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AP World DBQ Contextualization and Thesis Practice

11 min read • january 2, 2021

Eric Beckman

Eric Beckman

Evan Liddle

Evan Liddle

Melissa Longnecker

Melissa Longnecker

Practicing DBQ prompts is a great way to prep for the AP exam! Review practice writing samples of the opening paragraph of a DBQ and corresponding feedback from Fiveable teachers Melissa Longnecker, Eric Beckman, and Evan Liddle.

The DBQ Practice Prompt

This is the type of paragraph that can open a DBQ. But, I recommend outlining how you will use the documents as evidence  before  writing your thesis.

As you read the document-based question, I recommend taking brief notes on the prompt and each document. Record what the prompt is asking, how each document relates to the prompt, and how the sourcing affects the document and/or a response to the prompt. Don’t write too much, but you will find these notes useful when while composing your answer.

Evaluate the extent to which rulers of early modern empires, c. 1450 - c. 1750, used traditional methods to consolidate their power.

Use the documents and your understanding of World History to write ONE (no more!) paragraph with

  • Broader historical context for the prompt
  • A thesis in response to the prompt

Illustration of the First Battle of Panipat (1526), near Delhi, in the Baburnama, the autobiography of Babur. Manuscript prepared for his grandson, Emperor Akbar after Baur’s death, c. 1590

DBQ Writing Samples & Feedback

Dbq student practice sample 1.

From 1200 to 1450, the rulers of empires came up with several methods conssolidating power. An example of this is the Mongol’s implementation of trade and tolerance of the spread of religion. This paved the way for future rulers to hold power while ensuring that their empire would thrive. Rulers of empires between 1450 and 1700 relied heavily traditional methods such as an trade and an established currency system to consolidate their power.

Teacher feedback:

This is an excellent first step, I can tell from your answer you do have the basic idea of what context is supposed to be.

DBQ Student Practice Sample 2

The Ottoman, Mughal, and Safavid Empires, formerly known as the “Gunpowder Empires”, were spreading rapidly. The Qing Dynasty was also spreading Europe is trying to expand and build maritime empires, and trade routes are connecting the Americas to Europe. Rulers of early modern empires circa 1450-1750 very effectively used traditional methods to consolidate power, for example, Suleiman I, a former ruler of the Ottoman Empire conquers Tripoli in North Africa and starts a period of reform called the Devishrime; in the Safavid Empire, Shah Abbas comes to power in 1588 and tries to modernize the empire through encouraging trade and building bureaucracy, and in the Mughal Empire, Akbar establishes Divine Faith in attempts to normalize religious tolerance.

Context can be focused on the time period under discussion but context usually branches out into time before and possibly even after the prompt’s time period. You do have an excellent, if narrow, thesis.

DBQ Student Practice Sample 3

Before the time period of 1450-1700,the Mongols contributed to the downfall of the Abbasid caliphate as they invaded it and weakened its political influence.This caused the development of network exchanges like the silk road and Indian ocean trade routes. As a result,religions like Christianity and Islam spread and diffused but it is not always tolerated.Rulers of early modern empires used traditional methods to consolidate power like in the ottoman empire, the sultan Suleiman ,was obeyed by janissaries so this is how he got a bigger military and smarter government,in the safavid empire the ruler attempts to build a bureaucracy and modernize

Something to keep in mind is that while connecting to other events keep in mind connections and causation. For example how is the fall of the Abbasid Caliphate connected to the Silk Road. The common denominator is the Mongols, but it does not read as such. You end your context by discussing tolerance which might be a nice transition to discussing the tolerance of the Gunpowder Empires, keep that in mind.

DBQ Student Practice Sample 4

Although the potency of empires and dynasties apart of the early modern era was composed through more-novelty methods such as sabotage and social hierarchy change, because consolidation was implemented through pervasive conversions such as how the Ottomans used the Hagia Sophia and the use of trade such as the Portuguese assimilating dominance across the trading route of the Indian Ocean methodization for imperialism between 1450 and 1700 tends to take on more traditional forms, therefore religious legitimization and commerce were attractive for gaining power to empire rulers. The differentiation of methods was promoted during the postclassical era (1200-1450). This is shown in how the Song Dynasty brought out power through advancement in multiple fields; through the allowance of varying methods power was well achieved, almost acting as a model for future imperial powerholders.

Your context is well done. While using advanced language is fine, just be sure you are clear on the meaning of these words. Your thesis, which is excellent, seems to come in the middle of the paragraph. This works, though it is a bit hard to follow.

DBQ Student Practice Sample 5

In the years leading up to 1450, The Mongols gained power all over Afro-Eurasia through their harsh warfare lead by Genghis Khan. The Mongols controlled many of the trade routes such as the Silk Roads. When they eventually fell they split up into 4 Khanates spread out over Afro-Eurasia. With these new empires forming, emperors needed to have complete power over these territories. Although few rulers created new ways to control their conquered people such as new economic advantages in Western Europe, during the period 1450-1750, rulers used traditional methods to consolidate their power by warfare, adapting/keeping previous cultures in the Middle East and Asia, and controlling international trade.

Your Context while detailed and provides a timeline to follow it does not transition smoothly into your thesis. Consider mentioning the Mongols, but in a way that dovetails into what your thesis will be about such as Mongol ruling policy or warfare. Also your thesis can be made stronger with a specific reference to a previous culture or an example of controlling international trade.

DBQ Student Practice Sample 6

Prior to 1450, vast trade networks such as the Silk Roads and the Indian Ocean networks arose, increasing interregional connection across Afro-Eurasia. This increase in connection between cultures and peoples and the use of newer technologies such as gunpowder facilitated the growth of large empires throughout the entirety of Afro-Eurasia. After the rulers of these empires had conquered enough territory, they had to find ways to solidify, or consolidate, their power over these large, culturally diverse areas of land. Although some empires used traditional religious ideals to consolidate their power, most empires turned to radical changes in the way in which trade was conducted and the unprecedented strengthening of military assets in order to accomplish this goal.

Your context is excellent, and it dovetails nicely into your thesis. Your thesis could be a bit more specific. What military assests? What trade? One good specific example really helps.

DBQ Student Practice Sample 7

Previously, in 1200-1450, empires like the Abbasid Empire and Mongol empire expanded and consolidated power through developments in technology like caravans and saddles, and also through military conquests like the implementation of the Mongolian Khanates. These approaches characterized how empires consolidated power during the postclassical era. Starting in 1450-1750 rulers of early modern empires shifted to a more traditional approach to consolidating their power through the use of religious tolerance and military conquest . Specifically, the gunpowder empires used both religious worship and militaristic conquering to expand consolidate and legitimize. Also, empires in a East Asia like the powerful Ming Dynasty expanded vastly through the conquering of lands in Mongolia and Central Asia. Lastly empires in Europe consolidated power through the development on new monarchies that centralized power through controlling taxes, army and religion. Through conquest, religious tolerance and centralized government, rules in the modern era were able to successfully consolidate power.

Your context is well done, balancing specific evidence with general trends. Your thesis is a bit long though. May I suggest combining the last three sentences into one using commas to list ideas. For example the Ming conquest of Mongolia, New Monarchs in Europe. et all

DBQ Student Practice Sample 8

In the late 14th century the Ottoman Empire developed a system called devshirme that staffed their military and government. This system expanded in the 15th and 16th centuries and continued to build up the Ottoman military. Christian boys were recruited by force to serve in the Ottoman government. The most well known group were Janissaries, which formed elite forces in the Ottoman army. The other Christian boys that were forcibly removed from their families had to be completely loyal to the sultan and some of them served as bodyguards. Janissaries were able to gain more power in the Ottoman Empire and some families wanted their sons to become a part of the service. The Ottomans could control the conquered Christians through the use of Janissaries in their armies. In 1450-1750, rulers of early modern empires used traditional methods such as improved military forces to consolidate their power.

This is an excellent description of how the system helped strengthen the Ottoman Empire, but in terms of either Contextualizing Units 3/4 or serving as a Thesis this would not work, it is too narrow, only one idea. A good thesis would have 2-3 ideas.

DBQ Student Practice Sample 9

There were three important ways that the leaders of states and empires consolidated their rule before 1450: the conquering of new lands, the proliferation of certain religions or religious tolerance, and by proliferating trade along the Indian Ocean, the Silk Road, and the Trans-Saharan trade network. Religions such as Islam and syncretic sects spread across the Trans-Saharan, Indian Ocean, and Silk Road trade networks. Empires from 1200-1450 often instritued currencies and encouraged trade to spread their empire’s religion. The Mongols controlled much of the Silk Road during the 13th and early 14th centuries. However, theMongols’ rule fell in the 14th century due to the fragmentation of the empire; the Ming, Ottoman, and Russian empires subsequently sprang up. The Ottoman, Mughal and Russian empires conquered other lands from 1450-1750 and either proliferated a certain religion or they instituted a religious tolerance policy within their empires. European empires arose in 1450-1750 by conquering trade ports and lands from around the world. Explorers also tried to proselytize others. European conquerers administered these lands by controlling the production and exportation of valuable agricultural goods to Europe, and by using forced labor systems to produce goods such as sugar and tobacco. Although rulers of early modern empires in 1450-1750 conquered foreign lands and proliferated a religious policy by emphasizing religious tolerance or by encouraging the conversion of others to one religion, European empires used maritime technologies to aid them in conquering other lands worldwide. Empires in Africa and Asia in 1450-1750 still conquered empires on land, and religious tolerance was an idea that was much more common there than in European conquests of foreign lands.

