays with us for life is the skill of reading and the magic of books that come our way. While some may provide brief pleasure at that time there are other books that linger forever.

One such book is The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien, at a fairly challenging 300 pages for younger children. At its simplest, the book is a story of great adventure and concerns one Bilbo Baggins and his companions as they set off in search of treasure. Along the road they encounter a variety of different characters.

Here we get to meet obtuse trolls, the flawed Gollum, a key character in the overall Ring saga, and witness many life-changing events for our doughty protagonist. In between is a journey interspersed with moments of adventure and levels of humour.

In contrast to the much larger,  more famous fantasy, The Hobbit is a far less serious book, and is very light hearted in places. It sets out a story that can be read by children at a level they will understand. That Tolkien originally wrote it for his own children emerges in how the book is written and there are also versions of the book with some wonderful illustrations of the different parts of the story.

For a child this book is about imagination. What it does is build a fantastic world where they can create their own images. These images are remarkably vivid and perhaps more satisfying than looking to some form of screen to produce them. There is also the personal reward of finishing such a large book at an early age. In the book they can find good and bad, thrills, laughter, sadness and satisfying outcomes. Children are starting out on the journey that will lead them to many more magical worlds and it’s a fine place to start.

320 words

Evaluation of Review

 Here we will look at how well the review is written by using the criteria that is used by CPE examiners. CPE review writing criteria graphic





This is effectively answering the question and including all of the details required. At C2 there is also a strong emphasis on how well a the reader would be informed or that they will have learnt something having read this content. At this C2 level it is extremely important to satisfy the expectations of reader.

Communicative achievement
This looks at how well the candidate has used the conventions of review writing tasks and at the level of flexibility of language they use to complete the task. At C2 you must show a minimum ability to comfortably communicate your ideas. Furthermore, writing must demonstrate that it can hold a reader’s attention. 



While this specifically refers to the use of paragraphs, it also refers to the use of text linking  expressions. In this case candidates must show that they can flexibly link ideas and parts of the text together by using a very wide range of devices. 


As you would expect this looks at the language the candidate chooses. What’s most important at C2 is the accuracy and the range of language you use. A candidate at C2 can use vocabulary precisely and effectively. They can also produce a wide range of very accurate grammar forms. Any mistakes are usually limited to less common expressions and words.

Some points to think about!

  • Answer the question fully
    This means successfully including the required points and discussing them in detail.
  • Vary your language
    Try to use a very wide range of vocabulary and structures. Be mindful too to focus on language you can use with confidence and try not to use the review to experiment with new expressions. 
  • Look at examples of reviews
    There are reviews almost everywhere we look online.  It is just as useful to look at a customer review of a product or an experience as it is to look at film and book reviews written by journalists.