CAE Review | C1 Advanced | 14 Key Steps To Success

CAE Review

Almost every day students ask me "Rory, how can I answer the C1 Advanced: CAE Review question in the exam?" However, before answering this question. Let's first answer another question, "what is a CAE Review?"

A CAE Review is a writing task from part 2 of the C1 Advanced (CAE) writing exam. However, reviews do not always appear in the exam. This is because in part 2 you only write one answer from three different questions which are based on 5 different writing tasks.

What are the chances of the CAE Review appearing in the exam?

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CAE Review

Where to begin?

Often students don't know where to begin with review writing, but luckily, you found me.

This page will lay out how to prepare for and write a review to get the examiners jumping up and down with joy.

Answering this question well, might affect whether you pass or fail the C1 Advanced exam. So make sure you follow the information on this page to ensure you get the highest marks possible!

CAE Tip: Register/upgrade to 'Gold' access this tip now >>

Right, enough prittle prattle (informal way of saying 'idle talk').

Examiners’ Marking Criteria

If you understand how the examiners mark your review, you will know how to get high marks for each criterion. This is imperative if you want to pass the CAE review.

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How to pass C1 Advanced CAE Writing Part 2 Review

Write down important notes from the video below in the relevant fields of this worksheet. You should keep this worksheet open in a separate internet tab and keep adding information to it from the rest of this page.

CAE Review Video Summary and Transcript

I hope you enjoyed the video above. Some students prefer to learn by reading rather than watching videos and so I thought it would be useful to outline the most important parts of the video for you. These are the steps you should follow if you want to pass the C1 Review writing:

Before the Exam:

  1. Watch and understand how examiners mark the CAE writing paper (see this video).
  2. Learn and remember what the examiners want from a CAE review (see 'review advice' below).
  3. Do lots of practice examples. Use sample exam papers to help with this. If you are doing a computer based exam, make sure you write your practice answers on computer. If you are doing a paper based exam, make sure you write with a pen or pencil on a sheet of paper. When you have finished your practice answer, count how many words it is. If it is within the word limit, remember how much space it has used on the page. If you do this a few times, you will know approximately how long your writing needs to be in the exam and you do not need to waste time counting how many words you've written.


During the exam:

  1. Spend the first 2 minutes reading the question and underlining the important information and who the target reader is (see 'review question' below).
  2. Spend 5 minutes planning your answer. Think about the type of language you will use and how you will link your key ideas together (see 'CAE review plan' below).
  3. Take 30-35 minutes to write your answer. While writing, think about the type of language you will use (see 'CAE review vocabulary' below). Examiners like to see you use complex grammatical structures and vocabulary, even if they are not executed perfectly. Make sure you answer all the required parts of the question. When you make a point, try to back it up with further information and focus on how you can link your points together nicely.
  4. Save 3-8 minutes to read over your work at the end. Try to read your work from an outside perspective. Make sure that the points you want to make are clear and obvious. Sometimes they are obvious to the person who wrote them, but not to a person who is reading the work for the first time. Have a look at this page for some common errors which students make at C1 Advanced.


CAE Review Advice

I would advise adding the most important bits of information from this section to your worksheet here.

CAE Review

This is from a Handbook which Cambridge instruct teachers to use when preparing their students. You can learn this yourself and be in exactly the same place as a teacher. I truly believe that you can train yourself to pass the exam if you know the right resources to use and you can access this document here.

What this shows us is that you need to use descriptive language but you also need to tailor your writing to the target reader. Think about this when deciding what type of language to use (see 'review vocabulary' below) and whether or not your ideas are appropriate. Try to practise with review questions which target different readers. Write and Improve is a good website with a variety of questions.

CAE Review

This is also good advice. When you are reading different types of reviews, try to check how the language differs from one review to another depending on the target reader. Check to see if you can find any reviews written by published or well known authors. If you find any of these reviews, check whether they give recommendations and try to copy the style of these and the language they use in your own writing.

When practising before the exam, focus on the descriptive and explanatory language you use.

