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How to Write an AP US History DBQ Essay

The DBQ Layout:

❶Pay close attention to the verb used in the prompt. You can quote a short passage or two if necessary, to make your point, but don't waste time or space reciting them.

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The general rule of thumb, recommended by the good people at CollegeBoard, is to dedicate about 15 of those precious minutes to planning and the last 45 to writing. That may seem a little overwhelming, but it is totally doable! Especially with these 6 easy steps! Then figure out what the question is asking you. A neat tip might be to write out in your own words what the question is asking.

As you are reading the question, be on the lookout for which skills they are trying to test you on. Every DBQ is looking to test your skills of historical argumentation, use of historical evidence, contextualization , and synthesis.

These things are outlined in the rubric and are consistent parts of every good DBQ. In addition to these critical skills, a DBQ will be looking to analyze one of a number of certain skills. That probably seems like an insanely long first step, but all of that will really only take a couple of minutes and set you up to breeze through the rest of the process.

Once you have thoroughly read and interpreted the question, you are ready for step number 2! Underline or highlight things that stand out, and make notes out to the side. One suggestion is to write a quick sentence or two that summarizes the main idea of each document. You are just looking for main ideas and details that really stand out.

To take this one step further, you can organize the documents into groups based on their main point. For highest score possibilities, make sure to use either all or all but one of the primary source documents. First decide on a thesis, and from there think about how you want to use your primary source documents to support that thesis. Think about what kinds of outside information you might want to bring in to further support your argument, and where it will fit into your essay as a whole.

This will make it much easier to incorporate them into your answer. Hopefully it has only been 15 minutes or less at this point and you are now ready to write! Most of your highly intensive, critical thinking type stuff should already have happened and now it is just all about putting those thoughts into words.

If you played your cards right and made good use of the first 15 minutes, this part of the process should be pretty straightforward. Start with a brief introduction that gives a little context to the subject matter and shows that you know some of the details surrounding the subject matter. Introduce your thesis,then a few of your main ideas that support your thesis. This part of your paper is not much different than a regular essay response. As you get going on some longer paragraphs and stringing together lots of sophisticated and smart sounding sentences, it can be easy to lose sight of the main points of your paper.

Refine your rough argument into a tentative thesis. A thesis is a concise statement that encapsulates your argument. Start with your tentative thesis, then list roman numerals I. For each numeral or letter, write a claim, or a step in your overall argument. Under each claim, list a few bullet points that support that part of your argument.

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. Plug your document citations into the outline. You must support your argument by citing the documents included in the prompt. Refine your thesis after making the outline. Go back and make sure that your argument structure and supporting evidence indeed support your tentative thesis. Keep your eye on the clock and plan your time strategically.

Times may vary in other settings but, in any case, plan out how much time you can spend on each section of your essay. Do your best to leave at least 2 or 3 minutes at the end to make revisions. 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. Include your thesis and 1 to 2 sentences of context in your introduction. Setting context is a natural way to start your essay, so consider using the first 1 to 2 sentences of your introduction to discuss context. Write your body paragraphs. Your body paragraphs should be placed in a logical order, and each should address a component 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: Make sure to show how each body paragraph connects to your thesis. There's more to consider than just its content, or what it says.

Weave together your argument in your conclusion. Proofread your essay for spelling and grammatical mistakes. Try to leave about 5 minutes after writing your essay to proofread and make final edits.

Look for misspelled words, grammatical errors, missing words, and spots where your handwriting is sloppy. Support your argument using 6 of the 7 included documents. Identify and explain 1 piece of historical evidence other than the included documents. Demonstrate a complex understanding of the topic, such as by discussing causation, change, continuity, or connections to other historical periods.

Check that your names, dates, and other facts are accurate. While there is no set length, your response needs to be long enough to cover all of the required sections while maintaining a cohesive argument.

This is usually several pages long, but can vary based on the nature of the argument, class the DBQ is for, and how much the individual can write in the time limit. Not Helpful 2 Helpful How do I, or others, write the new synthesis portion at the end of the test? The point of synthesis is to extend the argument to another time period.

Look for similar events in history to relate your topic to, or similar conditions leading up to the event. For example, the sport of cricket in India spread there by British imperialism can be synthesized to the sport of baseball in Puerto Rico spread there by the USA.

Not Helpful 3 Helpful Of course you can start it with a question, though you should be answering the prompt given, and not asking more questions. Not Helpful 13 Helpful The contextualization in any given essay should have a maximum of 3 sentences. Not Helpful 1 Helpful 4.

Just start by using information you already know and give a little bit of insight.


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Formulating a strong thesis statement for AP History AP Euro/APUSH/AP World The thesis statement of an AP History essay is the most critical element of the essay.

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AP students need to write, and to write often. This practice is an excellent way to develop the skill of casting a thesis statement and marshalling evidence in support of a valid generalization. Define Your Terms Where Necessary. A thesis statement: tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.

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No matter which type of essay you face, here are 4 steps to help you write a good APUSH long essay. Focus on Writing a Solid Thesis Your thesis . AP US History: Writing Introductory Paragraph and Thesis for FRQs OR DBQs THE INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH AND THESIS STATEMENT Sample Question: To what extent did the Civil War constitute a revolution in American society?