How to write a review for New FCE exam

How to write a review for the New FCE exam? Here’s a sample topic that has been divided into paragraphs and each of the sections explained. 

Part 2 

You must answer this question.

An international arts website is looking for reviews of novels for a new section called ‘A Reader Writes’. You have decided to write a review of a novel you’ve recently read for this section. Describe the novel and say what you think about it. Would you recommend this novel to other people?

Write your review in 140- 190 words in an appropriate style on the separate answer sheet.

Sample answer:

I really enjoyed the film version of The Bourne Identity starring Matt Damon, but I thought the original novel by Robert Ludlum was even better. This book is so well-written, I didn’t want to finish it! 

You start with Paragraph 1- Introduction
In the introduction you :

– make your review more interesting with personal comments

– mention the title, the type of the book/ play/ film/etc, the setting (when/where), the theme, the main characters, etc

Phrases you can use in the introduction:

* This well-written/ informative / fascinatng/ thought-provoking book is…
* The film/ book/ play/ etc. is set in….. / tells the story of…../ is based on…..
* The film/ play starts …../ is directed by…../ is the sequel to…..
Comparing and contrasting
*… is even better than …
*… is (not) nearly as good as …
*… is twice as good as …
*… is the best I have ever seen / read / been to. in comparison with …
*One of the strongest / weakest things about …
*In contrast, … / On the other hand, …
REMEMBER:  A review is a special type of article written for publication in a magazine, newspaper, etc giving a brief description and evaluation of the film, book, play, TV/ radio programme, etc . It may be formal or semi-formal in style, depending on its intended readership, and is usually written using present tenses.

The plot is gripping right from the start. When we first meet the lead character, Jason Bourne, he is being rescued from the sea. His identity is a mystery to everyone, including himself! Over the course of the novel we gradually find out who Bourne is, and follow him through a series of exciting adventures.

 In the 2nd and 3rd Paragraph you :

– include the main points of the plot ( without revealing the ending), and evaluate such features as the acting, writing style, directions, characters etc.

– you can also add what you learnt, found out from the book, etc

Phrases you can use to in the 2nd and 3rd paragraph:

Describing a book / film / TV programme
* … is set in …
* The main character is …
* It tells the story of …
* The plot / dialogue / acting / characterisation is …
Giving an opinion
* The only criticism I would make is that …
* What I really loved about … is …
*To me, … seemed …
* … was … from start to finish.
+ exceptional / good value / gripping / lively / memorable / perfect / realistic / stunning / superb / well-written / -acted / -cooked etc.
— disappointing / dreadful / dull / inadequate / poor / predictable / sub-standard / unconvincing / unimaginative / uninteresting

As well as a highly original plot line, the novel includes a number of fascinating characters, especially the villains! I only have one negative -comment: in my view, the novel is strong on action but weaker on description. However, this is a small criticism of an otherwise excellent book. 

Phrases you can use to in the 2nd and 3rd paragraph:

 To explain the plot:
* The plot revolves around …involves …/focuses on …/has an unexpected twist.
* The story begins with …/unfolds / reaches a dramatic climax when …
 Evaluating various features:
* The play/film/series has a strong/star-studded/mediocre cast.
* The acting is moving/powerful/excellent/weak/disappointing/unconvincing.
* The plot is gripping/dramatic/fascinating/suspense-filled/fast-moving. far-fetched/predictable/ confusing/dull /unimaginative.
* The script/dialogue is touching/witty/hilarious/boring/mundane.
* It is beautifully/brilliantly/sensitively written/directed.

I would highly recommend The Bourne Identity to anyone who enjoys action or crime stories. However, if you prefer more descriptive or romantic novels, then you should give it a miss. Personally, I can’t wait to start reading the sequel!

In the last paragraph you :

– include an overall assessment of the work and/or a recommendation, usually with justification
– you may also be asked to give reasons why someone should see the film/ play or read the book, how it has influenced you, etc.

Phrases you can use to end the letter

Making a recommendation
*I would highly / strongly recommend …
* I certainly wouldn’t recommend …
* I strongly advise you (not) to …
* Everyone should see / do / read this … immediately!
* … is not to be missed!
* You should give … a miss!
* Don’t bother reading / seeing / going …
* It is a classic of its kind/ It is sure to be a hit/ best -seller

Over to you:

You have seen the following announcement in a magazine.



• Is there one special book that has had a great influence on your life?

• Write in and tell us about it.

• Tell us briefly about the book and, more importantly, what it taught you or how it helped you.

• The best entry will he published in the near future.

Prize: £100 in book tokens to help you build up your own library!

Write your review in 140- 190 words in an appropriate style on the separate answer sheet.



Here’s the next task:

The magazine published by your school’s English club is asking students to give opinions on the coursebooks they have been using. Write a review of a coursebook, giving your views on the following points:

• its content

• its design

• how well it prepares students for the exam

• how much it has helped you improve your English

Write your review in 140- 190 words in an appropriate style on the separate answer sheet.


1-  Write for the reader. Always bear in mind who you are writing for. If you’re writing for a magazine, think of the kind of people who read that particular magazine. A book review is intended for people who have not read the book, so don’t assume that your readers already know the story.

2-  Don’t talk about yourself. When giving your opinion, whether in a review or elsewhere, be careful not to fall into the trap of talking about yourself. Try to be objective. One way of testing for objectivity is to check your writing for the words I, me, my, myself. Similarly, phrases such as in my opinion, to my mind, I think should be used as little as possible; any more than once in the first paragraph and once in the last, and your review seems to focus on yourself, not your subject.

3- Write in an impersonal style. Many students spoil their articles and reviews by writing in a chatty, informal style as if they were talking to a friend. On the contrary, essays, articles and
reviews should be relatively impersonal. Your readers are not particularly interested in you: they need information, description and narrative more than they need your opinion.

4- You don’t know your reader, so be careful about using the word you.

5- Use precise, descriptive vocabulary. Generalizations such as This book is boring communicate very little to the reader. Specific observations and concrete facts, on the other hand, help the reader to share your experience. If you have strong feelings about your subject, this should make your writing more interesting – but be careful! Strong feelings must be given form and coldly translated into precise words.

If you need writing help with your introduction, body or conclusion paragraph of your paper, please visit the following site – a team of experts provide you with professional assistance online.