Your context is quite excellent and blends nicely into the thesis. For your thesis, it could be shorter and be strengthened by adding a specific technology such as one maritime technology or a religious that was spread by an empire. That last sentence is not nessessary unless thats part of your consolidation argument.

DBQ Student Practice Sample 10

Before the 15th century, many different empires have shown highly traditional values that have been used to cosolidate power. Among these states are the Mongols who showed major tolerance to other cultures and helped to expand trade. The Byzantine empire was also a nation that resisted up to the 15th century and, despite the constant Islamic attempts of invasion, they had religious tolerance and were open to negotiate with various merchants and leaders including Muslims. Although the empires that remained and emerged during 1450-1750 used new innovations to maintain their power and keep as well as protect their people, being tolerant to new cultures and encouraging the expansion of trade was also important to consolidate their power.

Your paragraph shows understanding of the time period before and during this DBQ. Specifically:
1. Describes a broader historical context relevant to the prompt :  maybe , the Mongols and the Byzantine empire were context for early modern empires, but this would be stronger with a clear link to the developments you will discuss in your essay. Did later Empires adopt these techniques from the Mongols and Byzantines?
2 . Responds to the prompt with a historically defensible thesis/claim:  yess you have an evaluation, although this could be more clear, and you lay out a line of reasoning.

DBQ Student Practice Sample 11

Prior to 1450 many empires consolidated powers through multiple ways. For example, China used Confucianism to create a bureaucracy through the civil service on Confucian ideals. On the the other hand, the Mongols consolidated power through heavy secure control of the silk roads through large khanates and the policy of Pax Mongolica (Mongol Peace). In addition, they used religious tolerance since they really didn’t have a culture of their own and also to avoid any attempted cultural revolts. Although belief systems were a traditional way to consolidate power, such as China’s use of Confucianism, many nations used military expansion through gunpowder weaponry and also through expansion of trade

Be careful with claiming that societies lacked culture, that is essentially impossible, even if in societies which adapt elements of other cultures.
1. Describes a broader historical context relevant to the prompt:   attempted  , Confucianism and the Mongols are elements of context, but this needs a clear connection to the prompt. How did these developments create the context for the growth of early modern empires?
2. Responds to the prompt with a historically defensible thesis/claim:  attempted -you outline a couple of reasonable claims&mdash:which is good—this lacks an evaluation. How much do did early modern empires rely on traditional, as opposed to innovative, means? This requires a qualifier, such as strongly or secondarily.

DBQ Student Practice Sample 12

In the 13th century, the Mongols marched across Eurasia and soon became the largest continuous land empire in history. Throughout their rule, they revitalized international trade and built a system of roads which they maintained and guarded. The Mongols ruled successfully due to their understanding of centralized power which was soon spread and copied by other empires. After their fall in the mid 14th century, other empires like the Ottomans and the Safavids, rose to power as a result of their own military might along with the weakness and corruption of the regimes that they replaced. Although wealth and religious ideals were essential to early modern empires, traditional methods like increased trade and advancements in the military were used to consolidate power in the period of 1450 to 1750.

1. Describes a broader historical context relevant to the prompt :  yes , the Mongol Empire is relevant context, and, more importantly, you connect this to Empire building in the time period of the prompt. This would be even stronger with connection to at least one more empire, besides the Ottomans, from the documents. Safavids would be excellent as outside evidence.
2. Responds to the prompt with a historically defensible thesis/claim :  maybe , this addresses the prompt, but may not be historically defensible because wealth and religious ideals were also traditional methods of imperial rule.


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How to approach ap world history modern document based questions

How to Approach AP World History: Modern DBQs

Question 1 in Section II of the AP World History: Modern Exam is the document-based question (DBQ). It will always include seven documents offering a variety of perspectives on a historical development or process that took place between 1450 and 2001.

What does a high-scoring Document-Based Question response contain?

Make a thesis or claim that responds to the prompt. The thesis or claim must be based on historical facts and must establish a line of reasoning.

Provide context relevant to the prompt by describing a broader historical development or process.

Use at least six of the provided documents to support an argument in response to the prompt.

Additional Evidence

Use a historical example not found in the documents as evidence relevant to an argument about the prompt.

Explain how the context or situation of at least three documents is relevant to an argument. This could address the relevance of the document’s point of view, purpose, historical situation, and/or audience.

Complex Understanding

Demonstrate a nuanced understanding of an argument that responds to the prompt by using evidence to corroborate, qualify, or modify the argument.

While this may sound like a lot of factors to keep in mind, the strategies below will help you plan your response in such a way to address all the scoring requirements.

AP World History: Modern DBQ Strategies

Consider the following special strategies for the DBQ. Score requirements are highlighted in bold.

DBQ Strategy 1: Analyze the Prompt

  • Most prompts will test one of the following historical reasoning skills: causation, continuity and change over time, or comparison. Look for keywords in the prompt that indicate which skill is being tested (for instance, “changes” often indicates continuity and change over time, while phrases such as “transformed” or “led to” often indicate causation); keep the skill in mind as you read the documents and consider organizing your essay according to the skill.
  • Use the 15-minute reading period to read the documents and organize them into groups for analysis.
  • Feel free to write notes in the test booklet and underline important words in both the source lines and the documents themselves. Nothing in the booklet is read as part of the essay scoring.
  • Assume that each document provides only a snapshot of the topic—just one perspective.
  • For each document, jot down brief notes to help you solidify your understanding of it. Use your notes to make your plan and write your essay. Take short notes about: the main idea(s) of the source, the purpose of the source (why it was written), and the background of the author and/or the context in which the source was created. Thinking about these factors will help you address several DQB requirements.
  • Reread the prompt, thinking about how each of the documents relates to the prompt. Group the documents by their similarities: perhaps they present two or more major viewpoints, causes, or types of changes. When you plan the organization of your essay, each group may correspond with one body paragraph.
  • If the 15-minute reading period has passed and you need a few more minutes to review the documents and organize your thoughts, go ahead! The 15 minutes is a suggested amount of time. That said, you will want to give yourself as much time as possible to write a thoughtful response.

DBQ Strategy 2: Plan Your Response

  • Making a careful plan can help ensure that you address all the scoring requirements.
  • Paraphrase your thesis statement. Knowing your claim will make it easier for you to plan an effective argument in your essay. In light of the documents, you must make a claim that demonstrates a line of reasoning in response to the prompt. Avoid statements that are vague or general (“The Industrial Revolution was very significant”), and make a specific claim that responds to the prompt using both the documents and your historical knowledge and sets up the rest of your essay (“The Industrial Revolution not only resulted in new capitalist economies but also brought about fundamental changes in social structures by creating new social classes and new roles for women”).
  • Be sure your thesis or overall plan incorporates a complex understanding . You need to demonstrate that you have more than just a basic understanding of the content, so your essay should address the complexity of the historical development—perhaps by including multiple variables, by considering both causes and effects, or by making an insightful connection to another time period.
  • Make a note about how you will provide context for the topic of the prompt. This may fit well in the introduction or first body paragraph.
  • List the documents you will use as evidence —remember that you must use six or seven to earn the maximum number of points for using the documents.
  • Consider whether the paragraph is a good place to provide additional evidence —you must include one additional historical example.
  • Think about when it would be beneficial to explain sourcing , or how a document’s context or situation is relevant to the argument—you must do so for three documents.
  • Finally, review your plan and check off each requirement in your test booklet to ensure you addressed all six.

For more help prepping for the AP World History: Modern exam, check out our  AP World History: Modern Prep Plus Book .

DBQ Strategy 3: Action! Write Your Response

  • Nothing is more important in the first paragraph than the clear statement of an analytical thesis. The reader is most interested in seeing a strong thesis as soon as possible.
  • Your thesis can be more than just one sentence. With the compound questions often asked by the DBQ, two sentences might be needed to complete the idea.
  • Each paragraph should address one component of your thesis claim. Begin each paragraph with a clear topic sentence.
  • Refer to the authors of the documents, not just the document numbers.
  • Including short quotes is an effective way to use the documents to support your claims. However, avoid copying long sentences; use only the words or phrases that are relevant to your essay. The reader is interested in your ideas, not those of the documents’ authors.
  • A good idea is to write a concluding paragraph that might extend your original thesis. Think of a way to restate your thesis, adding information from your analysis of the documents.

DBQ Strategy 4: Proofread

Skim for any glaring errors and, if you have time, check again to make sure your response meets each of the DBQ requirements.

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, where to find the best dbq examples.

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Advanced Placement (AP)


One of the best ways to prepare for the DBQ (the "document-based question" on the AP European History, AP US History, and AP World History exams) is to look over sample questions and example essays. Doing this will help you to get a sense of what makes a good (and what makes a bad) DBQ response.

That said, not all DBQ essay examples are created equal. We'll briefly cover what makes a good DBQ example and then provide a list of example essays by course. Lastly, we'll give you some helpful tips on how to best use sample essays in your own preparation process.

What's a Good DBQ Example?

Without a doubt, the best sample resources come from the College Board . This is because they are the ones who design and administer the AP exams . This means the following:

Any DBQ essay example that the College Board provides will include a real DBQ prompt

All samples are real student responses from previous years , so you know they were written under the same conditions you'll have when you write your DBQ—in other words, they're authentic!

They not only have scores but also explanations of each essay's score , in accordance with the rubric

Each prompt includes several sample essays with a variety of scores

Some DBQ examples outside those available from the College Board might be worth looking at, particularly if they highlight how a particular essay could be improved. In general, though, a superior example will do the following:

Include the prompt and documents: It will be much easier for you to see how the information from the documents is integrated into the essay if you can actually look at the documents themselves!

