I looked at Test 1, Writing Task 1 on page 29 of the Cambridge IELTS 13 (Academic) book with students. This is a map question which shows changes to a hospital’s road access in 2 separate years .
The aim was to try to get them to think about how they would approach this in the exam, and we can do this here too.
We’ll think about the information we’re presented with, then look at some suggestions for writing about the changes for our reader.
Let’s think about the 2 maps and the information we’re given.
First, let’s look at the 2007 map.
What can we see?
- There’s a hospital – it’s a useful landmark. A ring road goes around it.
What else do we have?
- There’s a car park south of the hospital (east of Hospital Road) for both hospital staff and the public.
- We have bus stops – we can see there are 6 marked on the map. (If we were shown a larger number – 20 for example – I’d perhaps just say there are bus stops rather than counting them all)
Look at the road layout. There’s a crossroads south of the hospital, where Hospital Road meets City Road. Maybe there are traffic lights to control traffic flow BUT we don’t know that so we can’t mention it – only write about what you’re given.
If we look at the next map from 2010 what can you see?
Well, the hospital is still there. Should you mention it? You can – it’s still a useful landmark – but it remains the same.
So what has changed?
The bus stops have gone, but there is now a bus station west of Hospital Road.
The car parks have changed. There is now a public car park to the east of the hospital. Was it added because there wasn’t enough parking onsite? It’s possible and it’s a common issue but we don’t know that so we can’t say it.
The site of the former shared car park remains but it is now for the sole use of staff.
The road layout has changed also. We can see that there are now 2 roundabouts – one where the crossroads used to be, and another at the north end of Hospital Road.
Considering all of this, the main changes are:
- private vehicles: construction of additional car park for public use, original car park for sole use of staff
- public transport: removal of bus stops, construction of bus station
- road layout: changes to the road layout (roundabouts) for vehicular access to the hospital site
Now that we’ve identified key changes let’s think about writing our report.
We have 2 dates in the past, so we need past tenses.
- 2007: past simple
- 2010: past perfect
- there were a number of bus stops
- there was a shared car park for the public and staff
- there was a crossroads
The changes have taken place sometime between 2007 and 2010 – if we say “in 2010” it sounds like it’s happened that year. We could say: According to the 2010 map…
We can use the past perfect passive here, for example:
- By 2010, someone had removed the bus stops > By 2010, the bus stops had been removed.
- By 2010, someone had constructed a bus station > By 2010, a bus station had been constructed.
We could say: By 2010, the bus stops had been removed and replaced with a bus station, located to the west of Hospital Road.
- a dedicated or separate car park for hospital staff had been built to the east of the hospital building.
- the road layout had been modified, with 2 roundabouts constructed.
I set this as a homework task for students – a sample answer will follow.