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Can you read a map?


Understanding maps is central to your studies of GCSE Geography as they are used to show a variety of different information about the countries of the world. In your exams, you will need to be able to use maps to obtain information to answer some of the questions and you will also need to be able to draw simple maps based on information you are given.

A map is a two-dimensional representation of an area of the three-dimensional surface of the Earth. To make it 2D and also small enough to fit on a sheet of paper, it is drawn to scale. To make it easy to understand, 3D features are added using simplified symbols. Every map has a title, a scale and a list of the symbols (the key) that have been used to make it, alongside the main part of the map. You are expected to know a variety of the symbols used on Ordnance Survey (OS) maps.

Where the contours are very close together it indicates ...
a steep slope
flat ground
a valley
the top of a hill or mountain
Where the contours are close together, it means there is a lot of difference in height in a short distance
Which of the following map scales is the largest?
1 cm to 2 km
2 cm to 1 km
The first and the last option are the same scale, the third answer is a much smaller scale. 1:20,000 means that 1 cm represents just 200 metres on the ground and is therefore the map with the largest scale.
What colour is usually used on OS 1:50,000 maps for tourist information?
Pale blue
Pale yellow
Light grey
Light brown
Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 scale maps use about 140 symbols which are gradually updated as the lanscape and local amenities change
Which of the following statements about grid references is true?
A four-figure grid reference gives the location of an exact point on the map
A four-figure grid reference gives the location of the grid cell directly below
A six-figure grid reference gives the location of an exact point on the map
A six-figure grid reference gives the location of the grid cell directly below
A four-figure grid reference gives the grid square to the north and east of itself
The Ordnance Survey was first established in the late 18th century. Why?
To produce maps for King George III
To improve military logistics
So that hikers could avoid trespassing on private property
So the postal service could deliver letters
In military terms, logistics is a word that means moving materials and forces from one place to another
When giving any grid reference, which is the correct order?
Eastings then northings
Northings then eastings
Westings then southings followed by the eastings
Eastings first, then southings, then northings and finally the westings
It is the same idea as using coordinates in your maths lessons, the x value first followed by the y value
What area is represented by the smallest single grid cell on OS maps?
10 km2
1 km2
500 km2
2 km2
This is the size of the smallest grid cell on a 1:50,000 OS map
A cartographer is a person who ...
makes carts
is an expert at doing gymnastic cartwheels
is involved in making maps
drives a horse and cart
The first cartographers worked on their own and with very limited surveying equipment so maps were not particularly accurate
On an OS map, you will see numerous wiggly brown lines, some have numbers printed alongside them. What are these lines called and what are the numbers?
Roads, distance from London
Isotherms, average winter temperature
Isobars, atmospheric pressure
Contours, height above sea level
The height above sea level is only approximate. It is very difficult to measure sea level as it changes with the tides
There are several different types of road shown on OS 1:50,000 maps. Which of the following sequences represents the colours used for motorways, main roads and tarred minor roads in that order?
Red, white, blue
White, red, blue
Blue, red, yellow
Blue, yellow, red
Primary routes are coloured green, you will sometimes hear these called 'trunk roads'.
You can find more about this topic by visiting BBC Bitesize - Cartographic skills

Author:  Kev Woodward

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