Have a score: Seems simple, but you'd be surprised how many DBQ examples out there in the uncharted internet don't have one. Without a real, official score, it's hard to gauge how trustworthy a sample actually is.

With that in mind, I have compiled lists, organized by exam, of high-quality example DBQs below.


Don't spend all your study time on false starts with your practice DBQs. 

Every DBQ Example Essay You Could Ever Need, by Exam

Here are your example essays! We'll start with AP US History, then move to AP European History, and finally wrap up with AP World History.

AP US History: Official College Board Examples

The APUSH test was redesigned in 2015 and again in 2018, so right now there are eight  official College Board sets of sample essays you can use in your studies . Make sure to give yourself a 15-minute reading period and 45 minutes to write your answer. In addition, don't forget to use the current scoring guidelines when grading your own practice responses.

  • 2023 Free-Response Questions | Scoring Guidelines 2023
  • 2022 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2022
  • 2021 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2021
  • 2019 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2019
  • 2018 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2018
  • 2017 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2017
  • 2016 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2016
  • 2015 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2015

If you want additional sample question sets, you can look at older College Board US History DBQ example response sets . To look at these, click "Free-Response Questions" for a given year. For the corresponding DBQ examples and scoring guidelines, click "Sample Responses Q1."

Note that these examples use the old rubric (which is integrated into the Scoring Guidelines for a given free-response section). General comments on the quality of the essay, outside information, and document analysis still apply, but the score is on a 9-point scale instead of the current 7-point scale, and some of the particulars will be different. Older DBQs had up to 12 documents, while the current format has seven documents.

If you do look at older DBQ examples, I recommend using the current rubric to re-grade the essays in the sample according to the 7-point scale. I'll also give more advice on how to use all these samples in your prep later on.


Mr. Bald Eagle is an AP US History DBQ grader in his spare time.

AP European History: Official College Board Examples

Unfortunately, there aren't as many sample resources for the AP Euro DBQ compared to the other AP history tests because 2016 was the first year the AP Euro test was administered in the new format . Since then, more minor changes have been made in terms of time (you now have an hour on the DBQ) and individual parts of the rubric (you can view the current scoring guidelines here ).

This means there are seven sets of official samples graded with the current 7-point rubric:

The rest of the existing available samples were graded in the old 9-point format instead of the 7-point format implemented in 2016.

In the old format, there were 6 "core" points and 3 additional points possible. The old rubric is integrated with the sample responses for each question, but we'll highlight some key differences between the old and current formats :

With the old format, you were given a brief "historical background" section before the documents

There were more documents—up to 12—but the current format has seven

There was an emphasis on "grouping" the documents that is not present in the current rubric

There was also explicit emphasis on correctly interpreting the documents that is not found in the current rubric

While the essential components of the DBQ are still the same between the two test formats, you should definitely refer to the current rubric if you decide to look at any old AP European History samples . You might find it useful to look at old essays and score them in accordance with the current rubric.

Here are the old sample DBQ questions and essays, organized by year:

  • 2014 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2014
  • 2013 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2013
  • 2012 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2012
  • 2011 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2011

You can get samples in the old format all the way back to 1999 from the College Board . (Click "Free -Response Questions" for the questions and "Sample Response Q1" for the samples.)


Consider how you might integrate this castle into the DBQ that is your life.

AP World History: Official College Board Examples

The World History AP exam transitioned to a new format to more closely resemble AP US History and AP European History for the 2017 test. This means that there are six past exams available that use the current DBQ format:

Note that starting with the 2020 exam, AP World History will only cover the years 1200 to the present instead of thousands of years of history. As a result, both the course and exam have been renamed AP World History: Modern (a World History: Ancient course is in the works). What this means for you is that previous DBQs might have to do with time periods you're no longer required to study, so just keep this in mind.

In the old format, there were 7 "core" points and 2 additional points possible. The old rubric is integrated with the sample responses for each question, but we'll highlight some key differences between the old and current formats :

There were more documents—up to 10—but the current format has seven

There was an emphasis on "grouping" the documents on the old rubric that is not present in the current rubric

  • In the old rubric, you needed to identify one additional document that would aid in your analysis; the new rubric does not have this requirement

The essential components of the DBQ are still the same between the two formats, though you should definitely look at the current rubric if you study with any old AP World History questions and samples. You might find it useful to look at the old essays and score them according to the current rubric.

Here are old AP World History questions and DBQ sample responses , organized by year:


Don't worry, the old format isn't as old as this guy right here.

How Should I Use DBQ Examples to Prepare?

Now that you have all these examples, what should you do with them? In this section, we'll give you some tips on how to use example DBQs in your own AP history prep , including when to start using them and how many you should plan to review.

What Should I Do With These DBQs?

Official sample essay sets are a great way to test how well you understand the rubric. This is why we recommend that you grade a sample set early on in your study process—maybe even before you've written a practice DBQ .

Then, when you compare the scores you gave to the official scores and scoring notes given to the samples, you'll have a better idea of what parts of the rubric you don't really understand . If there are points you are consistently awarding differently than the graders, you’ll know those are skills you'll need to work on.

Keep giving points for the thesis and then finding out the sample didn't get those points? This tells you to work more on your thesis skills. Not giving points for historical context and then finding out the AP grader gave full credit? You need to work on recognizing what constitutes historical context according to the AP.

Check out my tips on building specific rubric-based skills in our guide on how to write a DBQ .

Once you've worked on some of those rubric skills you're weaker in, such as evaluating a good thesis or keeping track of how many documents were used, grade another sample set. This way you can see how your ability to grade the essays like an AP grader improves over time!

Obviously, grading sample exams is a much more difficult process if you're looking at examples in an old format. The old scores as awarded by the College Board will be helpful in establishing a ballpark —a 9 is still going to be a good essay using the current 7-point scale—but there may be some modest differences in grades between the two scales. (For example, maybe that perfect 9 is now more like a 6 out of 7 due to rubric changes.)

For practice grading with old samples, you might want to pull out two copies of the current rubric, recruit a trusted study buddy or academic advisor (or even two study buddies!), and have each of you re-grade the samples .

You can then discuss any major differences in the grades each of you awarded. Having multiple sets of eyes will help you determine whether the scores you're giving are reasonable, since you won’t have an official 7-point College Board score for comparison.

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How Many Example DBQs Should I Be Using?

The answer to this question depends on your study plans.

If it's six months before the exam and you plan on transforming yourself into a hard diamond of DBQ excellence, you might do practice grading on a sample set every few weeks to a month to check your progress to being able to think like an AP grader. In this case, you would probably use six to nine official sample sets.

If, on the other hand, the exam is in a month and you're just trying to get in some extra skill-polishing, you might do a sample set every week to 10 days . It makes sense to check your skills more often when you have less time to study because you want to be sure that you are focusing your time on the skills that need the most work. For a short time frame, expect to use somewhere in the range of three to four official sample sets.

Either way, you should be integrating your sample essay grading with skills practice and doing some practice DBQ writing of your own .

Toward the end of your study time, you could even integrate DBQ writing practice with sample grading. Read and complete a timed prompt and then grade the sample set for that prompt, including yours! The other essays will help give you a sense of what score your essay might have received that year and any areas you might have overlooked.

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to using sample sets, but in general they are a useful tool for making sure you have a good idea what the DBQ graders will be looking for when you write your own DBQ on test day.


Hey, where can we find a good DBQ around here?

Closing Thoughts: Example DBQs for AP History Tests

Example DBQ essays are a valuable resource in your arsenal of study strategies for the AP history exams. Grading samples carefully will help you get a sense of your own blind spots so you'll know what skills to focus on in your prep.

That said, sample essays will be most useful when integrated with your own targeted skills prep . Grading 100 sample essays won't help you if you aren't practicing your skills; rather, you'll just keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

Make sure you aren't using sample essays to avoid writing practice DBQs either—you'll want to do at least a couple, even if you only have a month to practice.

And there you have it, folks. With this list of DBQ examples and tips on how to use them, you are all prepared to integrate samples into your study strategy!


What's Next?

Still not sure what a DBQ is? Check out my explanation of the DBQ to learn the basics.

Want tips on how to really dig in and study for AP history tests? We've got a complete how-to guide on preparing for and writing the DBQ .

If you're still studying for AP World History, check out our top AP World History study guide , or get more practice tests from our complete list .

Want more study material for AP US History? Look into this article on the best notes to use for studying from one of our experts. Also, read our review of the best AP US History textbooks !

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dbq thesis ap world

How to Write the Document Based Question (DBQ)

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What’s Covered:

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 thesis ap world

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. 

dbq thesis ap world

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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

Related CollegeVine Blog Posts

dbq thesis ap world


AP® World History

How to answer ap® world history saqs, dbqs, and leqs.

  • The Albert Team
  • Last Updated On: March 1, 2022

how to answer AP® World History free response questions

If you’re taking AP® World History, you probably already know just how important the free response section can be for making or breaking your AP® score. This post will help give you the best tips and tricks for answering AP® World History free response questions including but not limited to short-answer questions, document-based questions, and long essays. 

We’ll go over things like must-know tips for how to write perfect score SAQs, DBQs, and LEQs, mistakes students often make on the AP® World exam, and how to use past AP® free response questions to start practicing for your upcoming exam. 

Read on to get the scoop on everything you need to make the most of your AP® World History: Modern exam review. 

