how to write a good thesis for dbq

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

how to write a good thesis for dbq

If you’re taking AP World History or AP United States History and feel unsure about how to approach the DBQ thesis, you’ve come to the right place!

In this post, you’ll learn about a DBQ thesis formula that you can use to:

  • A) consistently earn the thesis point and
  • B) set up your essay to earn the difficult complexity point (less than 2% of students earn this!)

Additionally, you’ll find AP World History DBQ thesis examples and APUSH DBQ thesis examples to understand how the thesis formula is applied to real prompts.

Let’s get started!

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Why is the DBQ Thesis Statement So Important?

If you’re reading this article, then you probably already know that the DBQ thesis statement is extremely important. After all, you’re taking time out of your day to learn how to write one.

However, if you’re not sure why the DBQ thesis statement is so important, I’ll explain. In my Ultimate Guide to Get a 5 on APUSH post, I mentioned that the thesis statement accounts for 1 of 7 possible points on the DBQ essay.

excerpt from DBQ rubric about the thesis statement

Also, the thesis sets up the structure for the rest of your essay . So no pressure, really. 

Luckily, there are some simple tips for writing DBQ theses and a thesis formula that works every single time . In the next sections, you’ll learn about what these are.

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General Tips on How to Write a DBQ Thesis

Tip #1: your thesis must be arguable, not factual.

If your thesis statement is a fact, like “Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president”, then it’s not a thesis statement. Your thesis statement must be something that can be disputed.

boy saying, "well, what if I said Abraham Lincoln was the 15th president? Isn't that arguable?"

For example, making a statement like, “Abraham Lincoln was the greatest president in American history” would be an acceptable thesis.

Tip #2: Your thesis should be 1-2 sentences

If your thesis is longer than 1-2 sentences, it’s probably way too wordy and overly complex.

Tip #3: Your thesis should be in the introduction or conclusion

According to the AP DBQ rubric, your thesis must be in the introductory or concluding paragraph. Preferably, it should be in both.

Tip #4: Your thesis can be supported by the given historical documents

You must make sure that your argument can be supported by the documents provided in the DBQ. After all, you’ll need to reference at least 6 documents (preferably all 7) in your essay and explain how they support your thesis.

Tip #5: Group the documents to help you write the thesis

To write a DBQ thesis statement that can be supported by the given documents, you should group the documents by overarching theme.

For example, if documents 1, 3, and 4 are all about social developments, you can group them together. If documents 2, 5, 6, and 7 are all about political developments, then you can group them together.

pile of documents on one side labeled "Group 1" and pile of documents on other side labeled "Group 2"

In the DBQ thesis formula section, I’ll explain how you can easily use these groups to write a strong thesis statement.

Tip #6: Your thesis should be specific

By specific, I mean that making vague statements is not going to cut it. Instead, you must reference specific historical developments and throw some historical vocabulary into your thesis. 

Otherwise, you’ll sound like you could have written the thesis just by reading the documents and without having any prior historical knowledge. 

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General DBQ Thesis Formulas

Okay, I know I said that there would be one DBQ thesis formula, but I’ll actually provide two.

The first one is a simple formula that probably wouldn’t help you earn the complexity point. The second one is a slightly more complex formula that could help you earn the complexity point.

DBQ Thesis Formula #1: XY Thesis Statement Formula

Here is the first formula:

DBQ thesis formula #1: A because of X and Y.

Right now, this probably sounds like a bunch of gobbledygook. But it’s actually quite simple! Here’s the breakdown of what the letters mean:

  • A is your assertion—it should directly respond to what the prompt is asking.
  • X and Y are the categories into which you’ve grouped your documents.

XY Thesis Statement Example

Here’s how this thesis formula can be applied to a dummy prompt:

Prompt: What is the best ride at Universal Studios in Orlando?

Thesis Statement: Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is the best ride at Universal Studios in Orlando because it incorporates thrilling features, like a sudden drop and reverse travel, and elements of the Harry Potter world through its soundtrack and set design.

picture of people on a roller coaster and one person saying, "This is much more fun than writing thesis statements!"

Breakdown of XY Thesis Statement Example

A: Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is the best ride at Universal Studios in Orlando

X: thrilling features

Y: elements of the Harry Potter world

Extra Note: Notice how specific I am in my thesis? I reference specific components of the ride to show that I’ve actually been on it and can make a judgment.

