December 28

How Important Is It to Be Ambitious? C1 Exam Part 4

How do you answer a Part 4 question about ambition in natural English and with confidence? Let’s find out!

 

Hello, this is Kristian from Cambridge Advanced Speaking, it’s lovely to have you here. I want to help you speak better English, so you can give better answers in your exam and get a higher mark. 

So, today I’m going to show you how to answer a part 4 question.

We’re going to look at 4 things:

  1. The question
  2. How to come up with ideas to talk about 
  3. How to expand on your ideas 
  4. The model answer

Are you ready?  Let’s get cracking!

 

Question 

Let’s imagine you get the following question in the exam:

How important is it to be ambitious?

I love this type of question, because you have many  options to show off your language. You could explain why being ambitious is a trifling matter, you might give a balanced answer with pros and cons of being ambitious, or perhaps you want to tell the examiner why being ambitious is of prime importance.

Remember, the examiner doesn’t care about your opinion. They only care about your English speaking skills.  

Now, the question is, how to go about it? How to build up your answer?

 

How to Come Up With Ideas 

In the previous episode we’ve already discussed useful vocabulary to talk about ambition, so in this episode I want to give you some specific tips and advice.    

The first challenge that students face is the lack of ideas – and the right vocabulary to express those ideas in the exam. For this reason I always tell my students to start reading articles on possible exam topics: you should read, read, and read.

To show you why, I’ve included an article in the description of this video podcast. It’s an article from epsychonline.com:

Ambition – The Good and the Bad of Being Ambitious

This text will help you get loads of ideas and language to develop your answer and impress the examiner.

Now, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so let me quote the final paragraph of the article:

Having ambitions in your life is meaningful. Yet, toxic ambition will only cause harm. Therefore, it is important to find the correct balance and maintain it. If you happen to have taken ambition too far, it is essential to get back on the right track.

 

Ambitions are what keeps us going. As an ambitious person, it’s important to work smart and consciously. However, don’t beat yourself up if you make mistakes. Listen to your body and give the care and nutrition it needs. Talk to someone if your ambitious drive gets in the way of your mental health.

 

How to Expand On a Topic?

Okay, now you know how to come up with ideas and vocabulary. But how can you expand on a topic in a structured way? Remember, you want to be clear and concise, because you only have a short time to answer the question.   

To make sure that your answer is intelligible to the examiner, you can use the KISS system:

Keep It Simple and Structured.

This method is not a must, but it works for many of my students.

First, you give your opinion. Then you explain why. You give reasons for your opinion. After that, you give a short example to illustrate your point, or you speculate about a possible consequence. 

Model Answer

Okay, let’s look at a model answer that uses this KISS method. The question is:

How important is it to be ambitious?

My answer answer:

That’s a great question! Personally, I believe that having ambition is immensely beneficial to your life. You tend to work harder and you’re also more productive. And when you achieve your goal, you get this sense of accomplishment. It gives you joy and fulfilment. For instance, being able to speak English after years of studying makes me feel proud of myself. (example

 

Mind you, ambition can also be toxic. This is the case when someone becomes obsessed. They might take their ambition too far and their drive gets in the way of their health. (speculate

 

All in all, I guess being ambitious is a double edged sword. It can have favourable and unfavourable consequences. At the end of the day, you need to find the right balance and maintain it.

Okay, that’s the model answer. If you want, you can check the slides on YouTube to repeat and review all the vocabulary. But remember, don’t memorise all this stuff. Instead, use it to develop your flexibility when speaking English. You’ll see that it’s much more fun to develop different answers when speaking with different chunks of language, then to learn whole answers by heart.    

 

Closing Notes

Okay then, that’s it! Loads of ideas and vocabulary to help you speak with more confidence on the topic of ambition in part 4 of the exam. 

What about you? How important is it to be ambitious for you? Tell me your answer in the comments below!

I hope you enjoyed this video podcast. If you did, please remember to click on subscribe, and turn on the notifications to find out about new and upcoming videos in the near future. 

That’s all from me. See you soon my friends, take care of yourself, and each other.

About the Author

Dutch proficient speaker of English with a Cambridge C2 certificate (grade A) and CELTA qualified. Four years experience as a teacher and ESL exam coach (Cambridge English B2, C1, C2, IELTS, TOEFL, Pearson PTE).

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