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This is an IELTS writing task 2 sample answer from the real exam/test on the topic of ambition and whether or not it is a good quality.

I found this one a little bit trick because it has two questions but they are really similar.

If you’re not careful, you might end up writing the same main idea twice and that will really hurt you IELTS writing score.

Read below to see how I did it and check out the other recent task 2 writing questions here, the task 1s here, my online courses here and my marking service here.

Enjoy!

Dave

Before listening, be sure to listen to the audio of my essay to improve your listening skills:

IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample Answer: Ambition (Real Past IELTS Exam/Test)

Some think that ambition is a good quality.

Is it important to be ambitious?

Is it a positive or negative characteristic?

Real Past IELTS Exams/Tests

The rise of the one percent and accumulated capital has led many people today to question the basic value of raw ambition. In my opinion, though ambition has historical importance, it is a largely negative trait for most of society today.

Ambition’s value lies in pushing forward human progress. Some of the best evidence of this comes from advances in science. Galileo was a determined astronomer, willing to doubt ingrained dogma in order to propagate his heretical view and we owe the basis of our understanding of the planetary system to him. A more recent example would be discoveries like penicilin and vaccines in the 20th century that were all the result of highly ambitious, driven individuals whose legacies endure to this day. Without their aspirations, human civilisation would have stagnated.

However, ambition for its own sake hurts society. When ambition is severed from passion and ethics, it becomes the raw engine of political and economic greed. A good example of this would be the rampant speculation fueling Wall Street. Most employees at large brokerage firms are ambitious in terms of moving up the ladder and making more money for their clients but have little concern for the consequences of their actions. Reckless investment spurred on by greed was one of the underlying causes of the sub-prime mortgage scandal that led to a global financial crisis in 2008 during which millions of homeowners and investors lost their retirement savings. Unchecked, ambition will always tend towards excess and society will always be left to reckon with the aftermath.

In conclusion, ambition is a crucial drive behind human civilisation but it is not a positive force on its own. It is important for parents and educators to serve as good role models to inspire children to check ambition with conscience.

Analysis

1. The rise of the one percent and accumulated capital has led many people today to question the basic value of raw ambition. 2. In my opinion, though ambition has historical importance, it is a largely negative trait for most of society today.

  1. Paraphrase the overall topic of the essay.
  2. Give your opinion – make it clear and answer both questions.

1. Ambition’s value lies in pushing forward human progress. 2. Some of the best evidence of this comes from advances in science. 3. Galileo was a determined astronomer, willing to doubt ingrained dogma in order to propagate his heretical view and we owe the basis of our understanding of the planetary system to him. 4. A more recent example would be discoveries like penicilin and vaccines in the 20th century that were all the result of highly ambitious, driven individuals whose legacies endure to this day. 5. Without their aspirations, human civilisation would have stagnated.

  1. Write a topic sentence with a clear main idea at the end of it.
  2. Begin to develop your main idea.
  3. Use specific people for this question as examples.
  4. You can continue with the same example if you know it well or give another, more recent example.
  5. Conclude by related it back to the topic question.

1. However, ambition for its own sake hurts society. 2. When ambition is severed from passion and ethics, it becomes the raw engine of political and economic greed. 3. A good example of this would be the rampant speculation fueling Wall Street. 4. Most employees at large brokerage firms are ambitious in terms of moving up the ladder and making more money for their clients but have little concern for the consequences of their actions. 5. Reckless investment spurred on by greed was one of the underlying causes of the sub-prime mortgage scandal that led to a global financial crisis in 2008 during which millions of homeowners and investors lost their retirement savings. 6. Unchecked, ambition will always tend towards excess and society will always be left to reckon with the aftermath.

  1. Write another topic sentence with another clear main idea at the end. These sentences can be short and simply.
  2. Begin to develop your main idea.
  3. Give another example.
  4. Develop your example with specific details and strong vocabulary.
  5. Continue with the same example if possible.
  6. Draw conclusions at the end of your paragraph and relate it back to the overall topic.

1. In conclusion, ambition is a crucial drive behind human civilisation but it is not a positive force on its own. 2. It is important for parents and educators to serve as good role models to inspire children to check ambition with conscience.

  1. Repeat your opinion for the two questions.
  2. Add in an extra detail/final thought to get full marks from the examiner.

Vocabulary

What do the words in bold below mean?

The rise of the one percent and accumulated capital has led many people today to question the basic value of raw ambition. In my opinion, though ambition has historical importance, it is a largely negative trait for most of society today.

Ambition’s value lies in pushing forward human progress. Some of the best evidence of this comes from advances in science. Galileo was a determined astronomer, willing to doubt ingrained dogma in order to propagate his heretical view and we owe the basis of our understanding of the planetary system to him. A more recent example would be discoveries like penicilin and vaccines in the 20th century that were all the result of highly ambitious, driven individuals whose legacies endure to this day. Without their aspirations, human civilisation would have stagnated.

However, ambition for its own sake hurts society. When ambition is severed from passion and ethics, it becomes the raw engine of political and economic greed. A good example of this would be the rampant speculation fueling Wall Street. Most employees at large brokerage firms are ambitious in terms of moving up the ladder and making more money for their clients but have little concern for the consequences of their actions. Reckless investment spurred on by greed was one of the underlying causes of the sub-prime mortgage scandal that led to a global financial crisis in 2008 during which millions of homeowners and investors lost their retirement savings. Unchecked, ambition will always tend towards excess and society will always be left to reckon with the aftermath.

In conclusion, ambition is a crucial drive behind human civilisation but it is not a positive force on its own. It is important for parents and educators to serve as good role models to inspire children to check ambition with conscience.

