REVIEW | Tips and Examples



A review is a critical assessment in which someone gives their opinion of something such as a new book or film. There are many kinds of reviews. They usually have a semi-formal style and they are very common in the writing skill in official exams.




The Structure of a Review



Consider all the parts of the question/statement and use that to help organise your review. Make notes about the following:


  •  An interesting title.


  •  A catchy introductory.
    • Name what you are going to be reviewing, state its genre etc.


  •  A summary of the plot.
    • Give a short summary of the reviewed material.


  • The opinion on the plot.
    • Can be used to describe good and bad points respectively.
    • You can mention a surprising moment/fact, if there were any.


  •  Your opinion and recommendation.
    • Contain your general impression and your verdict.



Remember you’re going to want to separate these with clear paragraphs that are going to help the examiner read to the end without getting a headache. You also need to consider the tone and how the review should sound to the reader. You want to sound chatty and grab the reader’s attention, but not bore them to sleep. Think semi-formal but friendly!




Useful Vocabulary



Try to make it interesting by using a wide range of vocabulary comparisons to describe something; specialised topic vocabulary.


Try brainstorm some useful vocabulary for your chosen book (or thing you might be reviewing), including lots of adjectives. Avoid using boring adjectives like good or bad. It’s much more exciting to say ‘amazing’ and ‘disappointing’ or ‘terrific and ‘terrible’. Here’s some more useful vocabulary to get you started:



superficial / deceptive / fascinating / gripping /engaging / unbelievable / rich / lonely / kind / reserved/ to be set in / to be written by / prosperity / characters / jazz age / protagonist / atmosphere / author / chapter / ending / fictional towns / prohibition / novel / on the outskirts / sad story.



Download here a list of Useful Phrases for Film Analysis and Review



Your next step is to think of some linking phrases. These are going to help tie together your thoughts and bring your review to life!


  •  Overall if you like…


  •  I was pleasantly surprised by…


  •  In fact…


  • The thing I liked most was ….


  •  ….. would appeal to …..


  •  If you get a chance to ….


  •  What I disliked the most was…


  •  The book contains…


  •  This well-written book…


  •  Unbelievably…



Useful links for your Review writing:











Writing your Review



Once you have a solid plan, writing your review should be easy! Let’s follow the same structure we’ve seen at the beginning:


  •  An interesting title: make sure you write a catchy title (you can use rethorical questions or idioms). E.g. The Unexpected Anti-Hero.
      • Maybe start with a rhetorical question, for example: Are you a fan of the Jazz Age? Then this is the book for you!


  •  1st and 2nd paragraph. A catchy introductory.


    • A) Mention why you started to write a review on it. You can give some context and name what you are going to be reviewing, state its genre etc. Here you have some extracts of this first part from real reviews:
      • I am still dipping my toes into the literally fiction pool, finding what works for me and what doesn’t.
      • The hype around this book has been unquestionable and, admittedly, that made me both eager to get my hands on it and read it.
      • I’ve heard a lot of great things about Malcolm Gladwell’s writing. Friends and co-workers tell me that his subjects are interesting and his writing style is easy to follow without talking down to the reader. I wasn’t disappointed with Outliers, Gladwell’s most famous novel.
      • The Great Gatsby is a classic, with many twists and turns. The novel was written by F.S.Fitzgerald and is set in prosperous Long Island in 1922.


    • B) A summary of the plot. Give a short summary of the reviewed material. There’s no need to give the entire story. Just a brief overview in 1-2 sentences will suffice.
      • This is a novel with a thrilling concept at its core. A woman survives plane crash, then runs for her life. However, it is the subtleties at play that will draw you in like a spider beckoning to an unwitting fly.
      • The title speaks the truth: this is a book about war. All of its horrors and atrocities. It is not sugar-coated, and it is often graphic.
      • In it, Gladwell tackles the subject of success – how people obtain it and what contributes to extraordinary success as opposed to everyday success.
      • In Doane’s debut novel, a young man embarks on a journey of self-discovery with surprising results. An unnamed protagonist is dealing with heartbreak.
      • Gatsby is a mysterious character, he has big extravagant parties, and we never know if we can trust him.