DBQ Thesis Formula #2: XYZ Thesis Statement Formula

Here is the second formula:

DBQ thesis formula #2: Although X, A because of X and Y.

This formula is the same as the first formula, except with the addition of the letter Z. Here’s what all the letters stand for:

  • A is your assertion.
  • X and Y are the document categories.
  • Z is your counterargument.

When you introduce a counterargument into your thesis, you set yourself up to write a nuanced essay. Therefore, if you execute the counterargument well, you can earn the complexity point!

XYZ Thesis Statement Example

Here’s how this thesis formula can be applied to the same dummy prompt:

Thesis Statement: Although Jurassic World VelociCoaster is also an exciting ride, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is the best ride at Universal Studios in Orlando because it incorporates thrilling features, like a sudden drop and reverse travel, and elements of the Harry Potter world through its soundtrack and set design.

image says "flying motorbikes > flying dinos"

Breakdown of XYZ Thesis Statement Example

In this thesis statement example, the counterargument (Z) that I introduce is located in this segment: “Although Jurassic World VelociCoaster is also an exciting ride”.

In the rest of my essay, I would then explain how Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure is better than the VelociCoaster.

(Please note that this is not my actual opinion. To anyone that may be offended, I have never been on the VelociCoaster before. Therefore, I cannot make an accurate judgment of whether it is better or worse than Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure.)

two people arguing over which is the better ride

In the first paragraph, I would explain how both rides have thrilling features, but demonstrate how the ones on Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure are more unique and exciting.

In the second paragraph, I would explain how Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure does a better job of showcasing elements of the  Harry Potter  franchise than the Velocicoaster does of showcasing elements of the  Jurassic World  franchise.

AP World History DBQ Thesis Examples

clipart of different artifacts related to world history

Note: In the remaining thesis examples, I will only be using the XYZ thesis formula because it is more complex and nuanced. Also, due to copyright reasons, I have restated each College Board DBQ prompt. If you would like to see the actual prompts, I have provided direct links.

2021 AP World History DBQ Prompt

This prompt asks about how much economic factors influenced the start of the Mexican Revolution.

Thesis Statement: Although the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920 was partly fueled by the political motive to overthrow Porfirio D íaz ’s dictatorship, it was primarily motivated by economic factors, like the labor exploitation of indigenous workers and the minority elite class’s monopoly of land ownership.

clipart of farmer and sign stuck into land that says "LAND"

Breakdown of AP World History Thesis Example

Z: Although the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920 was partly fueled by the political motive to overthrow Porfirio D íaz ’s dictatorship

A: [The Mexican Revolution] was primarily motivated by economic factors

X: labor exploitation of indigenous workers

Y: minority elite class’s monopoly of land ownership

2018 AP World History DBQ Prompt

This prompt asks about how railroad construction in Afro-Eurasia affected European colonization in the period 1860-1918.

Thesis Statement: Although the construction of railroads in Afro-Eurasia between 1860 and 1918 facilitated European colonial administration, native resistance due to the desire to protect cultural traditions and to prevent foreign political dominance largely inhibited European expansion.

clipart of railroad and train

Z: Although the construction of railroads in Afro-Eurasia between 1860 and 1918 facilitated European colonial administration

A: European expansion was largely inhibited, despite railroad construction

X: native resistance due to the desire to protect cultural traditions

Y: native resistance due to the desire to prevent foreign political dominance

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APUSH DBQ Thesis Examples

Statue of Liberty, White House, and American flag

2019 APUSH DBQ Prompt

This prompt asks about the amount of political impact created by the Progressive movement between 1890 and 1920.

Thesis Statement: Although the Progressive movement fell short in eradicating racial segregation, it was otherwise able to create significant political change in the U.S. from 1890 to 1920 by rooting out the corruption of the Gilded Age and creating beneficial social reform.

Breakdown of APUSH Thesis Example

Z: Although the Progressive movement fell short in eradicating racial segregation

A: [The Progressive movement] was able to create significant political change in the U.S. from 1890 to 1920

X: rooted out the corruption of the Gilded Age

Y: created beneficial social reform

2018 APUSH DBQ Prompt

This prompt asks about the extent to which different causes contributed to the U.S.’s growing international influence between 1865 and 1910.