What We Review

5 Steps on How to Write Effective AP® World History: Modern Free Responses

Regardless of whether you’re answering a SAQ, DBQ, or LEQ, there are a few key steps when it comes to putting your best foot forward in your AP® World free response section.

1. Knowing what you’re being asked and answering that specific question.

All too often, students enter the AP® World History: Modern exam suffering from two key weaknesses in their exam prep: not understanding the rubric or not answering the question asked. 

You need to know exactly how you earn your points. This way, you can write your response to directly address what you’re being asked. 

Here is a link for AP® World History past released exams

These past exams include scoring guidelines PDFs which outline how points were distributed for each respective question. 

Here’s a screenshot from the second question of the 2019 released exam:

AP® World History saq

Source: College Board

You can gather a lot from these scoring guidelines. In the example above, you can see that points are distributed based on the student’s ability to answer the prompt. One point was given for identification from data in a chart, another from identifying a similarity, and a final point for explaining how longer life expectations impacted society on a political, economic, or social level. 

There are commonly used directive words to be wary of when reviewing past AP® World History free response questions. We’ll cover what some of those are later. 

When it comes to the AP® World History DBQ, know where each of your points will come from. Most importantly, keep in mind how to use the documents to advance your argument and don’t just rehash what is already known from the documents provided. This means knowing for example that you’ll receive one point for successfully connecting documents to the prompt, knowing you have to argue with the documents to earn more points, or using at least six (if not seven) documents to support your thesis.

For now, just make sure you go over at least two years worth of released exam scoring guidelines so you understand how everything is weighted and distributed.

2. Flag every directive word or key phrase in the question prompt. 

Now that you know how points are earned, you need to start to develop a habit for mentally confirming you’re getting all of the points possible in each question. 

Let’s take a look at the first SAQ from the 2019 AP® World History exam:

saq world history example highlighted

What you can tell here is that oftentimes for SAQs, you will be asked to identify in part A (and sometimes B, as is the case here), followed by explain in part B and/or C. 

To properly identify , you must provide 1-2 sentences where you directly answer the question, within the proper time period.

When asked to explain , these responses often will be three sentences. One sentence to answer the question, and then two sentences to provide specific facts that support your answer. Teachers often refer to these questions as ones where you want to “show the why”. 

Take note of what we highlighted above. We not only flag for ourselves what the key directive word is, but we also mark how many things we need to identify or explain and the time period being asked of us. 

Students often make the mistake of bringing in historical examples that are outside the scope of the time period asked. If you do this, you will miss out on valuable AP® World History SAQ points. 

Here’s how we might flag the DBQ from that same 2019 AP® World History free response section:

AP® World History dbq example

When you’re flagging the key directives or phrases, the things to keep in mind are: 

  • Typically when it comes to the DBQs or LEQs, you’ll be asked to compare, explore causes, discuss change or continuity over time.
  • What’s the time period? 

To answer the first question, you must understand that AP® World History: Modern develops students to have these six historical thinking skills: 

The four core historical reasoning skills from the College Board are:

ap historical reasoning skills

3. Plan out your response BEFORE you start writing.

Taking just a few minutes to map out your response to each AP® World History free response question can make a big difference in the cohesion of your responses. 

Too often, students jump right into answering questions and as a result either simply regurgitate what was already given to them, or fail to answer the question they’re being asked directly. 

To serve as a “compass”, always remember:

  • What’s the historical reasoning skill being asked of me?
  • What’s the time period? What do I know about this time period?

Then, when it comes to specifics to the DBQ, ask yourself questions such as:

  • What type of DBQ is this? Is it asking me a social, political, or economic question? 
  • How can the documents I’ve been provided be grouped together? 
  • What is the sourcing of the document? 
  • What’s my thesis? Can it be agreed with or disagreed with and have I put everything into historical context? 
  • Have I planned to use at least six documents? 
  • Is my intended outside evidence specific and relevant to the question and time period?
  • Have I planned how I’ll introduce complexity? (We’ll give you tips on this final point later)

For the AP® World LEQ, be sure to ask:

  • Do I have a defensible thesis? Is there a clear line of reasoning? 
  • Is it clear how I’ll place things into historical context?
  • Do I have specific evidence that is relevant to the question and time period?
  • Have I planned how I’ll introduce complexity?

The College Board uses the free response section to test your ability to connect the dots between historical time periods and to be able to fluidly navigate historical time periods with accuracy. 

This means planning is essential. Really think hard on what the question is asking you and if you’re giving a direct answer to that question. 

AP® Readers often express frustration with not being able to give students points because students simply got distracted by a catch phrase from the text, or wrote about something not relevant to the question of the prompt.

4. Double check you’ve made explicit references to connections in your writing.

One of the common pitfalls of student responses for AP® World History: Modern FRQs is not using documents or evidence to advance an argument. 

It isn’t enough in your response to simply demonstrate you understand what the document is. You have to also show how that document serves as evidence to support your thesis. 

In the past, Chief Readers of the exam have expressed that students often understand historical content, but aren’t able to present the evidence in a way that will earn points for the response. 

The easiest way to check yourself here is to remember the word “therefore”. Make your argument, describe your evidence from what’s provided (or what you know), and then say “therefore” followed by the argument you are trying to make. 

In other AP® subjects, teachers tell their students that this is the equivalent of “showing the why” or “closing the loop”. 

Closing the loop in AP® World History can be made into more of a habit using words like “because” or “therefore” to help bridge two concepts together and solve for the “why” this matters. 

5. Practice, practice, and then practice some more

When you really think about what are the keys to AP® free response success, it boils down to mastering the rubrics and crafting responses to fit those rubrics. 

It’s not uncommon for students to walk into the exam and to have never seen an AP® World History: Modern SAQ, DBQ, or LEQ rubric. Don’t be that student. 

The College Board provides a plethora of past released exams to help you navigate the preparation process, so use them! 

Try one of the past released exams and then have a friend grade your responses with the scoring guidelines. See how you might have done without any deliberate practice. Then, review your mistakes, log them in a study journal, and keep working through the other prior years. 

After a while, you’ll develop your own internal checklist of questions for yourself such as:

  • Do I have a thesis? Does it include evidence and a clear line of reasoning?
  • Have I explained what happened before this time period to earn the contextualization point?
  • Is the evidence I’ve used supporting my thesis? Have I included bridge words like “therefore” or “because” to demonstrate this alignment? Have I used at least six of the documents?
  • Have I discussed sourcing? Is it clear who the documents were written for and how that might impact the author’s point of view? 
  • Is there an attempt at earning the complexity point and evidence to support my complexity?

Return to the Table of Contents

37 AP® World History and Politics FRQ Tips to Scoring a 4 or 5

Alright! Now that we’ve reviewed a 5-step process for writing grade ‘A’ worthy AP® World History: Modern free responses, we can review some test taking tips and strategies to keep in mind. 

We recommend you read through a few of these every time you start and end your AP® World FRQ practice. Then, in the days leading up to your exam, read the entire list so they stay fresh in your mind. 

11 AP® World History SAQ Tips and Test Taking Strategies

  • Be smart about how you review your textbook for your FRQs. There is so much content that it can often be more practical to look over your outlines and notes from when you were in class, or to find online teacher notes that are free to build notes on top of. 
  • Prioritize chronology and periodization over dates. You should have a strong sense of the overall timelines but not have to rely on specific dates to position your responses. Students often force specific dates to memory without more broadly understanding what happened during that time period. 
  • Focus on understanding how the AP® World History themes intersect with one another. This directly relates to the ability to discuss and explain continuity and change over time. 
  • Answer the question.
  • Cite your supporting evidence.
  • Explain how your evidence proves your point. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the common categories of analysis: economic, demographic, political, cultural, and social developments are commonly assessed not just in the SAQ, but in all the AP® World FRQs. 
  • Readers have often mentioned that students struggle with periodization. As a result, they make mistakes mentioning things that are outside the scope of the time period given. 
  • Student struggles with periodization are often exacerbated when the test asks you about two different time periods. Be prepared for this scenario — it happened as recently as 2019 and led to many students writing outside the specified time period. 
  • Be wary of what the College Board calls “catch phrases” in the text. These are popular terms like “checks and balances” or “serial murderers”. These phrases have led students to write about topics not relevant to the question in the past such as the death penalty, school shootings, or the criminal justice system. 
  • Practice your ability to link secondary sources to course content. This is a skill that students often struggle with and the premise of doing well on a number of the SAQs.
  • Focus much of your prep time on the E in ACE . Students often are not effective at earning the point for explaining because they simply restate a fact and fail to show how that fact supports comparison, causation, or continuity and change over time. 
  • To help you score points in demonstrating your historical reasoning skills, use words like whereas, in contrast to, or likewise when drawing comparisons. 

