Academic Tips: How to Write a “Review” from A2-C2 Level

Writing a review of something you love is a great way to improve your written English. What’s more, it’s excellent exam preparation, whatever your level.

Review writing comes up in almost all CEFR Level examinations: knowledge of how to structure and write a review is therefore a necessary requirement for students planning to sit Cambridge FCE, CAE, and CPE, or Trinity ISE I, ISE II, and ISE III, for instance.

Moreover, review writing is interesting and fun, and publishing your reviews — in DIY Zines such as our one — works wonders in boosting your writerly self-confidence. They are also really nice to share with family and friends.

So, come on, . . . let me show you how to structure and write a review. It could be of an exhibition you’ve visited, an application you’ve downloaded, a film you’ve watched, or, for the sake of this elucidation, a book that you’ve read!

Title of the book

Paragraph 1

You will need to include the following (using the passive voice as far as possible): the name of the book (in italics), the year it was published (in parentheses), the format (if a graphic novel, for instance), the writer, the illustrator (if there is one), the basic setting (place [geographical] followed by time [temporal]), and the type (genre) of book (romance, thriller, fantasy, sci-fi, etc.)

Paragraph 2

You will need to write a plot summary of the book, but do not reveal the ending. Discuss events that are key to the story’s development and reflect the entire scope of the book, except the ending: no spoilers and no personal opinions! This paragraph is not about what you think of the book. It is simply about what the book does, not what you think of what it does.

Paragraph 3

This paragraph is where you get to introduce your voice / your opinion. Discuss some aspects of the book justifying why you liked or disliked it. You should not give generalised opinions, such as “oh, it was a great book,” or “I didn’t like it,” but rather give specific reasons. If you posit a point about a book, you need to extend that point, and support it with an example. You can focus on concept, narration, dialogue, artwork / illustrations, layout, lettering, or anything else you deem relevant.

Paragraph 4

This is your concluding paragraph. It is where, taking into account what the book does and what you think of what the book does, you give your overall opinion and recommendation to the reader. Like the introductory paragraph, this concluding paragraph will be short: on average 2-3 sentences. If you are C1-C2 student, remember that you will always have the opportunity to introduce an “inversion” here, such as never have I read a better book!

Academic Tips: How to Write a “Review” from A2-C2 Level

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