For task 3 of the IELTS Listening section, the candidates are made to complete labeling a plan, map, or a diagram. The question is usually listed on the question paper and the test-takers just have to select the correct answers. The test aims at checking the candidate’s visual representation skills and their vocabulary related to descriptions and directions.

In this article, you are going to learn ways to practice Map Labeling and a few tips on how to ace your Listening Map Labeling questions. There is a list of phrases that can help you label a map mentioned in the article.

IELTS Listening Map Labeling Tips

For Map Labeling, you are played a clip where you hear the interaction between two people. The interaction is usually about directions to a place or someone showing people around to a new area. You would either be given a list of words to choose from or gaps that you will have to fill in with the correct words.

Preposition Phrases Indicating Location and Directions

Take a look at a list of phrases that are used to describe or indicate the location and give directions. Read the phrases carefully and understand the usage of prepositions.

  • On top of
  • Next to
  • Behind
  • At the bottom of
  • Clockwise/ Anticlockwise
  • Just next to/ Adjoining
  • In between
  • At the end of the road
  • On your left/ right
  • Opposite/ In front of
  • Over the bridge
  • Walk past the
  • At the end of
  • On the ground floor
  • Above
  • Downstairs
  • The next lane
  • In the southwest/ northeast
  • Left-hand side/ right-hand side
  • Facing
  • Take a left/ right
  • Below the flyover
  • Go straight up

Also Read : IELTS General Test Format: Here’s All You Should Know about the IELTS Exam

Prepositions- Some Rules and Exceptions

While everyone’s familiar with prepositions, there are times where the usage of prepositions can be confusing and tricky. Here are some common prepositions rules for a better understanding. If you are already well-versed with prepositions, you can go through the rules once to check with your knowledge.

  • Prepositions generally precede a noun or a pronoun, but there are exceptions.

For example, He was standing outside during the performance

  • Prepositions can be used at the end of sentences.

For example, What are you up to?

  • The preposition ‘like’ should precede an object or a noun. It cannot be followed by the subject or the verb.

For example, He laughs like a witch from a Disney movie.

  • For comparing the subject with an object, you should use ‘as’, ‘as if’, ‘as though’.

For example, The table looks as if it has been battered for years.

  • While comparing two objects or subjects with the use of “different”, follow it with “from” whenever possible.

For example, He thinks he’s different from me, but we’re both the same.

  • The preposition ‘into’ should be preferred over ‘in’ to describe movement.

For example, He walked into the office with excitement but it all died down soon.

IELTS Listening Map Labeling Tips

Now that you are clear with the basics, here some tips that can be helpful while labeling maps.

Read and Understand your Map

Before the Listening task begins, read the map and look at patterns. This way you would be familiar with the question and it would be easier for you to locate the places talked about in the task. If your question includes gaps, you can interpret the kind of words you are supposed to be listening for and it would make the task easier for you.

Pay Close Attention to the Audio

Listening tasks are all about checking your understanding of accents and words. You need to make sure you focus on every utterance and do not end up missing anything. You can also go for selective listening where you focus on important words that can be useful for the particular question.

Pay Attention to the Details

You can check for the numbers in the map and their location so it would be easier to place the audio content to the text. You can also look at arrows on the map. The arrows can be useful in assessing the sequence of events and locations. You should look at the directions on the map to understand the directions from the speaker’s point of view. Alternatively, you can also look for the buildings or streets involved. Looking for the main street or building can work as a checkpoint for you to see the entry and exit points.

Look for Contexts

Based on the initial conversation between the speakers, you can understand the direction in which they would proceed, Using these hints, you can then focus on the kind of words you need to pay attention for.

Take Notes

While listening to the audio, you can make notes for yourself to understand where the conversation is heading. These notes can help you in case you miss out on any information or if you misheard anything. If you end up misspelling any words, it can also help you place the words into context and you can make corrections.


While the IELTS Listening section might seem overwhelming and confusing, it can be easier to crack with the right amount of tools and practice. Do not skip the basics like the usage of prepositions and directions because they seem easy. If you’re clear with the basics, you can score better marks. Most importantly, do not forget to practice Map Labeling with audio texts.

For more information on IELTS listening, keep watching this space. If you want to prepare for IELTS with personal and experienced mentors, sign up at IELTS Ninja today.

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