  • 4th Paragraph. The insights on the plot.


    • A) You can mention interesting facts and remarks (here is where we introduce the surprising moment and reveal what the main character did and why it was surprising:):
      •  The most shocking part is when…
      •  I couldn’t believe it when…
      •  As a matter of fact…
      •  It was so surprising when…
      • Another appealing feature of the book was the upbeat tone and feeling of optimism that prevails throughout..
      • What really stroke a chord with me was …….


    • B) Can be used to describe good and bad points respectively. Here you have some examples.
      • The book begins rather slowly and there are moments when the casual reader wants to skip some of the long-winded explanations to get to the point.
      • The author often strays away from his main contention.
      • Too much puzzle-solving, not enough suspense.
      • This supporting cast of characters is excellent. Duke, in particular, is wonderfully nuanced and complicated. 
      • The theme is skilfully handled. The incidents of the story are wholly absorbing. 
      • The director creates a relatable protagonist in The Narrator.
      • The author covers a lot of ground, and raises some important questions, but never gets bogged down in technicalities.
      • The author lively narratives takes us from……..
      • According to the director, the modern world presents us with complex decisions to make on a daily basis.


  • The 5th paragraph. Your opinion and recommendation. Contain your general impression and your verdict. In the last paragraph, say whether you liked it and give a recommendation! Here the examiner wants to hear your overall opinion. It can be something simple (taken from real reviews).


    • Giving your opinion:
      • Doane’s a gifted writer with fluid prose and insightful observations. It is definitely worth the shot.
      • Oh my God. I got the chills so many times toward the end of this book. It completely blew my mind. It managed to surpass my high expectations AND be nothing at all like I expected. 100% recommendable.
      • It is one of those movies/ books that completely drags you in, makes you fall in love with the characters, and demands that you sit on the edge of your seat for every horrific, nail-biting moment of it.
      • The meat of this book is far more focused on the story of the Dark witch and her magically-gifted descendants living in Ireland. Despite being weak on the romance, I really enjoyed it.
      • But the reality did not live up to the book’s billing.
      • The rhymes are exquisite. I found it pretty fun, but possibly a little dated given many of those things aren’t normal routines anymore. But the lessons to take from it are still powerful. Loved it! 
      • Isn’t it just so great when you find one of those books that completely drags you in, makes you fall in love with the characters, and demands that you sit on the edge of your seat for every horrific, nail-biting moment of it? This is one of those books for me. 


    • Recommending it:
      • 4 stars. Great world-building, weak plot, but still worth watching it/the read.
      • I wouldn’t read the novel again because…
      •  Everyone should see/read this immediately!


But don’t forget to say why!


  • Last step: Check it


Now you have your winning book review it’s time to check for all those little (and big) mistakes. Make sure you check:


      •  You’ve answered all parts of the question.
      •  It is easy to read.
      •  Your spelling is correct.
      •  You’ve used the 3rd person(s).
      •  You have used punctuation.
      •  There’s a variety of nouns and adjectives.




Final Tips



Make sure you enhace your writing skills following these advice:


  • Pick a book you know quite well! Whether it’s Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, make sure you have lots to say about it!


  •  Don’t be afraid to give both negative and positive opinions!


  •  Experiment with using first person and try addressing the reader with ‘you’.


  •  Read lots of real authentic reviews online, anything from holidays to music concerts, exhibitions to video games!


  •  Remember to put some of your own personality into your review. Have some fun with it and good luck!




Review Examples



Example 1


Take a look at the inversions used in the 1st paragraph. There are details about the venue which are missing but this writing displays very illustratively the writers impression.



