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Advanced Placement (AP)

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The DBQ, or document-based-question, is a somewhat unusually-formatted timed essay on the AP History Exams: AP US History, AP European History, and AP World History. Because of its unfamiliarity, many students are at a loss as to how to even prepare, let alone how to write a successful DBQ essay on test day.

Never fear! I, the DBQ wizard and master, have a wealth of preparation strategies for you, as well as advice on how to cram everything you need to cover into your limited DBQ writing time on exam day. When you're done reading this guide, you'll know exactly how to write a DBQ.

For a general overview of the DBQ—what it is, its purpose, its format, etc.—see my article "What is a DBQ?"

Table of Contents

What Should My Study Timeline Be?

Preparing for the DBQ

Establish a Baseline

Foundational Skills

Rubric Breakdown

Take Another Practice DBQ

How Can I Succeed on Test Day?

Reading the Question and Documents

Planning Your Essay

Writing Your Essay

Key Takeaways

What Should My DBQ Study Timeline Be?

Your AP exam study timeline depends on a few things. First, how much time you have to study per week, and how many hours you want to study in total? If you don't have much time per week, start a little earlier; if you will be able to devote a substantial amount of time per week (10-15 hours) to prep, you can wait until later in the year.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the earlier you start studying for your AP test, the less material you will have covered in class. Make sure you continually review older material as the school year goes on to keep things fresh in your mind, but in terms of DBQ prep it probably doesn't make sense to start before February or January at the absolute earliest.

Another factor is how much you need to work on. I recommend you complete a baseline DBQ around early February to see where you need to focus your efforts.

If, for example, you got a six out of seven and missed one point for doing further document analysis, you won't need to spend too much time studying how to write a DBQ. Maybe just do a document analysis exercise every few weeks and check in a couple months later with another timed practice DBQ to make sure you've got it.

However, if you got a two or three out of seven, you'll know you have more work to do, and you'll probably want to devote at least an hour or two every week to honing your skills.

The general flow of your preparation should be: take a practice DBQ, do focused skills practice, take another practice DBQ, do focused skills practice, take another practice DBQ, and so on. How often you take the practice DBQs and how many times you repeat the cycle really depends on how much preparation you need, and how often you want to check your progress. Take practice DBQs often enough that the format stays familiar, but not so much that you've done barely any skills practice in between.

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He's ready to start studying!

The general preparation process is to diagnose, practice, test, and repeat. First, you'll figure out what you need to work on by establishing a baseline level for your DBQ skills. Then, you'll practice building skills. Finally, you'll take another DBQ to see how you've improved and what you still need to work on.

In this next section, I'll go over the whole process. First, I'll give guidance on how to establish a baseline. Then I'll go over some basic, foundational essay-writing skills and how to build them. After that I'll break down the DBQ rubric. You'll be acing practice DBQs before you know it!

#1: Establish a Baseline

The first thing you need to do is to establish a baseline— figure out where you are at with respect to your DBQ skills. This will let you know where you need to focus your preparation efforts.

To do this, you will take a timed, practice DBQ and have a trusted teacher or advisor grade it according to the appropriate rubric.

AP US History

For the AP US History DBQ, you'll be given a 15-minute reading period and 45 minutes of writing time.

A selection of practice questions from the exam can be found online at the College Board, including a DBQ. (Go to page 136 in the linked document for the practice prompt.)

If you've already seen this practice question, perhaps in class, you might use the 2015 DBQ question .

Other available College Board DBQs are going to be in the old format (find them in the "Free-Response Questions" documents). This is fine if you need to use them, but be sure to use the new rubric (which is out of seven points, rather than nine) to grade.

I advise you to save all these links , or even download all the Free Response Questions and the Scoring Guides, for reference because you will be using them again and again for practice.

AP European History

The College Board has provided practice questions for the exam , including a DBQ (see page 200 in the linked document).

If you've already seen this question, the only other questions available through the College Board are in the old format, because the 2016 DBQ is in a new, seven-point format identical to the AP US History exam. Just be sure to use the new DBQ rubric if you want to use any of the old prompts provided by the College Board . (DBQs are in the documents titled "Free-Response Questions.")

I advise you to save all these links (or even download all the Free Response Questions and the Scoring Guides) for reference, because you will be using them again and again for practice.

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Who knows—maybe this will be one of your documents!

AP World History

For this exam, you'll be given a 15-minute reading period and 45 minutes of writing time . As for the other two history exams, the College Board has provided practice questions . See page 166 for the DBQ.

If you've already seen this question, the only other questions available through the College Board are in the old format, because the 2017 World History DBQ is in a new, seven-point format identical to the AP US History and AP European History exams. So be sure to use the new DBQ rubric if you want to use any of the old prompts provided by the College Board . (DBQs are in the documents titled "Free-Response Questions.")

Finding a Trusted Advisor to Look at Your Papers

A history teacher would be a great resource, but if they are not available to you in this capacity, here are some other ideas:

  • An English teacher.
  • Ask a librarian at your school or public library! If they can't help you, they may be able to direct you to resources who can.
  • You could also ask a school guidance counselor to direct you to in-school resources you could use.
  • A tutor. This is especially helpful if they are familiar with the test, although even if they aren't, they can still advise—the DBQ is mostly testing academic writing skills under pressure.
  • Your parent(s)! Again, ideally your trusted advisor will be familiar with the AP, but if you have used your parents for writing help in the past they can also assist here.
  • You might try an older friend who has already taken the exam and did well...although bear in mind that some people are better at doing than scoring and/or explaining!

Can I Prepare For My Baseline?

If you know nothing about the DBQ and you'd like to do a little basic familiarization before you establish your baseline, that's completely fine. There's no point in taking a practice exam if you are going to panic and muddle your way through it; it won't give a useful picture of your skills.

For a basic orientation, check out my article for a basic introduction to the DBQ including DBQ format.

If you want to look at one or two sample essays, see my article for a list of DBQ example essay resources . Keep in mind that you should use a fresh prompt you haven't seen to establish your baseline, though, so if you do look at samples don't use those prompts to set your baseline.

I would also check out this page about the various "task" words associated with AP essay questions . This page was created primarily for the AP European History Long Essay question, but the definitions are still useful for the DBQ on all the history exams, particularly since these are the definitions provided by the College Board.

Once you feel oriented, take your practice exam!

Don't worry if you don't do well on your first practice! That's what studying is for. The point of establishing a baseline is not to make you feel bad, but to empower you to focus your efforts on the areas you need to work on. Even if you need to work on all the areas, that is completely fine and doable! Every skill you need for the DBQ can be built .

In the following section, we'll go over these skills and how to build them for each exam.

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You need a stronger foundation than this sand castle.

#2: Develop Foundational Skills

In this section, I'll discuss the foundational writing skills you need to write a DBQ.

I'll start with some general information on crafting an effective thesis , since this is a skill you will need for any DBQ exam (and for your entire academic life). Then, I'll go over outlining essays, with some sample outline ideas for the DBQ. After I'll touch on time management. Finally, I'll briefly discuss how to non-awkwardly integrate information from your documents into your writing.

It sounds like a lot, but not only are these skills vital to your academic career in general, you probably already have the basic building blocks to master them in your arsenal!

Writing An Effective Thesis

Writing a good thesis is a skill you will need to develop for all your DBQs, and for any essay you write, on the AP or otherwise.

Here are some general rules as to what makes a good thesis:

A good thesis does more than just restate the prompt.

Let's say our class prompt is: "Analyze the primary factors that led to the French Revolution."

Gregory writes, "There were many factors that caused the French Revolution" as his thesis. This is not an effective thesis. All it does is vaguely restate the prompt.

A good thesis makes a plausible claim that you can defend in an essay-length piece of writing.

Maybe Karen writes, "Marie Antoinette caused the French Revolution when she said ‘Let them eat cake' because it made people mad."

This is not an effective thesis, either. For one thing, Marie Antoinette never said that. More importantly, how are you going to write an entire essay on how one offhand comment by Marie Antoinette caused the entire Revolution? This is both implausible and overly simplistic.

A good thesis answers the question .

If LaToya writes, "The Reign of Terror led to the ultimate demise of the French Revolution and ultimately paved the way for Napoleon Bonaparte to seize control of France," she may be making a reasonable, defensible claim, but it doesn't answer the question, which is not about what happened after the Revolution, but what caused it!

A good thesis makes it clear where you are going in your essay.

Let's say Juan writes, "The French Revolution, while caused by a variety of political, social, and economic factors, was primarily incited by the emergence of the highly educated Bourgeois class." This thesis provides a mini-roadmap for the entire essay, laying out that Juan is going to discuss the political, social, and economic factors that led to the Revolution, in that order, and that he will argue that the members of the Bourgeois class were the ultimate inciters of the Revolution.

This is a great thesis! It answers the question, makes an overarching point, and provides a clear idea of what the writer is going to discuss in the essay.

To review: a good thesis makes a claim, responds to the prompt, and lays out what you will discuss in your essay.

If you feel like you have trouble telling the difference between a good thesis and a not-so-good one, here are a few resources you can consult:

This site from SUNY Empire has an exercise in choosing the best thesis from several options. It's meant for research papers, but the general rules as to what makes a good thesis apply.

About.com has another exercise in choosing thesis statements specifically for short essays. Note, however, that most of the correct answers here would be "good" thesis statements as opposed to "super" thesis statements.

  • This guide from the University of Iowa provides some really helpful tips on writing a thesis for a history paper.

So how do you practice your thesis statement skills for the DBQ?

While you should definitely practice looking at DBQ questions and documents and writing a thesis in response to those, you may also find it useful to write some practice thesis statements in response to the Free-Response Questions. While you won't be taking any documents into account in your argument for the Free-Response Questions, it's good practice on how to construct an effective thesis in general.

You could even try writing multiple thesis statements in response to the same prompt! It is a great exercise to see how you could approach the prompt from different angles. Time yourself for 5-10 minutes to mimic the time pressure of the AP exam.

If possible, have a trusted advisor or friend look over your practice statements and give you feedback. Barring that, looking over the scoring guidelines for old prompts (accessible from the same page on the College Board where past free-response questions can be found) will provide you with useful tips on what might make a good thesis in response to a given prompt.

Once you can write a thesis, you need to be able to support it—that's where outlining comes in!

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This is not a good outline.

Outlining and Formatting Your Essay

You may be the greatest document analyst and thesis-writer in the world, but if you don't know how to put it all together in a DBQ essay outline, you won't be able to write a cohesive, high-scoring essay on test day.

A good outline will clearly lay out your thesis and how you are going to support that thesis in your body paragraphs. It will keep your writing organized and prevent you from forgetting anything you want to mention!

For some general tips on writing outlines, this page from Roane State has some useful information. While the general principles of outlining an essay hold, the DBQ format is going to have its own unique outlining considerations.To that end, I've provided some brief sample outlines that will help you hit all the important points.

Sample DBQ Outline

  • Introduction
  • Thesis. The most important part of your intro!
  • Body 1 - contextual information
  • Any outside historical/contextual information
  • Body 2 - First point
  • Documents & analysis that support the first point
  • If three body paragraphs: use about three documents, do deeper analysis on two
  • Body 3 - Second point
  • Documents & analysis that support the second point
  • Use about three documents, do deeper analysis on two
  • Be sure to mention your outside example if you have not done so yet!
  • Body 4 (optional) - Third point
  • Documents and analysis that support third point
  • Re-state thesis
  • Draw a comparison to another time period or situation (synthesis)

Depending on your number of body paragraphs and your main points, you may include different numbers of documents in each paragraph, or switch around where you place your contextual information, your outside example, or your synthesis.

There's no one right way to outline, just so long as each of your body paragraphs has a clear point that you support with documents, and you remember to do a deeper analysis on four documents, bring in outside historical information, and make a comparison to another historical situation or time (you will see these last points further explained in the rubric breakdown).

Of course, all the organizational skills in the world won't help you if you can't write your entire essay in the time allotted. The next section will cover time management skills.

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You can be as organized as this library!

Time Management Skills for Essay Writing

Do you know all of your essay-writing skills, but just can't get a DBQ essay together in a 15-minute planning period and 40 minutes of writing?

There could be a few things at play here:

Do you find yourself spending a lot of time staring at a blank paper?

If you feel like you don't know where to start, spend one-two minutes brainstorming as soon as you read the question and the documents. Write anything here—don't censor yourself. No one will look at those notes but you!

After you've brainstormed for a bit, try to organize those thoughts into a thesis, and then into body paragraphs. It's better to start working and change things around than to waste time agonizing that you don't know the perfect thing to say.

Are you too anxious to start writing, or does anxiety distract you in the middle of your writing time? Do you just feel overwhelmed?

Sounds like test anxiety. Lots of people have this. (Including me! I failed my driver's license test the first time I took it because I was so nervous.)

You might talk to a guidance counselor about your anxiety. They will be able to provide advice and direct you to resources you can use.

There are also some valuable test anxiety resources online: try our guide to mindfulness (it's focused on the SAT, but the same concepts apply on any high-pressure test) and check out tips from Minnesota State University , these strategies from TeensHealth , or this plan for reducing anxiety from West Virginia University.

Are you only two thirds of the way through your essay when 40 minutes have passed?

You are probably spending too long on your outline, biting off more than you can chew, or both.

If you find yourself spending 20+ minutes outlining, you need to practice bringing down your outline time. Remember, an outline is just a guide for your essay—it is fine to switch things around as you are writing. It doesn't need to be perfect. To cut down on your outline time, practice just outlining for shorter and shorter time intervals. When you can write one in 20 minutes, bring it down to 18, then down to 16.

You may also be trying to cover too much in your paper. If you have five body paragraphs, you need to scale things back to three. If you are spending twenty minutes writing two paragraphs of contextual information, you need to trim it down to a few relevant sentences. Be mindful of where you are spending a lot of time, and target those areas.

You don't know the problem —you just can't get it done!

If you can't exactly pinpoint what's taking you so long, I advise you to simply practice writing DBQs in less and less time. Start with 20 minutes for your outline and 50 for your essay, (or longer, if you need). Then when you can do it in 20 and 50, move back to 18 minutes and 45 for writing, then to 15 and 40.

You absolutely can learn to manage your time effectively so that you can write a great DBQ in the time allotted. On to the next skill!

Integrating Citations

The final skill that isn't explicitly covered in the rubric, but will make a big difference in your essay quality, is integrating document citations into your essay. In other words, how do you reference the information in the documents in a clear, non-awkward way?

It is usually better to use the author or title of the document to identify a document instead of writing "Document A." So instead of writing "Document A describes the riot as...," you might say, "In Sven Svenson's description of the riot…"

When you quote a document directly without otherwise identifying it, you may want to include a parenthetical citation. For example, you might write, "The strikers were described as ‘valiant and true' by the working class citizens of the city (Document E)."

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Get a 5 On Your AP Exam

Now that we've reviewed the essential, foundational skills of the DBQ, I'll move into the rubric breakdowns. We'll discuss each skill the AP graders will be looking for when they score your exam. All of the history exams share a DBQ rubric, so the guidelines are identical.

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Don't worry, you won't need a magnifying glass to examine the rubric.

#3: Learn the DBQ Rubric

The DBQ rubric has four sections for a total of seven points.

Part A: Thesis - 2 Points

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One point is for having a thesis that works and is historically defensible. This just means that your thesis can be reasonably supported by the documents and historical fact. So please don't make the main point of your essay that JFK was a member of the Illuminati or that Pope Urban II was an alien.

Per the College Board, your thesis needs to be located in your introduction or your conclusion. You've probably been taught to place your thesis in your intro, so stick with what you're used to. Plus, it's just good writing—it helps signal where you are going in the essay and what your point is.

You can receive another point for having a super thesis.

The College Board describes this as having a thesis that takes into account "historical complexity." Historical complexity is really just the idea that historical evidence does not always agree about everything, and that there are reasons for agreement, disagreement, etc.

How will you know whether the historical evidence agrees or disagrees? The documents! Suppose you are responding to a prompt about women's suffrage (suffrage is the right to vote, for those of you who haven't gotten to that unit in class yet):

"Analyze the responses to the women's suffrage movement in the United States."

Included among your documents, you have a letter from a suffragette passionately explaining why she feels women should have the vote, a copy of a suffragette's speech at a women's meeting, a letter from one congressman to another debating the pros and cons of suffrage, and a political cartoon displaying the death of society and the end of the ‘natural' order at the hands of female voters.

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A simple but effective thesis might be something like,

"Though ultimately successful, the women's suffrage movement sharply divided the country between those who believed women's suffrage was unnatural and those who believed it was an inherent right of women."

This is good: it answers the question and clearly states the two responses to suffrage that are going to be analyzed in the essay.

A super thesis , however, would take the relationships between the documents (and the people behind the documents!) into account.

It might be something like,

"The dramatic contrast between those who responded in favor of women's suffrage and those who fought against it revealed a fundamental rift in American society centered on the role of women—whether women were ‘naturally' meant to be socially and civilly subordinate to men, or whether they were in fact equals."

This is a "super" thesis because it gets into the specifics of the relationship between historical factors and shows the broader picture —that is, what responses to women's suffrage revealed about the role of women in the United States overall.

It goes beyond just analyzing the specific issues to a "so what"? It doesn't just take a position about history, it tells the reader why they should care . In this case, our super thesis tells us that the reader should care about women's suffrage because the issue reveals a fundamental conflict in America over the position of women in society.

Part B: Document Analysis - 2 Points

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One point for using six or seven of the documents in your essay to support your argument. Easy-peasy! However, make sure you aren't just summarizing documents in a list, but are tying them back to the main points of your paragraphs.

It's best to avoid writing things like, "Document A says X, and Document B says Y, and Document C says Z." Instead, you might write something like, "The anonymous author of Document C expresses his support and admiration for the suffragettes but also expresses fear that giving women the right to vote will lead to conflict in the home, highlighting the common fear that women's suffrage would lead to upheaval in women's traditional role in society."

Any summarizing should be connected a point. Essentially, any explanation of what a document says needs to be tied to a "so what?" If it's not clear to you why what you are writing about a document is related to your main point, it's not going to be clear to the AP grader.

You can get an additional point here for doing further analysis on 4 of the documents. This further analysis could be in any of these 4 areas:

Author's point of view - Why does the author think the way that they do? What is their position in society and how does this influence what they are saying?

Author's purpose - Why is the author writing what they are writing? What are they trying to convince their audience of?

Historical context - What broader historical facts are relevant to this document?

Audience - Who is the intended audience for this document? Who is the author addressing or trying to convince?

Be sure to tie any further analysis back to your main argument! And remember, you only have to do this for four documents for full credit, but it's fine to do it for more if you can.

Practicing Document Analysis

So how do you practice document analysis? By analyzing documents!

Luckily for AP test takers everywhere, New York State has an exam called the Regents Exam that has its own DBQ section. Before they write the essay, however, New York students have to answer short answer questions about the documents.

