Map Reading Practice

Map Reading Skills

The critical skill on map reading questions is to find the most direct route.  Practice identifying the shortest or most direct route between two locations on a map.

Map Key

Each square labeled A to Z and A1 to A20, represent the corner of an intersection. The lines between the squares represent a city block. The intersections and city blocks fall
under 3 categories.

Large blocks: A, B,F, H, N, Q, R, U, W, Y, A3, A5, A7, A9,
A11, A14, A17, A19

Small blocks: C, D, E, I. J, L,M, O, P, S, T, V, X, A1, A4,
A10, Z, A12, A15, A16, A18, A20

Mini blocks: G, K, A2, A6, A8, A13

The time it takes to travel from one city block to another is:
Large blocks
In a car: 4 minutes
On a bike: 6 minutes
On foot: 10 minutes

Small Blocks
In a car: 3 minutes
On a bike: 5 minutes
On foot: 8 minutes

Mini Blocks
In a car: 2 minutes
On a bike: 4 minutes
On foot: 6 minutes

Important Note:  When you go from, say, A to N, you do not transverse N – but arrive AT N.

Map Questions

1. What is the shortest time it would take a woman to go from block A to S driving a car?

a. 11 minutes
b. 7 and half minutes
c. 8 minutes
d. 13 minutes

2. What is the shortest time it would take a man to go from A to S if he drove the first two blocks, then rode a
bike the rest of the way?

a. 18 minutes
b. 12 minutes
c. 17 minutes
d. 15 minutes

3. A student has to walk home from block U to R. What is the shortest time it would take him if he had to go
through block Q?

a. 38 minutes
b. 32 minutes
c. 37 minutes
d. 29 minutes

4. A police patrol car in block Y has to respond to a call in Block G. How fast can they get there if they are forced
by traffic to avoid Block S?

a. 20 minutes
b. 19 minutes
c. 14 minutes
d. 17 minutes

5. How fast would it take a man on bike to ride from block Z to block A7 if he had to spend two minutes and
half along the way fixing his bike?

a. 22. 5 minutes
b. 22 minutes
c. 24.5 minutes
d. 24 minutes

Answer Key

1. D
The shortest route would take a car through A – G – H – S, covering two large blocks, a small block and a mini block. This would take 13 minutes by car.  (2 large blocks ( 4+4), a small block (+3) and a mini block (+2) = 13)

2. C
The shortest route from A to S is A – G – H – S, taking 6 minutes by car for the first 2 blocks and then rode a bike. Total time is 17 minutes.

3. A
The shortest route from U to R passing through Q is U – V – W – Q – R. Time to walk these blocks is 38 minutes. (A)

4. C
The shortest route from block Y to G, avoiding S, is Y – A1 – T – H – G. Time by car is 14 minutes.

5. C
The fastest route is Z – A2 – A4 – A6 – A8 – A7. Time by bike is 22 minutes, plus 2.5 minutes to fix the bike, for a total of
24.5 minutes.

Tips for Answering Map Reading Questions

  1. Read the Question Carefully: Good Advice for any type of question!  Understand what the question is asking. Are there specific instructions?
  2. First, Familiarize Yourself with the Map: Try to get a general sense of the layout and any distinguishing features. Note the scale, legend, and orientation (north arrow).
  3. Use the Legend: Make sure you understand all the symbols and information.
  4. Scale is Important! Scale gives the relationship between distance on the map and distance on the ground.
  5. Take Your Time: Important for any type of test question!  Analyze the map and any relevant information before attempting to answer. Don’t speed through but don’t hang around either – work carefully and methodically.
  6. Eliminate Incorrect Options: Elimination is your best multiple choice strategy.  How to answer multiple choice
  7. Practice Regularly: Nothing beats knowing your stuff!  Practice regularly until you feel confident.   How to prepare for a test  How to Study
  8. Double-Check Your Answer: Before submitting your answer, review it to ensure accuracy. Look back at the map and the question to confirm that your answer makes sense in context.
Written by, Brian Stocker MA., Complete Test Preparation Inc.

Date Published: Tuesday, September 29th, 2020
Date Modified: Friday, April 5th, 2024

Got a Question? Email me anytime -


  1. Anonymous
    August 29, 2022

    do u have more map reading practice

  2. Miranda Burrell
    September 15, 2022

    Small, mini and big block for question 1…. Can you explain how you got two big blocks?

    • WR
      January 7, 2024

      If you refer to the map key, it tells you what size each block is.

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