If you’re in AP history classes, you will have to write a DBQpaper sooner or later. You may think that it’s impossible to workwith the required number of documents within a given period oftime, but try not to panic. How to write a DBQ essay? As long asyou stay focus in your classes and take a few effective steps,you’ll succeed. Any DBQ paper is an unusually formatted, timed,document-based, and questioning essay on AP history exams. Itcovers AP European, US, and world history classes. Many studentsfeel confused when writing this type of essay because they aren’tfamiliar with it. Use helpful preparation strategies to covereverything you need within a limited time.
The definition of DBQ essays
What is a DBQ essay all about? The main point is to put studentsin the historian’s shoes and interpret important historicalmaterials. This type of academic writing tests your ability to dothe following:
- Analyze relevant sources for such basic characteristics asthe purpose and point of view of authors, context, and audience;
- Create a strong thesis and support it with strong documents;
- Make important connections between these documents;
- Bring in any outside knowledge to strengthen your majorargument.
They all may sound a bit overwhelming, but you use these skillsin other types of academic papers.
How to format DBQ papers
Every AP history test involves DBQ essays, and it’s always thefirst question in a special booklet for the writing section. Whenyou open it, you will see the necessary prompts, instructions,and documents. All students are provided with a 15-minute periodto read and 40 minutes to write.
This test includes 2 essays, and you have enough time to plan andwrite everything. The best part is that you aren’t forced toswitch from one essay to the other, so use your time wisely. Youaren’t required to use the entire planning and reading period, soyou can start writing your essay whenever you need. Make surethat you plan everything carefully because you can complete thisacademic assignment faster when you have a detailed outline.
What to do with documents
When writing a DBQ essay, you receive up to 7 sources, bothsecondary and primary. They are available in different forms,including:
- Maps and pictures;
- Newspaper articles and charts;
- Letters and cartoons.
Your basic task is to use these documents in your essay and gofurther in-depth on them. When it comes to US history classes,writing prompts aren’t focused exclusively on a time periodeither before 1607 or after 1980. Your assignment may be focusedon a broader time period.
DBQ essay prewriting techniques
First, you need to understand what must be done when writing thispaper. You have only 15 minutes to read given prompts, analyzedocuments, and do the necessary pre-writing. When this timeperiod is over, you should start writing.
Reading essay prompts
Start with reading your prompts to determine the evidence thatyou need to find in given documents according to their questions.It’s necessary to underline or circle the following details:
- A particular society you’re asked about;
- A specific time period;
- Key concepts, such as cultural or economic issues.
DBQ essays always ask students to do one of these basic things:
- Analyze different reasons that lead to the development of aparticular movement;
- Analyze the extent to which a given historical stereotype istrue for a specific concept or period;
- Analyze a degree of truth in a given statement and take yourstance;
- Compare and contrast different attitudes towards a particularpolicy or concept;
- Analyze an impact of a concept or an event on some part ofthe society;
- Analyze the importance of a specific factor on a givenconcept or event.
Considering outside information
Think about any outside information about a given theme, timeperiod, and society. It can be anything learned in classes orread in textbooks. Outside information is important because itmakes up a big part of your DBQ essay, and you need to use givendocuments to support it. It can include:
- Themes studied about a particular time period;
- Historical events;
- People, movements, and others.
Write down your relevant outside information on paper anddetermine your perspective or opinion on given prompts. Are thereany questions that you have in your mind? Formulate a strongthesis before looking at given documents to determine how theyfit into your DBQ essay faster.
Analyzing your documents
Look at your documents that can include the following:
- Historical writings and publications (diary entries, bookexcerpts, quotations, and letters);
- Photographs and charts;
- Illustrations and maps;
- Cartoons and pictures of artifacts.
Ask a few basic questions to analyze the documents that you have.How do they fit into assignment prompts? What are their mainideas? How do they fit your thesis? Write down important notesand focus on their chronology to find and analyze any changesover time.
Determining logical categories
Determine special logical categories where documents can beplaced to address your topic questions effectively. You shoulduse as many documents in your DBQ essay as possible. Don’t forgetto discuss the author’s point of view if it supports your thesis.When reading given documents, note their authors, their opinions,and why you think they are this way.
Categorize all documents into specific groups, and this methodcan be used at least twice in your DBQ paper. These groups canhelp you make sense logically and support a thesis. Make surethat they present different sides of your main argument. It’spossible to group given documents as:
- Groups within groups;
- Main groups;
- Cross groupings.