22 AP® World History DBQ Tips and Test Taking Strategies

  • Before you start planning out your DBQ, double check the time period. 20th century means anything that happened between 1901 and 2000, 18th century means anything between 1701 and 1800, etc. You’d be surprised that students sometimes write about the wrong time period just due to test day stress. 
  • For the AP® World History DBQ, understand that you’ll only earn a point for your thesis if there is a historically defensible thesis that establishes a line of reasoning. In other words, you cannot just restate or reword the prompt.
  • X is your counterargument or counterpoint
  • ABC are your strongest supporting points for your argument.
  • And Y is your argument. 
  • If you don’t like the above formula, another common way to form a thesis is to remember to include the word “because” — the claims you make after you state “because” will be your argument. 
  • Gut check your thesis by asking yourself, “Is this something someone can or cannot agree to? If so, then it’s a good enough thesis because it needs to be defended.
  • Some AP® World History teachers recommend placing context in your opening paragraph. This way you don’t forget about it later. 
  • Historical Context
  • Point of View
  • Remember that you only get one point to describe how at least three documents from the documents provided relate to the prompt. Don’t spend your entire DBQ simply describing documents. 
  • The other points when it comes to the evidence section of the DBQ come from arguing with the documents. In other words, remember to use the documents as evidence to support your thesis. 
  • If you use six documents to support the argument of your thesis, you can earn the second point for the evidence section. If you’re unsure about how you interpreted one document, try to use all seven to give yourself a backup. Past Chief Readers of the exams have even given this tip as a good tip for responding to DBQs. 
  • XYZ, therefore ABC
  • XYZ is the description of the document
  • ABC is the implication and support of how what you described relates to your thesis. 
  • To earn the final point for evidence, the contextualization point, you need to bring in at least one piece of specific historical evidence from what you know that is relevant to the prompt and your thesis . The last part is very important. 
  • An easy way to earn your contextualization point is to explain what happened immediately before the time period being tested. 
  • In document 1, XYZ
  • In document 2, XYZ
  • Refer to the authors of the documents and not just the document numbers — this can serve as a helpful reminder to remember the HAPP acronym. 
  • Make sure your DBQ supporting paragraphs have topic sentences. Doing so helps build a cohesive argument instead of just jumping your reader from one document or one group of documents to the next.
  • To earn the sourcing point in analysis and reasoning, ask yourself, “Who was this document written for? What’s their intent or what might this document have accomplished? Why did the writer say what he said in the way he said it?” Then, link what you’ve considered to your thesis. 
  • You must demonstrate sourcing for at least three documents to earn the point. Try to do more than the minimum of three.
  • Do not ask for additional documents. This is an outdated tip that AP® World History teachers have continued sharing with students over the years that no longer is applicable. As recently as 2018, 15-20% of essays requested more documents when this hasn’t been part of the rubric. 
  • The College Board rubric describes this as “explaining relevant and insightful connections within and across periods” 
  • The College Board describes this as “explaining both similarity and difference”
  • If you’re writing about causation, discuss the effects. 
  • If you want another way to earn this point, you can earn it by applying your argument to another time period and drawing a connection. If you do this, keep in mind you must apply your entire argument to another time period. 
  • When aiming to score your complexity point, remember it needs to be integrated into your argument and not just a brief phrase or reference. Always explain why you’re including something in your response. 
  • A series of possible stems to signal to your grader you are attempting complexity is to say use one of the following phrases: another time, another view, or another way.

4 AP® World History LEQ Tips and Test Taking Strategies

  • Understand and be comfortable with all forms of the LEQ: causation, comparison, or change and continuity over time questions.
  • One point comes from having a historically defensible thesis or claim that establishes a line of reasoning (see above tips for how to make sure this is covered).
  • One point is awarded for contextualization. The easiest way to do this is to start with specificity on what was happening two to five decades before the time period you’re writing about. Be specific as you do not earn points for just citing a phrase or reference.
  • Two points are given for evidence. One is earned for just naming two pieces of evidence that are relevant to the prompt. The second is given when you use those pieces of evidence to support your argument in response to the prompt. 
  • Finally, two points are given for analysis and reasoning. One point is given for doing what is asked in the prompt (i.e. comparing, evaluating causation, exploring change and continuity over time). The second point is earned by having complexity in your response. See the above tip #31 from the DBQ section for the easiest ways to earn this point. 
  • When practicing your LEQs, try writing your response. Then, give yourself a dedicated time to reference your class notes and resources and add in specific facts that could have helped support your LEQ. This will help you gain confidence in being specific in your supporting evidence. 
  • If you’re often forgetting to bring in contextualization, try going through the last five years of LEQs and just answering how you would have tried to earn the contextualization point. 

Wrapping Things Up: How to Write AP® World History and Politics FRQs

AP® World History tips and tricks

We’ve reviewed so much in this AP® World History study guide. At this point, you should feel pretty confident when it comes to answering either your short answer questions, document-based questions, or long-essay questions. 

As we wrap up, here are a few things to remember:

  • Good AP® World History free response scores are only achieved when you know how you’re being assessed. Understand the point breakdowns for the SAQ, DBQ, and LEQs.
  • Form a mental checklist for yourself for each type of AP® World FRQ — for example, for SAQs, remember ACE: answer the question, cite your evidence, and explain how your evidence proves your point. 
  • Always take note of what time period is being asked of you. Students miss so many points by simply writing about something outside of the time period asked. 
  • Be specific in your responses. It is not enough to simply describe what’s going on in documents for example. You need to use the documents to support your thesis. Close the loop or “show the why” to your reader. 
  • Focus the bulk of your time on commonly tested AP® World History time periods. See the curriculum and exam description for the period breakdowns. Units 3-6 are typically weighted more than other time periods (12-15% respectively).  
  • Make sure your thesis includes a clear line of reasoning. Remember the model: Although X, ABC, therefore Y.
  • Put an attempt at contextualization in your introduction and then another when wrapping up your evidence to support your thesis. Explain what happened immediately before the time period being tested. 
  • Make sure to source at least three documents in your DBQ. Address HAPP (historical context, audience, purpose and point of view).
  • The easiest way to earn complexity is to do the opposite historical reasoning skill of what’s being asked of you. See tip #31 for how to do this. 

We hope you’ve taken away a lot from this AP® World review guide.

If you’re looking for more free response questions or multiple choice questions, check out our website! Albert has tons of original standards-aligned practice questions for you with detailed explanations to help you learn by doing and score that 4 or 5.

If you found this post helpful, you may also like our AP® World History tips here or our AP® World History score calculator here .

We also have an AP® World History review guide here .

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Unit 2 DBQ (The Mongols in Eurasia) with Feedback

20 min read • november 18, 2021

Melissa Longnecker

Melissa Longnecker

Eric Beckman

Eric Beckman

AP World Document-Based Question on The Mongols in Eurasia

Evaluate the extent to which Mongol states changed Eurasian societies in the 13th and 14th centuries CE.

Specifically, use TWO documents to support an argument related to the prompt, include how the sourcing of the document is relevant to the argument. Click here to see the documents.

Your response to this prompt will work toward these two elements:

  • Support an argument in response to the prompt using at least 4 documents.
  • For at least 2 documents, explain how or why the document’s point of view, purpose, historical situation, and/or audience is relevant to an argument.

Sample Responses and Feedback

Practice submission 1.

Thesis: The Mongols changed Eurasian societies to a great extent because the Mongols improved societies and by expanding their territory.

Body Paragraph: One way in which Mongols changed Eurasian societies was by helping the growth of societies in Eurasia. According to Ala ad-Din Juvaini, the Khan’s family donated money to people of all religions. The point of view of this document is that the Khan’s family are good people because they choose to donate to religions that they do not even believe in. (Doc 3) Furthermore, Friar John of Monte Corvino states that the Khan bestowed many kindnesses upon the Christians. The intended audience of this document are Franciscans because the Friar wants to show that the Khan is a tolerant person and is willing to support any other religion. (Doc 5) Both of these documents show that the Mongols had changed Eurasian societies to a great extent because the Mongols helped improve societies. A few decades prior to the publishing of these documents, The Mongols had conquered a huge piece of land that stretched all the way from Asia to the Middle East and Europe. By having such a massive territory under the control of one empire, the Mongols were able to facilitate trade and more importantly, the spread of ideas. Since some religions actively promoted discoveries in science and math such as Islam(i.e. House of Wisdom), once this information spread far and wide all throughout the lands of the Mongols, and communities were able to use this new found knowledge to improve their quality of life by improving certain systems such as irrigation.

Teacher Feedback

1. Support an argument using documents: this would earn  two  rubric points, b/c you explain how to documents individually support your claim of “improved” Eurasian societies.
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant :  attempted , you identify an element of sourcing for the Corvino document, but do not explain how this affects the document. POV analysis needs to be of the author of the document, not of the view expressed in the document. Otherwise the reasoning is circular. Which aspect of Juvaini’s perspective might have led him toward a pro-Mongol conclusion?
You show a strong understanding of the underlying history. Bonus: your use of “House of Wisom” would earn a point for additional evidence.

Practice Submission 2

The Mongols conquest of Asia led to vast amounts of cultural diffusion and blending due to increased interregional connectivity during the one hundred year span from 1200 to 1300. In Document 4, Kublai Khan, the Mongolian emperor of China, and a group of Mongols are depicted hunting. The document was likely created for Mongol court officials and even Kublai Khan himself. As such, the painter made an attempt to depict the Mongols in their traditional nomadic environment of the East Asian steppes. However, despite this attempt at cultural purity, many examples of cultural blending and diffusion are evident in this picture. Kublai Khan is painted wearing Chinese silk, one of China’s most valued goods, in addition to Mongolian furs, which was a traditional garment of the nomadic Mongols. While this shows the blending of cultural traits, namely clothing, what is perhaps the most significant cultural transfer depicted in this image is that of horses. Horses were native to the Asian Steppes, where the Mongols lived. Under Mongol rule, the use of horses increased drastically throughout Eurasia. This is exemplified in the messaging system that was instituted by Ghenghis Khan, the first of the Mongol emperors. This system was essentially a medieval Pony Express in which messengers would transport and relay messages throughout the Mongol empire by horse travel. However, these messengers carried more than just messages. They carried the cultures of the regions that they had visited, and as they traveled throughout Eurasia, they facilitated the diffusion and spread of that culture. While the Chinese silk demonstrates the Mongol conquest’s effects on Mongol society, the horses depict the effect that it had on conquered societies.