Answers

the one percent the richest people on Earth

accumulated capital lots of money, assets

question doubt

basic value importance

raw ambition base desire to get ahead

historical importance significance/weight

lies is contained in

pushing forward driving on/encouraging

human progress civilisation

determined astronomer ambitious astronomer

doubt ingrained dogma question the way things are done

propagate spread

heretical view opinion outside what is accepted

planetary system the galaxy

penicilin antibiotics

vaccines shots to immunise

driven encouraged/forced on

legacies endure remembered forever

aspirations dreams

stagnated stalled/stopped

for its own sake on its own

severed cut off from

passion caring deeply about

ethics morals

raw engine basic drive/desire

greed always wanting more

rampant speculation fueling widespread, hasty investment contributing to

Wall Street the New York financial centre

brokerage firms trading companies

moving up the ladder getting promotions/progression

little concern don’t care about

consequences of their actions results of what they did

reckless investment spurred on speculation created by

underlying causes foundations

sub-prime mortgage scandal trading bad mortgages

global financial crisis economic downturn

homeowners people who own houses

retirement savings nest egg

unchecked without regulation

tend likely to

excess over-the-top

left to reckon with the aftermath have to deal with the results

crucial drive important desire

on its own by itself

serve as good role models someone to look up to

inspire encourage

check ambition with conscience control your worst desires

Pronunciation

ðə wʌn pəˈsɛnt 
əˈkjuːmjʊleɪtɪd ˈkæpɪtl 
ˈkwɛsʧən 
ˈbeɪsɪk ˈvæljuː 
rɔː æmˈbɪʃ(ə)n
hɪsˈtɒrɪkəl ɪmˈpɔːtəns
laɪz 
ˈpʊʃɪŋ ˈfɔːwəd 
ˈhjuːmən ˈprəʊgrəs
dɪˈtɜːmɪnd əsˈtrɒnəmə
daʊt ɪnˈgreɪnd ˈdɒgmə 
ˈprɒpəgeɪt 
hɪˈrɛtɪkəl vjuː 
ˈplænɪtəri ˈsɪstɪm 
pɛnˈɪsʊlɪn 
ˈvæksiːnz 
ˈdrɪvn 
ˈlɛgəsiz ɪnˈdjʊə 
ˌæspəˈreɪʃ(ə)nz
stægˈneɪtɪd
fɔːr ɪts əʊn seɪk 
sɪˈvɪəd 
ˈpæʃən 
ˈɛθɪks
rɔː ˈɛnʤɪn 
griːd
ˈræmpənt ˌspɛkjʊˈleɪʃən ˈfjʊəlɪŋ 
wɔːl striːt
ˈbrəʊkərɪʤ fɜːmz 
ˈmuːvɪŋ ʌp ðə ˈlædə 
ˈlɪtl kənˈsɜːn 
ˈkɒnsɪkwənsɪz ɒv ðeər ˈækʃ(ə)nz
ˈrɛklɪs ɪnˈvɛstmənt spɜːd ɒn 
ˌʌndəˈlaɪɪŋ ˈkɔːzɪz 
sʌb-praɪm ˈmɔːgɪʤ ˈskændl 
ˈgləʊbəl faɪˈnænʃəl ˈkraɪsɪs 
həʊmˈəʊnəz 
rɪˈtaɪəmənt ˈseɪvɪŋz
ʌnˈʧɛkt
tɛnd 
ɪkˈsɛs 
lɛft tuː ˈrɛkən wɪð ði ˈɑːftəmæθ
ˈkruːʃəl draɪv
ɒn ɪts əʊn
sɜːv æz gʊd rəʊl ˈmɒdlz 
ɪnˈspaɪə 
ʧɛk æmˈbɪʃ(ə)n wɪð ˈkɒnʃəns

Listen and repeat:

Vocabulary Practice

The rise of t_____________ and a_____________ has led many people today to q_____________ the b_____________ of r_____________. In my opinion, though ambition has h _____________, it is a largely negative trait for most of society today.

Ambition’s value l_____________ in p_____________ h_____________. Some of the best evidence of this comes from advances in science. Galileo was a d_____________, willing to d_____________ in order to p_____________ his h_____________ and we owe the basis of our understanding of the p_____________ to him. A more recent example would be discoveries like p _____________ and v_____________ in the 20th century that were all the result of highly ambitious, d_____________ individuals whose l_____________ to this day. Without their a_____________, human civilisation would have s_____________.

However, ambition f_____________ hurts society. When ambition is s_____________ from p_____________ and e_____________, it becomes the r_____________ of political and economic g_____________. A good example of this would be the r_____________ W_____________. Most employees at large b_____________ are ambitious in terms of m_____________ and making more money for their clients but have l_____________ for the c_____________. R_____________ by greed was one of the u_____________ of the s_____________ that led to a g_____________ in 2008 during which millions of h_____________ and investors lost their r_____________. U_____________, ambition will always t_____________ towards e_____________ and society will always be l_____________.

In conclusion, ambition is a c_____________ behind human civilisation but it is not a positive force o_____________. It is important for parents and educators to s_____________ to i_____________ children to c_____________.

Listen and check:

Listening Practice

Listen about a similar topic here, motivation:

Reading Practice

Read about whether or not ambition is good or bad below:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201411/is-ambition-good-or-bad

Speaking Practice

Careers (NEW BOOKLET )

  1. What are the most common professons among young people today?
  2. What influences young people in their choice of career?
  3. Should young people follow their role models?
  4. Should the age of retirement be raised?
  5. How can people still contribute to society after retiring?

Writing Practice

Answer the question below on a related topic:

Some people believe that it is best to accept a bad situation, such as an unsatisfactory job or shortage of money. Others argue that it is better to try and improve such situations.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Read my sample answer for this here.

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