Answering Regents exam DBQ short-answer questions is good practice for basic document analysis. While most of the questions are pretty basic, it's a good warm-up in terms of thinking more deeply about the documents and how to use them. This set of Regent-style DBQs from the Teacher's Project are mostly about US History, but the practice could be good for other tests too.

This prompt from the Morningside center also has some good document comprehensions questions about a US-History based prompt.

Note: While the document short-answer questions are useful for thinking about basic document analysis, I wouldn't advise completing entire Regents exam DBQ essay prompts for practice, because the format and rubric are both somewhat different from the AP.

Your AP history textbook may also have documents with questions that you can use to practice. Flip around in there!

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This otter is ready to swim in the waters of the DBQ.

When you want to do a deeper dive on the documents, you can also pull out those old College Board DBQ prompts.

Read the documents carefully. Write down everything that comes to your attention. Do further analysis—author's point of view, purpose, audience, and historical context—on all the documents for practice, even though you will only need to do additional analysis on four on test day. Of course, you might not be able to do all kinds of further analysis on things like maps and graphs, which is fine.

You might also try thinking about how you would arrange those observations in an argument, or even try writing a practice outline! This exercise would combine your thesis and document-analysis skills practice.

When you've analyzed everything you can possibly think of for all the documents, pull up the Scoring Guide for that prompt. It helpfully has an entire list of analysis points for each document.

Consider what they identified that you missed.

Do you seem way off-base in your interpretation? If so, how did it happen?

Part C: Using Evidence Beyond the Documents - 2 Points

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Don't be freaked out by the fact that this is two points!

One point is just for context—if you can locate the issue within its broader historical situation. You do need to write several sentences to a paragraph about it, but don't stress; all you really need to know to be able to get this point is information about major historical trends over time, and you will need to know this anyways for the multiple choice section. If the question is about the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression, for example, be sure to include some of the general information you know about the Great Depression! Boom. Contextualized.

The other point is for naming a specific, relevant example in your essay that does not appear in the documents.

To practice your outside information skills, pull up your College Board prompts!

Read through the prompt and documents and then write down all of the contextualizing facts and as many specific examples as you can think of.

I advise timing yourself—maybe 5-10 minutes to read the documents and prompt and list your outside knowledge—to imitate the time pressure of the DBQ.

When you've exhausted your knowledge, make sure to fact-check your examples and your contextual information! You don't want to use incorrect information on test day.

If you can't remember any examples or contextual information about that topic, look some up! This will help fill in holes in your knowledge.

Part D: Synthesis - 1 Point

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All you need to do for synthesis is relate your argument about this specific time period to a different time period, geographical area, historical movement, etc. It is probably easiest to do this in the conclusion of the essay. If your essay is about the Great Depression, you might relate it to the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

You do need to do more than just mention your synthesis connection. You need to make it meaningful. How are the two things you are comparing similar? What does one reveal about the other? Is there a key difference that highlights something important?

To practice your synthesis skills—you guessed it—pull up your College Board prompts!

  • Read through the prompt and documents and then identify what historical connections you could make for your synthesis point. Be sure to write a few words on why the connection is significant!
  • A great way to make sure that your synthesis connection makes sense is to explain it to someone else. If you explain what you think the connection is and they get it, you're probably on the right track.
  • You can also look at sample responses and the scoring guide for the old prompts to see what other connections students and AP graders made.

That's a wrap on the rubric! Let's move on to skill-building strategy.

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I know you're tired, but you can do it!

#5: Take Another Practice DBQ

So, you established a baseline, identified the skills you need to work on, and practiced writing a thesis statement and analyzing documents for hours. What now?

Take another timed, practice DBQ from a prompt you haven't seen before to check how you've improved. Recruit your same trusted advisor to grade your exam and give feedback. After, work on any skills that still need to be honed.

Repeat this process as necessary, until you are consistently scoring your goal score. Then you just need to make sure you maintain your skills until test day by doing an occasional practice DBQ.

Eventually, test day will come—read on for my DBQ-test-taking tips.

How Can I Succeed On DBQ Test Day?

Once you've prepped your brains out, you still have to take the test! I know, I know. But I've got some advice on how to make sure all of your hard work pays off on test day—both some general tips and some specific advice on how to write a DBQ.

#1: General Test-Taking Tips

Most of these are probably tips you've heard before, but they bear repeating:

Get a good night's sleep for the two nights preceding the exam. This will keep your memory sharp!

Eat a good breakfast (and lunch, if the exam is in the afternoon) before the exam with protein and whole grains. This will keep your blood sugar from crashing and making you tired during the exam.

Don't study the night before the exam if you can help it. Instead, do something relaxing. You've been preparing, and you will have an easier time on exam day if you aren't stressed from trying to cram the night before.

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This dude knows he needs to get a good night's rest!

#2: DBQ Plan and Strategies

Below I've laid out how to use your time during the DBQ exam. I'll provide tips on reading the question and docs, planning your essay, and writing!

Be sure to keep an eye on the clock throughout so you can track your general progress.

Reading the Question and the Documents: 5-6 min

First thing's first: r ead the question carefully , two or even three times. You may want to circle the task words ("analyze," "describe," "evaluate," "compare") to make sure they stand out.

You could also quickly jot down some contextual information you already know before moving on to the documents, but if you can't remember any right then, move on to the docs and let them jog your memory.

It's fine to have a general idea of a thesis after you read the question, but if you don't, move on to the docs and let them guide you in the right direction.

Next, move on to the documents. Mark them as you read—circle things that seem important, jot thoughts and notes in the margins.

After you've passed over the documents once, you should choose the four documents you are going to analyze more deeply and read them again. You probably won't be analyzing the author's purpose for sources like maps and charts. Good choices are documents in which the author's social or political position and stake in the issue at hand are clear.

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Get ready to go down the document rabbit hole.

Planning Your Essay: 9-11 min

Once you've read the question and you have preliminary notes on the documents, it's time to start working on a thesis. If you still aren't sure what to talk about, spend a minute or so brainstorming. Write down themes and concepts that seem important and create a thesis from those. Remember, your thesis needs to answer the question and make a claim!

When you've got a thesis, it's time to work on an outline . Once you've got some appropriate topics for your body paragraphs, use your notes on the documents to populate your outline. Which documents support which ideas? You don't need to use every little thought you had about the document when you read it, but you should be sure to use every document.

Here's three things to make sure of:

Make sure your outline notes where you are going to include your contextual information (often placed in the first body paragraph, but this is up to you), your specific example (likely in one of the body paragraphs), and your synthesis (the conclusion is a good place for this).

Make sure you've also integrated the four documents you are going to further analyze and how to analyze them.

Make sure you use all the documents! I can't stress this enough. Take a quick pass over your outline and the docs and make sure all of the docs appear in your outline.

If you go over the planning time a couple of minutes, it's not the end of the world. This probably just means you have a really thorough outline! But be ready to write pretty fast.

Writing the Essay - 45 min

If you have a good outline, the hard part is out of the way! You just need to make sure you get all of your great ideas down in the test booklet.

Don't get too bogged down in writing a super-exciting introduction. You won't get points for it, so trying to be fancy will just waste time. Spend maybe one or two sentences introducing the issue, then get right to your thesis.

For your body paragraphs, make sure your topic sentences clearly state the point of the paragraph . Then you can get right into your evidence and your document analysis.

As you write, make sure to keep an eye on the time. You want to be a little more than halfway through at the 20-minute mark of the writing period, so you have a couple minutes to go back and edit your essay at the end.

Keep in mind that it's more important to clearly lay out your argument than to use flowery language. Sentences that are shorter and to the point are completely fine.

If you are short on time, the conclusion is the least important part of your essay . Even just one sentence to wrap things up is fine just so long as you've hit all the points you need to (i.e. don't skip your conclusion if you still need to put in your synthesis example).

When you are done, make one last past through your essay. Make sure you included everything that was in your outline and hit all the rubric skills! Then take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back.

birthday-cake-380178_640.jpg

You did it!! Have a cupcake to celebrate.

Key Tips for How to Write a DBQ

I realize I've bombarded you with information, so here are the key points to take away:

Remember the drill for prep: establish a baseline, build skills, take another practice DBQ, repeat skill-building as necessary.

Make sure that you know the rubric inside and out so you will remember to hit all the necessary points on test day! It's easy to lose points just for forgetting something like your synthesis point.

On test day, keep yourself on track time-wise !

This may seem like a lot, but you can learn how to ace your DBQ! With a combination of preparation and good test-taking strategy, you will get the score you're aiming for. The more you practice, the more natural it will seem, until every DBQ is a breeze.

What's Next?

If you want more information about the DBQ, see my introductory guide to the DBQ .

Haven't registered for your AP test yet? See our article for help registering for AP exams .

For more on studying for the AP US History exam, check out the best AP US History notes to study with .

Studying for World History? See these AP World History study tips from one of our experts.

dbq essay tips

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How to Write a DBQ Essay

Last Updated: September 23, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Emily Listmann, MA . Emily Listmann is a private tutor in San Carlos, California. She has worked as a Social Studies Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and an SAT Prep Teacher. She received her MA in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 671,618 times.

In the past, Document Based Questions (DBQ) were rarely found outside of AP history exams. However, they’re now used in social studies classes across grade levels, so you’re bound to take a DBQ test at some point. [1] X Research source Going into the test, you will need strong background knowledge of the time periods and geographical areas on which you will be tested. Your documents will always relate back directly to the major subjects and themes of your class. The key to success is to analyze the provided documents and use them to support an argument in response to the essay prompt. While DBQ tests are rigorous, they allow you to actually do historical work instead of merely memorize facts. Don’t stress, put on your historian hat, and start investigating!

Writing Help

dbq essay tips

Analyzing the Documents

Step 1 Review the documents for 10 to 15 minutes.

  • For an AP exam, you’ll then have 45 minutes to write your essay. Exact times may vary for other exams and assignments but, for all DBQ essays, document analysis is the first step.
  • For an AP exam, you will also need to include a thesis, set the prompt’s historical context, use 6 documents to support an argument, describe 1 piece of outside evidence, and discuss the point of view or context of at least 3 of the sources. Label these elements as you review and outline so you don’t forget something.

Step 2 Identify the prompt’s keywords and assigned tasks.

  • A prompt might ask you to analyze or explain the causes of a historical development, such as, “Explain how the Progressive Movement gained social, political, and cultural influence from the 1890s to the 1920s in the United States.”
  • You might need to use primary sources to compare and contrast differing attitudes or points of view toward a concept, policy, or event, such as, “Compare and contrast the differing attitudes towards women’s rights in the United States from 1890 to 1920.”
  • Keywords in these examples inform you how to read your sources. For instance, to compare and contrast differing attitudes, you’ll need to identify your sources’ authors, categorize their points of view, and figure out how attitudes changed over the specified period of time.

Step 3 Note your documents’ authors, points of view, and other details.

  • Suppose one of the documents is a suffragette’s diary entry. Passages in the entry that detail her advocacy for the Women’s Rights Movement are evidence of her point of view. In contrast, another document is newspaper article written around the same time that opposes suffrage.
  • A diary entry might not have an intended audience but, for documents such as letters, pamphlets, and newspaper articles, you’ll need to identify the author’s likely readers.
  • Most of your sources will probably be written documents, but you’ll likely encounter political cartoons, photographs, maps, or graphs. The U.S. Library of Congress offers a helpful guide to reading specific primary source categories at https://www.loc.gov/teachers/usingprimarysources/guides.html .

Step 4 Place your sources into categories based on the essay prompt.

  • Suppose you have a letter sent from one suffragette to another about the methods used to obtain the right to vote. This document may help you infer how attitudes vary among the movement’s supporters.
  • A newspaper article depicting suffragettes as unpatriotic women who would sabotage World War I for the United States helps you understand the opposing attitude.
  • Perhaps other sources include a 1917 editorial on the harsh treatment of imprisoned suffragists and an article on major political endorsements for women’s suffrage. From these, you’d infer that 1917 marked a pivotal year, and that the role women played on the home front during World War I would lead to broader support for suffrage.

Step 5 Think of relevant outside information to include in your essay.

  • For instance, perhaps you read that the National American Woman Suffrage association (NAWSA) made a strategic shift in 1916 from focusing on state-by-state suffrage to prioritizing a constitutional amendment. Mentioning this switch to a more aggressive strategy supports your claim that the stage was set for a 1917 turning point in popular support for women’s suffrage.
  • When you think of outside evidence during the planning stages, jot it down so you can refer to it when you write your essay. A good spot could be in the margin of a document that relates to the outside information.

Developing an Argument

Step 1 Review the prompt and form a perspective after reading the documents.

  • For example, after reviewing the documents related to women’s suffrage, identify the opposing attitudes, how they differed, and how they changed over time.
  • Your rough argument at this stage could be, “Those in opposition saw suffragettes as unpatriotic and unfeminine. Attitudes within the suffrage movement were divided between conservative and confrontational elements. By the end of World War I, changing perceptions of the role of women contributed to growing popular support for suffrage.”

Step 2 Refine your rough...

  • Suppose your DBQ is, “How did World War I affect attitudes toward women’s suffrage in the United States?” A strong tentative thesis would be, “The roles women played in the workforce and in support of the war effort contributed to growing popular support for the suffrage movement.”
  • A weak thesis would be, “World War I affected how Americans perceived women’s suffrage.” This simply restates the prompt.

Step 3 Make an outline of your argument’s structure.

  • For example, under numeral I., write, “New Woman: perceptions shift in the 1890s.” This section will explain the 1890s concept of the New Woman, which rejected traditional characterizations of women as dependent and fragile. You’ll argue that this, in part, set the stage for shifting attitudes during and following World War I.
  • You can start your planning your essay during the reading portion of the test. If necessary, take around 5 minutes out of the writing portion to finish outlining your argument.

Step 4 Plug your document citations into the outline.

  • For instance, under “I. New Woman: perceptions shift in the 1890s,” write “(Doc 1),” which is a pamphlet praising women who ride bicycles, which was seen as “unladylike” at the time.
  • Beneath that line, write “(Doc 2),” which is an article that defends the traditional view that women should remain in the household. You’ll use this document to explain the opposing views that set the context for suffrage debates in the 1900s and 1910s.

Step 5 Refine your thesis after making the outline.

  • Suppose your tentative thesis is, “The roles women played in the workforce and in support of the war effort contributed to growing popular support for the suffrage movement.” You decide that “contributed” isn’t strong enough, and swap it out for “led” to emphasize causation.

Drafting Your Essay

Step 1 Keep your eye on the clock and plan your time strategically.

  • If you have 45 minutes to write, take about 5 minutes to make an outline. If you have an introduction, 3 main points that cite 6 documents, and a conclusion, plan on spending 7 minutes or less on each of these 5 sections. That will leave you 5 minutes to proofread or to serve as a buffer in case you need more time.
  • Check the time periodically as you write to ensure you’re staying on target.

Step 2 Include your thesis and 1 to 2 sentences of context in your introduction.

  • To set the context, you might write, “The Progressive Era, which spanned roughly from 1890 to 1920, was a time of political, economic, and cultural reform in the United States. A central movement of the era, the Women’s Rights Movement gained momentum as perceptions of the role of women dramatically shifted.”
  • If you’d prefer to get straight to the point, feel free to start your introduction with your thesis, then set the context.
  • A timed DBQ essay test doesn’t leave you much time to write a long introduction, so get straight to analyzing the documents rather than spell out a long, detailed intro.

Step 3 Write your body paragraphs.

  • Each body section should have a topic sentence to let the reader know you’re transitioning to a new piece of evidence. For example, start the first section with, “The 1890s saw shifts in perception that set the stage for the major advances in women’s suffrage during and following World War I.”
  • Be sure to cite your documents to support each part of your argument. Include direct quotes sparingly, if at all, and prioritize analysis of a source over merely quoting it.
  • Whenever you mention a document or information within a document, add parentheses and the number of the document at the end of the sentence, like this: “Women who were not suffragettes but still supported the movement wrote letters discussing their desire to help (Document 2).”

Step 4 Make sure to show how each body paragraph connects to your thesis.

  • For example, a private diary entry from 1916 dismissing suffrage as morally corrupt isn’t necessarily a reflection of broader public opinion. There's more to consider than just its content, or what it says.
  • Suppose a more reliable document, such as a major newspaper article on the 1916 Democratic and Republican national conventions, details the growing political and public support for women’s suffrage. You’d use this source to show that the diary entry conveys an attitude that was becoming less popular.

Step 5 Weave together your argument in your conclusion.

  • In your essay on World War I and women’s suffrage, you could summarize your argument, then mention that the war similarly impacted women’s voting rights on an international scale.

Revising Your Draft

Step 1 Proofread your essay for spelling and grammatical mistakes.

  • If you’re taking an AP history exam or other timed test, minor errors are acceptable as long as they don't affect your argument. Spelling mistakes, for instance, won’t result in a loss of points if the scorer can still understand the word, such as “sufrage” instead of “suffrage.”

Step 2 Make sure you’ve included all required elements.

  • A clear thesis statement.
  • Set the prompt’s broader historical context.
  • Support your argument using 6 of the 7 included documents.
  • Identify and explain 1 piece of historical evidence other than the included documents.
  • Describe 3 of the documents’ points of view, purposes, audiences, or context.
  • Demonstrate a complex understanding of the topic, such as by discussing causation, change, continuity, or connections to other historical periods.

Step 3 Check that your names, dates, and other facts are accurate.

  • As with spelling and grammar, minor errors are acceptable as long as the scorer knows what you mean. Little spelling mistakes are fine, but you’ll lose points if you write that a source supports suffrage when it doesn’t.

Community Q&A

wikiHow Staff Editor

  • Remember that you shouldn't just identify or summarize a document. Explain why a source is important, and tie each reference into your argument. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • If you’re taking an AP history exam, find exam rubrics, practice tests, and other resources at https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/courses . Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Taking a timed test can be tough, so time yourself when you take practice tests. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

dbq essay tips

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  • ↑ http://www.gpb.org/blogs/education-matters/2016/10/14/getting-started-document-based-questions
  • ↑ https://sourceessay.com/tips-to-write-an-impressive-dbq-essay/
  • ↑ https://libguides.jcu.edu.au/writing/writing1
  • ↑ https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/pdf/ap-us-history-dbq-2018.pdf?course=ap-united-states-history
  • ↑ https://history.rutgers.edu/component/content/article/52/106-writing-historical-essays-a-guide-for-undergraduates
  • ↑ https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/pdf/ap-us-history-course-and-exam-description.pdf
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/

About This Article

Emily Listmann, MA

Document-Based Questions, or DBQ essays, are often used in social studies classes to test your ability to do historical work rather than simply memorize facts. Start by spending some time reviewing the documents and developing an argument. Pay special attention to keywords in the prompt that will help you construct your argument. For example, if the prompt includes the words "compare and contrast," you'll need to include 2 different viewpoints in your essay and compare them. Then, as you read your sources, note the authors, points of view, and other key details that will help you figure out how to use the documents. Once you’ve reviewed all of the material, come up with your response. Sketch out a tentative thesis that encapsulates your argument and make an outline for your essay. You can then draft your essay, starting with an introduction that gives context and states your thesis, followed by supporting body paragraphs. To learn how to write a conclusion for your DBQ, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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dbq essay tips

How to Write a DBQ

dbq essay tips

A DBQ essay is an assigned task which tests a student’s analyzation and understanding skills. They also test a student in thinking outside the box. These skills are essential for success in gaining this academic qualification. In this article from EssayPro — professional essay writers team, we will talk about how to write a DBQ, we will go through the DBQ format, and show you a DBQ example.