Nice work with this paragraph - you’ve done a good job braking down the document and bringing in outside information. Note that the prompt was asking you to use  two  of the documents together to create your argument in this paragraph. I only see one document in this response, and I’d love to see what you can do when you bring multiple documents together!
1. Support an argument using documents :  attempted  This paragraph definitely uses evidence from Document 4 to address cultural diffusion and blending. What other document from the set would also support this idea?
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: yes  This is a good example of addressing the artist’s POV and explaining how that POV impacted the creation of the document.
The explanation of horses and the Mongol Pony Express would earn you the point for outside information (possibly two points), by the way!

Practice Submission 3

The Mongol states changed Eurasian societies by causing more cultural diffusion and assimilation. in document 4, khublai khan can be seen wearing Chinese silk under Mongolian furs. This shows assimilation, but since this is a mongol painting this could just be just to exaggerate mongol accomplishment with conquering China. either way, it shows that Chinese clothing was worn by the mongols, showing cultural blending between mongols and the Chinese. Chinese culture was then brought along by mongols while they conquered other states, which led to further cultural blending. in document 5, Friar John of Monte Corvino goes into India through the mongol empire to baptize roughly a hundred people and says that the mongol empire was pretty safe to go through. this shows that the power of the mongol empire let many people to pass through safely and spread their culture and religion. there is likely no bias from the source as it is a positive view of the mongols from a European and Europe for the most part, besides from Russia, was relatively safe from the mongols.

1. Support an argument using documents:  attempt ed - one point   The discussion of Document 4 does a good job of using specific details from the document and connecting it to your discussion of cultural diffusion. For Document 5, while this would earn the point for using evidence from this document, it doesn’t quite connect back to the argument you started in the topic sentence. How do other documents also show cultural diffusion? This would also help you link the documents together so the paragraph is one complete thought.
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant:  attempted  You have identified that the POV of the artist in Document 4 is significant, but you haven’t given enough information to demonstrate that there is any exaggeration in the painting (or why that exaggeration might be there.) Think about this: what would a court painter most likely want to show with his work? (And was he likely Mongol, or Chinese?)

Practice Submission 4

Thesis: The Mongols significantly affected societies in Eurasia through obliterating some societies and stunting their development, while increasing cultural diffusion and economic activities between other societies by making travel across them safer and therefore leading to cultural changes and more economic prosperity in these societies.

The Mongols made travel across land routes safer and this promoted trade and missionary activity which led to exchanges of culture and also economic prosperity from more trade. In Document 4, a camel caravan is shown in the background and it is traveling across the Silk Roads. During the time the painting was made, the Mongols had made the trading routes safer along the Silk Road and this promoted caravans like these to travel across them. The result of more trade along the Silk Roads was economic prosperity for all societies involved in the trade including the Mongols who taxed the trade. In Document 5, a European Christian missionary is talking about how he traveled along a very safe route from Europe to the court of the Mongols and spread Christianity along the way. The missionary forwards the message to Rome to fellow Missionaries and talks about how there are multitudes of missionaries in the Mongol lands hinting at his purpose which is to get more missionaries to come through the path he describes and convert other people. This document and missionary shows how the Mongol lands were safe to travel through and how they were used by missionaries for cultural exchanges. These exchanges changed the culture of societies ruled by the Mongols.

Your thesis, not necessary for this but useful, is effective. You could cut it off at “safer”. Also, the thesis in AP Histories can be multiple sentences, which may be different from essays in your classes at school.
1. Support an argument using documents: one, maybe two. With the painting you need to be more clear about how this supports your argument that the Mongols  changed  Eurasia. This could connect to the sourcing of this as a court painting. Why did Kublai Khan want the caravan included? But, a reader who did not count this as using the document as evidence would probably award a point for outside evidence (Silk Roads, safer, tax). You clearly use the Friar Corvino source as evidence.
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: one or two, The Silk Roads could also count as context, aka historical situation, for the painting. Sourcing on Friar Corvino is an excellent example of using analysis of purpose of evidence to support your claim.

Practice Submission 5

The Mongol states did not change Eurasian societies, even though they expanded the physical land. The Mongols did not change the culture of those they conquered. Their strategy was through war, and not religious or other cultural prosecution. In source 5, Khublai Khan is drawn to be wearing Chinese silks under Mongolian fur. The painter of this image was a court painter, therefore he was hired to show the utmost level of dignity of the rulers. The fact that Khublai Khan would wear Chinese silks and let them be shown shows that he respected the culture as long as the citizens did not revolt. Along with style culture, there was extreme religious acceptance. Sorqotani Beki, although being a clear Christian, was pleased to let the citizens continue to practice Islam (source 3). Ala ad-Din Juvaini recorded this as a Persian scholar, therefore his words are reliable and he is a conquered not a conquee making his positive look even more significant. The cultural acceptance left very little room for societal change during the Mongol rule. Although they did expand their territory greatly, the eminence of nomad cultures and religions made the extent to which mongol states change Eurasian societies subliminal.

This is a lovely example of using two documents to support the same argument. Your transition sentence does a great job of bridging the discussion of Document 4 and Document 3 (“Along with style culture…”)
1. Support an argument using documents: yes - two points  This paragraph correctly describes content from the painting and Juviani’s document, and both are connected to the idea of cultural continuity in conquered lands. Very well done!
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: yes  This paragraph addresses the POV of Juviani (Persian, conquered people) and gives a thoughtful explanation for why his views are relevant.

Practice Submission 6

During the 13th and 14th centuries, Mongol states had a significant impact on Eurasian societies, through the transfer of religion. For example, Genghis Khan listened and had the master of Dao teachings recorded (doc 1). This was a significant change in Eurasia, because taoism had been a strictly Chinese philosophy that was shared in central Asia because of the Mongols. The daoist’s disciple who wrote the doc. also realized that this was a change, and therefore emphasized how the Khan kept calling the master back, signifying that the Khan was taking the teachings seriously. Another example of how Mongol states changed Eurasian society through religion was when Friar John was accepted into Chinese society by the Great Khan. (doc 5). Although some would argue that it was not a significant change, because the Khan himself did not adopt the religion, it was a significant change because the document was written to other missionaries, which they would see that the Khan was accepting of the Christians, so they would probably seek converts in China as well. That proves the change because before and after Christians were not welcomed, in fact during the Ming dynasty they tried to purge China of all other cultures including the Christian religion, proving that there was change during the Mongol rule because other wise there would be no reason to purge.

Nice work bringing together two documents in one argument in this paragraph. It’s not an easy skill, and I like the work I see in this paragraph. I haven’t yet seen anyone tackle Documents 1 and 5 together like this, so yours was a fun read!
1. Support an argument using documents: yes - two points  With this rubric, connecting two documents to your argument, as you’ve done here, earns two evidence points - well done!
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: not attempted?  I see a couple things in this paragraph that could be the beginning of sourcing analysis (POV for the Daoist disciple, audience for Friar John), but no explanation. Remember that for sourcing the task is to describe the sourcing category (historical situation, audience, purpose, or author’s POV) and explain how or why it is relevant to the document or your argument. The explanation is the most important part of this skill.

Practice Submission 7

The Mongol states greatly changed Eurasian societies in the 13th and 14th centuries CE through cultural exchange and their religious tolerance. The Mongols improved trade by making the trade routes safer and punishing bandits. Cultural diffusion passed along these trade routes and spread religions such as Islam and Christianity throughout Eurasia. A Christian missionary named Friar John traveled to China so he can persuade the Great Khan to adopt Christianity. The Mongols were religiously tolerant and showed kindness to the Christians instead of persecuting them (source 5). Sorqotani Beki was a follower of Christianity, but she still gave alms and gifts to people who observed the faith of Mohammed which was Islam (source 3). Ala ad-Din Juvaini was a Persian scholar who wrote about Sorqotani Beki being religiously tolerant. The Persians were conquered by the Mongols in the early 13th century and Juvaini’s positive response to their ruler influenced how other Persians view Beki. The Mongols accepted many religions which helped Eurasian societies prosper because they could practice their own beliefs freely and spread their ideas.

You have a good grasp on these Mongol documents, and I enjoyed reading your thoughtful response. I see two different ideas in this paragraph: that the Mongols changed societies by allowing cultural diffusion, and that the Mongols didn’t change societies because they allowed people to continue practicing their local beliefs. Both of these are true, and could be developed in an essay. For this paragraph, I would recommend focusing on just one idea so that you can develop it fully.
1. Support an argument using documents: yes-ish  I think a College Board reader would give you the benefit of the doubt here, because your discussion of Document 5 relates to the idea of cultural diffusion (change), and your discussion of Document 3 relates to the idea of religious tolerance (continuity of local belief). Like I said above though, each of these ideas would be stronger if developed more - possibly in their own paragraphs with additional evidence.
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: yes - probably  Again, I think a CB reader would give you the benefit of the doubt. You correctly identify some relevant POV for Juviani and explain that his perspective on Beki is relevant to being a conquered Persian. I’m not sure that you’ve fully explained why his view would influence other Persians though, so there’s some room for growth in that section.

