ielts guide

How to Answer IELTS Listening Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling Questions

Ron Ross October 12th, 2021

In your IELTS preparation, you'll need to practice a total of 6 IELTS listening question types. In this post, we'll look at the Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling IELTS listening question type in detail and provide you with 11 IELTS listening Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling practice questions.

First, join IELTS Instructor Tina below to learn how to approach an IELTS listening Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling question.

Table Of Contents

IELTS Listening Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling Question Introduction

In this question type, you are required to complete labels on a plan (eg of a building), map (eg of part of a town) or diagram (e.g. of a piece of equipment). You might be given a list of possible answers or you will have to select the answer from the recording itself. This type of question could appear in any of the four listening sections but it is most likely to appear in section 2. In section 2 you will listen to just one person talking about a non-academic topic. It is often someone giving information to an audience about an event or showing them around a building, such as a university or a hotel.

Below is a sample practice. Give it a try!

Questions 1-5
Choose FIVE answers from the box and write the correct letters A-I next to questions 11-15.

Town Library






  • spellcheck Answers
    1. H
    2. G
    3. D
    4. B
    5. F
Listening Script

You will hear the librarian of a new town library talking to a group of people who are visiting the library.

OK everyone. So here we are at the entrance to the town library. My name is Ann, and I'm the chief librarian here, and you'll usually find me at the desk just by the main entrance here. So I'd like to tell you a bit about the way the library is organised, and what you'll find where … and you should all have a plan in front of you. (#11) Well, as you see, my desk is just on your right as you go in, and opposite this the first room on your left has an excellent collection of reference books and is also a place where people can read or study peacefully. (#12) Just beyond the librarian's desk on the right is a room where we have up to date periodicals such as newspapers and magazines and this room also has a photocopier in case you want to copy any of the articles.

 (#13) If you carry straight on you'll come into a large room and this is the main library area. There is fiction in the shelves on the left, and non-fiction materials on your right, and on the shelves on the far wall there is an excellent collection of books relating to local history. We're hoping to add a section on local tourist attractions too, later in the year. 

(#14)Through the far door in the library just past the fiction shelves is a seminar room, and that can be booked for meetings or talks, and next door to that is the children's library, which has a good collection of stories and picture books for the under elevens. 

(#15)Then there's a large room to the right of the library area – that's the multimedia collection, where you can borrow videos and DVDs and so on, and we also have CD-Roms you can borrow to use on your computer at home. It was originally the art collection but that's been moved to another building. And that's about it – oh, there's also the Library Office, on the left of the librarian's desk. OK, now does anyone have any questions?

Practice this sample practice on our IELTS App

Now that you're familiar with the Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling question type, it's time to teach you some IELTS Listening tips & strategies for successfully answering a Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling question.

How to Answer Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling Questions

1. Read the Information - This will always be the first step in any listening activity. Why? You do not want to listen blindly and hear key words for the first time. Instead, you should be preparing yourself and reading the information before the listening prompt is played. Generally, you will have about 20 seconds to do this, along with Steps 2 and 3. Reading the information will also allow you to become familiar with the topic, which is particularly helpful for the more abstract and educational topics (Sections 3 and 4). Keep in mind that this section will usually not feature questions, but rather, information and key words.

2. Underline Key Words - With time and practice, you can combine Steps 1 and 2. Thus, this step can be done while you are reading the questions or afterwards. We suggest trying to combine the first two steps, as you will only have around 20 seconds to read the information prior to listening to the prompts. For the Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling question type, this step will be minimal, because there will not be many words. For this reason, it will be best to focus your attention to the next step as soon as you are finished with this step. However, you should be sure to familiarize yourself with the location of the various places and labels.

3. Pay Attention to Directions- In addition to key words in the questions, you will need to pay attention to the directions of your map, plan, or diagram. The first thing you should do for this step is to write out a mini-compass around your map, plan, or diagram. Why? You will be listening to directions in a language that is not your own, and you will be helping yourself out by just familiarizing yourself with the directions and getting into the habit of understanding them. Try writing out the direction words in the following way, which we will detail in our example: 

Additionally, you should pay attention to direction words that are used when discussing images and maps. This will help you answer the questions quicker and keep up with the pace of the speaker. You should pay attention to these words, which will help you write the correct type of answer. We have included some of the most common words below that you should look out for and study beforehand. 


  • At / On the top of
  • To the north of 
  • Above
  • Slightly north of 


  • At the bottom of 
  • South of 
  • Below 
  • Slightly south of 


  • To the west of 
  • To the left of 
  • On the left 
  • Left-hand side 
  • Slightly west of 


  • To the east of 
  • To the right of 
  • On the right 
  • Right-hand side
  • Slightly east of 

There are also some other options that you may hear, such as:

On the far side - This means that it is on the opposite side of something. This will usually be spoken right after a clue is given regarding the opposite side, meaning that you will have to switch sides immediately in order to keep up with the speaker’s pace.