What Is a DBQ?

Many students may prosper: “What is a DBQ?”. Long story short, DBQ Essay or “Document Based Question” is an assigned academic paper which is part of the AP U.S. History exam (APUSH) set by the United States College Board. It requires a student’s knowledge of a certain topic with evidence from around 3 to 16 reliable sources. Understanding the APUSH DBQ and its outline is essential for success in the exam, itself.

DBQ Outline

We understand that learning how to write a DBQ essay can be difficult for beginners. This is why our professional writers have listed the DBQ format for your own reference while preparing for the exam. Like all essays, this involves an introduction, thesis, body, and conclusion.

How to Write a DBQ

Introduction

  • An introductory sentence to hook your audience.
  • State the background of the topic. Using a source relating to a historical occurrence or historical figure can be helpful at this time.
  • Describe the claims made in your paper which can be supported by the evidence.
  • Create a brief description of the evidence that will be included in the body paragraphs.
  • Write a paragraph which talks about how the DBQ essay question will be answered.

Body Paragraph 1

  • Include the strongest argument. This should be linked to the thesis statement. Read our example of thesis statement .
  • Include an analysis of the references which relate to the strongest argument.
  • Write a statement which concludes the analysis in a different point of view. Include a link to the thesis.
  • Write a transition sentence to the next body paragraph.

Body Paragraph 2

  • Include a reasonable argument which links to the thesis, and the first argument in the previous body paragraph.

Body Paragraph 3

  • Include a reasonable argument which links to the thesis, and the second argument in the previous body paragraph.
  • Write a transition sentence to the conclusion.
  • Create a summarizing argument of the whole paper.
  • Include the main points or important information in the sources.
  • Create a concluding sentence or question which challenges the point of view that argues against these sources.

Feeling Overwhelmed Writing a DBQ ESSAY?

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How to Write a DBQ: Step-By-Step Instructions

For some students, writing a DBQ essay may be hard. Not to worry. Our easy-to-read step-by-step instructions talk about the essential points which includes how to write a DBQ thesis, analyzation, time-management and proofreading your work. It is always important to write your paper in accordance to the DBQ outline for achieving the success you’re capable of.

The DBQ involves:

  • Planning: 15 Minutes
  • Writing: 2 hours and 45 Minutes
  • Proofreading: 10 Minutes

Time management is essential for a successful grade in this form of examination. The general DBQ outline states that the duration is 3 hours and 15 minutes. Spend around 15 minutes planning, 2 hours and 45 minutes writing, and 10 minutes proofreading. Follow these easy-to-read step-by-step instructions to learn how to write a DBQ thesis, body and conclusion successfully.

Step 1: Planning (15 Minutes)

During the exam, it is important to study the provided sources. The exam is 3 hours, so 15 minutes for planning is a reasonable approach. During this time, analyze all of the important key-points from the sources provided. Then, take a note of all of the key points, and write them under the titles; introduction, thesis, body, and conclusion.

Step 2: Introduction (5 Minutes)

First impressions count. Keep the introduction short and brief. Don’t go straight into answering the question in this part of the paper. For a successful introduction, write a brief summary of the overall paper. It is also important to include an introductory sentence.

Step 3: Thesis (20 Minutes)

This form of essay requires a separate 3 paragraphs for the DBQ thesis. Describe the claims made in your paper which can be supported by the evidence. The second paragraph should include a description of the paper. The third paragraph should include how you’re going to answer the question.

  • The key difference with other essays is that the thesis plays an important role in the DBQ structure.
  • The APUSH DBQ thesis should not be two sentences long.
  • The thesis should be written with act least 2 or 3 paragraphs long.

Step 4: Body (2 Hours and 16 Minutes)

Write well-structured, categorized paragraphs. Each paragraph should include one point. Avoid mixing ideas in the paragraphs. Include your answer to the assigned question with the provided documents. It is also important to read between the lines. Each paragraph should link to the thesis.

Step 5: Conclusion (10 Minutes)

The final part of your paper. The conclusion plays a vital role in persuading your audience. A poorly written conclusion means a skeptical audience. For well-written conclusion, summarize the entire paper. Link the conclusion to the thesis. Answer the question in a concluding sentence, “the big idea”.

Step 6: Proofreading (10 Minutes)

Spend around 10 minutes proofreading your work at the end of the exam. It is important to proofread your work to make sure it does not contain any grammatical mistakes. Any writing errors can lower one’s grade. Please make sure that the body paragraphs answer the question and link to the thesis, this is the most important part of the paper.

Writing Tips to Success with Your DBQ Essay

Understand: Before writing, make sure that you understand the sources and the essay question. Duration: Remember that the exam duration is 3 hours and 15 minutes. Study: Practice how to write a DBQ before the actual exam. Identify: Find the key-points from the sources to include in your essay.

How to Write a DBQ

Read Between the Lines: Don’t just write about what you read, but write about what the passages imply. Read all Documents: Make sure you have read all of the sources, prior to writing the paper. Read the Outline: Following the DBQ essay outline is essential for understanding how to structure the paper during the exam. Categorize: Put each point into categories. This will come in useful for writing the body paragraphs. Write the Author’s Opinion: Show an understanding of the writer’s point of view. Write a Temporary DBQ Thesis on your Notes: Doing so will assist you during the paper writing. Follow DBQ Examples: Following a DBQ essay example, while studying, is an excellent way to get a feel for this form of assignment.

DBQ Example

Do you need more help? Following a sample DBQ essay can be very useful for preparation. Usually, when practicing for exams, students commonly refer to an example for understanding the DBQ structure, and other revision purposes. Click on the button to open our DBQ example from one of our professional writers. Feel free to use it as a reference when learning how to write a DBQ.

The Great War and the second ordeal of conflict in Europe, played a fundamental in the increase of the rights for women. During the second world war, the British government encouraged house-wives to do the work of what was primarily traditional for men to do.Such as growing crops and butchering animals, which was generally considered to be“men’s work”. One of the slogans was “dig for victory”. The reason for this was for people to take care of themselves during the difficult times of rationing.

If you think that it's better to pay someone to write my dissertation instead of writing it by your own, get help from our law essay writing team.

Following steps and outlines for custom writing is a great way to learn how to write a DBQ essay. As well as writing tips. Time management is vital for the positive result. Following our advice will enable you to get a good grade by learning how to write a good DBQ. Because learning the DBQ format is essential. Practice is very important for any form of examination. Otherwise, one could not do as well as his or her potential allows him or her to do so.

You might be interested in information about this type of essay, such as the definition essay .

Are you still stuck? Do you sometimes think to yourself: 'Can someone write essay for me '? You’re in luck. Our essay writing service is designed to allow you to easily find custom essay writers at your convenience. Every DBQ essay we deliver is completely original.

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Our experts are able to produce a DBQ essay example within hours. Why not give it a try to improve your knowledge?

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dbq essay tips

How to Write the Document Based Question (DBQ)

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What is the document based question, steps to writing an effective dbq, how do ap scores affect my college chances.

If you’re taking a history AP exam, you’ll likely encounter the Document Based Question (DBQ). This essay question constitutes a significant portion of your exam, so it’s important that you have a good grasp on how best to approach the DBQ. In this post, we’ll cover what exactly a document based question is, and how to answer it successfully.

A Document Based Question (DBQ) is a measure of the skills you learned in your AP classes in regard to recalling history and analyzing related documents. These documents can be primary or secondary sources, and your responses are expected to be in the form of an essay. Your ability to relate the context of documents to concepts beyond the given text and creating meaningful connections between all your sources will help demonstrate your skills as a knowledgeable writer.

The number of documents for a DBQ varies from exam to exam, but typically will fall between five to seven documents. The following AP exams will require you to write a DBQ:

AP U.S. History

AP European History

AP World History

We’ve listed the formats for each exam below, and keep in mind that the number of documents is prone to changing from year to year:

  • Up to seven Documents
  • One hour recommended time (includes 15-minute reading period)
  • Up to seven Documents 
  • 25% of total exam score

With that in mind, let’s jump right into how to craft a strong DBQ response!

We’ve summarized how to write an effective DBQ into the following five steps:

1. Read the prompt first

Though you may be tempted to jump into the documents right away, it’s very important that you first look at what exactly the prompt is asking for. This way, when you eventually look at the documents, your focus will be narrower. A DBQ tests your reading comprehension and analysis skills more than the content itself, making it very important to understand your prompt thoroughly.

2. Skim the document titles

Each document will contain vital information regarding the context, and it’s important to scout key words regarding dates, authors, and anything pertaining to the general sense of what the documents are about. Skimming through your documents like this could save time and allow you to form a more structurally sound thesis.

Let’s take a look at the following graph and figure out how to skim the figure:

dbq essay tips

This document was in a real exam from the AP World History free response questions in 2019. It’s important to pay attention to data provided and what context can be drawn from it. In this case, we’re provided with a graph that displays the life expectancy of a country in relation to the GDP per capita of said country. Being able to skim this graph and notice the common trends in the data points could provide convenient information into the context of the document, without any further intensive reading. 

For example, seeing how countries with a GDP below 4,000 to 5,000 have lower life expectancies already gives us a potential correlation between the two factors. We can use this information to start formulating a thesis, depending on what the prompt is specifically asking for.

Remember, just skim! Don’t worry about reading the entire document yet; this strategy can keep you calm and level-headed before tackling the rest of the document. Methods like this can make acing the AP World History DBQ less intimidating! 

3. Formulate a tentative thesis

A thesis is a statement that should be proved and discussed upon. It’s important to have a strong thesis as the foundation of your DBQ, as it guides the rest of your response in relation to the context. Understanding the difference between weak and strong theses will be imperative to your success, so here is an example of a weak thesis:

“The Cold War originated from some scenarios of conflict between Soviets and some groups of oppressors.” 

Such a thesis can be considered weak for its lack of specificity, focal point, and usability as a constructive tool to write further detail on the subject. This thesis does not take a clear stance or communicate to the reader what the essay will specifically focus on. Here’s how the same thesis can be restructured to be stronger and more useful:

“The Cold War originated from tense diplomatic conflicts relating to propaganda and conspiratorial warfare between the United States and the Soviet Union.”

The information that’s been included into the second thesis about the two groups involved with the Cold War gives you more room to build a structured essay response. In relation to the rubric/grading schema for this DBQ, forming a structurally sound thesis or claim is one of the seven attainable points. Being able to contextualize, analyze, and reason off of this thesis alone could provide for two to four points – this means that five out of seven of your points revolve around your thesis, so make sure that it’s strong! Doing all of this in your fifteen minute reading period is crucial as once this is set, writing your actual response will be much easier!

4. Actively read the documents

Simply reading a document doesn’t normally suffice for creating a well-written and comprehensive response. You should focus on implementing your active reading skills, as this will make a huge difference as to how efficient you are during your work process. 

Active reading refers to reading with an intention to grab key words and fragments of important information, usually gone about by highlighting and separating important phrases. Annotations, underlining, and circling are all great ways to filter out important information from irrelevant text in the documents. 

An example of where you might find important information via active reading is the description. Circle important names or dates to contextualize the document. If you still can’t find contextual value from the title, that’s totally fine! Just scope out the rest of the document in relevance to your thesis – that is, pinpoint the specific information or text that best supports your argument. Finding one or two solid points of interest from one document is usually enough to write about and expand upon within your essay. 

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5. Make an Outline 

If you like outlines, making one before writing your essay might prove helpful, just be aware of the time limit and act accordingly. 

Start with your introduction, then work on the rest of your essay. This way, you can make sure your thesis is clear and strong, and it will help the graders form a clear view on what the general consensus of your paper is. Make sure to include evidence with your thesis within each paragraph and cite only relevant information, otherwise your citations could come across as filler as opposed to useful content. Every commentary or point you make should be tied in some way to the documents.

Format each body paragraph and organize your essay in a way that makes sense to you! The graders aren’t really looking at the structure of your essay; rather, they want to see that you analyzed the documents in a way that is supportive of your essay. As long as you have content from the documents which prove your thesis, the order or manner in which you present them doesn’t matter too much. What’s more important is that your essay is clear and comprehensive. As you write practice DBQs, try having someone else read your essays to make sure that the format is easy to follow.

Keep all these key details in mind as you construct your own DBQ response, and you’re well on your way to writing an effective essay!

Your chances of admission are actually not really impacted by your AP scores; however, the AP classes you take are more important than the exam scores themselves, meaning the impact of your AP scores isn’t as big as you think . 

Instead, focusing on the AP classes on your transcript and the relevance of those classes to your future major is more impactful. For a further detailed understanding of the role AP classes play in regards to your college admissions, use CollegeVine’s free Admissions Calculator , which takes into account your GPA, standardized test scores, and more. 

Additional Information

To dive deeper into DBQs, AP classes, and learning how to tackle each exam check out other resources at CollegeVine:

  • Acing the Document Based Question on the AP US History Exam
  • Acing the AP World History Document Based Question
  • Ultimate Guide to the AP U.S. History Exam
  • Ultimate Guide to the AP European History Exam
  • Ultimate Guide to the AP World History Exam

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How to Write a DBQ Essay: The Ultimate Guide

  • Post by: Professor Conquer
  • Last updated on: August 28, 2021

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Are you a student preparing for APUSH, or AP World History, or AP European History, who hasn’t quite mastered the art of writing the DBQ essay? Don’t worry — it’s a reasonably complex essay, but when broken down into steps, easy to figure out.

Read on for DBQ essay tips: how to annotate the documents, draft your DBQ essay outline, craft your DBQ thesis and argument, write the DBQ, and revise your essay. Included are DBQ examples from the 2018 AP U.S. History exam.

First Things First: What is a DBQ Essay?

A DBQ, or Document Based Question, is an essay question present on many of the history-based AP Exams , including AP U.S. History , AP European History , and AP World History .

The DBQ is one somewhat specific prompt about a historical context, and it includes six documents (either primary text excerpts, art pieces, political cartoons, or other types of archival media).

The goal of the DBQ is to write an essay arguing your specific stance on the question and to support your position with both a selection of the documents and other knowledge of historical events.

You’ll have to provide historical context for the prompt and demonstrate how some factor of each document supports your argument. You’ll also need a firm conclusion that restates your thesis and analysis.

The DBQ will be worth 25% of your score, so it’s essential to do well.

How to Outline a DBQ Essay (with Examples)

How to Outline a DBQ Essay (with Examples)

After you read the prompt, look through the packet of documents and take a second to analyze each in conjunction with the prompt. Does the message of the document seem to support or refute the prompt?

Jot down a few keywords about the historical context of the document — is it from a specific historical event or written by a member of a prominent historical movement? If so, make sure to reference that in your essay.

Also, note whether you can easily use the document to support the prompt.

Make sure to manage your time here — if you’re stuck on a document, just skip it. Don’t waste time trying to figure out something you may not even need in your essay. Don’t make detailed notes either — only one or two keywords you can reference later in your essay.

After you’ve looked at every document, you can determine your argument and your thesis. Are there enough documents that you can easily support the prompt statement? Pick three key points to use in your thesis, with one or two documents for each.

Your outline should not be long or detailed because the last thing you want to do is waste time. All you need is 5 points, one for each paragraph: intro, thesis points 1-3, conclusion (which is just restating the thesis).

dbq essay tips

For each point, write down the main idea of the paragraph, summed up into two or three words, any historical buzzwords you plan to use, and the documents you plan to reference. That should provide enough of a skeleton to get you writing.

Here’s an example, from the 2018 AP U.S. History exam DBQ , released by The College Board. The prompt is as follows:

Evaluate the relative importance of different causes for the expanding role of the United States in the world in the period from 1865 to 1910.

For the outline, look at the documents and devise a thesis. In this case, the writer can group the documents by topic: 2 documents about the importance of a strong foreign presence, two documents warning about federal expansion, and two documents lamenting a divergence from social traditionalism. This means you might want to consider making those three categories your thesis points.

Then, figure out how to make an argument and answer the prompt.

Also, consider the historical context of the time.

Example outline (2018 question):

Contextualization: Post Civil War South in shambles, expansion of industrialization, favorable tariffs, prior isolationism halted in seeking new markets.

Thesis: Imperialism — attitudes of American superiority, foreign conflicts leading to territory gains/opportunities (Manifest Destiny idea), but also backlash to imperialism.

1. Attitudes of American superiority

  • If Anglo-Saxon Americans that if they don’t compete in global affairs, other nations and races will. (Doc 2)
  • A strong navy/military is necessary to defend superior American interests (Doc 3)
  • America as a country can take whatever territories it desires (Doc 4)
  • Attitude that America should not only use military power abroad but also indoctrinate people into American culture and education abroad (Doc 6)
  • Efforts to oppose America unsuccessful (ie in the Philippines)

2. Foreign conflicts and territory gains

  • US’s purchase of Alaska from Russia (Doc 1)
  • Teddy Roosevelt & the importance of foreign affairs (Doc 7)

Conclusion: These attitudes of American superiority continue into the 20th century.

Your outline doesn’t need to be detailed, just provide a roadmap for you to reference as you’re writing your essay, so you don’t lose the focus of your argument.

What Makes an Effective Thesis?

What Makes an Effective Thesis?

Start drafting your thesis by looking at the prompt and the documents in conjunction. Make sure you can support your thesis with some of the documents. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to back it up.

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Figure out what the prompt is asking: College Board tends to use an “action word” in the prompt, each one asking a slightly different thing. Underline the verb — what the prompt wants you to do. Examples:

  • Analyze, Discuss, Consider: Write about the causes and mechanizations of the prompt: basically how and why something occurred the way it did historically. Use evidence (the documents) to back up your claims.
  • Assess: Generally, in reference to a statement. Write about how historically defensible, or accurate the statement is. You can take any stance, but whichever one you choose needs to be backed up by evidence (the documents).
  • Evaluate: Determine which cause, or historical factor, proved most influential in the way a past event or movement played out. You can discuss several factors or causes, and figure out the extent to which each impacted the historical event, back up your evaluation with evidence.
  • Compare/Contrast: Identify key historical characteristics (social, political, economic) of the two movements/events/etc. listed in the prompt, and then draw comparisons between them and point out their differences. For your three-point essay, choose either two to be similarities and one to be a difference or two to be differences and one to be a similarity, depending on what you have evidence for/documents to back up.
  • Explain: Provide lots of detail about the causes or contributing factors to the historical event/movement/etc. listed in the prompt. Look at the social, political, and economic factors, and back up your explanation with the documents and other outside evidence.

