How to Answer a Map Question for IELTS Writing Task 1

This is a very easy question to answer. Usually there is no data to analyse in this question. It is all about comparing between 2 or 3 maps. Recently, this question is appearing frequently in IELTS Writing task 1 section. You need to have a good grip on how to compare between 2 or 3 maps. 

On this page, you will find a complete discussion on IELTS Task 1 Map question. The discussion will proceed under the following 7 major steps:

  1. Analyse the question

  2. Identify the major features

  3. Remember the 4 paragraph structure

  4. Paraphrase the question sentence

  5. Write an Overview paragraph

  6. Write the Body paragraph 1

  7. Write the Body paragraph 2

In fact, we are going to use this 7 Step Strategy for all the question types for Academic IELTS Writing Task 1. Remember this 7 Step Strategy. It's quite simple. Start applying this method in your writing. You will see the benefit for sure. However, if you need our help with a guaranteed 7+ band score in Writing, just click here

Let's go through the example question below, and see how we prepare the answer applying our 7 Step Strategy.

Example

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

The maps below show the changes in a town after the construction of a hydroelectric power dam.

Write at least 150 words.

IELTS Writing Task 1 Map Question Example

Source: Cambridge English IELTS Past Papers

1. Analysing the Question

We need to find three major areas in the question sentence: 

  • Topic Words / Keywords (General area of the question topic)

  • Micro Keywords (It helps us prepare a specific answer, rather than being general)

  • Action Words (The words that tell you what you need to do)

Topic Words: Two maps; changes from 1990 to 2010

Micro Keywords: construction of a hydroelectric power dam

Action Words: Compare (Action words are the words that call for action. However, these words might not always be stated directly, in that case you need to understand what the examiner is expecting from you. For example, if there are more than one diagram or data set or the map as in this question, you can just go for comparing the major features).

After completing the question analysis part, we need to find the major features in the diagrams.

2. Identifying the Major Features

  • Disappeared      Appeared

  • Forest                         The Dam

  • Ancient structure         Towers

  • Rare plants                  Hotel

  • Animals                       Artificial lake

  • Villages                       Blocked river 

  • Integrated farmland     

  • River flow 

3. Remembering the Essay Structure

We can complete the essay using only 11 sentences! Yes, it is that much simple! Take a look how we place the 11 sentences in our 4 paragraph essay structure.

 

1. Paraphrasing the Question Sentence

Paraphrase the question statement using just one or two sentences. 

 

2. Overview Paragraph

Sentence 1: summary statement 1(preview of the essay without presenting data)

Sentence 2: summary statement 2 (more preview without presenting data)

Sentence 3: outline sentence (State how the discussion will proceed.)

 

3. Body Paragraph 1

Sentence 1: first major point

Sentence 2: second major point

Sentence 3: extension sentence 1 (compare/combine the major points stated above)

Sentence 4: extension sentence 2 (extension of the previous sentence, or adding an exceptional feature).

4. Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1: exceptional feature 

Sentence 2: extension of the exceptional feature

Sentence 3: final sentence (wrapping-up the whole essay, completely based on the discussion above, nothing new)

Let's develop the answer step by step applying the above-stated 4 paragraph essay structure.

4. Paraphrasing the Question Sentence

This is the first paragraph of our IELTS Task 1 essay. This paragraph is all about paraphrasing the question statement. That means you will restate the question sentence in your language without changing the meaning of the original sentence. If you want to write this paragraph perfectly, you need to have a good grip on paraphrasing techniques. We have a full article on how to paraphrase. We suggest you take a look in case you need.

 

This paragraph conveys an impression to the examiner how well you have understood the question.

Let's look at the actual question statement that we are using on this page:

"The maps below show the changes in a town after the construction of a hydroelectric power dam."

We can paraphrase the statement above as:

"The contrast diagrams illustrate how the construction of a hydroelectric power dam can change the structural scenario of a town over 20 year period, from 1990 to 2010."

That's it, quite simple. Our first paragraph is complete, and you have already used 24 out of 150 words. Let's move to the next part of the essay, the Overview Paragraph.

5. Overview Paragraph

Overview is the second paragraph of our IELTS Writing Task 1 essay. This is the most important paragraph as well. Because without an overview paragraph in Task 1, you cannot expect more than band 5 in IELTS Writing section. Therefore, you need to take a very special care for this paragraph. We suggest you take a tour through our detailed discussion on how to write an Overview paragraph.

An Overview simply means a summary of the main features that you are going to discuss in the body paragraphs. Don't use any data in this paragraph, just state the obvious feature that you see in the diagrams. You are writing this paragraph to convey a general idea about your essay to the readers.

 

Overview Paragraph Structure

Remember our Overview paragraph structure:

Sentence 1: summary statement 1(preview of the essay without presenting data)

Sentence 2: summary statement 2 (more preview without presenting data)

Sentence 3: outline sentence (State how the discussion will proceed.)

Let's form the paragraph:

Sentence 1(Summary Statement 1)

"Overall, a riverbank town with an uninterrupted water flow and a natural forest changed into an artificial concrete town only in a span of 20 years. "

Sentence 2(Summary Statement 2)

"In this time, a giant hydroelectric power dam was built, replacing the ancient natural structure of the town."

Sentence 3(Outline Sentence)

"The following paragraphs will discuss what are the changes and how they took place over the time."

Complete Overview Paragraph

"Overall, a riverbank town with an uninterrupted water flow and a natural forest changed into an artificial concrete town only in a span of 20 years. In this time, a giant hydroelectric power dam was built, replacing the ancient natural structure of the town. The following paragraphs will discuss what are the changes and how they took place over the time."