Practice Submission 8

In the 13th and 14th centuries, Mongol states altered Eurasian societies drastically, to a cultural and economic extent, both by making trade routes safer, thus allowing cultures to flourish, and by changing the status of women in societies. Friar John of Monte Carvino, while writing about traveling along the trade routes en route to the Mongols in China, claimed "the way through the land … is the shortest and safest…as far as I ever saw or heard (5). This is significant because it shows the extent to which the Mongols changed the routes, establishing passports and establishing punishments for bandits on the route, thus. The fact that the Friar’s letter was forwarded to Rome is significant because it shows how the change is very positive, because the knowledge of the routes being safer is shared. Through making trade routes safer, specifically the Silk Roads, the Mongols fostered cultural development along the routes, , such as the spread of Buddhism, the syncretism of Buddhism and Daoism into Mahayana Buddhism, and Islam. The Mongols also changed socities by redefining the status of women. Juviani’s letter states that be administered in accordance to the council of Tolui’s wife Sorqotani …that the army and the people, great and small, should be under the control of her command (3). Before, in Baghdad, women were given little power as the Abbasid Caliphate was practiced the veiling of women, undermining their capabilities and social stature. By having Tolui’s wife serve as an administrator, the Mongols changed society to a greater extent because they promote equality among all genders socially and politically, a radical alteration. The point of view, a Persian scholar, is influences the document because as a Persian, Jivani would have been able to see how women were treated socially before the Mongols.

What an ambitious paragraph! This looks like the outline of a whole essay. The topic sentence alone is practically a thesis (and a pretty good one!) I’ve been saying this to a lot of students lately, and I think it’s worth repeating to you: I recommend keeping each body paragraph focused on just one idea, rather than treating each paragraph as an entire essay. Look for documents that connect together and seem to address different facets of the same topic. In this case, which documents would best work together to support the idea of Mongol contributions to cultural diffusion in Eurasia?
1. Support an argument using documents: yes-ish  I think a College Board reader would give you the benefit of the doubt here and credit each piece of information relating to an argument, even though they relate to different arguments. This mean’s you would earn  two  points on this year’s rubric! The discussion of safe travel in Document 5 and the link to cultural development is really well thought-through, and the separate discussion of Document 3 and how it demonstrates a change for women is also well-explained.
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: yes  The sourcing is strongest in your analysis of Juviani’s POV and his knowledge of women’s roles in Persia. Nice work!
PS - you would also earn  two  additional points for your use of outside evidence for bringing in (and explaining) mention of the spread of Buddhsim/Daoism and specific details about veiling women in the Abbasid Caliphate.

Practice Submission 9

The Mongolian States did not change Eurasian societies, they only gained more territory and were not interested in any other aspect of it. When the Mongolian states went on their conquests their only goal was to conquer. If the Eurasian societies surrendered, the Mongols allowed them to keep their culture and religion so they had no effect on changing the society. In Doc 3, the Mongolian ruler, Sorqotani Beki, went out of her way to further her peoples faith of Mohammed even though she was a follower of Jesus. Additionally in Doc 4, the painting of the Kublai Khan hunting was painted by a Yuan Dynasty painter which suggests that the Mongols hired him to paint it. Not only did the Mongolian States not change Eurasian societies, they integrated the conquered societies into their own.

I enjoyed reading your thoughtful connection of documents 3 and 4 in this response. I haven’t seen anyone put those two documents together, so this was a fun read! It’s a good reminder that documents can be combined in a lot of different ways!
1. Support an argument using documents: not quite  You have accurately described content from Document 3 about Sorqotani Beki and connected that to your argument about not changing conquered peoples. However, the discussion of Document 4 doesn’t really use content from the painting or fully explain how it shows a continuity. How does the painting show that the Mongols integrated existing societies in East Asia?
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: almost!  You’ve done well to identify the POV of the artist (a hired court painter) - that’s half the battle in sourcing! The other half is to explain why that characteristic (POV, in this case) is relevant to your argument. Why does it matter that the painter was paid to paint for the Khan? How would that affect what is shown in the painting?

Practice Submission 10

One way the Mongols changed the Eurasian states was by being tolerant to religions. According to Ala ad-Din Juvaini, the Great Khans wife granted mercy and gifts upon those of different religions. He states that she was a believer of Jesus and she also wanted to revive the Muslim faith. This shows that the Mongols were tolerant of religions across their conquered lands (doc. 3). Furthermore, Friar John of Monte Corvino expresses the Great Khan’s kindness towards Christians. He also expresses the kindness that the Khan had show him (doc. 5). He was very complimentary of the Khan and his people, suggesting that the Mongolian Empire was not a weak empire, as well. Continually, the Mongols helped their conquests by integrating them into their economies and their trade networks. This helped with the expansion of trade in Eurasia.

You have a good understanding of these documents, and you have connected them together well here.
1. Support an argument using documents: almost  This response would earn one point for accurately using content from two documents. One strength in this response is the way you explain the meaning of each piece of evidence you present from the documents. However, it’s not clear what  argument  you are making in response to the prompt. While it is true that the Mongols were religiously tolerant, how did that change Eurasian societies? Be sure that your argument connects back to the prompt so that your analysis can support your argument!
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: not attempted  This is a challenging skill on the DBQ, and it’s a good one to practice now. To do sourcing, you want to identify a key characteristic of just one document (historical situation, audience, purpose, or author’s POV) and then explain why that characteristic is relevant to your understanding of the document and/or your argument.

Practice Submission 11

The Mongol states have changed the Eurasian societies during the 13th and 14th centuries due to their religious tolerance. For example, in document 5, Friar John, a christian missionary, went to China and persuaded the Great Khan to accept Christianity. The Great Khan expresses kindness towards all Christians. Even though the Khan is described as having great wealth and a large domination over an extent of lands, He still accepted Christians into his empire without punishing them. Being a Christian missionary helps identify Friar John as he respected the Great Khan for being tolerant towards the Christian religion. Friar John likes that because then his followers will be able to practice their religion in the Great Khan’s empire. Additionally, in document 3, Juvanini, a Persian scholar and governor of Baghdad, writes about how Sorqotani Beki, follower of Jesus, was generous and wanted to accept the Muslim community into her empire. She wanted to help the Muslim community which shows that She, along with the Mongols allowed the people to continue their religion, which shows their religious tolerance. Juvanini, was a Perisan scholar and later a governor meaning that she must have been reliable with her sources and maybe a follower of the Islamic religion as she incorporated some information about the Muslim community. Overall, the Mongols have accepted different religions which allowed people to practice their religions openly which changed Eurasian societies.

You’ve done a good job in this response showing your understanding of the documents as well as knowledge of the Mongols. One thing I notice right away is that your response almost answers the prompt, but not quite. In this case, the prompt asked you to evaluate the extent to which the Mongols changed Eurasian society. That phrase, “evaluate the extent to which” can also mean “how much did…” This paragraph talks about religious tolerance, but not how that tolerance changed Eurasian societies. A little more argumentation to fully address the prompt would strengthen everything about this paragraph!
1. Support an argument using documents: really close!  This paragraph does a great job of describing content from two documents, which is worth one point on the rubric. The additional evidence points all require you to connect that evidence to an argument in response to the prompt. You’ve done a great job here of proving that the Mongols were religiously tolerant, so now how did that fact change the societies they conquered?
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: attempted  For both documents, you’ve done a good job of describing the POV of the author. Your description of Juviani is probably the strongest of the two. The next step is to explain how or why that POV is relevant, or why it is important to understand. In the case of Juviani, why does it matter that he was a Muslim himself? How would that affect the way he wrote about Sorqotani Beki and the Mongols in Persia?

Practice Submission 12

Mongol states did not change Eurasian societies that much because of the way they interacted with the culture of Eurasian societies. In Kublai Khan Hunting, the Khan is shown in the center to be wearing Chinese silks and Mongolian furs, showing an adoption of Chinese culture, rather than getting rid of and changing it. Since the artist was a court painter from the Yuan Dynasty, they place the Khan in the center, and the artist’s choice to show the ruler with Chinese textiles makes the Khan seem like a traditional but powerful ruler, and someone that the Chinese will want to follow (doc 4). In The History of the World Conqueror, Tolui’s wife, Sorqotani Beki, is described to be very generous towards Muslims, funding the construction of a college and giving alms, despite being Christian. As a Persian scholar, Ala ad-Din Juivani, focuses on the building of a college to be a significant factor of her generosity because of her promotion of scholarship, and it also shows how like other Mongol leaders, she embraced the continuance of other cultures in Eurasian societies (doc 3). Overall, Mongol Khans easily adopted and got involved in the culture of societies they ruled over, which also made it easier for local people respect and obey them.

This is a really thoughtful response that develops your argument well over the course of the paragraph. Nice work!
1. Support an argument using documents: yes - nicely done!  This response would earn two rubric points for describing content from two documents and connecting that evidence to an argument. I especially like the final sentence in the paragraph, which pulls the whole thing together!
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: yes - twice!!  This response would earn both points available for sourcing. You’ve described and explained the purpose in Document 4 and the POV of Juvaini in Document 3. Great job!


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The premier podcast for all students taking (or thinking about taking) AP History classes in high school. From skills to content to tips and pointers, Wendy will not only help you get through AP US History, AP World History, and AP European History, but she'll coach you to success on the AP exam. AP® is a trademark registered by the College Board, which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse this podcast.