Make sure your thesis answers the prompt, but moreover, makes a historically defensible claim that can be supported by the documents. You can then develop your thesis points using the context of the documents.

Your thesis also functions as a sort of roadmap for where your paper will go. Include your thesis points in an order that will make sense in your essay, especially if they build on each other.

Your thesis only has to be one to three sentences. Don’t start writing your body paragraph while still in your thesis statement — save all the evidence for later in your paper.

Here’s an introduction and thesis paragraph scoring full points, released by the College Board from the 2018 AP U.S. History exam. The first part of the paragraph functions as contextualization, and it introduces the period, setting up the prompt.

The next part is the thesis:

 The United States primarily sought to increase its role in the world due to the notion that America and the American lifestyle was superior and to also gain strategic territory to expand their influence globally. Despite these strong imperialist sentiments, however, there were still many who were against the movement and considered it a moral wrongdoing.

The student takes a clear stance here: The US deliberately sought to increase their role in global affairs, and a rhetoric of American superiority and the quest to gain more territory together caused this increase.

  • The general assumption of American superiority
  • The government gaining strategic territory for global affairs
  • Pushback to imperialism

How to Develop a DBQ Argument

How to Develop a DBQ Argument

Again, develop your argument by looking at the documents. What about the goal or message of each document supports your argument? What does each document say about its historical period? Ask these questions and jot down some other buzzwords from the time period you could reference to support your argument.

You can put the documents into categories depending on what they’re saying — then you can use these categories to develop your thesis points, which back up your argument.

In the case of the 2018 DBQ referenced above, the student grouped their documents by body paragraphs.

For their first thesis point, the general assumption of American superiority,

  • A document telling Anglo-Saxon Americans that if they don’t compete in global affairs, other nations and races will.
  • A document stating the importance of a strong navy to defend American interests
  • A cartoon portraying America as a country in a position to take whatever territories it desires
  • A document suggesting America should not only use military power abroad but also indoctrinate people into American culture and education abroad.

Together, they used these documents to demonstrate attitudes both political and social driving American imperialism, and how the rhetoric of American superiority pushed the US to imperialism and into global affairs.

For their second thesis point, gaining strategic territory for global affairs

  • A document about the US’s purchase of Alaska from Russia
  • A document from Teddy Roosevelt about the importance of foreign affairs.

These demonstrated how the US’s direct intervention in foreign affairs could get them more territory and power — which increased the US’s global influence.

Since their third thesis point wasn’t a cause, more of a qualifying point, the student didn’t use any of the documents.

By grouping documents together based on their message, it’s easier to develop supportable thesis points. However, if you can think of several thesis points after reading the prompt, you can also jot them down and then see what documents fit under each.

What to Look for When Analyzing the DBQ Documents

What to Look for When Analyzing the DBQ Documents

You should contextualize/analyze at least three documents in your essay. Here are some options to analyze. For the examples, we’ll use document 3 from the same 2018 DBQ. For each example, sample notes and a sample essay analysis sentence are included. Remember, you only have to analyze one characteristic of each document for your essay.

Source: Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Interest of America in Sea Power, Present and Future, 1897.

To affirm the importance of distant markets, and the relation to them of our own immense powers of production, implies logically the recognition of the link that joins the products and the markets, that is, the carrying trade; the three together constituting that chain of maritime power to which Great Britain owes her wealth and greatness. Further, is it too much to say that, as two of these links, the shipping and the markets, are exterior to our own borders, the acknowledgement of them carries with it a view of the relations of the United States to the world radically distinct from the simple idea of self-sufficingness? … There will dawn the realization of America’s unique position, facing the older worlds of the East and West, her shores washed by the oceans which touch the one or the other, but which are common to her alone.

Despite a certain great original superiority conferred by our geographical nearness and immense resources, due, in other words, to our natural advantages, and not to our intelligent preparation, the United States is woefully unready, not only in fact but in purpose, to assert in the Caribbean and Central America a weight of influence proportioned to the extent of her interests. We have not the navy, and, what is worse, we are not willing to have the navy, that will weigh hersiously in any disputes with those nations whose interests will conflict there will or our own. We have not, and we are not anxious to provide, the defence of the seaboard which will leave the navy free for its work at sea. We have not, but many other powers have, positions, either within or on the borders of the Caribbean.

1. Author’s point of view

Was the author a member of a political party opposed to specific issues, or an activist leading a prominent social movement? Identify their outlook on the document.

Notes to take: 2018 example: importance of navy, military strength for imperialism

Analysis: 2018 example: The author, like some military leaders at the time, advocated for the strengthening of domestic fortification and the enlargement of the navy to extend America’s influence abroad.

2. The intended audience

Is the document a news article from a major newspaper? An excerpt from a political pamphlet? A diary entry? Ask yourself who would have read the document — this will help you identify the author’s intended message.

Notes to take: 2018 example: Military interests abroad

Analysis: 2018 example: The intended audience was military leaders interested in hearing how better to increase the US’s influence abroad and fortify the country domestically.

3. The message or purpose of the document

Was the document’s purpose to inform readers objectively? Was it to persuade them to join a political movement? Or to entertain them? Identifying the purpose can help you better understand the document, and use the document to strengthen your argument.

Notes to take: 2018 example: fortify the navy, influence military/political leaders

Analysis: 2018 example: The author attempted to influence United States political leaders to enlarge the United States Navy to extend its reach into Central America and the Far East

4. Historical influences on the document

Did a specific historical event motivate the author to create the document? Did the actions of other scholars, activists, or politicians noticeably inspire the author? This one might not be easy, but if you know about other historical movements or figures during the same or an earlier time period with a similar message, they might be related. Take note.

Notes to take: 2018 example: Federal expansion, desegregation, civil rights movt

Analysis: 2018 example: European endeavors in Latin America and in the Far East increased the need for the United States to extend its reach into the region to protect its growing economic interests.

3 Strategies to Use When Drafting Your DBQ

3 Strategies to Use When Drafting Your DBQ

1. Be familiar with the rubric , and follow it.

The DBQ rubric is as follows:

Thesis: 1 point. Must answer the prompt with a historically defensible claim.

Contextualization: 1 point. Contextualization can be part of your introduction paragraph. Introduce the broader historical context of the time period — what, outside the specific events of the prompt, influenced public attitudes or policy during the time period? How might these other factors have influenced the events of the prompt?

Evidence: 3 points. Using at least 3 of the documents to address the prompt and strengthen your argument is 1 point. Using at least 6 of the documents to address the prompt and reinforce your argument will get you 2 points. Using outside evidence not discussed in any of the documents from your historical knowledge will get you 1 point.

If you use six documents and some outside evidence, you’ll get the full 3 points.

Analysis and reasoning: 2 points. One point if, for at least 3 of the documents, you analyze the author’s point of view, purpose, audience, or historical influences in reference to the prompt and support your argument. Explain why the author’s purpose, or audience, etc. is relevant to your case to get this point.

For the second point, you have to use evidence to demonstrate a sophisticated knowledge of the topic of the prompt. Does your argument answer the question in a way that’s supported with both the documents and other evidence? Does your writing show that you know what you’re talking about?

If you’ve reviewed the rubric ahead of time, make sure to mentally check off boxes as you go through and write. You could potentially miss something small (ie, only integrating five documents, or forgetting to reference outside evidence) and lose a whole point.

2. Use the documents as a guide.

Since you have to include at least six documents in your essay for the full 2 points, you should make sure they can fit into your thesis points and support your argument. When you’re stuck writing one of your body paragraphs, reference a document and analyze how it reflects historical attitudes at the time.

You should also add in the documents you plan to reference in your outline, so if you follow your outline, you can let the documents and other outside evidence guide your writing.

However, also remember to bring in at least one piece of outside historical knowledge — treat that as another document and analyze it to support your argument.

3. Use your historical knowledge to supplement the documents.

Bring in your knowledge beyond the documents and their contexts. Is one of the documents from a suffragette in the 19th century? Bring in some of the other knowledge you have about the early feminist movement and the push for women’s voting rights. Add in critical buzzwords the documents may not have directly stated, and talk about similar events and movements at the time that may have affected or been affected by the document.

You can also reference historical events, movements, or people not discussed in any of the documents at all, assuming they support your argument, to strengthen your essay outside the scope of the documents.

How to Conclude Your DBQ Essay

How to Conclude Your DBQ Essay

In the updated 2017 DBQ, you don’t need to write a synthesis paragraph. So conclude your DBQ essay by reiterating the main analysis points of your body paragraph briefly, and restate your thesis. Together, this will distill your essay down to its main points for a clear, strong conclusion.

Don’t add any new material — all your analysis should be in your body paragraphs, and anything more will just confuse your reader.

How to Revise Your DBQ Essay Effectively

How to Revise Your DBQ Essay Effectively

If you have time before the end of the writing period and you’ve finished writing your DBQ, go back and revise it. Read through everything again, paying close attention to the following.

Contextualization:

  • Have you successfully “set the scene” by describing some of the relevant historical context of the time period, including other prominent social movements, policies and legislation, economic market changes, or religious movements?
  • Are your three original thesis points used as the foundation for your three body paragraphs? If not, change your thesis to make sure it lines up with the rest of your essay.
  • Does your thesis take a stance and make a historically defensible claim? Read it over in conjunction with the prompt and make sure it’s answering the entirety of the question and not just restating the prompt.

Body Paragraphs:

  • Do you use two or more documents per body paragraph for a total of 6 or more documents total? If not, look over which documents you haven’t used and integrate them into one of your body paragraphs.
  • Each time you use a document, do you effectively contextualize it? Do you discuss how the author’s purpose, intended audience, point of view, or historical influences support your argument? If not, add that.
  • Is your argument logically supported by each piece of evidence you offer?
  • Do you have at least one piece of evidence outside of the documents that supports your argument?
  • Does each body paragraph flow logically into the next? Make sure your transitions are smooth.

General Time Management Tips When Writing DBQs

General Time Management Tips When Writing DBQs

You only have a limited amount of time for the entire essay, so manage your time intelligently . I wouldn’t recommend spending more than 10, 15 minutes max thinking about your argument and drafting an outline.

During the AP exam, they’ll give you a specific time period of 15 minutes to spend reading the documents and thinking about your argument, then 45 minutes to write the essay.

But 45 minutes isn’t a ton of time, use the 15 minutes intelligently, so you’re ready to start writing as soon as possible. You want the maximum possible amount of time for writing since that’s what’s going to be graded.

Ideally, you should try and finish with five minutes or so to revise your finished essay, check for readability errors, factual errors, parts where your argument isn’t cohesive.

Make sure to coordinate with the other essay: the LEQ to make sure you have enough time to write both essays successfully. You get 55 minutes for the DBQ and 35 minutes for the LEQ, so the longer you spend on the DBQ, the less time you get on the LEQ.

This is why practice is so important! You won’t be able to write a good DBQ in 45-55 minutes on your first try.

You shouldn’t need a ton of time to look over each document, just jot down a few keywords about what it’s saying and how that might fit into your essay. Your outline doesn’t need to be more than 5 points: an intro, conclusion, and three body paragraphs, each based on a thesis point, with the documents you plan to use for each.

What Delineates a Good DBQ from a Bad DBQ?

What Delineates a Good DBQ from a Bad DBQ?

Good DBQs have theses with a strong stance and defensible claim, as well as three specific points that build on each other and can be backed up logically using six of the documents provided.

Good thesis examples (from the 2018 question):

“While some historians may argue that the US desire to expand its role in the world was due to the fact that the US felt it was its duty to civilize nations and act as a global police, the most important reason for America expanding its role in the world can be attributed to its competition with Europe over global influence, its desire to expand its economy through trading opportunities, and the U.S. ideal of manifest destiny.”

This thesis makes a claim and reflects the cause and effect prompt. You can tell where their essay is going to go: to discuss the US as global police and its competition with other global influencers.

“The country was doing this for a few reasons, such as expanding its territory, (manifest destiny or imperialism) preserving its national interests such as trading with China, and helping other nations.”

Same with this thesis — though this one isn’t as wordy. It outlines 3 body paragraph points and makes a defensible argument.

Bad DBQ theses don’t make a strong claim, instead opting for a vague statement that can’t be defended well either way. They pick thesis points that cannot be backed up well with the documents or other outside evidence.

Bad thesis example:

Due to this, America began to embark on an imperialistic mission in the latter half of the 1800’s in the name of economic, social, and political ‘necessities.’

Different causes and events had a major importance in expanding the role of the US in the world.

These theses aren’t specific to the time period. They restate the prompt, and we have no idea what the “necessities” might be.

Good DBQs integrate their documents logically, in a way that supports their claim. They analyze the historical context of the documents and note how the author’s intended audience, purpose, point of view, or historical influences play into their argument.

They also reference the specific names of related historical events or influences to strengthen their argument and bring in other outside evidence not related to the document that supports their point.

Bad DBQs don’t use the documents to support their argument, instead of discussing the documents outside of the context of their argument, or forgetting to use the documents. They might draw illogical or loose-fitting connections between the documents and their argument, while unable to entirely explain why they fit together.

They don’t use any evidence outside the documents, and they’re unable to provide specific historical names for events or movements related to the documents.

Conclusion:

Good DBQs go back to the prompt and restate the thesis, as well as a few main points of your analysis.

Bad DBQs add more material that should have gone in a body paragraph, that will just further confuse the reader.

College Board Resources for DBQs

College Board Resources for DBQs

The College Board website has lots of practice DBQs and DBQ resources to use. Make sure you look some over before the exam to get a sense of how the College Board tends to grade them and what easy mistakes you can avoid.

Most Updated DBQ Rubric : Here are the rubrics for all the AP History essays.

Practice DBQs:

Practice writing DBQs then read some sample essays and grade them with the rubric for more familiarity with the DBQ essay rubric.

AP U.S. History past DBQs

AP European History past DBQs

AP World History past DBQs

More information: AP Classroom

Specific information about AP History, including timing and question numbers, FAQs, plus practice resources:

AP World History

Wrapping Things Up: Key Takeaways on Writing a Good DBQ Essay

The biggest takeaways to writing a good DBQ should be: starting prepared by annotating the documents and drafting your thesis and a clear outline to guide you through the writing process. You need to make sure you have a robust and defensible argument and that your documents can back up your key points.

Hopefully, the listed tips have helped you better understand the DBQ rubric and the skills you need to ace the DBQ, but don’t forget the next step: practice! The DBQ essay style is a little complex, and the best way to better remember it for the test is to look at some of the sample prompts on the College Board website and practice! Then, go through the grading rubrics and identify your weak point, so next time you’ll be even better.

Did you enjoy this post? Then you may also want to check out some of our guides to the best AP review books .

We also created extensive tips guides for many of the AP History courses:

> AP US Government Tips and Test Taking Strategies

> AP US History Tips and Test Taking Strategies

> AP World History Tips and Test Taking Strategies

Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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How to Write a DBQ Essay?

01 October, 2020

20 minutes read

Author:  Richard Pircher

AP (Advanced Placement) examinations are standardized tests designed to evaluate how well American students have mastered the course and acquired skills on specific subjects. Most AP courses presuppose final paper-and-pencil tests at the end of the year, but some courses come with different ways to assess students’ knowledge. AP tests cover the full content of each course and give college students an opportunity to obtain college credits and placements.

dbq essay

What Is a DBQ?

A DBQ essay is a type of academic paper written on the basis of a Document Based Question. It implies that students will have some documents to be used as sources of information for writing an essay. Since 2002, the DBQ essay format has been used to test college students for understanding historical development.

The time of US history usually covers a period from 1607 to 1980. At present, the DBQ method is also used to test students in AP European and world history, as well as social studies. The approach is the same, but sources of information are different. For writing DBQ essays, students are offered to analyze some historical events or problems based on the sources or materials provided.

The Purpose of A DBQ Essay

The point of document based question essays is that students are provided with seven documents to be analyzed and used to present evidence-based argumentation in their writings. Students have to formulate the thesis, which should be typically presented in the last sentence of the introduction. Further, this thesis has to be supported by evidence and historical facts. This test is aimed to evaluate the students’ abilities of:

  • Analyzing documents, taking into account their authors’ points of view, their purposes, and general context;
  • Formulating a strong thesis and substantiating it in an essay;
  • Using personal knowledge for supporting the thesis with additional facts.

However, students should not wholly rely on knowledge of historical facts during the test. They rather have to analyze the information contained in the provided documents. To successfully pass this test, students need to have the skills of logical thinking, as well as profound knowledge of civilization development, historical facts, and geographical regions. The task is to interpret historical material, draw conclusions based on existing knowledge, and answer the main question.

Preparing For The DBQ Essay

The DBQ test is based on the skills of historical analysis that you can acquire and put into practice. For writing a strong DBQ essay, you need to use the evidence provided to support an argument, make connections between different documents, and apply specific information in a broader context. Also, a historical essay with a Document Based Question answers the issues of the author’s intentions, general conditions, target audience, and so on.

It is recommended to practice writing this type of essays to be well prepared for the DBQ essays. When you exercise, you do not have to write a complete essay every time. The main point is to understand the main issue and related documents and then sketch out the thesis. Make sure you are aware of the general historical trends and periods.

The general flow of your preparation should include taking a practice of the DBQ test and focusing on analysis and exposing your suggestions in writing. How much you take the practice DBQs depends on how perfect preparation you need and how often you want to check your progress. Take practice to write DBQ essays so that this format becomes familiar to you, but not so much that you fail to apply other skills.

How to write a DBQ essay? Firstly, do not intend to fudge your way through the DBQ test by using only beautiful writing with no substance. Secondly, you should focus on the meaning of your essay. Thirdly, you can get your essay peer-reviewed online. Fourthly, ask somebody who has experience in this matter to review your practice with a DBQ essay. Listen to comments and ideas of that person to take these recommendations into consideration.

Stuck on writing an DBQ essay? Our Essay writers is always ready to help you!

DBQ Outline

The process of writing a DBQ essay requires a proper outline. Plan how much time you can spend on each paragraph. Read the main question carefully and make sure you understand what is being asked. As you read the documents, take notes about what information they contain, who the author is, and which historical period it belongs to. Before you start writing, think about the thesis. The materials provided and your notes will help you compose a thesis.

Read the essential hints and objectives carefully. Make sure you understand what evidence to look for in the documents and what the instructors want to see in your essay. Most probably, you might be asked to analyze or explain the reasons for the historical development. Use your knowledge to compare and contrast different perspectives on a concept. Show how public opinion has changed over a specified period.

The outline to plan and write a DBQ essay is similar to an FRQ (Free Response Question) test, but your evidence should be based on the supplied documents. When you read these documents, ask yourself what grabs your attention and what is the background information on the topic (date, place, and surrounding situation). State the question with key terms. Tell what the reasons to prove your point of view are.

