How to Improve your IELTS Map Essay

Video Transcript for an IELTS Map Essay

Today we’re looking at an IELTS Map Essay essay for IELTS academic, and I’m going to let you follow along as I correct this Dubai Clock Tower that was submitted to Ottawa English for correction.

Several of my students have said that watching me correct their essay is super helpful. If it’s useful to you, then let me know in the comments section below.

If you’d like to submit your essay for a score, you can do so in the comments box below. I can’t promise to make a video for every essay I get, but I may decide to make a video of yours. If you’d like in-depth feedback, please use my writing correction service

This is the IELTS map essay prompt we’ll be looking at:

The maps show some of the changes that have taken place in Dubai in recent decades.

Summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features and making comparisons where relevant.

Original IELTS Map Essay about the Dubai Clock Tower

This is the original response:

These two maps compare Dubai in the past and the present. Looking at the maps, it is clearly evident that this area has developed considerably and become more modern and populous.

The only feature which has remained the same during these decades is the clock tower roundabout. Only a few trees have been planted around the edge of the roundabout.

In the past there were a few buildings around the roads, and most of the land was wasteland and empty and mainly covered in sand. However, the look of present-day Dubai is quite different from the past skyscrapers, and high-rises have been constructed at the sides of the roads as a result of this, and billboards have been installed. The numbers of cars the number of cars increased dramatically as a result the roads are also heavily used.

Overall therefore, Dubai has become more developed and populated. Countless high buildings have filled the area and there is a lot of traffic.

How long should my Essay be?

This essay is 158 words long, so it’s at the lower end. 150 words is the minimum you’re asked to write, and so we could have a few more words. That would give us a little bit more scope to get some more sentence variety in and maybe a little bit more information.

IELTS Rubric

Here, we have the IELTS rubric that’s used for correcting essays. As we go through this IELTS map essay, we’ll be changing the color of these words to either red or green to give us an idea of what’s good and what’s missing.

But, first of all, let’s just read it.

Coherence & Meaning Your essay is organized, easy to follow, clear, precise, and detailed
Lexical Range You’ve used a range of vocabulary and natural words and phrases. You’ve expressed yourself accurately
ReadabilityYou have a good control of grammar, connections, transitions, punctuation, spelling, sentence variety, & formatting.
Task Fulfillment You’ve answered every part of the task effectively.
IELTS Rubric

Grammar Errors

Grammar Errors

How to use the IELTS Rubric

Do you know what errors the circles identify?

As you read this IELTS map essay, I suspect that you, like me, have probably noticed a couple of errors. All of these little circles highlight areas that are a problem with purple indicating word order issues, red reflecting tense concerns, and blue marking a misplaced comma.

The first noticeable issue is the formatting. We need to have a line space between each of these paragraphs

“wasteland and empty, and mainly covered in sand ” – empty sand-covered wasteland would be more efficient.

as a result” occurs twice, and since the skyscrapers didn’t cause the billboards, this one is unnecessary and misleading. Instead of “Skyscrapers and high-rises have been constructed at the side of the road. As a result of this, some billboards have been installed.” Maybe say ”Towering billboards have been installed.”

The number of cars increased” should be present perfect because the time of the situation isn’t finished; changes are still happening. So, “has increased dramatically” would be correct.

Down here, this little comma in the wrong place. It should be before ‘and’ not after it.

There aren’t really a lot of transitions

This essay isn’t not too bad in terms of the grammar.

We have some good vocabulary, so that’s good.

We have some natural words and phrases.

It’s fairly accurate – just that little bit of language efficiency.

The punctuation is pretty good – just one spot

Corrected Essay

The Final essay, with all the corrections, looks like this:

These two maps compare Dubai in the past and the present. Looking at the maps, it is clearly evident that this area has developed considerably and become more modern and populous.

The only feature which has remained the same during these decades is the clock tower roundabout. Only a few trees have been planted around the edge of the roundabout.

In the past, there were a few buildings around the roads and most of the land was empty, sand-covered wasteland. However, the look of the present-day Dubai is quite different from the past. Skyscrapers and high-rises have been constructed at the sides of the roads, and billboards have been installed. As a result of the increase in traffic, the roads are now much more heavily used.

Overall, therefore, Dubai has become more developed and populated. Countless high buildings have filled the area, and there is a lot of traffic.

IELTS Map Essay Structure

Structure

1) Introduction

2) Overview

3) Trend 1

Statement -> Explanation -> Example

4) Trend 2

Statement -> Explanation -> Example

5) Concluding Remark

Choose the right IELTS map essay structure

Introduction

The basic structure for an IELTS academic task 1 essay is that we have an introduction that paraphrases the statement in the question. The statement says the maps shows some of the changes that have taken place in Dubai in recent years. The writer’s paraphrase says “These two maps compare Dubai in the past and present.” That’s fair enough, although it’s only a very small part of Dubai that’s reflected in the picture, and really, the paraphrase should make that point. In other words, saying “These two maps compare a small part of Dubai in the past and present” would be a more complete paraphrase.