CAE Review Example 1


These are the words I would underline from this question.

So, from the words I've underlined, see if you can answer these questions on a separate piece of paper:

  1. Who is the target reader?
  2. What are you reviewing.
  3. What are they key points you need to address?


  1. The target reader is a website.
  2. You are reviewing a book or film about a person who has made an important contribution to society.
  3. There are 2 key points you need to address:
    1. Did you learn anything new about this person's life?
    2. Did the book or film give you a better understanding as to why this person did what they did?


CAE Review Task - Plan

So with those points in mind, I'd like you to write down a plan for this review here.

It is really important that you do this because when you've done that, you can compare it with my review plan below.

In the exam I would recommend trying to write a review of something real as this will be a lot easier to write about.


My CAE Review Plan

Here is a plan I made for this question. Don't worry if yours is very different, this is just how I would write my plan to help me in the exam.

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C1 Advanced Review Answer

c1 advanced review answer

Write down the mistakes you found in the answer above on this page >>

Examiners' Assessment Scale Template

Complete the assessment scale below based on the answer above. Print it off here, or complete an online version of this assessment scale here >>


Mark (1-5)



Communicative Achievement





Student's Answer With My Corrections

Did you know that a simple book can change the way you perceive (remove the word ‘the’ here because you are speaking about life in general) life? No sooner had (you should write ‘had’ here because you started reading before you ‘realised’ which was in the past) I started to read 5 a.m Club than (you need to write ‘than’ here) I realized that something in my life needed/had to (I think this should also be in the past, you read in the past then you realised your life had to change) change. I would like to introduce you few line about this (you should remove the words 'few line about this' and replace it with 'to this, ') such a wonderful book and how it (you should repeat the subject 'it' here) increased my productivity on a daily basis (we normally say 'a daily basis' rather than 'my daily basis').

On the one hand, I have learnt how I can manage my time practising (you should say 'practising' with an 's' rather than a 'c' here because we are using the verb form of 'practice' not the noun form. This is a very common mistake which students and even native English speakers make) the morning person routine. This routine consists of waking up at 5 am every day ('consists of' is an example of a collocation. We use lots of collocations in English. If you don't know what a collocation is, watch this old video I made. I give lots more examples of typical C1 Advanced collocations on my website). Honestly, I (remove 'was') struggled the first time (remove 'which') I read about that because I never thought that I would be capable of doing it (you should always say capable of + verbing). As it is said: ‘If you want, you can’ and it’s what I did. I was able to wake up at 5am, breaking my daily routine, and setting a new habit which took me 21 days to adopt (you could also say 'which took 21 days until I adopted it'. Make sure you know the difference between 'adopt' and 'adapt').

On the other hand, I learnt that if I would like to take advantage of my time, I should follow some productivity techniques which help (be careful not to jump between present and past verb tenses) me to complete all my daily goals. (It might be worth revising 'would like to have + past participle and 'should have + past participle). Sounds easy, but it is not. I started creating a calendar where I put blocks of 1 hours during my working hours. Then, I selected blocks where my concentration was higher, and I assigned the most critical tasks to these hours. For the rest of the blocks, I assigned the remaining tasks which were less important. It is wonderful the way I can complete tasks now!

After 21 days, I realized that my daily routine had changed a lot! (It is better to use past perfect in the last sentence because your routine changed before the realisation). I discovered that I had (had?) more time to spend with my family plus covering all the my daily tasks successfully. Would you like to learn the daily routine of the author of this book? Do not miss the opportunity, and follow him on his social networks.


This is a good attempt at the writing task. Although you have made some language related errors, you have tried to use a good range of language which you will be rewarded for in the exam.

Examiner's Assessment Scale With My Comments

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CAE review

C1 Review - Pass or Fail

Let's add up the marks:

Content: 1/5

Communicative achievement: 4/5

Organisation: 4/5

Language: 2/5

Total: 11/20

Remember there is an examiner's assessment criteria video above which you should watch if you have forgotten how examiners mark your writing.