Think about the thesis or roadmap of what the essay will be about. Typically, a statement credited as evidence from outside the documents will be more specific and relevant to an argument, analogous to the function of evidence drawn from the papers. In the body paragraphs, outline sub theses based on the information from either documents or sources, as well as provide two to three examples. Each sub thesis should be grounded by evidence.

Support details for reasons with references to the specific documents or sources and connect your evidence to your thesis. In the central argument or conclusion, restate your thesis. It should not be its exact duplication, but a periphrasis of your thesis statement in differing words. Explain and not simply identify how or why the documents, their purposes, historical situation, and audience are relevant to an argument. In the end, clarify relevant and insightful connections across time and space and explain why the issue is significant today.

DBQ Structure

Here are the main parts of the DBQ essay a student cannot forget about:

DBQ Essay Introduction: Starting DBQ Format

Problems and discussions usually characterize the DBQ essay outline. In this work, it is not enough to retell what is written in a textbook, as is often the case in a DBQ essay, or to apply a problem-solving technique, as in a test. When writing the DBQ essay outline, you can be guided by the example of the logic of construction, become familiar with the DBQ essay, and start with the relevance of the topic.

Strong Thesis Statement: What Should It Include?

The strength of your thesis statement influences how you write a DBQ. The standard number of theses for a DBQ essay is from 2 to 5. To determine the exact number of ideas, you must be guided by the required work. The larger the text, the stronger the thesis statement should be. It isn’t easy to write a DBQ on one thesis statement.

There are specific ways to write a DBQ with a strong thesis statement in the paper. The main DBQ essay outline has only four points:

  • DBQ outline requires you to determine why you are convincing the reader of the truth or falsity of the thesis statement. To do this, it is desirable to be clear about the target audience. Your thesis statement should be interesting to the reader. Otherwise, he will not read further;
  • Gathering information. You can write a good DBQ essay only if you have read enough literature on the topic before. In the process, you will be able to understand the relevance of your document-based question;
  • In any DBQ format, it is essential to identify keywords that will be the anchor points and skeleton of the DBQ essay outline.

DBQ Essay Example: Describe Your Main Ideas in Body Paragraph

It reveals the DBQ essay outline from the introduction from different angles. The central part of the DBQ format is not a continuous text; it is divided into smaller pieces. In the first part, you need to state your DBQ outline and describe how you understand and feel about the topic. Next, justify your opinion with arguments. DBQ outline demands facts from life, scientific studies, and views of scientists. You can cite facts from history to write a DBQ.

DBQ Essay Example: Logical Conclusion

The conclusion of a document-based question essay can contain such an essential, complementary element to the article as an indication of the application (implication) of your research, not excluding the relationship with other problems. DBQ essay example: “The DBQ essay is mainly about gender relations in agricultural labor, but a fuller examination would also require an examination of class relations,” followed by a few sentences explaining how the DBQ essay does that.

How to Write a DBQ essay With a Strong Thesis Statement

DBQ stands for a document based question. Such assignments require a student to demonstrate their ability to create well-researched arguments. If you have never written such tasks, read about the DBQ format.

Steps of Writing a DBQ

Create dbq essay outline: write an intro.

You will be provided with a historical context to help write a DBQ introduction. In addition, it will allow you to develop several ideas for writing your text.

Make sure to write a DBQ first sentence that answers 4 questions:

It will allow you to provide your reader with a context and briefly indicate what problem you will solve. This sentence should be the first part of your DBQ essay outline. It is followed by a couple of sentences preceding a thesis statement.

Write a Powerful Thesis Statement

To write a DBQ that will look well-researched, pay careful attention to this part of your essay. Likewise, consider the question you need to answer when writing a thesis statement.

To get tops marks for your document based question essay, follow these steps:

  • Make claims and provide pieces of evidence
  • When creating a DBQ essay outline, remember to describe the information that you will base your statements on
  • Write a paragraph explaining how you will answer the main question

If you have never written a thesis statement before, look at a DBQ essay example to see how another author coped with this task.

Correctly Structure a Body Paragraph in Your DBQ Essay Outline

A DBQ format doesn’t require you to limit the number of body paragraphs. However, when creating a DBQ outline, include at least 3 paragraphs to cover the main points.

The first paragraph should follow your thesis statement. Experienced writers start a DBQ essay outline by selecting the strongest point and analyzing it from several points of view. Then, use a transition sentence to move smoothly to the next part of your DBQ outline. It will enable you to write a DBQ more easily.

The second and third paragraphs of your DBQ essay outline should also refer to the thesis statement. You can also find a DBQ essay example with four or more paragraphs if you need to provide a detailed answer to your question.

DBQ format is quite easy to use. You can make your text logical by creating an easy-to-follow DBQ outline. Don’t forget to add another transition sentence at the end of this part of your text.

Draw a Conclusion

The last part of your DBQ outline should summarize your argument and show that you have answered the question. Use a DBQ essay example to see how such parts of these essays are usually written. The main thing is to list your main points and show that the opposing views are biased.

Wrapping Up

Following these tips, you can write a DBQ essay demonstrating that you can analyze complex issues and draw independent conclusions. Practice a lot to hone your skills and get the highest marks!

DBQ Essay Examples

If you are not sure of how to write a DBQ essay, you can always search and find good examples online. You can find them on the College Board website. This organization administers AP tests, and therefore, the provided DBQ essay samples can give you some prompts and responses to many questions. These samples are not only evaluated, but the score system is explained in accordance with the rubric.

Writing Tips to Succeed with Your DBQ Essay

The AP test typically consists of one or two DBQ essays, and 45 minutes is given to writing each of them. So, students have up to 90 minutes to draw up a plan and finish two papers. When you see the task for writing a DBQ essay, you will see instructions, a hint, and attached documents. Usually, up to seven different sources are provided. These can be newspaper clippings, articles, maps, drawings, photographs, and so on. However, you do not need to use all the documents, but at least four of them.

It is recommended that you first read the materials and schedule your time carefully. Organize these sources into categories and define how each document relates to your main question. Think about how to use documents to support your argument. If you are comparing different points of view, classify your sources based on opposing opinions.

Also, try to include relevant external information in your essay. You need to provide at least one piece of evidence besides the data from the provided documents. List some external evidence on a draft to refer to when writing your essay. As you write your DBQ essay, support your arguments with links to provided documents. Make sure that both your argument structure and supporting evidence back up your preliminary thesis.

You should describe how a particular event, movement, or somebody’s beliefs can support your statement. Outline the structure of your arguments in your DBQ essay. Start with your preliminary thesis and break your essay into multiple parts. In each of them, write one statement or element for the argument. Under each idea, list a few points supporting that part of your argument. Also, do not just cite sources without analysis.

Make sure you use documents to craft and highlight your point of view. Refine your thesis and make sure again that your thesis is clear, does not contain unnecessary words, and fully answers the main question. When writing an essay, general historical accuracy is essential, but not details. If minor details are not indicated correctly without affecting the general meaning, then this will not lead to a decrease in the overall test score.

How To Be Successful On The DBQ Test Day?

The matter of how to write a DBQ essay may seem challenging, but you are able to pass an AP test and get a high score provided that you have particular skills. It is recommended to get acquainted with the DBQ essay rubric that instructors use to evaluate AP tests. Information about this rubric can be found on the College Board website. It has four categories: abstracts, document analysis, use of third-party evidence, and synthesis.

You can get one point for the thesis and argument. An extra point is given for a perfect thesis presenting the close relationship between historical events and their causes. A strong thesis, supported by information from documents or any other source, is of great importance. Also, you need to reinforce this thesis in your paper. Demonstrate that you have generated a critical understanding of the given sources by focusing on what they mean rather than what they say.

Another three points are provided for the use of the maximum number of documents and their detailed analysis. This analysis refers to the authors’ points of view, target audience, or historical context. Be sure to reveal the connection between your research and your main argument. Providing an external example and establishing a link with another historical period or topic is estimated as one additional point. You are advised to give an extra specific example that is relevant to your argument.

When passing an AP History exam with a DBQ essay, you will lose one point out of seven if you do not relate your arguments to the broader historical context. Also, you will miss one point if you just mention sources or add quotes at random. You have to establish logical connections between the documents and the conclusions you draw.

For synthesis, you need to show the link between your arguments about a specific period with another historical time, social processes, geographic regions, etc. It is best done in the final part of your essay. This task will earn you one more point. In the end, take at least a few minutes to check everything and make corrections. Make sure the names, dates, and other facts are provided correctly.

Thus, the maximum number of points that you can get in the AP exam with DBQ essays is 7. For that, you have to clearly state your thesis, establish a broader historical context, support your argument with as many documents as possible, provide external evidence, and describe several points of view. However, you do not need to obtain the highest score to achieve your goals. You can get 5 or 6 points out of 7 on this exam, and it will be a success. Even 3 points can give you a credit score in many colleges.

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How to Write a DBQ Essay for APUSH

DBQ Essay APUSH

The Document Based Question (DBQ) essay is a key feature of the APUSH exam. And at 25% of your total score, it’s an important feature! Keep reading and you will get some great tips on how to write a DBQ for the APUSH exam.

What is a DBQ essay?

As I stated in a previous post on what the APUSH exam is all about , the goal of the exam is to test your historical thinking skills. Historians write arguments based on documents, and for this exam, you will, too.

For a DBQ essay, you will receive several documents of varying length. You will be asked to respond to some historical prompt that will require you to use the documents as evidence in your response. The great thing about a DBQ is that a lot of information you need to answer the question is in the documents themselves – score! However, you do need to have some background knowledge to make sense of the documents (we will practice this later in the post). The documents could be tables, charts, personal letters, or any other source that the exam creators believe would help you answer the question. Generally speaking, the documents will represent multiple perspectives on one topic.

It will be your job to synthesize those various perspectives into a coherent response.

Let’s walk through a sample DBQ topic for the APUSH exam.

Before we get too far into this, it’s important that you note that College Board, the organization that writes the APUSH exam, has made some major changes starting in 2015. I will be taking you through the 2015 sample the College Board provided for students to practice, but, as you will see in a second, it’s important that you practice as much as possible in order to read the documents quickly. Just make a note that the format may be slightly different if you review an exam prior to 2015.

Let’s say that you come across this prompt for a DBQ question:

Compare and contrast views of United States overseas expansion in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Evaluate how understandings of national identity, at the time, shaped these views.

Before you Read

You have 7 documents to read in the suggested time of 15 minutes. How is that even possible?!

Well, no one ever said it was going to be easy. But it is possible. When you get that prompt, or any other DBQ prompt like it, what you do before you read the documents will be just as important as what you end up writing. Before you even read the content of the documents, you should:

  • Recall what you know about the time period.
  • Read the source information for each document.
  • Recognize the possible opinions that could be compared and contrasted.

Let’s dig into each of those steps.

1. Recall what you know

This DBQ is interested in U.S. overseas expansion in the late 19th and early 20th century. What do you know about U.S. overseas expansion during that time period? Perhaps you remember something about the Spanish-American War of 1898, which falls into our time period. Perhaps you remember that the U.S. got some territory as a result of that war. Even if you can’t remember exactly what territory, this puts you in a much better position to get started.

2. Read the source information

Take these two documents below as an example.

Jane Addams speech for “Democracy or Militarism

Before I read the document, I see that Jane Addams titled her speech “Democracy or Militarism.” Based on the title alone, I can begin to make some inferences that this document is not likely to be positive about any overseas expansion that would most certainly require military force.

William Jennings Bryan campaign speech

Before I even read this document, I can see that William Jennings Bryan is campaigning for the presidency. However, I cannot recall there ever being a President Bryan, meaning that he was unsuccessful in his campaign. Perhaps what he was saying was not popular enough to get enough votes.

These inferences help me make sense of the document later on.

3. Recognize possible opinions

Again, before I read the documents closely, I recognize that this is a compare/contrast question. Before I even read this document, I’m going to make the following table so that I can group documents later on.

This table will help me more easily write my essay.

I know that your instinct will be to see the clock and think, OH MY GOSH, I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO BE DOING ALL THIS PREP WORK, MS. BERRY!!!!

Fight that instinct, because these steps will help you write a more coherent essay.

While you read

This part is tough. You have quite a few documents to make sense of in a short amount of time. But, as you are reading as fast as you can, you should be actively annotating the document for the following:

  • Words, phrases, and/or visual cues that help you place the document into a group that helps you answer the question .
  • Words, phrases, and/or visual cues that help you activate background knowledge .
  • Words, phrases, and/or visual cues that help you understand the document’s bias .

You will have to practice this multiple times to get good at it; there’s really no way around that. But you have a plan of attack. So work your plan to make your plan work!

As you write

When you are writing your DBQ, use the five paragraph essay to your advantage. I am sure you know lots of other things that could turn this answer into a novel, but the most important thing for this task is to make sure that you get enough of your ideas on the page so that your APUSH exam scorer knows that you know.

  • First paragraph: introduction with a thesis statement
  • Second paragraph: documents FOR expansion (As you write, make sure to mention who is for expansion and compare/contrast that with who is against it.)
  • Third paragraph: documents AGAINST expansion (As you write, make sure to mention who is against expansion and compare/contrast that with who is for it.)
  • Fourth paragraph: documents with ambiguity or complicated arguments (You should compare these documents to BOTH groups.)
  • Fifth paragraph: Conclusion that reiterates your argument

You may be thinking, why do I need that fourth paragraph? That seems needlessly complicated, to look for documents that are complicated.

Well, you are trying to score well on this DBQ, right? (Remember: it’s 25% of your overall score!)

You get a point for being able to do the following:

“Develop and support a cohesive argument that recognizes and accounts for historical complexity by explicitly illustrating relationships among historical evidence such as contradiction, corroboration, and/or qualification.” AP Scoring Guide

You will want that point!

I’ve given you a lot of information; but this information will become more like second nature the more you practice! For a summary, look at the table below.

And happy studying!

In summary: Strategies for writing the DBQ Essay

Allena Berry

Allena Berry loves history; that should be known upfront. She loves it so much that she not only taught high school history and psychology after receiving her Master’s degree at Stanford University, she is now studying how students learn history at Northwestern. That being said, she does not have a favorite historical time period (so don’t bother asking). In addition to history, she enjoys writing, practicing yoga, and scouring Craigslist for her next DIY project or midcentury modern piece of furniture.

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How to Write a DBQ Essay

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As you prepare for college, you will want to learn as much as possible about a DBQ essay. This type of essay is found in AP history exams and social studies classes in different grades.

A DBQ , or Document-Based Question essay  requires students to develop an argument using evidence from a set of primary source documents provided to them. The DBQ essay tests a student's ability to critically analyze multiple documents, connect them to the historical context, and form a coherent, well-argued response. These documents may include written texts, images, graphs, or maps, and typically relate to a specific historical period or theme.

It deals with way more of historical documents then you might have thought. So, at some point, you can certainly find yourself at a loss. “How to write a DBQ Essay?”, you may ask. Don't worry! In this article, we will talk about how to write it. We will look at its format and show you an example. Are you ready to learn more now from proficient essay writers online ?

What Is a DBQ Essay: Main Definition

In simple terms, a DBQ Essay is an assignment that tests student's analytical and comprehension skills. There is a more formal definition of this term. DBQ stands for Document-Based Question. This type of essay is part of the AP US History (APUSH) exam established by the US College Board. Student's task is to provide their foliage knowledge and back it up with facts. Three to 16 reliable sources of information are required. To write quality work, you must understand more about the DBQ essay schema.

How to Write a DBQ Essay: Step-by-Step Guide

The first question that students have is “how to write a DBQ essay?” Students must familiarize themselves with an issue posed in a document. They should interpret presented material with particular historical period in mind. Student will have 15 minutes to read paper, take notes, and then 45 minutes to write their DBQ. Sounds a little complicated? No worries. We’ve prepared a basic step-by-step guide to help you complete this challenge for the highest score.

Step 1. Analyze the Documents Before Starting a DBQ Essay

If you are on an AP exam , you will have 15 minutes to familiarize yourself with the hint and document for writing a DBQ essay. During this short period, you need to read your given tip carefully (we recommend re-reading it several times), analyze attached documents, and develop your own argumentation. Document analysis is the first and most crucial step in writing a DBQ. Be sure to highlight the question for yourself. Otherwise, you risk losing points even for the most adequately structured and competent essay if it does not answer the question posed in the tip.

Step 2. Create Your Thesis for DBQ Essay

After reading an essay recommendation, you will need to highlight a DBQ thesis sentence. It is a summary of your arguments. Make sure your thesis is a well-founded statement that responds to clues rather than just repeats them. There should be several arguments in the thesis itself. Let's suppose that the question of your document is, “Why did movement for women's suffrage start in the 20th century?”. "Significant contributions of women in support of the war formed a movement for women's suffrage to the right” is a strong thesis. In this case, thesis speaks of participation in hostilities during the First World War. Therefore, it will be easier for you and your future reader to form some strong point of view when reading your work. Support your arguments with around 6 documents. Always highlight one of them whose vision of the situation is closer to you. You will decide on the main answer to the question based on your thesis and read the documents.  

Step 3. Read the Documents and Note the Details Before Writing a DBQ Essay

As we said above, correctly highlighted abstracts are key to successful DBQ essay writing. Be careful when reading any information. Read the documentation carefully and take your time looking for answers. We have a few recommendations for you:

  • Indicate the document's author, their audience, and point of view.
  • Determine percentage of reliability of this source and try to identify what influenced the author's opinion (perhaps this is particular historical period that will help you in further analysis).
  • Highlight key points such as “evaluate,” “analyze,” and “compare and contrast.” Also, look for keywords such as "social,” "political," and "economical,” as well as information about the period and society in question (it is convenient to take notes in document margins so that you can return to desired passage).

Kindly note that not all sources will be written documents. Occasionally, you will come across diagrams, maps, or political cartoons. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with some nuances of reading primary sources in advance.

Step 4. Create a DBQ Essay Outline

Before you start writing your text:

  • Make a brief DBQ essay template outline.
  • Organize your brief and write your central thesis at page's top.
  • Write a possible structure for your document.
  • Next to each item, write one statement that does not contradict your view.

If you indicate some sources as a confirmation to sections, it is recommended to draw up an essay in chronological order. Keep in mind that an essay structure should not be broken. Start with an introduction, then write at least three paragraphs with arguments. Your DBQ should end with a conclusion in which you again repeat your thesis, only in an affirmative manner.

Step 5. Write Your DBQ Essay

Find out time management tips when writing DBQ essays. Remember that you will have 45 minutes during which you must complete the entire paper. We recommend that you plan how much time you are willing to spend on each of your sections. Be sure that you take a few minutes and correct your essay at the very end. DBQ essays have a clear structure that cannot be deviated from introduction with a thesis sentence, body with enough evidence supporting your arguments, and conclusion. We will tell you more about what each section should include later in this blog post.