In the Southwest/Northwest/Southeast/Northeast - This is simply a mix between two directions, and can be present in examples with maps.

In the middle of/In the center of - This is simply in the center (or middle) of the diagram or map. This can also be the center of something explicitly stated in the example (ex: in the middle of the library).

Inside/Outside- This is usually used in a map, and will designate the area in which something is located. It will be either outside or inside of something.

Opposite/In front of - Similar to the ‘on the far side’ option, this can either be on the opposite of something or in front of something.

Clockwise/Anticlockwise - This is helpful to understand, and is quite common on the exam! Think of how a clock moves (to the right)--that is clockwise. The opposite direction (to the left) would be anticlockwise. This is usually included in the beginning of a listening prompt, and candidates must follow it correctly in order to get the remaining questions correct. So make sure to remember the difference between these two words!

A bit beyond - This is a common phrase for maps. Usually, it will come right after a landmark and then right before another. For example, “The grocery store is a bit beyond the library.” In this case, this means that the library would be just a bit farther than the grocery store.

Right past - This is another common phrase for maps. Similar to the ‘a bit beyond’ phrase, this will come right after a landmark and then right before another. For example, ‘The police station is right past the shopping center.” In this case, right past signifies something that is close by.

Before - This will be spoken when something occurs prior to something else. For example, ‘The children’s center is before the history museum”. In order to understand the direction, you will need to pay attention to the prior directions and follow the path of the speaker. For this reason, this will usually not be one of the first directions spoken.

After - This will be spoken when something follows something else. For example, ‘The children’s center is after the history museum”. In order to understand the direction, you will need to pay attention to the prior directions and follow the path of the speaker. For this reason, this will not usually be one of the first directions spoken.

Adjoining - This is a common word used in diagrams and plans, and signifies that something is connected to something else.

Enter through/via - This is usually included in maps, and shows how one can go into another area of the map. For example, “After entering through the kitchen, you will go through the lobby.”

Runs through - This phrase is common for maps and plans, and signifies that something goes through something else. For example, “The river runs through the park.”, which means that it goes through and is inside the park.

Runs alongside - This phrase is common for maps and plans, and signifies that something is located along something else, but not inside. For example, “The river runs alongside the park.”, which means that it is not inside, but on the outside, following the length of the park.

It would be best to review these phrases in order to master the different types of phrases used during this question type


Here are some brief tips to remember when approaching this question type:


  1. Utilize the 20 seconds you will have prior to hearing the listening prompt and read the information first, underline your key words, and actively listen for those key words and direction words during the prompt. 
  2. Remember that the answers will come in order. This means that you should use your visual aid and write minimal notes to help you follow along the correct path while listening as actively as you can! Doing so will help you pick up where you left off if you miss something, and it will help you understand the speaker’s directions.
  3. Find a note-taking technique that works for you. Feel free to experiment during your practice sessions and try writing in the visual aid or close to the gaps. Make it easy to reference afterwards if necessary.
  4. Study up on your direction words along with their meanings. You do not want to lose points for writing down the incorrect answer based on an incorrect understanding of these words.


  1. Waste your time before and after the listening prompt is played. Think of these 30 minutes of the listening exam as ‘game time’, and actively listen or read the questions as much as you can! 
  2. Focus on only one aspect of the process. In other words, don’t just listen, don’t just read, and don’t just answer. You will need to combine these three tasks in order to have enough time in this section. In other words: make sure to multitask. 
  3. Get confused over the direction words! Misunderstanding something as simple as “just beyond” could confuse you and impact your later answers.
  4. Leave anything blank! Even if the exam is difficult, choose your best guess in order to maximize your chances of scoring high. 

IELTS Listening Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling Practice List

Now it is time to practice! Check out the following Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling practice questions.

IELTS Listening - Plan/Map/Diagram Labelling Questions Practice List

11 IELTS Listening diagram labelling Questions
Section 2
IELTS Listening Practice 14
Beamish Farming Village Museum
(sentence completion/diagram labelling)
IELTS Listening Practice 82
Warwick Castle
(diagram labelling)
IELTS Listening Practice 121
Liberty Theater House
(table completion/diagram labelling)
IELTS Listening Practice 122
Windsor Museum
(table completion/diagram labelling)
IELTS Listening Practice 123
Memorial Oak Park
(note completion/diagram labelling/table completion)
IELTS Listening Practice 124
Nature Observation Club
(multiple choice/diagram labelling)
IELTS Listening Practice 125
Lithia Nature Park
(multiple choice/diagram labelling/table completion)
IELTS Listening Practice 126
Pine Grove improvement plan
(multiple choice/diagram labelling)
IELTS Listening Practice 131
Town Library (Video Explanation Included)
(diagram labelling)
Section 3
IELTS Listening Practice 15
Marketing assignment
(multiple choice/matching/diagram labelling)
Section 4
IELTS Listening Practice 24
Psychology and advertising
(table completion/diagram labelling)

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