December 28

What Ambitions Do You Have? C1 Exam Part 1

How do you talk about ambition in English and with confidence? Let’s find out!


Hello, this is Kristian from Cambridge Advanced Speaking, lovely to see you here.

It is my goal to help you speak better English, so you can give better answers in your exam in order to get a higher mark. 

So, today I’m going to teach you essential vocabulary that you can use to speak about the topic of AMBITION.

We’re going to look at 4 things:

  1. Basic vocabulary
  2. Useful collocations
  3. Idiomatic expressions
  4. Part 1 Question + Model Answer 

Sounds good, right?  Let’s get cracking!


Basic Vocabulary

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

What ambitions do you have?

Hmmm, that’s a fun question, right? You can talk about things that interest you, things you would like to do, things you want to achieve. 

Now, how can you answer this question to get a higher mark? First, you need some basic vocabulary. 

It’s important that you can paraphrase in the speaking exam, so let’s think of some synonyms you can use.

  • goal (My long-term goal is to get better and better at English)
  • aim (My aim is to help Cambridge exam candidates on YouTube)
  • desire (I have a burning desire to live in Spain)
  • aspiration (It is my personal aspiration to become a teacher)
  • You can use also some other basic structures to talk about your ambitions:

I dream of being a great teacher / I dream about living in Spain

I long to travel around Europe (really want it)

I always had a yearning to set up my own company 

I strive to be fluent in English (try very hard)


Advanced Collocations

Okay, let’s look now at some advanced collocations. 

When you’re talking about ambition in your exam, you could talk about personal ambition, for example  get up early, exercise daily. Or, you could talk about professional ambition (become a great teacher)

Now, a great way to add some colour to your language, is to make use of adjectives. For example, you could talk about:

  • Lifelong ambition: It’s a lifelong ambition of mine to become a successful investor
  • Burning ambition: I have a burning ambition to become a teacher
  • Modest ambition: I have a modest ambition to become famous
  • You lack ambition: When it comes to starting a family, I lack ambition  
  • Achieve, fulfil or realise ambition. 
  • Abandon or give up ambition


5 Idioms to Talk About Ambition

Now, let’s look at some idiomatic expressions. 

First of all, to go to great lengths: I’ll have to go to great lengths to achieve my goal = I’ll do everything possible.

Dig in your heels = to be persistent: I am going to create an online course and even though some people say it’s just a dream, I am going to dig in my heels

A similar expression is I will stick at it = to continue, persevere

Not only will I carry on at all costs, but I’m also willing to go the extra mile to reach my goal = to do some extra work. 

I’m going to throw in the towel = give up, stop


Model Answer

Answer the following question:

What ambitions do you have? 

Hmm, that’s an interesting question. Well, between you and me, I dream about being a great teacher on YouTube. I have a burning desire to help people all over the world speak better English. Of course, I know it’s not going to be a walk in the park, there are going to be moments that I feel like giving up, but I’m willing to go the extra mile to succeed.


Closing Notes

That’s it! Lot’s of expressions, verbs, collocations and idioms to help you speak with more confidence on the topic of ambition. 

I hope you enjoyed the video. 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

As a Dutch proficient speaker of English, Kristian not only holds a grade A Cambridge C2 certificate but is also CELTA qualified. His five years of experience as a teacher and ESL exam coach, specialising in Cambridge English C1, C2, and IELTS, has equipped him with a unique blend of skills to guide and support your English learning journey.

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