This review is part 2 of the CAE writing paper. If we assume the student got 12/20 for part 1, the essay, then they would have got 22/40 in total.

This would mean the student would just fail this section of the exam by 2 marks. You need 24/40 to pass this exam paper. You can still pass the exam even if you fail one section as long as your average across all the exam papers is high enough. This page gives more detail on CAE exam marks.

CAE Review - Example 2


You see this announcement on a website which is particularly popular with university students and young adults. The website is called ‘Great People’:

Review Wanted

Send us a review about a person who, in your eyes, has had a great influence on the world.

How did this person influence the world?
What can we learn from this person’s character?

Write your review in 220-260 words.

Before you read the sample answer below, you should open this sheet and write down any mistakes you find while reading the answer. You should also open this document and write your marks and comments for the sample review.


STEPHEN HAWKING:the life of a genius

World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76. The British scientist was famed for his work with black holes and relativity, and wrote several popular science books including A Brief History of Time. This scientist has also written several other books including:1.The Large Scale Structure Of Space-Time   2. A Brief History Of Time    3. Black Holes And Baby Universes And Other Essays   4. The Universe In A Nutshell    5. On The Shoulders Of Giants. The Great Works of Physics And Astronomy    6. God created the integers     7. George's secret key to the Universe    8. George's cosmic treasure hunt    9. George and the Big Bang    10. The Grand Design     11. My brief history. He has made many important discovers over the years, and has even been named the most influential person of the century.

Besides all of that, he was also an actor, he appeared in many movies and shows such as: Star Trek The Next Generation and The Simpsons. Sadly, no man is perfect, At the age of 22 Professor Hawking was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease. The illness left him in a wheelchair and largely unable to speak except through a voice synthesizer.

They praised his "courage and persistence" and said his "brilliance and humour" inspired people across the world. “We will miss him forever.”

C1 Review - Mistakes & Corrections

Have a thorough read of the mistakes and corrections, followed by the examiner assessment scale below. This will help you understand how to write a C1 Advanced review.

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cae review blur


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CAE review

C1 Review Sample 2 - Final Marks

Content - 1
Communicative Achievement - 2
Organisation - 2
Language - 2

Total: 7/20

Unfortunately this writing would require the student to get 17/20 in part 1 to achieve the C1 level for the writing exam paper (24/40). This is not an easy task.

Learn more about what marks you need to pass here.

C1 Advanced Review Vocabulary

"Did you know.....?" - It's good to ask a question in the review to make the reader more interested in what you're saying.

"...I really recommend + verbing"

"I highly recommend + verbing"

"must-see" - we use this phrase when we state that somebody must watch a film or television series.

"give it a miss" - this means do not watch or read the book/film/television series.

"It will have you in hysterics" - this means when you cannot stop laughing.

"I advise you..."

" a great account of..." - this means the book/film summarises or describes something very well. You can switch the word 'great' for a different adjective to give the phrase a different meaning.

" a remarkable performance as..." - this is normally used to talk about good acting by a particular person.

"the plot was dull..." - this means the story line was boring.

"the acting..."

"the character..."

"one strength/weakness..."


Read another CAE Review Sample

    1. Read my CAE Writing Samples e-book. In the book you will find 21 sample writings that my students sent me. I marked the writings based on the examiner assessment scale and gave each writing my feedback and critique. Take a look now >>

Submit a Review

Send a CAE Review to me via my CAE Writing Assessment Service >>

I will mark it for you and give feedback 🙂

Classroom Activities

Check out this page for some online instructions and forms for you and your students to complete on computer.

If you prefer to print out worksheets for the classroom, the instructions below will be better for you:

    1. Complete this worksheet with the most important information from the video and advice above.
    2. Read this example review question then write a plan for it here. You should try to do this within 5 minutes.
    3. Print and read this example review answer. Write down any mistakes you find.
    4. Compare your mistakes with the ones I found here.
    5. Complete this assessment scale for the review.
    6. How similar is your assessment scale to mine?


Watch the video below and complete the exercises:

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cae review

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