Overview

Next, comes an overview without any details. It’s as though we’re looking at the pictures from the opposite side of the room. Here, the writer has said: “Looking at the maps, it is clearly evident that this area has developed considerably and become more modern and populous.” That’s a nice little overview, and I really like use of the participle “looking”. Examiners like sentences that don’t start with a simple noun or pronoun. To learn more about sentence variety, take a look at my grammar classes

Trend 1

Now, we want to see our first trend. Whenever you write about a map, start by picking out two trends to talk about. The first trend this writer talks about are the things that have remained the same. There should be a little bit of detail in this paragraph, so we need to add something like: “…reducing the number of plants from the 30 odd that used to flourish there to 7.” That would add a little bit of detail to fill out this paragraph.

Trend 2

In this next paragraph, we’re talking about the big changes. We need to start by identifying that at the beginning. We might say: “The major changes between past and present are in the buildings. That would give us our our statement telling the reader what this paragraph’s about. Then we go on to identify and give some details about what those changes were.

Conclusion

And finally, we have our concluding remark: “Dubai has become more developed and populated countless buildings high buildings have filled the area and there is a lot of traffic.”

Structural Errors

IELTS Map Essay Structure

The Writer should have paid more attention to structure

Following this nice little structure naturally provides our essay with the cohesion that the IELTS examiner is looking for.

The flow of the writing is logical

It’s easy to follow.

It’s clear and precise

It could have been that just that little bit more detailed, especially in the first paragraph where it would have been nice to see a little detail.

There’s no trend statement for paragraph 2

All in all, these little things affect the score for cohesion, coherence, clarity, and format.

Sentence Variety

Now we’ll go on to look at the Sentence Variety this IELTS Map Essay

Sentence Variety

How to use Connections, Transitions & Sentence Variety

The coloured lines in the picture correspond to the lines in the sentence variety chart above it.

Let’s take a look at these connections, transitions and sentence variety.

Yellow

In yellow, I’ve underlined the places where we have very simple nouns with their verbs or pronouns with their verbs. We want that number to be quite low because a low number indicates to the examiner that you’ve used some variety in your sentences. We’ve only got five places where the writer has used either a very simple pronoun or very simple noun. That’s good!

Blue & Black

In blue and black respectively, I’ve underlined the participles and the gerunds. If we look at the participles, we’ve got this one that I put in – ‘the empty sand covered wasteland.” But then, we’ve also got a nice one up here: “Looking at the maps it is clearly evident that the area has developed considerably. That’s pretty good for participles, but the writer hasn’t used any gerunds. Since the ‘ing’ ending of present participles and gerunds is what gives English it’s flow, the absence of gerunds has quite a big impact on this essay’s silkiness.

To increase the gerunds and parallels, the conclusion could say: ‘Analyzing these pictures side by side reveals just how much the population of Dubai has increased and how much building has been necessary to accommodate it.” This, along with the parallel “much…much” would push the score up a little bit.

Red

I’ve underlined the conjunctions in red. We seem to have a lot of ‘ands, and the conjunctive adverbs seriously outnumber the subordinating conjunctions. That’s not good. It’s the subordinating conjunctions that show the relationship between sentences, so if that number is higher, it suggests that the ability to connect your sentences is also higher.

Purple

The writer has used four prepositional phrases, in purple text. That’s pretty good.

How to get from IELTS 6.5 to 7+

These two maps compare Dubai in the past and the present. Looking at the maps, it is clearly evident that this area has developed considerably and become more modern and populous.

The only feature which has remained the same during these decades is the clock tower roundabout. Only a few trees have been planted around the edge of the roundabout.

In the past, there were a few buildings around the roads and most of the land was wasteland and empty, and mainly covered in sand. However, the look of the present-day Dubai is quite different from the past. Skyscrapers and high-rises have been constructed at the sides of the roads. As a result of this, some billboards have been installed. The number of cars has increased dramatically, and as a result, the roads are also heavily used.

Overall, therefore, Dubai has become more developed and populated. Countless high buildings have filled the area and, there is a lot of traffic.

IELTS Academic Tips

The given maps offer a glimpse of Dubai both before and after its significant population explosion. Together they reveal just how much the area has developed and modernized to accommodate its larger, and ever-growing, population.

With the passing of time, the only feature that has remained the same is the clock tower roundabout where little more than the location and type of vegetation has changed. In today’s Dubai, seven coniferous trees line the inner circle, whereas in the Dubai of old, over thirty deciduous bushes lined the outer circle.

A great deal more has changed. In previous years, the land surrounding the quiet intersection was primarily empty, sand-covered wasteland with few buildings. However, present-day Dubai boasts state-of-the-art skyscrapers and high-rises topped with billboards; all of them standing amid an endless stream of noisy traffic.

Overall, analyzing the pictures reflects a city which, like many of today’s cities, has undergone a transition from a quiet wasteland to a highly populated and well-developed metropolis complete with countless towering buildings and heavy traffic.

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