IELTS Writing Task 1 Map – Questions, Structure

In IELTS writing task 1 you usually get a question on describing a map which is really easy to score. You have to just talk about the thing to be located on the map. You can use phrases like “to the left”, “behind”, “next to” and so on.

Different types of Questions

There are different types of questions that appear while describing a map, some of the sample questions are as follows:

Describe a map in a present-day.

This question is very rare as it asks you to explain only about the present day, and it is impossible to explain without ant comparison.

Describe two maps, one in present another one in the future.

This question may appear occasionally as it asks you to make use of both present and future tenses in most of the cases the question will be to explain about the development of a town or a city in future.

Describe two maps one in the past and another in the present.

In this kind of question, you will be comparing both the present and the past tense and there will be two maps given where you may be also asked to compare these two maps and also to find out the main features in the map.


There is a certain structure to be followed while describing a map in the written test. You can go through the structure below in order to get a correct idea as to how to describe a map.

Paragraph 1 : Paraphrase

In paragraph 1 you can paraphrase the sentence which is already there in the question. While paraphrasing you need to keep in mind that you should not use the same words or the sentences, try to make the paragraph innovative.

Paragraph 2 : Overview

In the second paragraph, you must make a general statement based on the paragraph and you need to write about the most noticed differences on the map. Try to explain the more important features on the map.

Paragraph 3 : Main Body 1

If some specific changes occur on the map then that has to be checked and mentioned while explaining the map.

Paragraph 4 : Main Body 2

If there are more specific changes that take place that can be explained in paragraph 4. Paragraph 3 and paragraph 4 will be almost the same so you can also combine the 2 paragraphs and write based on the question that is asked.

Describing Specific Changes, General Changes, and Location

  1. In specific changes, the main features will already be labeled for you and you just have to tell how it is being changed from past to present.
  2. In general changes there 2 maps given and you need to compare and explain the main features generally on the particular maps.
  3. In the location, you are asked to point out where the changes have occurred on the maps. And to describe this you can use phrases like ‘to the left’, ‘behind’, ‘on the top’ and so on.

Overall understanding of Map in IELTS

There are few points to be kept in mind in order to gain an overall understanding of the map are as follows:

  • You need to start describing the map by comparing the most important differences between the two. There are many important features on the map that you need to describe.
  • Most of the time maps will not be clear and they are difficult to understand, thus you need to understand the maps more carefully in order to find out the changes.
  • It is very important that you practice describing the maps before actually taking the exam because it is really difficult to attempt the question that you have not come across before.
  • You will have 15 minutes to complete this particular question and you don’t have to be very perfect with the answer, you just have to identify the main features on the map.

Techniques to achieve a good score

There is a certain criterion that is used to score how the map is described. The scoring criteria are given below:

Make a plan

Before starting to describe a map you can make a plan as to how to go about describing the map. You can plan what will you include in each of the paragraphs in order to make it innovative. If there is something which is similar in both the maps then you can combine both the maps and write the description or explanation.

Task Achievement

You have to make sure you have achieved the task by following all the rules and regulations that is you have to describe the map compulsorily with 150 words or else the examination will not be considered as valid. Before actually starting to write about the map take 2-3 minutes to understand the map and identify its key features and then start your test.


While describing the map it is important to maintain the coherence. You need to follow a particular format while explaining the map that is an introduction, 2 paragraphs and a conclusion. While explaining you need to make use of certain language, phrase or sentences. And use separate paragraphs to compare or distinguish the features on the map.


While describing the map you should make sure that you do not repeat the vocabulary that is given in the question, make use of your own words to describe the maps. Make use of proper grammar and vocabulary while describing the map in order to get a good band score.

Written By

Misbah Kagad is a Content Marketing Specialist, currently working as IELTS Trainer at Experience Expert with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. Skilled in Copywriting, Web Content writing, Management, IELTS and Research. Strong professional with a Diploma focused in Computer Science... Currently helping aspirants to crack IELTS, with tips and tricks to score a bandwidth of 8 and more. Handles the ideation and creation of compelling content including content for IELTS website, writing e-books and solving previous IELTS question papers…

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