How to Start a DBQ Essay

It would help if you started with DBQ essay introduction. In this part of your text, indicate your thesis and several appropriate sentences in context. It is a natural and easy way that you can start your essay right and not get lost in thought. It should be noted that you must link your thesis with its historical implications. If you don’t, you will probably lose one point.

How to Write a Body Paragraph for a DBQ Essay

It is crucial to know how to write a body paragraph . DBQ essay body paragraphs occupy more than 80% of your text. It typically consists of at least three paragraphs. All sections should be logically related with each other. Stay tuned to chronology of events, especially if you mention periods or information that supports your arguments with documents' date. Each of the paragraphs can indicate some component of your thesis. You should mention dates, historical figures and cite papers as often as possible. Include document's number in parentheses when using a quotation.

How to Write a Conclusion Essay for a DBQ

Writing a conclusion in a DBQ essay is as easy as shelling pears. You shouldn't really indicate anything new that was not in your text. Summarize your arguments and point out to your reader that you have been able to prove your claim. You will most likely get an extra point if you can connect your arguments with history of other periods or other countries. Scale your thoughts. For example, if you are talking about the First World War period in the United States, then indicate that it had similar impact on citizens of other countries.

The Best DBQ Essay Example

Still, have some more questions? DBQ essay sample will be beneficial for you when preparing for an exam. An example helps you understand the structure and formation of arguments in your future text. You can check out our sample if you are in need of further help. Do not hesitate to contact professionals! After all, high-quality assistance is key to your good grade.

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DBQ Essay: Bottom Line

We have detailed the way and structure of a DBQ essay. Its purpose is based on analyzing, drawing conclusions or tracing trends of events from the past. Writing a strong essay includes all your skills learned in the AP class. This way professors can assess student's knowledge, experience and evaluate their efforts. Your dbq score is one-quarter of your score on the entire AP exam. In general, you can achieve up to seven points for this assignment. Article above describes a few ways of getting more points...

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Frequently Asked Questions About DBQ Essay

1. do i need to use quotes in my dbq essay.

Yes. Use quotes in your DBQ essay as often as possible. In this way, you will provide evidence to support your argument. But do not forget to analyze these quotes every time and talk about your point of view. Use quotation marks when writing quotes.

2. Can I start a DBQ essay introduction with a question?

Yes, you can start the DBQ essay introduction with a question. Keep in mind that you must answer this question using an argument. Further down a text, you should not ask questions.

3. Is a DBQ essay an LEQ with documents?

A DBQ essay should consist of evidence from the documents provided in your task. LEQ (that stands for thesis-based response) should not contain any evidence at all.

4. How many documents usually need to be analyzed for DBQ essay?

Usually, before writing a DBQ essay, you need to analyze about 5 to 7 documents. But it is always a good idea to check with your professors for clear instructions.

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DBQ Essays: What Are They and How Do You Write One?

Adela B.

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As a student, you’ll come across different types of essays throughout your college journey. Essays provide a great way to portray your understanding of a topic and display your writing skills .

One of the most common types of essays in college is a Document-Based Question (DBQ) essay. You’ll occasionally be asked to write these types of essays, and it’s therefore important to understand the essentials of writing them.

In this article, we’ll help you understand what DBQ essays are and the step-by-step process you can use to write the best DBQ essays in college.

What are DBQ Essays?

A Document-Based Question (DBQ) Essay is an essay in which you carefully study a specific document, analyze it, and then answer questions based on the document.

This type of essay is meant to test your understanding and analysis skills. It also tests how much you can think outside the box. They are usually part of the AP U.S. History exam.

To write a good DBQ essay, you must portray an understanding of the topic and link it to evidence from reliable sources.

Limited-Time Offer: 15% Off on an Original DBQ Essay

How to format a dbq essay.

Like any other essay, your DBQ essay should have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Let’s review the components of each section and how to write them for the best performance.

1. Introduction

The first paragraph of your essay is the introductory paragraph . Here, you review the historical background of the document and the main idea covered in the essay. Take five minutes to write this section, and keep it short and brief. Include a brief statement that summarizes the points you are going to discuss in the essay body.

2. Thesis statement

The final paragraph of the introduction should be your thesis statement. A thesis is a concise statement or a claim that summarizes your overall argument. Identify the claims you’ll make in your paper, which shall be backed by evidence.

Your thesis should be one to two sentences long, describing your opinion or stand on the idea under discussion.

3. Body paragraph 1

After the thesis stamen, start writing the first paragraph of your essay. Here, you identify the strongest argument that links to the thesis statement, then provide supporting details from your evidence sources. Start with a topic sentence to let the reader know what this paragraph is about.

After the topic sentence, discuss your argument and cite each piece of evidence that supports every argument you make. Analyze the evidence in relation to the main idea rather than merely quoting it. Use direct quotes sparingly if you have to.

4. Body Paragraph 2

In the second paragraph, you identify the second relevant argument and link it to the thesis statement. The argument in this paragraph should be less superior to the first paragraph but still relevant to the main idea.

Make a logical connection between your second argument and the relevant sources of evidence. Remember to cite the evidence appropriately and demonstrate that you’ve understood what they mean and not just what they say.

5. Body Paragraph 3

In the third paragraph, identify your third relevant argument, and like the other arguments, link it to the thesis statement. State your argument in the topic sentence and explain it in subsequent sentences citing the evidence.

Your argument in this paragraph can be inferior to the ones in the first and second paragraphs but relevant to the thesis statement.

6. Concluding paragraph

After discussing all your argumentative points in the essay body, it’s time to conclude your DBQ essay. Weave your arguments together in a conclusion paragraph , which links back to your thesis statement and shows you’ve sufficiently proven your claims.

Summarize the main points in the essay and let the reader see that you’ve adequately responded to the essay prompt. Don’t use this section to merely rephrase the introduction and your thesis statement. Instead, provide a conclusive analysis that reconnects the historical context to the main idea and your arguments.

How to Write a DBQ Essay in 9 Steps

So, how do you write a DBE essay so that it flows effortlessly and satisfactorily answers the essay prompt? Here are the steps you need to follow to write the best essay for your AP History exams.

1. Read and understand

Start by carefully reading the essay prompt and the provided document, word by word and understand the concept. Take the first 15 minutes of your time to review the prompt. Understand the document and develop your argument.

Identify all the key points and write them down as draft notes. As you analyze the main document, figure out how it relates to the other sources provided.

2. Identify the main idea

Once you’ve reviewed and understood the document, identify the main idea and note the keywords in the essay prompt. The keywords will help you understand what you need to accomplish in your assay and the type of evidence to look for in the provided sources.

For instance, the essay prompt may ask you to:

  • Compare and contrast

Also, take note of common keywords like ‘Social, Political, or Economic.’ Always keep the prompt in mind while writing to avoid being irrelevant and losing points. The prompts will also help you develop your arguments based on the main idea of the document.

3. Gather evidence

Now that you know the main idea, pick out the sources of evidence that support the main idea. Identify how each source relates to your essay prompt and categorize them based on the prompt.

Figure out how each source can support an argument. For instance, if you're comparing the attitudes towards women's rights in different historical times, you can categorize your sources of evidence based on the contrasting ideologies they represent.

4. Find external sources

When writing your DBQ essay, you’ll also need to cite other external sources that support the ideas in the main document.

Identify at least one external source that's relevant to your claims and use the events in the document to support your arguments in the essay. Jot it down somewhere so you can refer to it later when you start writing.

5. Identify the writer’s point of view

As you analyze your document and prepare to start writing, identify the author’s point of view concerning the main idea.

Who influenced them to write the document and what did they intend to achieve with it? How do they feel and what’s their take on the documented events? Also, identify their intended audience and how his writing might have influenced them.

6. Write your thesis statement

Now that you have the main idea and your sources of evidence, it’s time to develop your argument and put it down as a thesis statement.

Review the essay prompt again and form your own perspective or opinion that responds to the prompt without simply restating it. Remember the claim you make should be specific and supported by your sources of evidence.

For instance, when writing a DBQ essay about The Effects of World War II on Women's Rights, your thesis statement can be:

“ The selfless efforts of women in World War II promoted their human rights and empowered them to a higher social status in the society. ”

Here’s a useful video by Heimler's History on writing DBQ essays.

7. Polish your thesis statement

Re-read your thesis statement and polish it to ensure it’s clear and concise. Delete any unnecessary words that do not impact the meaning of the statement.

A good thesis statement has no fluff and responds directly to the essay prompt without being too short or too long.

8. Start writing by creating an outline

Once you’ve encapsulated your arguments into a thesis statement, it’s time to start writing. You start writing by creating an outline of your arguments first.

An effective outline should include:

  • The introduction
  • Thesis statement
  • First argument
  • Second argument
  • Third argument

After creating the outline, explain your arguments and fill in the evidence while citing the sources.

Creating an outline will help you organize your points and make your work easier when you start writing the main essay. Following the outline will also save you time and help you finish writing your essay on time.

9. Proofread and polish

After you finish writing, spare 10 minutes to proofread and correct any spelling or grammatical errors. Identify and rewrite weird sentence structures, add missing words, and replace those that complicate meaning.

While proofreading, delete fluffy sentences that don’t add value to your essay. Also, check that you’ve appropriately cited the evidence sources and that your essay is well structured before submitting it.

Final Thought

DBQ essays will significantly contribute to your final grade. It’s, therefore, necessary to take time to learn how to write an excellent one and practice before the final exams.

Remember your DBQ essay test will be timed, and that doesn’t leave you much time to include fluff. Go directly to your points and explain them in clear and concise sentences.

If you’ve been having trouble writing these types of essays , use the tips in this article to make it hassle-free onwards.

Need more help? Writers Per Hour is here to assist you with this writing assignment of yours. Our professional writers can help you research, outline, write, revise and proofread high-quality DBQ essays that are sure to give your grades a boost.

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How to Write a DBQ Essay

How to write a DBQ Essay

The DBQ (document-based question) is a timed essay in a very unusual format on the AP History exams. It can be used for AP American History or AP European History . Many students are unaware of the DBQ format and don’t know how it works. Let’s learn how to write a successful DBQ essay for test day.

Don’t be afraid! YourAcademicWriter.com has a plethora of preparation strategies and tips for your exam.

After reading this guide, it will be clear how to create a perfect DBQ essay .

What is a DBQ Essay?

You should take as many Advanced Placement courses (AP) as possible as you prepare for college. These courses offer a challenge and can help you earn college credit. This can be a time-saving option. To get college credit, however, you must pass the AP exam . This may include a document-based query (DBQ).

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What is the Purpose of a DBQ Essay?

A DBQ (or type of essay question) requires you to respond in several paragraphs. These DBQs will require you to use historical documents in order to analyze a trend, or an issue from the past. You can typically find five to seven documents in each DBQ. These documents can come from primary or secondary sources such as maps, newspapers, and letters.

Essentially, answering a DBQ is a way to use all of the skills that you have learned in AP classes and become a historian. You will need to show that you can:

  • Examine the context of the documents, including the author’s perspective as well as the target audience.
  • Make connections between documents.
  • Make a strong thesis statement, and then analyze the documents to support it.
  • To build a stronger case, use your historical knowledge.

DBQ Essay Outline

It can be challenging for newbies to learn how to write a DBQ essay. Our professional writers have provided the DBQ format to help you prepare for the exam. This format is similar to all essays and includes an introduction, thesis statement, body, and conclusion.

Introduction

The introduction includes a hook sentence that will grab your audience. It also describes the background of your topic. This can be done by referring to a historical event or figure.

The thesis describes any claims in your paper that can be supported with evidence. This can be written as a short description of the evidence you will include in the body paragraphs. For the thesis statement , you need to write a paragraph about the DBQ essay question.

Body Paragraph 1

It includes the strongest argument. This argument should be related to the thesis statement. It presents an analysis of all references that relate to the strongest argument. Body paragraph 1 includes the statement that concludes the analysis from a different perspective that is required.

Don’t forget to include a link back to the thesis. Also, add a transition sentence between the body paragraphs.

Body Paragraph 2

Include a rational argument that links to the thesis and the first argument in each paragraph. Body paragraph 2 has an analysis of all references that relate to the strongest argument. It also contains a statement that concludes the analysis from a different perspective is required.

Include a link back to the thesis. It is better to add a transition sentence between the body paragraphs.

Body Paragraph 3

In this paragraph, a rational argument is presented that links to the thesis and the second argument in paragraph 1. It also includes an analysis of all references that relate to the strongest argument.

A statement that concludes the analysis from a different perspective is required that includes a link back to the thesis. You need to add a transition sentence to your conclusion.

Conclusion of DBQ Essay

It’s the summary of the entire paper, including the most important points and information in the sources. A concluding sentence, question or statement that challenges the view of these sources should be made.

Step By Step Instructions for DBQ Essay

Writing a DBQ essay can be difficult for some students. Don’t worry. These easy-to-read instructions will guide you through the most important points. They include how to write a DBQ thesis and analysis. To achieve the best results, it is important that you follow the DBQ outline when writing your paper .

The DBQ Essay includes:

Planning in 15 minutes

Writing takes 2 hours and 45 minutes

Proofreading takes 10 minutes

This type of exam requires time management to achieve a high grade. According to the DBQ, the time required for each question is three hours and fifteen minutes.

You should spend around 15 minutes planning, 2 hour and 45 minutes writing, 10 minutes proofreading, and about 15 minutes planning. These easy-to-follow steps will help you write a DBQ conclusion, body, and thesis.

Step 1: Planning (15 Minutes)

It is crucial to read the sources before taking the exam. It takes 3 hours to complete the exam so you should plan for 15 minutes. Analyze all key points in the provided sources during this time. Next, make a list of key points and then write them down under the titles: introduction, thesis and body.

Step 2: Introduction (5 Minutes)

First impressions count. Keep the introduction brief and to the point. Do not go directly to answering the question. A brief summary of the entire paper is necessary for a good introduction. A short introduction sentence is important.

Step 3: Thesis (20 Minutes)

For the DBQ thesis, this essay must be separated into 3 paragraphs. The evidence that supports the claims in your paper should be described. The second paragraph should describe the paper.

The third paragraph should describe how you will answer the question.

  • The main difference between other essays and the thesis is that it plays an important part in the DBQ structure.
  • Two sentences should be sufficient for the APUSH DBQ thesis.
  • Your thesis should not exceed 2 to 3 paragraphs in length.

Step 4: Body (2 Hours and 15 Minutes)

Make sure to write well-organized, categorized paragraphs. Each paragraph should contain one point. Do not mix ideas between paragraphs. Attach the documents that answer the question. It is important to read between lines. Every paragraph should be linked to the thesis.

Step 5: Conclusion (10 Minutes)

Your paper’s conclusion is the final section. Your conclusion is crucial in convincing your audience. Poorly written conclusions can lead to skeptical audiences. Summarize the entire paper to create a well-written conclusion. The conclusion should be linked to the thesis. Answer the question in a conclusion sentence.

Step 6: Proofreading (Approximately 10 Minutes)

At the end of each exam, spend around 10 minutes proofreading. To ensure that your work is error-free, proofread it. Writing errors can reduce one’s grade. The body paragraphs must answer the question and link back to the thesis. This is the most important section of the paper.

DBQ Essay Writing tips

We have provided a lot of information to you so far. Here are the main takeaways.

  • Do not forget to prepare: Create a baseline, build skills, practice DBQs, and repeat the skill-building if needed.
  • You will be able to remember all points on test day if you are well versed in the topic. You can easily lose points if you forget your wrap-up point.
  • Keep on time the day of your test

Although it may seem daunting, you can master your DBQ. You can achieve the score you want by combining preparation with a solid test-taking strategy. You will find that every DBQ feels more natural the more you practice it.

It is a great way of learning how to write a DBQ essay . Writing tips are also important. For a positive outcome, time management is key. Our advice will help you get a high grade.

It is important to learn the DBQ format. For any type of exam, practice is essential. Without practice, it is impossible to perform as well as one’s potential.

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If you are still worried and have no time to write a DBQ essay. Don’t worry!

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Expert Tips For Writing A Compelling DBQ Essay Introduction

Introduction.

DBQ stands for Document-Based Question, and it’s a type of essay designed to give students an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of a certain historical period by analyzing relevant documents. In order to write a successful DBQ essay, the introduction should provide an overview of the essay, explain the purpose of the introduction, and outline the components of an effective introduction.

The DBQ essay is a type of essay that requires students to analyze a series of documents in order to answer a question. The documents may include primary sources such as letters, diaries, and other firsthand accounts, as well as secondary sources such as pamphlets, speeches, and newspaper articles. The essay should be approximately 500-750 words in length and include at least five documents.

The purpose of the introduction is to provide the reader with an overview of the essay, introduce the thesis statement, and set the tone for the rest of the essay. The introduction should also provide enough context for the reader to understand the documents and the essay question.

In order to write an effective introduction, it is important to gather information about the essay question and the documents. It is also important to get to the point and not add too much unnecessary detail. It is also helpful to use quotations from the documents to provide evidence of your points. Furthermore, creativity should be used to bring the essay’s introduction to life.

What is an Introduction?

When it comes to writing a DBQ essay, one of the most important steps is the introduction. An introduction serves as a roadmap for the body of the essay and sets the tone, as well as provides readers with a basic understanding of the main idea. It is also an opportunity for the writer to showcase their writing skills and knowledge of the topic.

An introduction should start with a statement that will grab the reader’s attention. This statement could be a quote, a question, a definition, or a thought-provoking statement about the topic. After the hook, the introduction should define the topic of the essay and provide an overview of the essay’s main points.

The introduction should also state the thesis of the essay. The thesis statement is the most important element of the introduction and should be clear, concise, and direct. It should be placed near the end of the introduction and should be supported by the evidence presented in the essay.

A good introduction should be informative but not overly long. It should give the reader a basic understanding of the essay’s main points and flow from one point to the next. While introductions can be lengthy, they should not be so long that the key points are lost.

Finally, the introduction should provide a transition to the body of the essay. The transition should be logical and give the reader a sense of what the essay will cover. This can be done with a smooth flow of ideas, a clear point of view, and a well-crafted argument.

Tips for Writing an Introduction

When writing an introduction for a DBQ essay, it’s important to understand what an introduction is, its purpose, and the components of an effective introduction. An introduction is the first paragraph of an essay and acts as a roadmap for the essay, providing the readers with the direction of the essay. Its purpose is to capture the readers’ attention and explain what the essay is about.

The components of an effective introduction include a hook, an outline, and evidence that supports the thesis. A hook is a statement or question that gets the readers’ attention and encourages them to read further. A hook should be creative and thought-provoking without being too complex or confusing. An outline should also be included in the introduction, which should provide a brief overview of the essay and its structure. Finally, evidence should be included to support the thesis and provide the readers with an understanding of the topic.

Quotations can be used in the introduction to provide evidence for the thesis. The quotations should come from reliable sources that are directly related to the topic. In addition, the writer should be creative when writing the introduction, as this will help to capture the readers’ attention and make them more likely to read the entire essay.

Creating a Hook

Creating a hook is an essential step in writing a DBQ essay introduction.A hook is a phrase or sentence that captures the reader’s attention and encourages them to read more. In a DBQ essay introduction, the hook should be related to the prompt and should provide an overview or glimpse of the main argument of the essay. A good hook should be creative, thought-provoking, and should leave the reader wanting to know more.

When writing a hook, consider the prompt and assess which phrase, quotation, or sentence could be used as a hook. It is also important to consider the tone of the essay; the hook should reflect the overall message that the essay is trying to convey.

Examples of hooks for a DBQ essay introduction may include a quote from an authoritative figure, an anecdote, an analogy, or a rhetorical question. For example, a hook for a DBQ essay on the Civil War might be, “What could have been so important that it caused an entire nation to tear itself apart?” This hook would immediately draw readers in and encourage them to keep reading in order to learn the answer to the question.

Crafting an Outline

An outline helps to organize your thoughts and answer the required questions in a logical and concise manner. An outline helps to set the structure for the essay and ensure that all the required points are addressed.

Definition of an Outline:

An outline is a document that serves as a guide to the structure of an essay. It details the main points of the essay and acts as a roadmap to guide the writer. It helps to ensure that the essay is organized in a logical and consistent manner.

Examples of Outlines:

An example of an outline for a DBQ essay would include a section for Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. In the Introduction section, the writer would include a hook or attention grabber, the thesis statement, and an overview of the essay’s main points. The Body section would include subtopics, with each subtopic having its own set of points and evidence. The Conclusion section would include a review of the essay’s main points and any additional thoughts or ideas for further research.

Tips for Writing an Outline:

Start by writing down the main points that will be addressed in the essay. Once these points are identified, break them down into smaller subtopics. Each of these subtopics should have its own set of points and evidence. This will help to ensure that the essay is organized in a logical manner. Additionally, it is important to be concise and to the point. Do not include any unnecessary information as this will make the essay longer and less effective.

Another important tip is to read the essay prompt carefully and make sure that all of the required questions are answered. Make sure to include any information that is required in the prompt, such as the time period, historical context, or specific evidence. Be sure to include enough detail for each point and provide evidence to support the points.

It is vital to consider the essay’s word count. Make sure that the essay does not exceed the word limit and that all of the required points are covered within the allotted space.

Creating an outline for a DBQ essay is an important step in the process. It helps to ensure that the essay is organized and concise, and that all of the required questions and points are addressed. Writing an effective outline can help to set the foundation for a successful essay.

Using Evidence

Evidence will help to make your argument clear and convincing in the eyes of your readers.

Definition of Evidence:

Evidence is information that is used to support a claim or an argument. Evidence can be facts, statistics, or quotes from authoritative sources. By using evidence, you can strengthen your argument and make it more convincing to your readers.

Examples of Evidence:

When writing an introduction for a DBQ essay, you can use a variety of types of evidence. For example, you could use facts or statistics to show quantitative evidence in support of your argument. You could also use quotes or anecdotes from authoritative sources to support your argument.

Tips for Incorporating Evidence:

When incorporating evidence into your introduction, it is important to make sure that the evidence is relevant and that it supports your argument. Additionally, you should make sure that you cite your sources when using quotes or other evidence from outside sources. It is also important to make sure that the evidence is presented in a clear and concise manner.

Evidence is a key part of the introduction. Using evidence helps to make your argument more convincing to your readers. It is important to make sure that the evidence you use is relevant and that it supports your argument. 

Writing the Conclusion

It’s the last chance for the writer to make their point and leave an impression on the readers. The conclusion should be clear, concise, and memorable. Additionally, it should be supported with evidence, as this is what will make it more convincing.

Definition of a Conclusion: A conclusion is the final section of a DBQ essay. It summarizes the main idea of the essay and offers a final reflection on the topic. It should also provide a clear resolution to the argument and serve as a way to tie the essay together.

Examples of Conclusions: A good conclusion can help the essay stand out and be memorable. For example, a conclusion might read: “The study of history is important, as it allows us to gain insight into the past and better understand the present. In understanding the events of the past, we can better prepare for the future.”

Tips for Writing a Conclusion:

1. Start with a restatement of the thesis. This should be a brief statement that summarizes the main points of the essay.

2. Summarize the main points of the essay. This should be done in a few sentences that recap the main points of the essay.

3. End with a strong statement. Make sure this statement is powerful and memorable.

4. Don’t forget to cite any sources! Make sure all sources are properly cited and referenced in the conclusion.

5. Make sure the conclusion flows naturally from the rest of the essay. It should not feel as if it is out of place or disconnected from the rest of the essay.

Final Thoughts

A well-crafted introduction should provide readers with an overview of the essay’s purpose and an explanation of the topics that will be discussed. It should also include a hook to draw readers in and create interest.

In order to craft an effective introduction, it’s important to gather information on the topic in order to present an informed opinion. Once the research is complete, the writer should be able to get to the point quickly with a clearly stated thesis statement. The introduction can be further strengthened by incorporating creative writing techniques such as the use of quotations, metaphors, or other literary devices.

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What is a dbq - what you need to know.

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Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 2/12/24

As you prepare for your AP exams, you might be wondering about the meaning of a Document-Based Question. This article provides you with everything you need to know about this topic.

As high school students think about applying for colleges, some take as many Advanced Placement (AP) courses as possible to increase their chances of getting into the college they want. While AP classes are not necessary for getting admitted into college, these classes do help your chances of being accepted. 

The Document-Based Question is an essay you’ll have to write as a requirement for all AP History exams. In the sections below, we’ll cover how to answer this essay in detail.

What is a DBQ Essay?

DBQ stands for Document-Based Question in a timed essay used in AP History exams. Students are provided with 7-12 historical documents and must use their content to write a thesis-driven essay that answers a prompt. 

DBQ essays test skills like document analysis, evidence usage, contextualization, complex understanding, and historical argumentation. Students have 15 minutes to review the documents and 45 minutes to write the essay response citing at least 6 documents. 

Strong DBQ essays have a clearly stated thesis, strong organization, multi-faceted analysis, and integrate both the provided evidence and outside knowledge.

If you are taking multiple AP history courses, you may have to write multiple DBQ essays for each exam.

Here are key details about the historical documents provided on the DBQ:

  • The DBQ will include 7 documents offering different perspectives related to the prompt's historical topic or theme. The documents are a mix of primary source texts, images, graphs, maps, etc. from the time period.
  • The documents will represent a variety of viewpoints and purposes. Students need to analyze potential biases, the author's perspective, the audience, etc. when using them as evidence.
  • The topics and time periods covered align with the curriculum. For AP US History that's units 3-7 (1754-1980). For AP World History it's units 1-6 (1200-1900).
  • The types of documents are not pre-determined and can vary from exam to exam. Students should practice analyzing all formats - written texts, images, quantitative data, maps, etc.
  • While the documents provide critical evidence, students also need to bring in outside information and historical context to earn the highest scores. The documents alone are not enough to answer the prompt.
  • Authentic published DBQ questions and documents from past exams are available on the College Board website for practice. Teachers also create unofficial questions with the documents they select.

The purpose of a DBQ essay is to test the individual’s ability to identify and analyze patterns, issues, and trends from historical documents. The essay tests you on what you have learned and the skills you have gained throughout your AP History courses. 

A DBQ medical assessment is completely different from a Document-Based Question as it stands for Disability Benefits Questionnaire. These are medical evaluation forms used to document a veteran's disability, so don’t mix the two up!

The DBQ format is similar to other essays, with an emphasis on extensive analysis of documents. A good DBQ essay will follow this format:

Introduction

  • Hook and background context
  • Clear thesis statement answering the prompt

Body Paragraphs

  • Each paragraph supports part of the thesis with evidence from the documents and outside information
  • Documents are analyzed, not just quoted
  • Documents are properly cited using [document #]
  • Restates thesis
  • Summarizes overall argument with closing thoughts

Key aspects of the format include:

  • Having at least 3 body paragraphs citing 6+ documents
  • Balancing evidence from provided docs and outside info
  • Explaining how outside historical factors affect the issue
  • Analyzing the documents rather than just describing them

Following the standard DBQ format, analyzing the prompt, planning effective body paragraphs, and managing time are all critical skills for success.

During your AP exam , you will have 15 minutes to read over and familiarize yourself with the documents provided. You will have 45 minutes to write the essay. 

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How to Write a DBQ

dbq essay tips

To craft a compelling Document-Based Question, start by thoroughly understanding the prompt and documents. Next, devise a thesis that addresses the prompt and organize body paragraphs to cite at least 6 documents for evidence, incorporating external context.

Begin with an introductory paragraph that sets the stage and presents your thesis. In the body, analyze, rather than merely describe, the documents, linking evidence back to your thesis. Conclude by reaffirming your argument and offering final insights.

Make sure your argument directly responds to the essay question. You will need to provide strong evidence from the documents to support your observations throughout your essay. Like other essays, you must build a persuasive case for your argument. 

Here is a breakdown of the writing process for the DBQ:

1. Read Over Your Materials 

Read and familiarize yourself with the essay question before looking at the documents so you know what you are looking for. 

2. Begin Your Analysis of the Documents

Read over the documents and identify patterns (or lack of), rhetoric, and other relevant information that relates to the essay question. 

3. Present Your Thesis Statement

Once you have collected evidence and have an argument, write your thesis statement. 

4. Plan What You Will Write, and in What Order

Ensure that you create an outline for your essay before you begin writing. This will help you organize your thoughts and make writing easier.

5. Start Writing! 

Some people find it easier to write their body paragraphs first (with the thesis statement in mind) and then write their introductory and concluding paragraphs after, but write in the way that best suits you. 

6. Finish With a Strong Conclusion

Your concluding paragraph will be the last piece of your essay that the markers read. Remember to avoid introducing any new ideas or arguments in the final paragraph. 

7. Proofread and Edit

If you have time, proofread and edit your essay. The clearer your writing is, the easier it will be for the reader to get through your essay. Clear and concise writing will reflect in your final mark. 

Keep in mind the time limit while you are writing. You only have forty-five minutes to write the essay, so you want to make sure you are using your time effectively. 

Document-Based Question Examples

Here is an example of a Document-Based Question from the AP US History exam :

Analyze the responses of Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration to the problems of the Great Depression. How effective were the responses? Use the documents and your knowledge of the period 1929-1941 to construct your response.

In this DBQ, the main topic or subject is the responses of FDR's administration to the Great Depression during the period from 1929-1941. The key aspects examined are:

  • The types of responses from FDR's administration - programs and policies such as the New Deal agencies and reforms
  • The effectiveness of these responses in addressing the economic problems caused by the Great Depression

To write a successful Document-Based Question response, you would need to:

  • Provide background context on the Great Depression
  • Present and analyze the evidence provided in the documents about the responses from FDR's administration
  • Include outside information about other relevant programs and policies
  • Make an argument about how effective FDR's responses were in dealing with the Great Depression

Some examples of outside information you could provide:

  • Background on the economic situation before the Great Depression
  • Details about the impact of events like the Dust Bowl
  • Information on the opposition FDR faced to his New Deal programs

Types of DBQ Prompts

There are three main types of prompts in a Document-Based Question. These questions test skills like analyzing evidence, making comparisons, explaining causation, and assessing change and continuity over time in relation to historical events, periods, geographical regions, social issues, and cultural trends.

  • Continuity and change over time - e.g. analyze changes and continuities in the women's rights movement from 1848 to 1920
  • Causation - e.g. analyze the causes of the rise of the New Conservatism movement in the 1960s and 1970s
  • Comparison - e.g. compare and contrast the responses of Hoover's administration and FDR's administration to the Great Depression

Outside of these main types, the topics of DBQ prompts can vary widely, covering different time periods, geographical regions, events, movements, etc. But they tend to have some common themes like imperialism, revolutions, cultural trends, economic developments, demographic changes, etc.

How is a DBQ Scored?

The DBQ is worth 25% of the total exam score. Students have a 15-minute reading period to review the documents, followed by 45 minutes to write their responses. The DBQ is scored out of 7 possible points based on criteria such as thesis, context, evidence, analysis, reasoning, sourcing, and complexity.

Colleges consider your AP exam scores during the admissions process, so performing as best as you can on your AP exams does matter.

The DBQ essay is marked based on the following categories: 

  • Thesis statement (0-1 point)
  • Contextualization (0-1 point)
  • Evidence (0-3 points)
  • Analysis and reasoning (0-2 points)

Here is an overview of the rubric for the DBQ essay: 

Source : NEISD

The entire essay is worth seven points, each category carrying a different number of points. Keep the points system in mind when writing. It will help you strategize how much time to spend on each piece of the essay. Doing this will allow you to better manage your time and put in extra work on the factors that matter most. 

You may still have other questions about the specifics of the essay. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the DBQ essay. 

1. How Do You Write a DBQ?

Approach writing the DBQ like you would other persuasive history essays. Understand the question, address it directly, and use it as an opportunity to showcase your analytical and critical thinking skills. Also, prioritize well-written, grammatically correct content to enhance your essay's impact on your score.

2. What is the Purpose of a DBQ?

A DBQ tests your historian skills by checking how well you can analyze historical documents while considering their historical context. It's a way to see if you can apply what you've learned in your history classes.

3. How Long is a DBQ Essay?

You have 45 minutes for the DBQ essay, so aim for 5-6 paragraphs: an intro with your thesis, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Keep your thesis short, and each paragraph 5-7 sentences. Quality is more important than quantity; focus on a clear and concise argument.

Final Thoughts

If AP classes are a good fit for you, you should consider taking as many as you can in areas that interest you. Top schools such as Yale , Cornell , Columbia , and Harvard take AP classes seriously when considering applicants and sometimes even give students credit for their AP classes. 

Ultimately, the DBQ is similar to other essays you will find on exams but has a larger focus on the application of knowledge and skills. If you study and prepare before taking the exam, there is nothing to worry about.

While taking the exam, be aware of your time and use it wisely, develop a strong thesis statement, and create an outline for your essay. If you take all the right steps, writing your essay should be easier than you thought!

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Master the DBQ Essay Format: Expert Tips and Guidelines for Success

Welcome to our guide to mastering the DBQ essay format. As history students, we know that the Document-Based Question (DBQ) essay can be daunting, but with the right tools and strategies, you can excel and achieve success. In this article, we will provide you with expert tips and guidelines to help you navigate the DBQ essay format.

Before we dive into the specifics, let’s first define the DBQ essay. Essentially, a DBQ essay requires you to analyze primary and secondary sources related to a particular historical event, period, or theme. Your job is to use these sources to construct an argument that answers a prompt given to you.

It’s important to understand the DBQ essay format because it has specific requirements that must be followed to achieve success. In the following sections, we’ll outline the key elements of a DBQ essay and provide you with expert guidance on how to master each one.

Key Takeaways

  • A DBQ essay requires you to analyze primary and secondary sources and construct an argument that addresses a given prompt.
  • Understanding the DBQ essay format is important for achieving success.
  • Expert tips and guidelines can help you master each element of the DBQ essay format.

What is a DBQ Essay?

In this section, we will define what a DBQ essay is and explain its purpose. We want to make sure you have a clear understanding of the task at hand before we dive into the specifics of the DBQ essay format and writing process.

A Document-Based Question (DBQ) essay is a type of essay that focuses on analyzing and interpreting historical documents. You will be presented with a prompt that includes a historical issue and a set of documents related to the issue. Your task is to use these documents to support an argument or thesis statement that responds to the prompt.

The Purpose of a DBQ Essay

The purpose of a DBQ essay is to test your ability to analyze and interpret historical documents, develop a strong thesis statement, and support your argument with evidence. It also assesses your ability to engage with historical context, evaluate the credibility of sources, and demonstrate critical thinking skills.

How to Write a DBQ Essay

Writing a DBQ essay requires a specific approach that can seem daunting at first. However, with our expert guidance, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle this type of essay with confidence. Here’s a step-by-step process for writing a DBQ essay:

  • Read and analyze the prompt carefully.
  • Read and analyze the historical documents provided.
  • Develop a thesis statement that responds to the prompt.
  • Organize your essay into an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
  • Write your essay using the documents to support your thesis statement.
  • Revise and proofread your essay for clarity, coherence, and accuracy.

By following these steps and using our expert tips and guidelines, you’ll be on your way to writing a successful DBQ essay!

Understanding the DBQ Essay Format

Now that we have introduced the DBQ essay format and its significance, let us delve deeper into the specific structure and components of a DBQ essay. By understanding the format, you can ensure that your essay meets the requirements and stands out to examiners.

The DBQ essay typically consists of four or five paragraphs, including an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introduction should provide background information, contextualize the prompt, and present a clear thesis statement. Each body paragraph should focus on a specific argument or piece of evidence, supporting the thesis statement and connecting to the overall essay. Finally, the conclusion should summarize the main arguments and restate the thesis in a new light.

To ensure coherence and logical organization, it can be helpful to use transitional phrases to connect each paragraph to the next. For example, you could use phrases like “Furthermore,” “In addition,” or “Moreover” to signal that you are introducing a new argument or piece of evidence.

  • Tip: Remember to stay on track with the prompt and avoid tangential arguments or irrelevant information. This will help you stay within the time constraints and earn the highest score possible.

Tips for Writing a Stellar Introduction

As we discussed earlier, the introduction of your DBQ essay sets the tone for the rest of the paper and plays a crucial role in engaging your reader. Here are some tips to help you write a compelling and impactful introduction:

Grab the Reader’s Attention

Start your introduction with an engaging hook that captures your reader’s attention and sparks their interest. This can be a powerful quote, an interesting fact, or a thought-provoking question that relates to the topic of your essay. By doing so, you create a sense of excitement and intrigue that makes your reader want to keep reading.

Set the Historical Context

After the hook, provide some background information about the historical context of the prompt. Explain the time period, location, and significant events that led up to the issue you are addressing. This will help your reader understand the importance and relevance of the topic, setting the stage for your argument.

Present a Clear Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement should be concise and direct, clearly stating your position on the issue. Make sure your thesis answers the prompt and reflects your understanding of the historical context. Your thesis should also provide a roadmap for the rest of the paper, outlining the main arguments you will make in your body paragraphs.

Avoid Common Pitfalls

There are some common mistakes to avoid when writing your introduction. First, don’t make your introduction too long or verbose; it should be a brief but powerful summary of what your essay will cover. Second, avoid using colloquial language or slang that may not be familiar to your reader. Finally, don’t make your introduction too vague or general; be specific and focused on the issue at hand.

By following these tips, you can craft a strong and effective introduction that sets the stage for a successful DBQ essay.

Crafting Effective Body Paragraphs

Now that you have a strong thesis statement, it’s time to focus on crafting effective body paragraphs that support your argument.

When analyzing the historical documents, it’s important to keep the prompt and your thesis statement in mind. Ask yourself, “How does this document support my argument?” and “How can I use this evidence to further develop my thesis?”