Thesis Statement: Although it can be said that American imperialism in the period from 1865 to 1910 stemmed from a moral obligation to assist less-developed foreign nations, the true motives lay in a desire to exploit economic and natural resources.

bag of money and an arable field

Z: Although it can be said that American imperialism in the period from 1865 to 1910 stemmed from a moral obligation to assist less-developed foreign nations

A: the true motives of American imperialism lay in…

X: a desire to exploit economic resources

Y: a desire to exploit natural resources

Quick Review of How to Write a DBQ Thesis 

You can follow the XY thesis statement formula or the XYZ thesis statement formula. However, if you want to set your essay up to earn the complexity point, it’s best to go for the second formula. (Including a counterargument is not the only way to earn the complexity point, but it is one of the most straightforward methods.)

Also, make sure to group your documents and make X and Y the categories you grouped your documents into. Finally, make sure your thesis statement is arguable, answers the prompt directly, is specific, and is located in the introduction and/or conclusion.

I hope this article helped you learn how to write an effective DBQ thesis statement! If you have any questions or requests for more AP History guides, let me know in the comments below!

For more advice on AP exams, check out these posts:

  • Most Impressive AP Classes (+ Useful Tips to Succeed in Them)
  • The Ultimate Guide to Get a 5 on AP Spanish Language and Culture
  • The Ultimate Guide to Get a 5 on APUSH
  • How to Take Notes in APUSH—Improve Speed, Memory, and Grades

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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 write a good thesis for dbq

How to Write a DBQ 2023

how to write a good thesis for dbq

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

What Is a DBQ?

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

DBQ Outline

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

How to Write a DBQ


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

Body Paragraph 1

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

Body Paragraph 2

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

Body Paragraph 3

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

Feeling Overwhelmed Writing a DBQ ESSAY?

Asking yourself 'who can write my research paper '? Our experts are able to produce an essay within hours.

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

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

The DBQ involves:

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

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

Step 1: Planning (15 Minutes)

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

Step 2: Introduction (5 Minutes)

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

Step 3: Thesis (20 Minutes)

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

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

Step 4: Body (2 Hours and 16 Minutes)

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

Step 5: Conclusion (10 Minutes)

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

Step 6: Proofreading (10 Minutes)

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

Writing Tips to Success with Your DBQ Essay

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

How to Write a DBQ

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

DBQ Example

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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How to Write the Document Based Question (DBQ)

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

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

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

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

AP U.S. History

AP European History

AP World History

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

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

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

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

1. Read the prompt first

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

2. Skim the document titles

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

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

how to write a good thesis for dbq

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. 

how to write a good thesis for dbq

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5. Make an Outline 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Information

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

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

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AP World History is a challenging class, and in order to get credit for it you’ll have to take an equally challenging exam. And one of the toughest parts of the test is the AP World History document-based question, or AP World DBQ. This question asks you to read and analyze documents on the fly, then write an argumentative essay…all in one hour. 

It can be hard to know what–and how–to study for the AP World History DBQ, especially when you don’t know which documents you’ll receive on test day. But don’t worry: we’ll break down everything you need to know about the AP World History DBQ so you can ace it on test day. (We’ll even give you AP World History DBQ example questions and an AP World History DBQ rubric example!) 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • An explanation of what the AP World History DBQ is 
  • A look at how the DBQ works on the AP World History exam
  • A step-by-step process for tackling the AP World History DBQ
  • A guide to studying for and answering the AP World History DBQ

Let’s get going!


What Is an AP World History DBQ? 

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.

In other words: you’ll be writing an essay on a topic and incorporating resources that you’re given on the day of the exam! 

The DBQ tests over a wide range of skills , like writing, organizing thoughts, making arguments, making connections between different perspectives, and having a knowledge of world history. Yeah, the DBQs are definitely tough! That’s why it’s important to understand what the DBQ APWH is and how to best tackle it. 

How DBQs Work on the AP World History Exam

The DBQ format AP World History uses consists of a single open-ended prompt , and will focus on the time period of 1450-2001 .

Of the two free response questions, one is a long essay (worth 15%) and one is a DBQ. This means that the sole DBQ is, by itself, worth 25% of your total grade, making it the single most heavily-weighted question on the AP World History exam.  

Here are some actual AP World History DBQ examples from previous years’ AP World History exams:

  • “Evaluate the extent to which economic factors led to the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920).” ( 2021 )
  • “Evaluate the extent to which the Portuguese transformed maritime trade in the Indian Ocean in the sixteenth century.” ( 2019 )
  • “Evaluate the extent to which railroads affected the process of empire-building in Afro-Eurasia between 1860 and 1918.” ( 2018 )

Of course, one of the things that makes AP DBQ questions unique is that you’ll be given seven documents to analyze as part of your essay response. Not only will you have to read and analyze these documents on exam day, you’ll have to include them as evidence in your essay to prove your argument! 

The seven documents you’ll receive will be a mixture of: 

  • Primary texts : texts that were actually written in the time period you’re being asked about 
  • Secondary texts : texts written by later historians that explain or interpret the time period 
  • Images: usually either political cartoons or artwork from the time period 

How many of each type of document you get varies by year, so you’ll need to be comfortable using all three types to support an essay-based argument. 

To answer the AP World History DBQ, you’ll have to read through all seven documents and write an argumentative essay that answers the prompt. So not only will you have to come up with an arguable point, you’ll have to prove that thesis using evidence contained in at least three of the seven documents. If you want to earn full credit for your DBQ, you’ll actually have to use six of the seven documents to support your position! 


Just like in a sport, understanding how to score points on your DBQ is key to doing well on your exam. 

Understand the AP World DBQ Rubric

First, y ou need to understand what the expectations are and how your answer will be graded. Doing this will help you figure out what you need to study and which skills you need to brush up on. It’ll also ensure that you know exactly what a great DBQ response requires so that you earn as many points as possible! 

The good news is that the College Board has provided the AP World History DBQ rubric 2021 as part of their 2021 AP World History: Modern Sample Student Responses and Scoring Commentary document. The AP World History DBQ rubric contains all the information you need to know about how your response will be scored. 

Here’s how the rubric breaks down:

Thesis (1 Point) 

First you’ll need to create a thesis that “responds to the prompt with a historically defensible thesis/claim that establishes a line of reasoning.” In order to get this point you’ll need to make an arguable claim based on the documents that answers the question of the prompt.  

Contextualization (1 Point) 

In order to get a point for contextualization you’ll need to “accurately describe a context relevant” to the time period covered by the prompt. What this means is that you’ll have to describe the political, social, or economic events and trends that contributed to the topic you’re writing about. 

Some of this you’ll know from the provided documents, but some of it you will also be expected to know based on what you’ve studied in AP World History class. You’ll also need to relate your knowledge to “broader historical events, developments, or processes that occur before, during, or continue after the time frame of the question.” In other words, you’ll have to show how the events of this time period are relevant now or how they are similar to some other historical situation.

Evidence (3 Points) 

This category assigns points based on how well you use the documents provided to you on the test. 

For this category, you get one of the potential three points solely for if you incorporate specific evidence that does not come from the provided documents in a way that is relevant to your thesis. 

However, in order to earn the other two points, you must support your argument by using even more evidence from the documents provided . If you use three to five documents, you’ll earn an additional point. If you integrate six or more documents in your response, you can earn up to two points…and full credit for this category!  

Just remember: You can’t just randomly throw information from the documents into your essay, though, you have to use it in a way that supports your argument and accurately represents what the documents are saying . 

Analysis and Reasoning (2 Points) 

For the analysis and reasoning section, you get one point for explaining “how or why the document’s point of view, purpose, historical situation, and/or audience is relevant to an argument,” and you get one point for “complexity,” showing that you understand the time period that the prompt covers and use evidence to prove your understanding and back up your argument . 

Here’s what that means: you’ll have to prove how the documents are relevant to your argument, and your argument has to show that you understand the period you’re writing about. Additionally, you’ll need to write an essay that proves your argument in a way that shows you understand that there are a variety of possible perspectives about that time period or issue, and that not everyone in that period had the same experiences. 


If all that sounds like a lot...that's because it is! But don't worry. We'll walk you through the steps you can take to get prepared for your DBQ.

5 Steps for Tackling an AP World History DBQ

The AP World History DBQ is a complicated question that tests you over several different skills, so there isn’t a simple technique to ace it. However, if you master each of the individual skills it takes to do well on the DBQ examples, you’ll set yourself up to write a successful DBQ! response! 

Here are five steps you can follow to prepare for–and tackle!--the AP World History DBQ. 

Step 1: Use Past AP World DBQ Prompts to Practice

Taking practice exams is a great way to prepare for any standardized test–including the AP World exam. Not only do you get a chance to test your knowledge, practice tests also give you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the test format…which is really important when it comes to AP World DBQs.

There’s good news when it comes to AP World DBQ prompts, though. College Board’s website has the actual AP World DBQ prompts from 2002-2020 available to download. This means you can take almost 20 practice AP World History exams, as well as access AP World History DBQ example responses and AP World History DBQ rubrics, for free!  

It’s good to take one practice test before you start studying intensely for it because that will let you know where your skills are now (and it’ll let you track your progress). However, the nature of a free response means that it won’t be easy for you to grade by yourself. When it comes to assessing your response, use the AP World History DBQ rubric and honestly assess whether or not you incorporated the information thoroughly and accurately. If that doesn’t work for you, you can always ask a family member, tutor, or teacher to give you feedback on your response as well! 

Don’t be afraid to use multiple AP World DBQ prompts as part of your test prep strategy. The more DBQs you do, the better prepared you’ll be on test day! 

Step 2: Practice Creating a Thesis

A thesis statement is a sentence or two, located in your essay’s introduction, that explains what your essay will be about. In this case, your thesis will outline the argument you make in your AP World DBQ. 

The most important aspect of your thesis is that it has to make a claim that is both arguable and relevant to the prompt you’re given. However, you don’t want to just restate the prompt in your thesis! 

Here’s what we mean. Say you’re given the following prompt:

“Evaluate the extent to which economic factors led to the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920).” 

You don’t want your thesis to be “Economic factors led to the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution,” since that just restates the prompt without adding in your own argument. To write a great DBQ, you want to make a specific claim about how and why economic factors led to the Mexican Revolution, and you want to be able to use the AP World History DBQ documents provided to prove it!

Here are two AP World History DBQ examples that College Board considers acceptable theses for this prompt:

  • “Mexico’s inability to resist the political dominance of the United States and European powers was the most significant factor in leading to the revolution because foreign dominance prevented the Mexican government from enacting economic reforms.”
  • “Ethnic tensions were just as important in leading to the Mexican Revolution as economic factors because much of the economic exploitation that was occurring in Mexico affected poor indigenous communities.”

See how these two examples both make specific claims? The first argues that foreign influences prevented the Mexican government from enacting economic reforms. This is a claim that the author can prove by showing how foreign governments interfered with the Mexican government, and how that action led to reforms being stalled. 

The second AP World History DBQ example thesis addresses something more complex: how ethnic tensions led to economic exploitation. The author can then use the provided documents as evidence that poor indigenous communities were exploited, and can argue that those actions led to the Mexican Revolution.


Outlines take a little time, but they'll keep your DBQ from derailing. (Staying on topic is key!)

Step 3: Practice Creating an Outline

Remember the AP World History DBQ is timed, and you’ll only have one hour to complete it! To keep your writing organized and on track, it’s a good idea for you to create a quick outline before you jump into writing your essay. 

Having said that, you’ll need to be careful not to spend too much time on your outline so you have enough time to write your DBQ. That’s why we recommend spending 15 minutes reading documents, 5 minutes outlining your essay, and 40 minutes writing your response. 

The most important things that your outline will need are an introduction and conclusion ! Your introduction sets up your thesis while your conclusion restates your thesis and explains how it’s relevant to the reader in some way–perhaps by showing that a similar claim could be made about another time period, or that the effects of the thesis are still being felt today. 

Apart from your intro and conclusion, you’ll need body paragraphs. Since you only have about 45 minutes to write this essay, you don’t want too many of them. Three or four body paragraphs will be enough to make your argument. The most important thing about your body paragraphs is that each of them supports your argument and incorporates information from the documents!

To help you out, here is an example of a usable outline for the AP World History DBQ:

  • Set up your argument and include your thesis.
  • You can break down your thesis into several steps, which will then become the topics of each body paragraph
  • Tell the reader what they need to know about the historical situation. 
  • Include any information you might already know from outside the provided documents.
  • Make the first point you mentioned in your introduction.
  • Use information from the documents to illustrate and prove your point.
  • Include two or three documents that support your point 
  • Just like the previous paragraph, use two or three different documents to prove the second point of your thesis
  • If you make a third point in your thesis, explain it here using one or two different documents as evidence 
  • Restate your thesis and summarize the main points you’ve made.
  • Show how it’s relevant to the reader.

Your outline doesn’t need to be anything fancy–it just needs to give you an idea of how to structure your DBQ. Trust us: outlining might seem like a waste of time, but having a guide will make writing go much faster. 

Step 4: Practice Incorporating Quotes and References

As you write your essay, you’ll need to use examples from the documents provided–and each time you do, you’ll need to indicate which documents you pulled the information from . You’ll do this whether you are quoting your source or just paraphrasing it. 

Here are two attribution examples that College Board considers acceptable for the AP World History DBQ:

  • (Document 1): “The finance minister tells strikers that unemployment is the result of supply and demand and is out of the government’s hands, a position which probably increased people’s discontent with the government because they were unwilling to help.”
  • (Document 2): “The newspaper cartoon shows that the government was willing to use violence to put down popular protests against a rigged election system. Such oppressive government policies may have contributed to increased support for the eventual revolution.”

Note that both of these connect the contents of the document to the argument the author is trying to make. They don’t just paraphrase or quote the contents of the document for the sake of using them– you should use documents to support your argument!

Keep in mind that the College Board is pretty specific about how they want you to use AP World history DBQ documents. In the 2021 AP World History Scoring Guidelines rubric, College Board makes the point that you should “ describe and explain ” the contents of the document: By “describe'' they mean you should point out to your reader what about the document is relevant and illustrate it as if the reader did not have the document in front of them. 

From there, you’ll need to explain the document. That means you should use the document to show the reader why changes or situations in history have happened or why there is a relationship between two factors you’re writing about. 

Step 5: Understand Time Management

One of the most important skills you can acquire by taking multiple attempts at the AP World DBQ practice test will be time management. 

When you’re in the actual test environment, you won’t be able to use your phone to set a timer or alarm, so it’ll be difficult to keep track of how much time you’re spending on reading and re-reading the documents, brainstorming, and outlining. You want to leave yourself the majority of the time allowed (which will be one hour) for writing. 

College Board’s AP World History DBQ rubric recommends that you spend 15 minutes reading the documents and 45 minutes writing the essay . When you write your practice DBQs, be sure to use this format so you can get a feel for how much time you do (or don’t!) have for the question. Practicing with a timer is a great way to make sure you’re using your time wisely on test day! 


4 Tips for Studying for and Answering the AP World History DBQs

Now that you’ve read our step-by-step process for tackling the AP World History DBQ and have seen several AP World History DBQ examples, here are some expert tips on doing well on the AP World History DBQ . We’ve developed these tips based on the AP World History rubric to make sure you earn as many points as possible! 

Tip 1: Know Your Rubric

Go through the AP World History DBQ rubric 2021 and notice that it tells you exactly how to earn points in each category . Most categories are worth multiple points, so you need to know how to earn all the points possible. 

For example, the rubric is clear about how to earn points for your thesis statement. You’ll have to make sure that you have a thesis that states outright what argument you are trying to make if you want to earn credit for that category of the rubric! 

The scoring for the DBQ is pretty objective, and knowing exactly what the scorers are looking for will help you earn the most points possible.

Tip 2: Your Essay Can Contain Errors

In an AP World History DBQ, you’ll be able to make tiny errors and still be able to earn full credit for your response. 

Before you get too excited, there are big (and we mean big!) limits to this rule. For instance, you can’t misrepresent a document by saying an author makes one claim when they clearly aren’t. You also can’t write something that is obviously wrong, like that America continues under British rule because the revolution was unsuccessful! 

But you can make minor errors that don’t detract from your argument as long as you are demonstrating a knowledge of the time period and the ability to incorporate evidence to make an argument. So for example, you can make the mistake of saying that President Nixon’s impeachment hearings began in July 1974 (instead of May, when they actually began), and still earn full credit as long as you aren’t making an argument that depends on the accuracy of those dates.  

Tip 3: Write for Clarity 

One thing to keep in mind is that you’re graded on the quality of your argument and how well you prove it– you don’t get graded on how beautifully or fluently you write ! 

So, while you’ll want to use correct grammar and write as clearly as you can, don’t spend too much time making your writing beautiful. Instead, focus on clearly explaining your ideas! 