AP History Help Wendy Wawrzyniak

  • FEB 12, 2024

HAPPy Histories: Navigating AP History Analysis on the DBQ

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  • JAN 29, 2024

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  • JAN 15, 2024

Making a Statement in Your Thesis

In this episode, the focus is on understanding the essence of writing a thesis in AP History courses. Wendy covers what a thesis is, its significance for the AP History exams, and provides insights into how to earn it. A secret formula for crafting a thesis statement, specifically tailored for writing DBQ and LEQ essays, is revealed. Emphasizing the importance of a well-crafted thesis in any written work, the episode explains the nuances of meeting the College Board's expectations for earning points on the AP history exam. The host introduces a formula and stresses the alignment between the thesis statement and the subsequent body paragraphs. Practical examples and advice are given, including the recommendation to read exemplars for a better understanding of successful thesis statements. The episode concludes with prompts from different AP History courses, offering attempts at theses that didn't earn points and exemplars that did, providing valuable insights for students preparing for their exams.   Show Links/Notes: Website: Blog:  Amazon link to AP Student Success Journal: Prompts:                AP Euro: “Evaluate the most significant effect of the Enlightenment on European society during the period 1688-1815.”                 APUSH: Evaluate the extent to which debates over slavery in the period from 1830 to 1860 led the United States into the Civil War.                AP World: In the period circa 1450–1750, European expansion affected the development of numerous East Asian and South Asian states. Develop an argument that evaluates the extent to which the economies of East and/or South Asian states in this time period changed in response to European expansion. Outschool Tutoring: Take Lessons Tutoring: AP History Help on YouTube

  • JAN 1, 2024

Contextualization is the Answer to World Peace

This podcast explores the crucial role of contextualization in AP History exams, emphasizing its significance not only for scoring points but also for a deeper understanding of history. The host discusses how context is vital in comprehending historical events and draws parallels to using context clues in language. The episode delves into the interconnectedness of historical events and the necessity of providing broader historical contexts in essays. The College Board's perspective on contextualization in AP exams is highlighted, emphasizing its pervasive role in learning history. The host shares examples of acceptable contextualization statements from APUSH, AP Euro, and AP World, offering insights into crafting effective responses. The episode concludes with a unique analogy relating contextualization to achieving world peace, encouraging listeners to analyze historical examples for potential solutions to global challenges. For those seeking further guidance, the host offers tutoring services and encourages exploring exemplars for inspiration and learning. Show Links/Notes: Outschool Tutoring: Take Lessons Tutoring: AP History Help on YouTube

  • DEC 18, 2023

How to Write the LEQ (Long Essay Question) on the AP History Exam

The Long Essay Question, or LEQ is the last question on the AP exam and the hardest part of the test. This episode will help you navigate this question, from understanding the rubric, knowing what your choices will be, and a few other tips and strategies to finish the exam strong. Plus, a timely segment of Wendy Teaches History this week!

  • DEC 4, 2023

Understanding the DBQ is Key to Writing a 7-point Essay

The Document Based Question Essay can be intimidating. Not anymore! Listen to this episode to hear a detailed breakdown of how to get each of the points of the rubric. You will also hear about strategies, tips, and tricks to write a killer DBQ essay and ace the AP History exam! There is so much good information that it didn’t all fit. As a result look for a future episode as a follow up where I give you even more great advice on writing the DBQ Essay! Show Links/Notes: DBQ Class on Outschool: Outschool Teacher Profile: AP History Help Website: YouTube Channel: Thesis Statement:  Western European imperialism resulted in the exploitation of labor and resources on non-industrialized nations in African and Asia. This benefitted the Europeans, either by exploiting the labor of indigenous peoples to gather resources, or to expand the markets to yield the most profit, and causing economic decline in Africa and Asia. 

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  1. AP World History: Sample DBQ Thesis Statements

    AP World History: Sample DBQ Thesis Statements Let's take a look at a sample AP World History DBQ question and techniques to construct a solid thesis. Using the following documents, analyze how the Ottoman government viewed ethnic and religious groups within its empire for the period 1876-1908.

  2. PDF 2022 AP Student Samples and Commentary

    Question 1: Document-Based Question, Imperialism and Asian and African economies 7 points General Scoring Notes Except where otherwise noted, each point of these rubrics is earned independently; for example, a student could earn a point for evidence without earning a point for thesis/claim.

  3. DBQ Thesis Formula (With AP World & APUSH Thesis Examples!)

    DBQ Thesis Formula (With AP World & APUSH Thesis Examples!) If you're not sure how to write a DBQ thesis, check out this post for a failproof DBQ thesis formula and AP World History and APUSH DBQ thesis examples!

  4. How to WRITE a THESIS for a DBQ & LEQ [AP World, APUSH, AP Euro]

    Intro How to WRITE a THESIS for a DBQ & LEQ [AP World, APUSH, AP Euro] Heimler's History 655K subscribers Subscribe Subscribed 6.5K 322K views 3 years ago How to Write DBQs and LEQs for...

  5. How to Ace the AP World History DBQ: Rubric, Examples, and Tips

    The document-based question (DBQ) is a question on the AP World History exam in which you are given a selection of seven documents and are asked to write an essay that incorporates information from at least six of them in a coherent argument based on a given prompt.

  6. AP World History: Modern Exam

    AP World History: Modern Sign In to AP Classroom The Course Course Audit Classroom Resources The Exam Professional Learning Rubrics Updated for 2023-24 This change only affects the DBQ and LEQ scoring, with no change to the course or the exam: the exam format, course framework, and skills assessed on the exam all remain unchanged.

  7. PDF AP World History: Modern

    This Document-Based Question (DBQ) asked students to evaluate the extent to which economic factors led to the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920. The question addressed Topic 7.1: Shifting Power After 1900 of the AP World History Course Framework, and specifically Key Concept KC-6.2.II.D.

  8. AP World DBQ Contextualization and Thesis Practice

    This is an excellent description of how the system helped strengthen the Ottoman Empire, but in terms of either Contextualizing Units 3/4 or serving as a Thesis this would not work, it is too narrow, only one idea. A good thesis would have 2-3 ideas. DBQ Student Practice Sample 9

  9. How to Approach AP World History: Modern DBQs

    How to Approach AP World History: Modern DBQs. Question 1 in Section II of the AP World History: Modern Exam is the document-based question (DBQ). It will always include seven documents offering a variety of perspectives on a historical development or process that took place between 1450 and 2001.

  10. AP World Document-Based Question (DBQ) Overview

    AP World History Document-Based Question (DBQ) Overview | Fiveable Browse By Unit Overview of the Document-Based Question (DBQ) The one thing you need to know about this question: Answer the prompt and support your answer with evidence; use the documents to do this. Section II of the AP Exam includes the one required Document-Based Question (DBQ.)

  11. AP World History DBQ Outline + Thesis Practice & Answers

    Thesis and Outline Practice Submission 1 Thesis: Although the revolutions in the Americas themselves were successful, they did not successfully challenge social hierarchies because the lower class people including the Black and mixed races and the slaves still dealt with prejudice and the Whites stayed in power.

  12. AP World History Doing the DBQ: Thesis, Part 1 [video]

    🌍 Exam Skills study guides written by former AP World students to review Exam Skills with detailed explanations and practice questions. ... We will look at what the thesis is, tips for writing a thesis, and will explore a sample DBQ in order to arrive at writing a thesis statement. Doing the DBQ: Thesis, Part 1. october 30, 2019. Patrick ...

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

    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!

  14. PDF AP World History

    Overview. The intent of this question was to assess students' ability to articulate and defend an argument based on historical documents. This DBQ asked students to evaluate the extent to which states and religions differed in their views regarding wealth accumulation in both the classical and post-classical eras.

  15. Where to Find the Best DBQ Examples

    One of the best ways to prepare for the DBQ (the "document-based question" on the AP European History, AP US History, and AP World History exams) is to look over sample questions and example essays. Doing this will help you to get a sense of what makes a good (and what makes a bad) DBQ response.

  16. A Formula for HOW TO WRITE a DBQ [for AP World, APUSH, & AP Euro]

    Resources from Heimler's History: To master all the WRITING SKILLS you need, get my ESSAY CRAM COURSE: +AP Essay CRAM Course (DBQ, LEQ, SAQ Help): https://bi...

  17. AP World History: Modern Past Exam Questions

    AP World History: Modern Past Exam Questions Free-Response Questions Download free-response questions from past exams along with scoring guidelines, sample responses from exam takers, and scoring distributions.

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

    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.

  19. How to Write a DBQ for APUSH, AP World, & AP Euro

    Resources from Heimler's History: AP ESSAY CRAM COURSE:+AP Essay CRAM Course (DBQ, LEQ, SAQ Help): HEIMLER REVIEW GUIDES (formerly kno... AP European History

  20. How to Answer AP® World History SAQs, DBQs, and LEQs

    The four core historical reasoning skills from the College Board are: Source: College Board. 3. Plan out your response BEFORE you start writing. Taking just a few minutes to map out your response to each AP® World History free response question can make a big difference in the cohesion of your responses.

  21. AP World History Unit 2 DBQ Practice Prompt & Answers (The ...

    Master the AP World DBQ with this practice prompt! Review student responses paired with corresponding feedback from real teachers! ... Also, the thesis in AP Histories can be multiple sentences, which may be different from essays in your classes at school.1. Support an argument using documents: one, maybe two. With the painting you need to be ...

  22. ‎AP History Help on Apple Podcasts

    In this episode, the focus is on understanding the essence of writing a thesis in AP History courses. Wendy covers what a thesis is, its significance for the AP History exams, and provides insights into how to earn it. A secret formula for crafting a thesis statement, specifically tailored for writing DBQ and LEQ essays, is revealed.