Using additional documents
When writing your DBQ essay, you need to discuss at least oneextra historical document. It’s not provided in essay prompts orquestions, and it can be any historical document. Determine theone that can be really helpful in proving your stance and explainto the audience why it’s important. For example, you can use anytreaty between nations, government documents, letters to queensand kings, and ship logs.
Finally, you should solidify a thesis statement. So, go back andensure that you can support it with given documents while makingit concise and clear.
DBQ essay writing basics
You have a set period of time to complete this writing task, soplan everything wisely to cover every topic that you want todiscuss and analyze every document. Write a brief sentence ofhistorical context about a particular time period. It will becomethe first sentence of your introductory paragraph, but don’t makeit too long. Write a strong thesis statement and follow it with ashort sentence that addresses the main topics covered in bodyparagraphs.
Writing body paragraphs
Body paragraphs should be written in a logical order. Whenreferring to any documents, you should use their titles and makesure that every paragraph has a separate topic sentence, whichexplains to readers what it’s all about. Write as many paragraphsas necessary based on your prompts.
Their content depends on the type of your AP history classes. Forexample, US history requires students to cite information frommany documents, but a big part of information should be outsideevidence. This means that this information isn’t in givendocuments, while European history requires you to get mostinformation from them. You should make an analysis of documentsinstead of simply listing them as they’re presented in assignmentprompts.
If you want to quote any document directly, take this step in ameaningful manner. It’s necessary to quote sparingly and show howall body paragraphs connect to a thesis statement. You have alower chance to succeed if you fail to logically show how yourchosen topics, extra and main documents support a thesis. Ensurethat any outside information that you use in your DBQ essay isrelevant too. Demonstrate your knowledge about the importance ofa particular event or era that you’re writing about.
Adding citations and writing a conclusion
Whenever you mention documents, add parentheses and citeeverything correctly. Besides, you should explain why specificarticles are biased in the main body to get extra points whensubmitting your academic paper.
Writing a concluding paragraph is a must, but it should restate athesis and sum up everything proven in your DBQ essay. You willlose points if teachers decide that your thesis doesn’tadequately state everything written in this paper.
How to finalize your DBQ essay
To successfully finalize your essay, reread it and confirm thatyou include everything important. Make sure that you:
- Have a strong thesis;
- Explain how every document that you use support it;
- Group all documents in a few ways based on prompt questions;
- Discuss authors’ points of view;
- Explain and identify at least one additional document.
Feel free to add anything missing if you still have some time.DBQ essays have a limited time, so you should be able to reviseand edit everything too. Double check all sentences to ensurethat they all are written correctly. Check all names, places, anddates by looking at given documents and ensuring that they allmatch with information in your paper.
Time management skills for successful writing
If you have the essay writing skills necessary to submit a goodpaper, but you fail to get your DBQ essay together within a givenperiod of time, there are different things that may affect yourend results. As an example, you may find yourself spending longminutes on staring at a piece of blank paper. If you feel stuckand don’t know how to get started, spend a few minutes onbrainstorming after reading given documents and assignmentquestions.
After a helpful brainstorming session, organize all interestingideas into a thesis statement and body paragraphs. It’s advisableto start working and make the necessary changes than simplywasting your time. When writing a DBQ essay, some students feeloverwhelmed, while others are too anxious and distracted. If youhave the same problems, there are many effective methods that canhelp you fight anxiety.
Being only half of the way through your paper when a given timeperiod passes is another common problem faced by many students.Perhaps, you usually spend a lot of time on your outline so thatyou have no time left for essay writing. If you spend more than20 minutes on outlining, you need more practice to be faster.Keep in mind that an outline is only a brief guide for your DBQessay, so don’t focus on it too long. Your plan doesn’t have tobe perfect, so practice outlining for shorter time intervals tocut down your outlining time.
Another mistake is trying to cover too much in this academicpaper. If you have five or more body paragraph, scale things backto only three sections. If you spend 20 minutes on writing 2paragraphs with contextual information, you need to trimeverything down to several relevant sentences. Stay mindful ofwhere you spend too much tie and target these troubling areas. Ifyou don’t recognize a problem, you won’t be able to solve iteffectively. If you can’t determine what takes you so long whenwriting DBQ essays, you need to practice writing them in lesstime. This simple technique will help you manage your time moreefficiently to get higher scores for your paper.
How to integrate citations
Integrating document citations into a DBQ essay is an importantskill that makes a huge difference in its quality and your futurescores. You should know how to reference any information indocuments in a clear manner and according to a particularformatting style assigned by instructors. Otherwise, you will beaccused of plagiarism.
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