Quite simple. Previously we wrote 24 words for the first paragraph (paraphrasing the question sentence). And just now we have added 46 more words to write the 2nd paragraph (Overview paragraph). That means we've completed the 1st two of our 4 paragraph IELTS Task 1 essay. Therefore, we're already halfway through. It's time to  move to the Body Paragraph 1 and Body Paragraph 2 respectively.

6. Body Paragraph 1

In the overview paragraph, we have given just a general statement of significant features, we haven't discussed any detail. Now it's time to explain them in the two body paragraphs.

Body Paragraph 1 Structure

Remember our Body Paragraph 1 structure:

Sentence 1: first major point

Sentence 2: second major point

Sentence 3: extension sentence 1 (compare/combine the major points stated above)

Sentence 4: extension sentence 2 (extension of the previous sentence, or adding an exceptional feature).

Let's form the paragraph following the above-stated structure:

Sentence 1(First Major Point)

"In 1990, there was a flowing river bisecting the town that was full of ancient structures and natural greenery."

Sentence 2(Second Major Point)

"However, by the year 2010, a giant hydroelectric dam was built on the river, blocking the water flow."

Sentence 3(Extension Sentence 1)

"Consequently, natural structures of the town disappeared, and some artificial concrete buildings appeared."

Sentence 4(Extension Sentence 2)

"By 2010, all the rare animals, plants, and the natural forest of 1990 were replaced with electric towers on both banks of the river."

Complete Body Paragraph 1

"In 1990, there was a flowing river bisecting the town that was full of ancient structures and natural greenery. However, by the year 2010, a giant hydroelectric dam was built on the river, blocking the water flow. Consequently, natural structures of the town disappeared, and some artificial concrete buildings appeared. By 2010, all the rare animals, plants, and the natural forest of 1990 were replaced with electric towers on both banks of the river."

We have just added 65 more words to write the first body paragraph. That means we have already finished 75% of our IELTS Task 1 essay! See how simple it is! We are just describing the major features that are very obvious in the pictures.

We've written 24 for the first, 46 for the second and 65 words for the third paragraph. That means we have already used 135 words out of total 150 for an IELTS Task 1 essay question. Therefore, we need to write at least 15 more words in this essay, and we have one more paragraph to write. Awesome! Let's move to the final paragraph, the Body Paragraph 2. Remember, we have a complete discussion on how to write an IELTS Task 1 body paragraph. Feel free to check that article anytime.

7. Body Paragraph 2

Body paragraph 2 is the final paragraph of our IELTS Task 1 essay. This is the easiest paragraph in the whole essay. Because here we're just stating other features briefly in the first sentence, adding another overall comparison statement in the second sentence, and then writing a final sentence summarizing the whole essay. Lets's apply our structure for the second body paragraph:

 

Body Paragraph 2 Structure

Sentence 1: exceptional feature 

Sentence 2: extension of the exceptional feature

Sentence 3: final sentence (wrapping-up the whole essay, completely based on the discussion above, nothing new)

Let's form the paragraph following the above-stated structure:

Sentence 1(Exceptional Feature)

"On the other hand by 2010, at the expense of river and integrated farmland, a high-rise hotel building and an artificial lake came into place."

Sentence 2(Extension of the Exceptional Feature) 

"Only the mountains and some villages managed to survive this drastic change. "

Sentence 3(Final Sentence)

"Finally, this is a stark contrast how a giant engineering establishment can turn a land of natural forest, farmland, and river into a concrete artificial town."

Complete Body Paragraph 2

"On the other hand by 2010, at the expense of river and integrated farmland, a high-rise hotel building and an artificial lake came into place. Only the mountains and some villages managed to survive this drastic change. Finally, this is a stark contrast how a giant engineering establishment can turn a land of natural forest, farmland, and river into a concrete artificial town."

We've added 63 more words to the previous 135, and just finished the final part of our 4 paragraph essay. That means we have completed an IELTS Task 1 essay with 198 words, which is absolutely okay. In fact, you should write somewhere between 150 and 200 words. Now let's see how the whole essay looks like:

A Complete Response to the Map Question for IELTS Writing Task 1

"The contrast diagrams illustrate how the construction of a hydroelectric power dam can change the structural scenario of a town over 20 year period, from 1990 to 2010.

Overall, a riverbank town with an uninterrupted water flow and a natural forest changed into an artificial concrete town only in a span of 20 years. In this time, a giant hydroelectric power dam was built, replacing the ancient natural structure of the town. The following paragraphs will discuss what are the changes and how they took place over the time.

In 1990, there was a flowing river bisecting the town that was full of ancient structures and natural greenery. However, by the year 2010, a giant hydroelectric dam was built on the river, blocking the water flow. Consequently, natural structures of the town disappeared, and some artificial concrete buildings appeared. By 2010, all the rare animals, plants, and the natural forest of 1990 were replaced with electric towers on both banks of the river.

On the other hand by 2010, at the expense of river and integrated farmland, a high-rise hotel building and an artificial lake came into place. Only the mountains and some villages managed to survive this drastic change. Finally, this is a stark contrast how a giant engineering establishment can turn a land of natural forest, farmland, and river into a concrete artificial town."

198 words

Check our step by step solutions for all the important types of task 1 questions:

Multiple Graphs              Line Graph      

Pie Chart                        Bar Chart

Table Chart                    Process Diagram 

Don't forget to check the following resources: