Useful Tips How to Write a DBQ Essay

What is a DBQ Essay – Meaning

DBQ stands for Document based question. This is an essay question subjected to every student doing AP History exams. This can be AP US History or the AP European History or the AP World History. The task in this kind of assessment will be mainly to analyze a historical-based issue or any sort of current trend with the assistance of the provided documents as evidence. This form of writing is very unfamiliar to many students resulting in panic. This is mainly attributed to by the many documents provided and the little time to work on the same.

In this guide, we are going to learn a number of tips on preparation and writing your DBQ essay with ease. Note that the skills tested, the instructions, the rubric, and the guidelines for AP History exams are just the same, the documents are the only things that vary.

Tips on Writing a DBQ Essay

Before writing your DBQ essay, you first need to take your time in preparations. You cannot just jump to writing before adequately preparing what you are going to put on paper.

Here are some of the important things you need to consider in the 15 minutes you are given for preparation.

  • Read carefully the prompt

While reading the prompt, try to:

  • Understand the question
  • Identify the keywords, such as the time period, society, cultural and economic problems
  • Identify the evidence you need to extract from the documents
  • Think out of the box

Forget about the documents and try to gather information about the question you have been given. This includes information about the society in question, the time period or the theme. Ideally, this is what you are going to write in your DBQ essay while using the provided documents as evidence. Try to think about everything that you learned in class about the topic in question and list all the relevant outside information to help you when you get into writing.

  • Define your stand

After reading the prompt, several ideas will come into your mind. You need to pick one outstanding perspective that you are going to adopt in your essay.

  • Develop a temporary thesis

After reading the prompt, come up with a temporary thesis that will guide you in terms of how to use the supporting documents.

  • Go through the documents

You are going to be given several historical documents. You need to take your time to look at these documents and try to figure out the main idea in each document, determine how they relate with the prompt, and how the documents are related to your temporary thesis. While doing this, try to make some notes on each document. Make sure you take note of the chronology and try to analyze the change

  • Categorize the documents into logical categories

Now that you have gone through all the documents, you need to categorize them depending on how they will help you answer the question in the prompt. For example, you can identify documents that you need to compare and contrast.

  • State the authors’ point of view

Note that, you need to support your thesis with the documents you have been given. Therefore you need to clearly understand the different authors and their points of view. When going through the documents, try to identify the author, his/her point of view and try to figure out the reason behind that point of view. This should reflect in your essay.

  • Develop groups

Your essay should show a perfect understanding of the various documents you have been given. You need to cluster the documents and it should reflect at least two times in your essay. When creating the groups, ensure that they are all in line with your thesis. The groups you come up with should be able to show the different sides of your argument.

  • Additional document

Note that, you will be required to use an additional document apart from the ones that you have been provided with. Make sure your document is relevant to the DBQ essay question given.

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  • Improve your thesis

Now that you have more information about the questions, you go back to your temporary thesis and try to improve it so that it covers the question explicitly. Ensure that it is clear and concise. With that, you are set to go. Now let’s get into the juicy part of writing the DBQ essay. First, make sure you plan your time well so that you cover all your topics.

Using DBQ Essay Writing Outline

A DBQ essay generally follows the following format:

  • Introduction

Writing an introduction for your DBQ should begin with a brief historical context of the period you are required to write about

The introduction also carries the thesis statement. After the thesis, you need to write a brief sentence mentioning the topics that you are going to cover in the body paragraph.

  • Body Paragraphs

In writing your DBQ essay, ensure that you present your body paragraphs in a logical order. Ensure that all your body paragraphs begin with a topic sentence that is an explanation of what the paragraph is about. Make sure that you have adequate paragraphs that sufficiently address the issue. In your body paragraphs, refer to the provided documents with their titles. Always attach an analysis to the documents provided when referring to them

Understand the requirements of the different types of AP History DBQ essays. For AP United States History, you will be required to use a lot of outside evidence but most of the citation should come from the provided documents. When it comes to AP European History, you are required to majorly depend on the provided documents.

For direct quotations, make sure it is very relevant in that context. Ensure that your body paragraphs have a relevant citation that is when you use any document provided or your outside source, you should include its citation. Your body paragraphs should also be in line with your thesis. If you want to get more points in DBQ essay ensure that you clearly show how the evidence in the documents provided, the point of view you have chosen and your additional document gang up to develop your thesis.

This means that the outside document should be relevant to the thesis. Apart from that, ensure that you show how well you understand the period or event you have been asked.

  • Conclusion

This is a very vital part of your DBQ essay. Here you need to restate your thesis and give a brief summary of what you have explained in the body paragraphs.

DBQ Essay Examples

Here are some examples of questions for a DBQ essay.

  1. Explain the reasons why a new conservatism rose to prominence in the United States between 1960 and 1989
  2. Explain the causes of the rise of women’s rights movement in the period 1940-1975
  3. Compare and contrast the differing attitudes towards women’s rights in America from 1890 to 1920