To this end, you won’t have points taken away for grammatical errors unless they make it difficult for the graders to see how you’ve used the evidence to make an argument. So while you want your writing to be as error-free as possible, it’s more important that you’re making your argument as clearly–and as persuasively–as possible. 

Tip 4: Write for Relevance

As you’re outlining and writing your AP World DBQ, ask yourself, why is this relevant to today’s readers? To earn a perfect score, you’ll have to tie your argument to another time period or historical situation. 

This is your chance to show that while the period you’re writing about may have been long in the past, the events are still relevant to us today ! This is why we read, write, and study history in the first place. So as you outline and write your DBQ, make sure you’re doing your best to show your reader why this historical moment or event is still important.


What’s Next? 

No matter what AP course you’re taking, you’ll want to have a study plan in place when it comes to exam time. This blog article can help you put together a prep strategy that works.

Not sure what a “good” AP test score is for AP World History? This list of the average AP test scores for every exam will help you understand how your scores stack up. 

Perfect test scores are great, but do you really need a perfect AP World History score? Our experts will explain the pros and cons of getting perfect 5s on your AP exams. 

Looking for help studying for your AP exam?

Our one-on-one online AP tutoring services can help you prepare for your AP exams. Get matched with a top tutor who got a high score on the exam you're studying for!

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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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How to Write a DBQ Essay

Last Updated: September 23, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Emily Listmann, MA . Emily Listmann is a private tutor in San Carlos, California. She has worked as a Social Studies Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and an SAT Prep Teacher. She received her MA in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 666,106 times.

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

Writing Help

how to write a good thesis for dbq

Analyzing the Documents

Step 1 Review the documents for 10 to 15 minutes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Developing an Argument

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

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

Step 2 Refine your rough...

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

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

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

Step 4 Plug your document citations into the outline.

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

Step 5 Refine your thesis after making the outline.

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

Drafting Your Essay

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

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

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

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

Step 3 Write your body paragraphs.

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

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

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

Step 5 Weave together your argument in your conclusion.

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

Revising Your Draft

Step 1 Proofread your essay for spelling and grammatical mistakes.

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

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

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

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

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

Community Q&A

wikiHow Staff Editor

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

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About This Article

Emily Listmann, MA

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

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Writing a DBQ Essay: Key Strategies and Guidelines

How to Write a DBQ Essay

Table of contents

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

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

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

What Is a DBQ Essay: Main Definition

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

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

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

Step 1. Analyze the Documents Before Starting a DBQ Essay

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

Step 2. Create Your Thesis for DBQ Essay

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

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

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

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

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

Step 4. Create a DBQ Essay Outline

Before you start writing your text:

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

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

Step 5. Write Your DBQ Essay

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

How to Start a DBQ Essay

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

How to Write a Body Paragraph for a DBQ Essay

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

How to Write a Conclusion Essay for a DBQ

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

The Best DBQ Essay Example

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

DBQ Essay: Bottom Line

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

Choose a professional essay writer to your liking, send paper requirements and get your assignment fast!  

Frequently Asked Questions About DBQ Essay

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

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

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

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

3. Is a DBQ essay an LEQ with documents?

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

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

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


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AP® US History

How to write a new ap® us history dbq.

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

How to Write a New AP® US History DBQ

Hey! We wrote an updated version of this post here . Check it out for helpful videos and FRQ tips.

The dreaded AP® US History Document Based Question. For years it has struck fear in the hearts of many, turned boys into men and rookie students into old, weathered veterans. Rumor has it that little Jimmy Walker once took the AP® US History exam and when he got to the DBQ section, proceeded to spontaneously combust. Okay, so maybe that is a little dramatic. But the DBQ can be a really intimidating process that stands in the way of success for many students. Lucky for you, with this comprehensive guide, it can be relatively painless, and you will be well on your way to academic success and glory.

To start with, it is a good idea to figure out what exactly you are trying to  accomplish on the DBQ .  The quickest way to a high score is to know what the test scorers are looking for, and then do it! The rubric for grading the AP® US History DBQ can be found  here . Also lucky for you, we broke down the rubric to make it easy to understand. Before you continue through the rest of this how-to guide, be sure to go check out the DBQ rubric guide  here .

All right, so now you know what they are looking for and what you are trying to accomplish. Let’s get started.

