Writing Task 1 | Maps Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

​You may have to write about maps in the academic writing task 1 part of the IELTS test. Many people struggle (find it difficult) to know how to begin to write about maps so in this class we are going to look at how to start the introduction.

Review

Below is a typical Map Task.
The two maps below illustrate how Charlwood, a town in England, developed between 1910 and 2010.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Charlwood Town in 1910
Picture
Charlwood Town in 2010
Picture

In general, your Maps answer should…
  1. have a 2-3 sentence introduction and two longer body paragraphs.
  2. cover the main changes shown by the maps.
  3. accurately use verb tense. Are the maps showing changes that occurred in the past or changes that are predicted to occur in the future?
  4. use accurate vocabulary for describing locations and land use.
  5. use the passive voice to describe man made changes.


The focus of today’s lesson is the first sentence of the 2-3 sentence introduction. ​A good introduction requires you to give the topic of the task (in this case, the topic of the map). To do this effectively, you need to paraphrase (reword) the information in the question. Do not copy the information in the question exactly as copied information will be deleted by the examiner. 

Exercise 1

​Read the following IELTS map questions and choose which of the options is the best paraphrase. 
1. The maps below show the village of Bakewell in 1985 and 2005.
a) The map reveals the changes over a 20-year period in the village of Bakewell.
b) The maps reveal changes over a 20-year period in the village of Bakewell.
c) The maps below reveal changes over a 20-year period in the village of Bakewell.
2. The two maps below show an island before and after the construction of tourist facilities.
a) The maps present the plan of an island both before and after tourism development took place.
b) The maps present the plan of an island at two different times.
c) The pictures present the plan of an island both before and after tourism development took place.
3. The maps show how Northwood village and Peakside village have developed over three different periods, 1965, 1985 and the present day.
a) The maps show how two villages have developed over three different periods.
b) The maps illustrate the changes that have occurred in two villages, Northwood and Peakside, over a roughly 50 year period.
c) The maps illustrate the changes that have occured in two villages, Northwood and Peakside, from 1965 to the present.

Answer Guide – Select to View

Question 1

A is wrong since ‘map’ is singular. This is a common error. If there is more than one map, make sure that you use the plural ‘maps’.

​C is wrong because the word ‘below’ is used. Below is used in the question but it is illogical to include it in your paraphrase.

QUESTION 2

B is wrong since it is not detailed enough.

C is wrong because the word ‘pictures’ is used. This is incorrect as they are specifically maps, not pictures. Key words such as ‘maps’ or place names cannot be paraphrased, so feel free to use them in your introduction.

QUESTION 3

​A is wrong because it is not detailed enough.

​B is wrong  because ’50 year period’ is incorrect. Numbers and years in compound nouns like this should be connected by a hyphen (-). The correct phrase is ‘50-year period’.


Exercise 2

Read the list of synonyms (words with the same meaning). In each list, select the word that is NOT a synonym. 
1. show (verb)
reveal
illustrate
tell
present
2. change (noun)
substitution
alteration
development
transformation
3. happen (verb)
occur
alter
take place
transpire

These words will help you to paraphrase the task.


For example:
​The maps show the changes that happened…
The maps reveal the alterations that occured…


Exercise 3

Use a word from the box to complete each sentence.
occurred   ·  reveal   ·  developments  
Click or touch a word above
1. The maps present the changes which in Oxford over a period of several centuries.
2. The maps the changes which took place in Oxford over a period of several centuries.
3. The maps present the which occurred in Oxford over a period of several centuries.

We hope this class was useful. Our next Maps lesson will teach us how to write the Maps introduction overview.