Just like a key to a door, the key on a map helps you to unlock the information stored in the colours and symbols on a map. You must understand how the key relates to the map before you can unlock the information it contains. The key will help you to identify types of boundaries, roads, buildings, agriculture, industry, places of interest and geographical features.
Make sure you read the title of a map before you start to use it. This will give you a general idea about the information it stores. While it may appear a straightforward thing to do, under exam conditions, it is easy to confuse different maps or not use the one that is most useful.
The scale of a map allows a reader to calculate the size, height and dimensions of the features shown on the map, as well as distances between different points. The scale on a map is the ratio between real life sizes and how many times it has been shrunk to fit it on the map.
The scale below is for a 1:50,000 scale map. At this scale, 1 cm on the map represents 50,000 cm on the ground (= 500 m or 0.5 km).
Ordnance Survey maps, the most common type of map in the UK, come in several scales.
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