Top Tips for IELTS

Listening to directions on a map – compass points

This is another practice lesson for listening to directions on a map. In it I briefly talk you through problems when you get a map with a compass point and the directions you are given do not follow a path. One suggestion is to identify landmarks and the other is to be ready to listen out for directions such as “to the North”.

Reading the map – looking for landmarks

This first time you see a map you should look for major landnarks as these will very likely be used in the description of the map. In this case, the three landmarks are:

  • the lake
  • the river
  • the golf course

You may also look for other details that may help you find your way. Here you see

  • various labelled buildings
  • roads
  • some trees

Reading the map -seeing the compass

If you see a compass on the map, then you can reasonably expect that the listening will use points of the compass (North, South, East and West) in the description. Forewarned is forearmed. You should be ready for slightly more advanced compass point phrases such as:

“to the north of”

“slightly west of”

“n the south west”

It is also quite possible if you see a compass that the directions you are given will not be given in the form of a tour – where you need to trace a route – rather the directions will move from one part of the map to another.



Read the questions

Listen to the recording and match the letters A- F marked on the map to these items:

  • Suggested new site for the swimming pool
  • Suggested site for the information office
  • Suggested new site for the cafe
  • Suggested site for the tennis courts
  • Suggested new site for the picnic area
  • Suggested new site for the gift shop







Note: you will see that some of these places are already marked on the map. This means that you need to listen carefully. The “key word” in the question is not so much “swimming pool” as “new”


See the answers and read the transcript

See the answers


A  Suggested new site for the gift shop

B   Suggested site for the information office

C   Suggested site for the tennis courts

D  Suggested new site for the picnic area

E  Suggested new site for the swimming pool

F  Suggested new site for the cafe


So Bryan I’ve had a look at your proposed plan for the park and I think we may need to make some alterations – I’m not convinced that the lay out is quite right. I think we should keep some of the same facilities – we just need to relocate them a little. Let me talk you through how I would change things around.

First of all, I see you have the car park to the west of the site a little way from the main entrance to the north. That’s fine. I do think though that it makes sense to move the gift shop to plot next to the main entranceopposite where the café is now and just before the lake (A). That way all the paying customers will see the shop – as it is I think many may just not see it down that road on the east side.

Next up. There may be problems with having the swimming pool right next to the river – I can foresee all sorts of health and safety issues there. It makes sense to keep it in the same neighbourhood, but I would move it a little to the north and west further away from the river (E). I also think that we should place the cafe next to the new site for the swimming pool right at the end of the path (F) – it would make a good place for people to sit and relax after a long walk.

What else? Ah yes. The picnic area. It’s currently a little bit in the middle of nowhere. Wouldn’t it be better placed next to the trees where the swimming pool currently is (D)? It would be much more scenic if it people could picnic among the trees.

Can I also suggest some more facilities? Firstly, how about an information office? My feeling is that this probably is best sited fairly near the main entrance – people will then to know what they can find when they enter the park. My idea is that we put it in the centre of the park more or less opposite the lake (B). That way everyone should be able to find it.

Also most parks nowadays aren’t complete with some sports facilities. I’m not a sure a swimming pool is enough and the golf course is really off site. Tennis is a growing sport and I’d say a perfect spot for some tennis courts would be to the south east of the site on the bank of the river (C)`

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28 Responses to Listening to directions on a map – compass points

  1. ZIAUL HUDA August 1, 2012 at 3:51 am #

    HI MR. Dominic,
    This is really excellent exercise for questions on map reading.

  2. Jason Tian August 1, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    Thank you, Mr. Cole.

  3. Anonymous August 1, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    It’s so useful. Thank you

  4. Najwa August 2, 2012 at 4:19 am #

    Really it is so useful thanks a lot

    • dipti August 16, 2012 at 9:40 am #

      it is excellent for new learners. thanks a lot

  5. carol December 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm #


  6. JSP January 22, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

    Hi Dominic,

    I attemted IELTS two times, in listening, particularly in ‘map/image/diagram’ section I am facing difficult to score band 7. Please help me by providing tips for the below doubt.

    Generally listening test contains one image/map to fill up the blanks and that question blanks prefixed with ‘question numbers’ like 19……. & 20……. So it directs us to follow the tape to answer the questions. But both the times in my exams, the ‘question numbers’ are not given so its become extremely challenge to understand the question and to follow the tape (unfortunately I am unable spare time to understand this section with in 10-20 seconds , which we get breaks in between). Nearly 6+ marks are missing in this section.

    Please help me. Thanks in advance.

    Read more: Listening to directions on a map – compass points | Dominic Cole’s IELTS and Beyond
    Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives

  7. qaisar February 21, 2013 at 11:01 pm #

    it’s really useful

  8. albert March 14, 2013 at 11:19 pm #


  9. Denggoy Isang Pinoy April 22, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

    All of the materials here are well crafted and intelligently useful for my review. Thanks.

  10. Keerthi November 15, 2013 at 1:09 am #


  11. Khadija Mushtaq July 10, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

    really a good effort
    thanks alot

  12. moutaz July 14, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

    Hi….Thanks for this website. ..its very helpful. ..It help me alot

  13. Muhannad July 17, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

    very helpful lesson,, i got all the answers right ,, the speaker accent is quite clear and his rate of speech is moderate ..
    moreover to be said that this lesson is tremendously useful for Writing Task 1 – Describing Maps .. really adorable, thanks a lot Mr.Cole (Y)

  14. A7med August 12, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    thank you Mr. Cole

  15. Binu.v.j August 24, 2014 at 7:36 am #

    Hi dear,

    The given notes for IELTS preparation is comprehensive, brilliant and much useful to the ones who are getting ready to take the exam. I am full of appreciation for this site as it really encourages me to take the test more confidently.

  16. Tran September 11, 2014 at 3:31 am #

    Dear mr Dominic,
    Thanks for your Ielts lesson and tips!. They are very for my studying and thats what im looking for to learn Ielts when i have time to practice online.

    Sincerely yours,

  17. kaushal patel October 2, 2014 at 5:49 am #

    i want to free ielts test

  18. yao October 17, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    thank you

  19. learner October 30, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

    the audio doesn’t work

    • Dominic Cole November 8, 2014 at 11:06 pm #

      It’s working for me – what browser are you on

  20. mary January 20, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

    so difficult for me 2\6 is correct

  21. Mozes July 1, 2015 at 6:44 am #

    Thanks a lot for help.

  22. Anonymous September 17, 2015 at 7:50 am #

    its really helpful

  23. Kent July 8, 2016 at 3:14 am #

    The test is a bit easier as compared to the ietls test, mainly because the speaker speaked
    and pronounciated very clearly compared to real test.

    Anyway, t is a good practice for map testing, very helpful indeed.


  24. Yankee Sherpa August 18, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

    Hi Dominic,

    Thank you so much for the wonderful lessons. Its been so helpful and I really appreciated your effort for making us clear all our doubts.

    Thanks and Regards,

  25. hari October 12, 2016 at 8:01 am #

    I want to know whether these answers should be case sensitive or not. For example I did the listening test in IELTS 4 book. There was a map. All my answers are correct . But I use small letters( showroom , gift shop, ticket office) but answers given in the book capitalized the first leteer(Showroom, Gift Shop, Ticket Office) I wonder if my answers get marks or not

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