How to describe locations for IELTS Maps
The map on the IELTS Task 1 section is sometimes the most intimidating assignment for students. However with a little guidance describing the IELTS map can actually be quite simple. The key is understanding how to describe a structure’s location compared to other things. Throughout this article I will explain how to describe common illustrations that are seen in IELTS maps.
Describing IELTS Maps: Located inside
Look at the photo above. There are two shapes, A and B. How can you describe what you see?
Simply put. B is inside of A. You can also say B is located inside of A.
Now let’s look at where B is. Yes, it is inside of A, but it’s also in the right side of A. Therefore you could say, B is located in the right side of A. One way to improve your IELTS task 1 score is to improve your IELTS map vocabulary which, is made up of directional cues, like north, south, east, and Remember, anything to the right is east, and anything to the left is west. Meaning B is located in the east of A, or B is located in eastern A.
Describe the picture above.
B is located inside of A. B is located in Northern A. B is located in Eastern A. B is located in Northeastern A.
Now pretend A is a park and B is a restaurant. How would you describe it?
The restaurant is located in the Northeastern section of the park.
Now pretend A is a town and B is a grocery store. How would you describe it?
The grocery store is located in the Northeastern section of the town.
Now where is B? B is in the center of A. The grocery store is located in the center of the town.
Describing IELTS Maps: Located outside
Now let’s take B outside of A and describe its location.
Describe this picture. A is located above B. A is located to the North of B. B is located to the South of A. Also notice that B is not located directly under A. It’s a little (slightly) to the right (east). Or A is slightly to the left (west) of B.
You could also say, “ A is located to the North and slightly to the West of B”. Or B is located to the South and slightly to the East of A. It would also be accurate to say that A is Northwest of B or B is Southeast of A.
Instead of saying located, you can also say situated. Now let’s pretend that A is New York and B is Washington DC. Now describe the photo. New York is situated above Washington DC. Washington DC is situated Southeast of New York.
Sometimes on IELTS maps they tell you the distance in between two different points.
Describe the photo above. A is situated 20 kilometers above/north of B. Or B is situated 20 kilometers below/south of B.
Instead of using the word located or situated, you can also use lies. A lies 20 kilometers above B.
Describing IELTS Maps: In between , next to, and around
Describe the picture above. B is located in between A and C. Now let’s pretend A is a garden, B is a sidewalk, and C is a school. Describe A’s location. The garden is located above the sidewalk, or “the garden lies north of the sidewalk”. What else can you say?
Describe where B (the sidewalk) is located. The sidewalk is situated in between the garden and the school. Let’s use additional words to describe the sidewalk (B)’s location. The sidewalk stretches from the garden to the school. The sidewalk starts at the garden and ends at the school. The sidewalk extends from the garden to the school. The sidewalk connects the garden to the school. The sidewalk spans from the garden to the school. Can you think of any more ways to describe the sidewalk (B)?
How would you describe the picture above? A is next to B. A lies to the right/east of B. B lies closely to the East of A. Instead of using lies, let’s use the word; proximity. A is in close proximity to B. Or, “A is in the vicinity of B”. Can you think of any other ways to describe it?
In the photo above A is surrounded by circles. You can also say A is encircled by circles.
Describing IELTS Maps: Size
Often times IELTS maps will have shapes or locations that are different sizes. It is important to be able to describe the size difference of different points or landmarks. These are words that can also help you in Task 1 graphs.
Look at what happens to A. A becomes larger. A has has become enlarged. A has expanded. The size of A has been increased.
Let’s pretend A is a store. The store has been expanded to 3 times its original size. Or, “the store has been expanded to 3 times the size that it previously was”. The store was expanded by twice its size. The store was broadened (wide), or the store was widened.
It can go the opposite way too.
In the picture above, the size of A has decreased or has been reduced. Let’s pretend A is a cinema. The cinema has been reduced to one third its previous size.
Finally, here are a few extra things you may need to describe on an IELTS map. If something is no longer on the map (missing), you might say A has disappeared or vanished from the town. You can also say it’s been removed, demolished, or destroyed.
Sometimes on an IELTS map a building changes into something else. In that case you may say one of the following, “ A was transformed or converted into B”. Or you may say “ A was substituted to B”. Or, A was replaced by B. The grocery store was converted into a clothing shop.
Describing IELTS Maps: Practice
What we’ve done so far is simple and it just asks you to describe one thing at a time. An IELTS map has more information on it, but the concept is the same.
Look at the illustration above. This is very similar to something you would see on an IELTS map. C is the current park in the city. D is the proposed location for a new park. What are the advantages and disadvantages of relocating the park?
This is a good sample question to practice. By now you should easily be able to describe the location of both, C and D. However, in this example I also gave you population information. People live in various areas that are within different proximities to the current park and the proposed relocation area. This is often a key factor in an IELTS map.
In order to answer this question there are some questions that you should ask yourself. How many people are easily served by the current park? How many would be better served (live closer to ) by the proposed location? Also, look at the size of the proposed park versus the size of the current park. How would that affect people’s use of the park? What are the advantages of current location C, what are the disadvantages? What are the advantages of the of proposed park D? What are its disadvantages?
To answer this question I suggest that you have 4 paragraphs, an introduction, body paragraph 1, body paragraph 2, and a conclusion.
Your introduction should consist of the basic location of both parks and what the town is proposing to do.
“This picture illustrates the current location of the town’s park. The park is currently situated inside the Western half of B. The town is proposing to move the park to location D, which lies in both the Southeastern half of B and the Eastern section of A. “
In body paragraph A you should discuss the advantages and disadvantages of current location C and in body paragraph B, I recommend that you discuss the advantages and disadvantages of proposed location D. In the conclusion you should make a recommendation to the town. Try doing that now and share some of your answers with me.