IELTS Map Essay Decoded

We understand you may not love looking at maps, especially in today’s day and age! However, they are unavoidable if you plan to clear the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test. Fret not! IELTS map questions are amongst the easiest in the test. You do not have to analyze any numbers; you only have to compare some maps. The maps show an area or location at different points of time, i.e., present, past, or even future developments. You have to write about the changes within these maps, explaining them in detail. 

There are a few steps for writing an IELTS task 1 map essay to help you score high. They include: 

  • Question evaluation
  • Identifying key aspects
  • Writing a crisp introduction
  • Coming up with the overview
  • Writing the paragraphs with all vital details 

The first two steps are important in this scenario. Never underestimate the importance of proper planning before starting your essay. You will understand the reasons after going through the tips below. 

IELTS Map Essay- Ideal Structure

The IELTS writing task 1 map essay should have this structure: 

  • Introduction- First Paragraph
  • Overview- Second Paragraph
  • Main Feature 1- Third Paragraph
  • Main Feature 2- Fourth Paragraph 

A Sample Question & Tip to Crack the Map Essay 

Suppose there is a question which states: 

The maps below display the village of Burlington in the years 1950 and 2020. 

Summarize the information through selection and reporting of key features, and make comparisons wherever necessary

First Step- Question Evaluation 

The format of the question is unchanged for Academic Task 1. You should first analyze the question carefully. Every question contains the first sentence that describes the map you are viewing. Then there are the instructions for you and the final map or chart. 

The second sentence is where you learn what you have to do. In this case, you will have to choose the main features of the maps, report or write about them and compare the main features if required. All tasks revolve around the map’s key features. You need not write about or focus on every little thing. You only have to choose 2-3 central elements, and you will get sufficient writing material. 

Second Step- Identifying the Key Aspects

First, you should begin with the initial map that dates back to 1950. Look at the past and then look at the present (2020) map for identifying changes. Here are some things that you can check out: 

  • What are the timelines- The map shows the Burlington village of 1950 and again in 2020. Hence, it indicates the past and present. You will thus know that you should use the past tense in the essay without using any future tenses. 
  • Main differences- What are the features on the map from 1950 that have completely vanished? What are the new additions or features replacing these features in the 2020 map? Are there any other new additions to the map of 2020? 
  • Similarities- What are the features of both maps which are identical even after all these years? There will always be some features that stay the same.
  • Direction-related terms- You can consider using words like southnorthwest , and east (but obviously) along with north-eastsouth-eastnorth-west, and south-west amongst other variations. 

You can thus find several features that have vanished like older dispensaries, shops, farmland, and even the church building, which has grown, and the big central square building has turned into a home for seniors. 

Many maps have numerous changes and that too of a complex nature. Remember that you will not have time to write about all the changes that you see. Select 2-3 main changes before getting started! Now, suppose that you identify four of the main changes for our essay. These can be the following: 

  • The farmland has vanished, and construction has taken place. 
  • The big central square house has become a home for seniors. 
  • The shops and dispensaries have disappeared. 
  • The church building has expanded.

These features will be the foundation for your IELTS mapessay in at least 150 words. You will get only 20 minutes to complete Task 1. Remember that you cannot include all the details. It is possible to talk about important things while staying crisp and concise. 

Writing Your Essay 

The structure that you will follow, as mentioned, is the following: 

  • Introduction- Para 1
  • Overview- Para 2
  • One main feature- Para 3
  • Another feature- Para 4 

For the essay topic that you are doing now, you can write about two features in Para 3 and two in Para 4. 

The Introduction: 

The introduction will only need a simple paraphrasing of the question, i.e. stating the same premise differently. You can make use of synonyms and also change the structure of the main sentences. 

The original question was- The maps below display the village of Burlington in the years 1950 and 2020. 

For instance, you can write your introduction in this manner- 

These two maps illustrate how the Burlington village, nestled on the foothills of the Enyan Mountains, transformed over 70 years from 1950 to 2020. 

And you are done writing your introduction! 

The Overview: 

The second paragraph will talk about the general transformations that you witness. The concrete details are suitable for the upcoming paras. Just keep it simple without any elaborate words or terms. 

A sample overview can be the following- 

The village developed rapidly over 70 years, with growing urbanization, and gradually transformed to a predominantly residential and commercial zone from a rural settlement earlier. 

Try and keep the overview to a single sentence. See, it is that simple! 

Writing Para 3 

Now we get down to the actual writing bit since the third and fourth paragraphs are where you write in more detail. The third paragraph should have ample proof of the first two changes that you noticed. 

What were the first two changes listed earlier? They are the total disappearance of farmland and construction over it and a home for seniors in place of the big house in the central square. 

Here is an example that you can follow- 

The drastic change of the village in 2020 is visible from the transformation of rural farmlands into urban housing settlements. Periodic construction saw the development of homes, roads, and other public infrastructure over the same. Community needs also led to the transformation of a large residential property in the central square. It is now a home for senior citizens without kith and kin. 

Writing Para 4

Similarly, you have to recap the third and fourth things that you noticed. These are the following: 

  • Vanishing dispensaries and shops
  • Expansion of the church building 

Here is an illustrative example- 

While the village had at least four dispensaries and ten shops earlier, they vanished by 2020. New residential houses stand in place of these establishments, which existed in 1950. The church building still stands at the intersection of the West and North streets in the village. From its original size in 1950, it has been extended by almost two times in 2020, covering the entire south-eastern portion, which was empty land earlier. It is another landmark for the village. 

Putting it all together

Now that the steps are complete, how will it look like one single essay? Here’s finding out- 

Essay: 

These two maps illustrate how the Burlington village, nestled on the foothills of the Enyan Mountains, transformed over 70 years from 1950 to 2020. 

The village developed rapidly over 70 years, with growing urbanization, and gradually transformed to a predominantly residential and commercial zone from a rural settlement earlier. 

The drastic change of the village in 2020 is visible from the transformation of rural farmlands into urban housing settlements. Periodic construction saw the development of homes, roads, and other public infrastructure over the same. Community needs also led to the transformation of a large residential property in the central square. It is now a home for senior citizens without kith and kin. 

While the village had at least four dispensaries and ten shops earlier, they vanished by 2020. New residential houses stand in place of these establishments, which existed in 1950. The church building still stands at the intersection of the West and North streets in the village. From its original size in 1950, it has been extended by almost two times in 2020, covering the entire south-eastern portion, which was empty land earlier. It is another landmark for the village. 

Well, this sample essay has exceeded the word limit of 150 and lists the main changes without going over the top. It is only a sample, and you will find plenty of other examples online. Remember to follow the points mentioned above and practice as much as you can ahead of appearing for the IELTS test. 

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