Road Scholar Competition Study Guide
State Highway Map
1. How are distances computed in general (that is, as the crow flies or straight-line distance)?
Map bar scale
2. What is the primary method of computing distances along
State Highways? Distances between junctions & towns (black numbers)
U.S. (Federal) Highways? Red pointers
Interstate Highways? Subtract exit numbers.
3. A map that usually appears in the corner of another map, and that shows an enhanced view of part of an area covered by the
larger map is called what?
4. Where, in general, are state capitals located?
The central part of the state.
5. If multiple route markers appear on the same road symbol, what does this indicate?
several highways sharing the same roadway
6. In what two ways are roads classified on a highway map?
by designation (interstate, US, state, county) or by capacity (multi-lane divided, principal through, two-lane and so on)
(Note: see the map legend.)
7. What types of features/information can city maps show that state maps can’t?
major roads within the given area, freeway interchange detail, points of interest, landmark structures/buildings, bridge names,
airport runway patterns, parks, municipality boundaries, golf courses, colleges/universities (Note: other answers are possible.
This illustrates the varying amount of detail that can be shown based on map scale.)
8. Do 2-digit even-numbered interstate highways run east-west or north-south?
9. Do 2-digit odd-numbered interstate highways run east-west or north-south?
10. What is a city containing a county government called?
11. What is a city containing a state government called?
12. Three-digit numbered interstates with an even first digit (like I-270) generally divert through traffic around major cities (like
St. Louis). What name is given to such a road?
beltway, bypass, outer belt, circumferential highway
13. Interstate and federal highways going around densely populated small towns (like Rolla or Pacific) occasionally have
business loops associated with them. What is a business loop?
to provide access to the main/central/core business district (restaurants, hotels, shops, etc.) of a town that would normally be
bypassed by the road
14. A road map is an example of a planimetric map. What does the term “planimetric” mean?
contains no elevation data (contours, spots, bench marks)
1. What do hachures on a contour indicate?
downhill side of a depression contour
2. How do the calculation and expression of a stream gradient compare with the calculation and expression of a slope gradient?
they are calculated the same way, but expressed differently (stream: ft/1000ft, all others: ft/100ft or %)
3. Contours crossing drains make “U-turns” as they do so. What are the “U-turns” called?
4. Do contour “U-turns” point upstream or downstream?
5. What does a bench mark indicate?
a point whose elevation has been precisely determined
6. Contours that coalesce (that is, “pile up”) are indicated by what symbol?
7. What useful plot can be derived from a contour map?
8. What does the plot in question 7 indicate?
“cut-away” view or “cross-section” view, variation in elevation along a specified linear path
9. Distinguish between a fresh-water lake and a salt-water lake with respect to a contour plot.
a fresh-water lake has streams flowing both into and out of it, whereas a salt-water lake has streams flowing only into it (no
outlet); stream flow direction can be determined by contour turnbacks, or by elevation difference
10. Contour patterns indicate what kinds of topographical features?
hills, saddles, depressions/basins, cliffs, ridges, quarries, strip mines, sink holes (karst topography), stream valleys, waterfalls
11. Contours indicate elevation with respect to what datum/reference?
Mean Sea Level
12. Why is the datum in question 11 used?
it is a common reference; it is also a fixed reference-it does not vary appreciably over time
13. Latitude is measured north or south of what reference?
14. Longitude is measured east or west of what reference?
Prime Meridian (Greenwich Meridian)
15. Contour values are multiples of the contour interval.
integral or whole number
16. Do contours on opposite sides of a stream have the same value or different values? Why?
same; contours are paired across drains (last contour crossed descending one side of stream valley is first one crossed ascending
17. May contours intersect?
no (no T’s, X’s, or Y’s, and no figure-8’s; also, contours are truncated at cliff symbol)
18. By what other name is the USGS 1:24,000 scale topo map known?
Quadrangle map (7.5’ – series map)
1. A course of constant azimuth/bearing on the Earth is a spiral. What is it on a standard Mercator map?
2. The process by which a 2-dimensional map is derived from a 3-dimensional surface is called what?
3. What inherent problem exists in question 2?
distortion of shape, direction, and scale (size and distance)
4. Why can’t the poles be shown on a standard Mercator map?
the distortion is such that an infinitely tall map would be required
5. How is the difficulty in question 4 resolved?
6. The Mercator projection is also known by what other name?
7. Define the following terms related to map projections: conformal, equal-area, equidistant, rhumb line.
conformal – scale is the same in every direction from any point equal-area – areas on map are proportional to corresponding
areas on Earth
equidistant – distances are true only from center of projection or along a special set of lines
rhumb line – line cutting all meridians at the same angle; line of constant direction (not necessarily the shortest distance
between two points)
(Note: there is no projection that is conformal, equal-area, and equidistant.)
8. A compass indicates magnetic North. What is the deviation of this reading from true North (geographic North) called?
9. How would an airline pilot make use of azimuths (besides the situation described in question 1)?
to calculate the flight azimuth (geographic or magnetic) from North reference between his origin and destination points
10. In the Sector Reference System, a USGS 1:24,000 scale topographic map is divided into how many parts (sectors)? What are
the dimensions of a sector?
9 parts; 2.5’ by 2.5’
11. Why is the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) used?
to describe accurately the location of a parcel of land, and to ease inventory and transfer of land
12. In the Public Land Survey System, what are the dimensions and area of a township?
6 miles x 6 miles; 36 square miles
13. In the Public Land Survey System, what are the dimensions and area of a section?
1 mile x 1 mile; 1 square mile
14. How many acres are in a PLSS section?
15. In the Public Land Survey System, what are the dimensions and area of a ¼ - section?
½ mile x ½ mile; ¼ square mile or 160 acres