IELTS LISTENING : Strategies for Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling

In this section, we are going to look at Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling and some strategies for solving these questions in IELTS listening. Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling are considered to be difficult question type in IELTS listening module. So we are going to look at what is Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling question type, common mistakes made by candidates, some important and useful tricks to solve this type of questions and practice examples.

This one is very specific question type of listening module. It may or may not be in question paper but 99.99% of the time Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling Question Type is asked in academic and general test.


In this type of question type, you will listen to a speaker describing a map, plan or diagram. These types of questions come up in all sections but especially in section 2 and 4.

In section 2, you will listen to one speaker talking about a non-academic topic. You might have to listen to the speaker giving a tour or describing a proposed site to investors.

You are going to have a picture of a map and a speech in which you will be given a description how to get from this point to that point and this destination to that destination. The aim in labelling a map is to connect the information that you hear in the listening to the gaps in the map.

Sometimes, they show you the starting point of your tour in the map/plan/diagram itself or else while listening at the very first moment you have to listen that where basically they would like to start with in the map/plan/diagram.

This activity tests your ability to listen for detail. It is not enough to hear keywords, you will need to understand what the speaker is trying to communicate.


Below is a list of common problems faced by candidates :

1. Lake of vocabulary and functional language used to describe locations and directions.

2. If you’re bad at visualization things, it can be difficult because you’re supposed to listen to information at the same time you have to match it in map/plan/diagram.

3. Misleading words or sentences can be the biggest barrier in IELTS listening.

4. There is too much information to get through and not enough time. 


1. Go straight

2. Take the first left/right

3. Head left/right

4. Turn left/right

5. Keep going

6. To the north/east/west/south

7. In the middle of / In the centre of

8. Above/Below

9. Inside/Outside

10. Opposite/In front of

11. Next to

12. Beside

13. On the corner

14. On your left/right

15. Clockwise/Anticlockwise

16. Before you get to

17. Enter via

18. Runs alongside

19. At the top/bottom

20. Just beyond/ A little beyond / Just past


 1. Before the recording begins, search for the starting point of your tour in the map/diagram. If it is not given in the map then you’ll know about it in the recording.

2. Read the instructions very carefully and know your words limit.

3. Scan the figure and predict the answers or try to recognize each and every image. It is important to understand the context and predict the answer for this question type. Look at the gaps and see if you can guess what you are labelling – a room, building, sports facility, street etc?

4. Take a moment to understand the layout of the map and the where the main features presented are located in relation to each other.

5. Write your answers on the map first. Don’t try to write answers in the answer sheet directly.

6. The answers to this question type will be in order.

7. Understand the context. Listen carefully at the beginning as the speaker will give you the context. (where you are for example) which will help you follow the talk. Also, look over the map. This will help you identify exactly what you are labelling – note the things that are already labelled to get a feel for where things are.

8. Pay attention to any other clues in the map – for example, you are given a compass icon in the corner telling you where ‘North’, ‘South’, ‘East’ and ‘West’ are. This means it is likely that these phrases will be used to direct you. So listen out for them. You are also given your location – in the tower.

9. Be careful when they try to mislead you. For example, If they say “okay, now you can see the sports building on our left” and then they say “oh no I’m so sorry, I was mistaken, it’s actually on the right side.”.

10. After looking at the map or diagram, try to predict the vocabulary that can be used to describe that picture. For example, if any building is shown then try to predict functional words that can be used. For example, if you’re given a small compass in the map, it is quite possible that they will use directions to guide through.


Label the plan below, 14-20.

Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.

Recording :


Plan/Questions :

Answers :

(14) Parkside

Follow the instructions. The street is at the bottom.

(15) 40 studio flats

The block of flat is: on the left of the entrance, in the bottom-left-hand corner of the plan.

(16) ornamental lake

The word to listen for is centre.

(17) swimming pool

Listen for: …the top right hand corner…; Just here beside the pitches…

(18) (flower) garden

Listen for: … in the top left hand corner

(19) play area

Listen for: In the bottom left corner and above the block flats

(20) cafe

Listen for: bottom right-hand corner of the park.


Practice these techniques and strategies. You can get the practice material from here.

I hope you find this section useful and if you have any queries or comments, please let me know below.

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Good luck for your exams.

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