Begin each body paragraph with a strong topic sentence that directly relates to your thesis. This lets the reader know what the paragraph will be about and how it contributes to your overall argument. Use specific evidence from the documents to support each topic sentence, citing your sources using proper citation format.

It’s also important to connect your arguments to the overall thesis statement. Each body paragraph should build upon the previous one, creating a cohesive and logical argument. Use transition words and phrases to link your ideas together and maintain a smooth flow.

Remember to keep the focus on the prompt and avoid straying too far off topic. Don’t be afraid to get into the nitty-gritty details of the documents, but make sure they all tie in with your thesis statement.

By crafting effective body paragraphs, you can build a strong argument that supports your thesis and showcases your historical analysis skills.

The Power of a Strong Thesis Statement

A strong thesis statement is the backbone of a successful DBQ essay. It sets the tone for your entire essay and provides a roadmap for your arguments and evidence. A well-crafted thesis statement should be clear, concise, and directly respond to the prompt.

One way to ensure your thesis statement is effective is by using the “although” or “despite” formula. This means acknowledging the complexity of the prompt by stating the opposing viewpoint, followed by your argument. For example, “Although some may argue that [opposing viewpoint], [your argument].”

Another strategy is using “three-pronged” thesis statements. This involves stating your argument and then listing the three main supporting points that will be discussed in your essay. For example, “The [historical event] had a significant impact on [society/region/group] due to [supporting point 1], [supporting point 2], and [supporting point 3].”

Remember, your thesis statement should be specific and not just a generalization about the topic. It should also be debatable, as it will be the focal point of your essay and should offer a unique perspective that can be supported with evidence from the historical documents.

Mastering the Art of Concluding a DBQ Essay

As you approach the end of your DBQ essay, it’s essential to create a strong conclusion that summarizes your arguments and leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Here are some expert tips on how to master the art of concluding a DBQ essay:

  • Restate your thesis: Your conclusion should remind the reader of your main argument and the key points that support it. Summarize your thesis in a way that reinforces its importance and relevance to the prompt.
  • Summarize your arguments: In addition to reiterating your thesis, your conclusion should also summarize the main arguments you made throughout your essay. Avoid introducing new information or arguments at this stage.
  • Address the historical context: Consider the broader historical context of the prompt and how your essay contributes to our understanding of it. Your conclusion should situate your argument within this context and emphasize its significance.
  • Leave a lasting impression: Your conclusion is the last impression you will make on the reader, so make it count. Consider ending with a thought-provoking question, a memorable quote, or a call to action that encourages further reflection or research.

By following these tips, you can craft a conclusion that effectively communicates your argument and makes a lasting impact. Remember to leave ample time for editing and revising your conclusion to ensure that it is clear, concise, and reflective of your essay as a whole.

Analyzing DBQ Essay Examples

Now that we’ve covered the DBQ essay format and provided expert tips and guidelines for success, it’s time to examine some well-written DBQ essays. By analyzing these examples, you can gain a better understanding of how to apply the format and techniques we’ve discussed.

Example 1: The Rise of Democracy in America

This DBQ essay focuses on the rise of democracy in America during the 19th century. The introduction provides a clear thesis statement that outlines the main arguments to be discussed. The body paragraphs are well-organized, with each one addressing a specific aspect of the rise of democracy and providing evidence to support the thesis. The essay’s conclusion effectively summarizes the arguments and solidifies the thesis statement.

One minor area for improvement is in the analysis of the historical documents. While the essay references the documents, there is limited analysis or interpretation of them. Adding more specific examples from the documents would strengthen the essay’s overall argument.

Example 2: The Causes and Effects of World War II

This DBQ essay addresses the causes and effects of World War II. The introduction provides a concise thesis statement and sets the historical context effectively. The body paragraphs are well-structured, with each one addressing a specific cause or effect of the war and providing evidence to support the thesis. The essay’s conclusion effectively summarizes the arguments and restates the thesis statement in a clear and impactful way.

One area for improvement is in the citation of sources. While the essay references the historical documents, the sources are not adequately cited. Adding proper citations would strengthen the essay’s credibility and bolster the arguments presented.

By studying these examples and analyzing their strengths and weaknesses, you can gain valuable insights into crafting a successful DBQ essay. Remember to incorporate the tips and guidelines we’ve provided throughout this article to maximize your chances of success!

Creating a Clear and Concise Outline

Before diving into your DBQ essay, it’s essential to create a well-organized outline. An outline serves as a roadmap for your writing, ensuring that your arguments are logically structured and coherent. Here is a step-by-step approach to creating a clear and concise outline:

  • Analyze the Prompt: Before starting your outline, read and analyze the prompt carefully. Highlight the key instructions, historical context, and task requirements. This analysis will help you identify the central argument/thesis for your essay.
  • Create a Thesis Statement: Based on your prompt analysis, craft a clear and concise thesis statement that reflects the complexity of the prompt and guides your essay’s direction. Place the thesis statement at the end of your introduction in your outline.
  • Organize Your Evidence: Next, divide your evidence into categories that support your thesis statement. These categories may be based on time period, region, topic, or any other relevant factor. Write down these categories in your outline.
  • Write Your Topic Sentences: For each category, write a topic sentence that introduces the evidence and connects it to the thesis statement. Make sure the topic sentences flow logically and try to avoid redundancy.
  • Fill in the Details: Under each topic sentence, provide supporting details such as quotes, statistics, or examples from the historical documents. Ensure that these details support the thesis statement and connect to the topic sentence.
  • Summarize Your Argument: In your conclusion, summarize your main arguments and restate your thesis statement. Your conclusion should leave a lasting impression on the reader and demonstrate the overall significance of your essay.
  • Review and Revise: Once you have completed your outline, review it for coherence, structure, and relevance to the task requirements. Make revisions as needed, ensuring that your outline accurately reflects the content and logical flow of your DBQ essay.

By following these steps, you can create a well-structured and coherent outline that will help you write a successful DBQ essay.

Understanding the DBQ Essay Rubric

When it comes to the DBQ essay format, understanding the rubric is extremely important. The DBQ essay rubric is used by examiners to assess your essay’s quality and adherence to the format. It is made up of different criteria and scoring guidelines, which you must meet to achieve a high score. Here, we will provide an overview of the rubric, breaking down each category and offering tips on how to meet and exceed expectations.

Breaking Down the DBQ Essay Rubric

The DBQ essay rubric is typically divided into several categories, including:

Thesis Statement

Document analysis, use of evidence, organization and structure, grammar and spelling.

Each category is scored on a scale of 0-7, depending on the level of mastery demonstrated in your essay. Your total score is then converted to a scaled score of 1-5.

The thesis statement category assesses the quality and clarity of your thesis statement. To score well in this category, you must present a clear and concise thesis statement that responds to the prompt and reflects the complexity of the historical issue. Your thesis statement should be strong and specific, setting the direction for your essay.

The document analysis category assesses your ability to analyze and interpret the historical documents provided in the prompt. You must use evidence from the documents to support your thesis statement and arguments. To score well in this category, you should demonstrate a deep understanding of the documents, analyzing their content, context, and point of view.

The use of evidence category assesses your ability to use evidence effectively to support your arguments. Your evidence should be relevant, accurate, and convincing. To score well in this category, you should use at least six documents and integrate them seamlessly into your arguments.

The complexity category assesses your ability to handle the complexity of the historical issue presented in the prompt. Your essay should demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the topic and offer sophisticated analysis and interpretation. To score well in this category, you should identify and evaluate multiple perspectives, consider the historical context, and address potential counterarguments.

The organization and structure category assesses how effectively you present your arguments and evidence. Your essay should be well-organized and structured, with a clear introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. To score well in this category, you should use effective topic sentences, smoothly integrate evidence, and logically connect your arguments to your thesis statement.

The grammar and spelling category assesses the accuracy and clarity of your writing. Your essay should have no major errors in grammar, spelling, or punctuation. To score well in this category, you should proofread your essay carefully and ensure that your writing is clear and concise.

By understanding the DBQ essay rubric and its different categories, you can better prepare for the exam and maximize your score. Remember to focus on presenting a clear and concise thesis statement, analyzing and interpreting the historical documents effectively, using evidence to support your arguments, demonstrating a nuanced understanding of the topic, organizing your essay effectively, and proofreading your writing carefully. By doing so, you can master the DBQ essay format and achieve success in your historical analysis.

Mastering the DBQ Essay Structure

Now that we have discussed the key components of the DBQ essay format, it’s time to focus on mastering the structure. One common challenge students face is organizing their arguments in a logical and coherent manner. Here are some practical tips to help you overcome this challenge and succeed in your DBQ essay writing:

  • Start with a clear thesis statement: Your thesis statement sets the direction for your essay and should reflect the complexity of the prompt. Make sure it is concise, specific, and addresses all parts of the prompt.
  • Use topic sentences: Each body paragraph should start with a strong topic sentence that connects to your thesis statement. This helps guide the reader and keeps your argument focused.
  • Organize your paragraphs logically: Make sure your body paragraphs flow logically and are organized in a way that supports your thesis statement. Consider using chronological or thematic organization to help structure your arguments.
  • Cite your sources properly: Be sure to cite your sources accurately and consistently throughout your essay. This helps establish your credibility as a historian and avoid plagiarism.
  • Write a compelling conclusion: Your conclusion should summarize your main arguments and restate your thesis in a way that leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Avoid introducing new information and focus on synthesizing your ideas.

By following these tips and incorporating them into your essay writing, you can master the DBQ essay structure and achieve success in your historical analysis. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to experiment and refine your writing techniques.

Throughout this article, we have provided expert guidance on how to master the DBQ essay format. We began by outlining the key elements of a DBQ essay and the requirements for success, emphasizing the importance of understanding the format to achieve your goals. We then delved deeper into various aspects of the DBQ essay, including the introduction, body paragraphs, thesis statement, conclusion, and rubric.

We provided step-by-step guidance on how to approach each of these sections, offering expert tips and strategies to help you craft a compelling and well-structured essay. We also analyzed examples of well-written DBQ essays and offered insights on how to create a clear and concise outline to help you stay on track.

By following our expert advice, you can confidently approach your DBQ essays and achieve success in your historical analysis. Remember, mastering the DBQ essay format takes practice and patience, but with our guidance, you can develop the skills and knowledge needed to excel in this type of assignment.

So don’t be intimidated by the DBQ essay format. With our help, you can master it and earn the grades you deserve. Good luck!

Q: What is a DBQ essay?

A: A DBQ (Document-Based Question) essay is an essay format commonly used in history and social studies classes. It requires students to analyze and interpret a set of historical documents, supporting their argument with evidence from the documents and their own knowledge of the topic.

Q: What is the structure of a DBQ essay?

A: A DBQ essay typically consists of an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introduction provides background information, sets the historical context, and presents a clear thesis statement. The body paragraphs analyze and interpret the documents, providing evidence and examples to support the thesis. The conclusion summarizes the main points and restates the thesis.

Q: How do I write a strong thesis statement for a DBQ essay?

A: To craft a strong thesis statement for a DBQ essay, you should consider the complexity of the prompt and the main arguments you plan to make in your essay. Your thesis should be clear, concise, and reflect your understanding of the topic. It should also provide a roadmap for your essay and set the direction for your analysis.

Q: How do I analyze the historical documents in a DBQ essay?

A: When analyzing historical documents in a DBQ essay, you should carefully read and annotate each document, identifying key information and potential connections to your thesis. Consider the author’s perspective, purpose, and any biases that may be present. Use evidence from the documents to support your arguments and provide historical context.

Q: How important is the conclusion of a DBQ essay?

A: The conclusion of a DBQ essay is important as it provides a final opportunity to summarize your arguments, restate your thesis, and leave a lasting impression on the reader. It should effectively tie together the main points of your essay and reinforce the significance of your analysis.

Q: How can I improve my score on a DBQ essay?

A: To improve your score on a DBQ essay, it is essential to understand the format, follow the guidelines, and meet the expectations outlined in the rubric. Practicing analyzing historical documents, crafting strong thesis statements, and organizing your essay effectively can also help enhance your performance. Additionally, seeking feedback from teachers or peers and studying well-written examples can provide valuable insights for improvement.

Q: Do I need to create an outline before writing a DBQ essay?

A: Creating an outline before writing a DBQ essay is highly recommended. An outline helps you organize your thoughts, structure your arguments, and ensure coherence in your essay. It serves as a roadmap for your writing, helping you stay focused and on track throughout the essay.

Q: What is the DBQ essay rubric?

A: The DBQ essay rubric is a set of criteria used to assess the quality and adherence to the format of a DBQ essay. It typically includes categories such as thesis statement, analysis of documents, use of evidence, organization, and writing style. Familiarizing yourself with the rubric and understanding what examiners are looking for in each category can help you meet and exceed their expectations.

Q: How can I master the DBQ essay structure?

A: Mastering the DBQ essay structure requires understanding the key elements and practicing their implementation. It is important to carefully analyze and interpret the historical documents, craft a strong thesis statement, structure your essay with clear topic sentences, and provide evidence to support your arguments. Additionally, organizing your essay effectively and ensuring coherence throughout will contribute to mastering the structure.

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  1. How to Write a DBQ Essay: Key Strategies and Tips

    Advanced Placement (AP) The DBQ, or document-based-question, is a somewhat unusually-formatted timed essay on the AP History Exams: AP US History, AP European History, and AP World History. Because of its unfamiliarity, many students are at a loss as to how to even prepare, let alone how to write a successful DBQ essay on test day. Never fear!

  2. How to Write a DBQ Essay (with Pictures)

    1 Review the documents for 10 to 15 minutes. If you're taking an AP exam, you'll have 15 minutes to review the prompt and document. During this initial reading period, you'll carefully read the essay prompt, analyze the included documents, and develop your argument. [2] For an AP exam, you'll then have 45 minutes to write your essay.

  3. How to Write a DBQ: Definition, Step-By-Step, & DBQ Example

    7 min read Share the article A DBQ essay is an assigned task which tests a student's analyzation and understanding skills. They also test a student in thinking outside the box. These skills are essential for success in gaining this academic qualification.

  4. How to Write the Document Based Question (DBQ)

    Steps to Writing an Effective DBQ We've summarized how to write an effective DBQ into the following five steps: 1. Read the prompt first Though you may be tempted to jump into the documents right away, it's very important that you first look at what exactly the prompt is asking for.

  5. How to Write a DBQ Essay: The Ultimate Guide

    Hopefully, the listed tips have helped you better understand the DBQ rubric and the skills you need to ace the DBQ, but don't forget the next step: practice! The DBQ essay style is a little complex, and the best way to better remember it for the test is to look at some of the sample prompts on the College Board website and practice!

  6. How to Write a DBQ Essay: Full Guide by HandmadeWriting

    For writing a strong DBQ essay, you need to use the evidence provided to support an argument, make connections between different documents, and apply specific information in a broader context. Also, a historical essay with a Document Based Question answers the issues of the author's intentions, general conditions, target audience, and so on.

  7. How to Write a DBQ Essay for APUSH

    The Document Based Question (DBQ) essay is a key feature of the APUSH exam. And at 25% of your total score, it's an important feature! Keep reading and you will get some great tips on how to write a DBQ for the APUSH exam.

  8. How to Write a DBQ Essay: Top Academic Ways and Tips

    Writing Guide Navigation Essay format Essay structure Types of essay Guide on How to Write a DBQ Essay with Ease Updated 22 May 2023 Writing a DBQ essay is sometimes a daunting task for students as DBQ's can often require high levels of academic ability as well as the ability to think 'outside the box'.

  9. How to Write a DBQ Essay Step by Step + Example

    Step 1. Analyze the Documents Before Starting a DBQ Essay. If you are on an AP exam, you will have 15 minutes to familiarize yourself with the hint and document for writing a DBQ essay.During this short period, you need to read your given tip carefully (we recommend re-reading it several times), analyze attached documents, and develop your own argumentation.

  10. DBQ Essays: What Are They and How Do You Write One?

    Here are the steps you need to follow to write the best essay for your AP History exams. 1. Read and understand. Start by carefully reading the essay prompt and the provided document, word by word and understand the concept. Take the first 15 minutes of your time to review the prompt.

  11. How to Write a DBQ Essay: A Comprehensive Guide

    DBQ Tips: Dos and Don'ts of Writing a DBQ Essay. When examining how to write DBQs, there are some things you should do and some you should avoid. Let's look at some of them. Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. Lack of a Clear Thesis: Avoid writing a thesis statement that's overly broad or vague. Try to make your thesis as succinct as possible.

  12. How to Write a DBQ Essay

    4.1 Step 1: Planning (15 Minutes) 4.2 Step 2: Introduction (5 Minutes) 4.3 Step 3: Thesis (20 Minutes) 4.4 Step 4: Body (2 Hours and 15 Minutes) 4.5 Step 5: Conclusion (10 Minutes) 4.6 Step 6: Proofreading (Approximately 10 Minutes) 5 DBQ Essay Writing tips 6 Conclusion 7 How to Get Qualified Writing Help 8 Still Need Help? What is a DBQ Essay?

  13. How to Write a DBQ Essay Easily

    Use tips on how to write a DBQ essay below to improve your skills in writing timed essays. Usually, the AP exam limits the DBQ essay with 55 minutes (but it may vary from one type of test to another). You will be given15 minutes for reading and 40 minutes for writing. In the first 15 minutes you will need to understand the question, brainstorm ...

  14. Expert Tips For Writing A Compelling DBQ Essay Introduction

    What is an Introduction? When it comes to writing a DBQ essay, one of the most important steps is the introduction. An introduction serves as a roadmap for the body of the essay and sets the tone, as well as provides readers with a basic understanding of the main idea.

  15. What is a DBQ?

    DBQ stands for Document-Based Questions essay. While this essay is a crucial part of AP History exams, you'll also find multiple choice questions, short answers, and a long essay section on this exam. If you are taking multiple AP history courses, you may have to write multiple DBQ essays for each exam.

  16. 4 Steps on How to Write a DBQ Essay

    Tips for Writing a DBQ Essay: Dos and Don'ts. There are several things you should do and avoid while learning how to write a DBQ Essay. Let's have a look at some of them. Typical Errors and How to Stay Away from Them. Lack of a Clear Thesis: Steer clear of using a thesis statement that is too general or ambiguous. Make an effort to condense ...

  17. PDF Dbq Writing Tips

    DBQ WRITING TIPS 8­Step Strategy: 1. Read the question three times . Do not move on until you fully understand it. 2. Identify the task by circling the main words. (For example: assess the validity, compare and contrast, evaluate relative importance, analy ze the significance, etc.) 3.

  18. Master the DBQ Essay Format: Expert Tips and Guidelines for Success

    Welcome to our guide to mastering the DBQ essay format. As history students, we know that the Document-Based Question (DBQ) essay can be daunting, but with the right tools and strategies, you can excel and achieve success. In this article, we will provide you with expert tips and guidelines to help you navigate the DBQ essay format.