The Apollo: The Theatre of Dreams


Never before have you seen such an amazing spectacle as you will see in the Apollo. It´s not only the facilities and personnel that make this venue so great, but also the amazing acoustics of such a large venue. I always wanted to visit it and, to be honest, it long lived up to my expectations.


From the moment you enter the place there is an awe about it. All of the greatest acts of recent times have played here and you can feel the buzz as soon as you enter. The crowd are so close to the stage that they can literally feel the droplets of sweat coming off of the brows of their favourite artists, this creates an amazing connection between the musicians and the audience and I can tell you, the fans go wild!


I´d definitely recommend this venue to anyone, it has a great feel to it and the prices are at the lower end of what you would expect to pay in such a place. They also don’t go over the top on drinks prices, and through it sounds weird, it´s not all that difficult to get to the bathroom which is a plus. So, without a doubt, the next time your favourite group is playing, come on down to the Apollo, oh, and did I mention it is in London? It couldn´t get any better.




Example 2


This reviw has a nice catchy title. The structure is pretty organized and it connects to the reader by using exclamative senteces.



A tale of two films


In this review I am going to compare two contrasting tales about overcoming adversity. Whereas The Blind Side (2009) left me with a huge grin on my face, sadly, Doctor Zhivago (1965) left me feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders.


Doctor Zhivago, directed by five-time Oscar winner David Lean, is set in the Bolshevik revolution and follows the title character, who must adapt to the new order while pining for Lara, the beautiful wife of a political campaigner. The director succeeded in creating a film that is thoroughly engaging but full of gritty realism, cruelty and tragic irony. Take the tissues!


The Blind Side, which is based on a true story, is also a bit of a tearjerker, in a completely different way. Starring Sandra Bullock, who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of a rich white mother in Tennessee who takes a homeless black teenager under her roof. Understandably, the gentle giant thinks he isn’t good at anything but his new mother sees his potential to become a football star and part of the family. The plot is based on a true story, making it all the more touching.


I would strongly recommend The Blind Side. It will appeal to a range of people and is a great choice for a movie night. Although Doctor Zhivago is a classic, I think it has more of a niche audience and is best saved for when you want a dose of gloom!



Example 3


This review starts with a catchy title. The first paragraph illustrates why the author came to reading it and gives a short summary of the book, which is pretty nicely done. It is a quite literary writing but it can be inspirational for a high level review.



Eat Pray Love and Read


 “Eat Pray Love” is so popular that it is almost impossible to not read it. Having felt ashamed many times on my not having read this book, I quietly ordered the book (before I saw the movie) from and sat down to read it. I don’t remember what I expected it to be – maybe more like a chick lit thing but it turned out quite different. The book is a real story and is a short journal from the time when its writer went travelling to three different countries in pursuit of three different things – Italy (Pleasure), India (Spirituality), Bali (Balance) and this is what corresponds to the book’s name – EAT (in Italy), PRAY (in India) and LOVE (in Bali, Indonesia). These are also the three Is – ITALY, INDIA, INDONESIA.


An intensely articulate and moving memoir of self-discovery, Eat, Pray, Love is about what can happen when you claim responsibility for your own contentment and stop trying to live in imitation of society’s ideals. It is certain to touch anyone who has ever woken up to the unrelenting need for change. During this journey, great-looking men are platooned at her, and a wise man, who has to be reminded who she is, remembers instantly, although what he remembers is only what she’s just told him. This might be what I liked the least of the novel.


Yet, nothing Gilbert touches seems to turn out wrong. What’s missing are the textures and confusion and unfinished business of real life. While I wouldn’t begrudge this massively talented writer a single iota of joy or peace, I found myself more interested in the awkward, unresolved stuff she must have chosen to leave out. You know what you deserve, dear reader? Fair warning about a 220-page encomium to Elizabeth Gilbert. And gelato. At the very least, gelato.



Example 4


Over here you a reviw that follows the perfect structure. Now, bear in mind that an advanced review should have more detailed and intrisecate vocabulary and a catchy. 


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