The DBQ Layout:

Okay, so here’s how it works. Basically, you will be given an essay prompt, a set of primary source documents (never more than 7), and only 60 minutes to come up with a well written, clear and coherent essay response. The general rule of thumb, recommended by the good people at CollegeBoard, is to dedicate about 15 of those precious minutes to planning and the last 45 to writing. That may seem a little overwhelming, but it is totally doable! Especially with these 6 easy steps!

1. Read the Question.

Then figure out what the question is asking you. I can’t stress this enough, figuring out what the prompt is asking you is critical. No matter how good of a writer you are, or how much history you may know, if you don’t answer the question, you are sunk. A neat tip might be to write out in your own words what the question is asking.

As you are reading the question, be on the lookout for which skills they are trying to test you on. Every DBQ is looking to test your skills of historical argumentation, use of historical evidence,  contextualization , and synthesis. These things are outlined in the rubric and are consistent parts of every good DBQ. In addition to these critical skills, a DBQ will be looking to analyze one of a number of certain skills. These include: causation, change/continuity over time, comparison, interpretation, or periodization. Don’t waste too much time trying to figure this out, and don’t get so caught up in it that you forget to answer the actual question, just be sure to keep it in mind as you plan out your answer.

That probably seems like an insanely long first step, but all of that will really only take a couple of minutes and set you up to breeze through the rest of the process. Once you have thoroughly read and interpreted the question, you are ready for step number 2!

2. Dig into the Sources

While you want to make sure that you read each document, don’t waste your time on too focused of a reading. Underline or highlight things that stand out, and make notes out to the side. One suggestion is to write a quick sentence or two that summarizes the main idea of each document. And again, this is all just part of the 15-minute planning period; so don’t get too caught up on any document. You are just looking for main ideas and details that really stand out. To take this one step further, you can organize the documents into groups based on their main point. (For highest score possibilities, make sure to use either all or all but one of the primary source documents).

3. Make an Outline.

First decide on a thesis, and from there think about how you want to use your primary source documents to support that thesis. Think about what kinds of outside information you might want to bring in to further support your argument, and where it will fit into your essay as a whole. Once more, don’t get stuck mapping out every single thing that you are going to say, but be sure that you include documents where they fit in the response. This will make it much easier to incorporate them into your answer. Hopefully it has only been 15 minutes or less at this point and you are now ready to write!

4. Start Writing!

how to write a good thesis for dbq

Most of your highly intensive, critical thinking type stuff should already have happened and now it is just all about putting those thoughts into words. If you played your cards right and made good use of the first 15 minutes, this part of the process should be pretty straightforward. Start with a brief introduction that gives a little context to the subject matter and shows that you know some of the details surrounding the subject matter. Introduce your thesis, then a few of your main ideas that support your thesis. This part of your paper is not much different than a regular essay response.

5. Keep Writing!

As you get going on some longer paragraphs and stringing together lots of sophisticated and smart sounding sentences, it can be easy to lose sight of the main points of your paper. I have said it a couple times already, but it is absolutely essential that you answer the question!

A few key things to keep in mind as you write your body:

1. Use specific references from your documents, and always show where you are getting the information. At the same time, don’t just use huge block quotes to take up a bunch of space. Use what you need to answer the question.

2. Make sure you use some outside knowledge to support your argument, along with your documents. Specific examples that aren’t on the documents are super helpful in making your argument stronger, and just showing that you know what you are talking about.

3. Don’t forget to contextualize. Things that happen in history are not isolated events, and the circumstances surrounding things matter. Don’t forget to address that.

6. Wrap it up with a ballin’ conclusion.

Don’t draw it out and don’t introduce new ideas in the conclusion. Make it short and to the point. Summarize what your main thesis and arguments were and leave it at that. Don’t try to be too clever or witty or trite and you actually don’t have to use the term “In conclusion” every time you write a conclusion. (Mind blown, I know).

If you follow these 6 easy steps and  ANSWER THE QUESTION , you will demolish the DBQ section of the  AP® US History  exam. (That’s a good thing). And at the very least, you will make it out better than poor Jimmy Walker.

Looking for AP® US History practice?

Kickstart your AP® US History prep with Albert. Start your AP® exam prep today .

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4 thoughts on “how to write a new ap® us history dbq”.

This says it was updated in May of 2020, bull crap! YOu are telling students they have 15 min to read the documents and 45 to write. Thats wrong! They have a total of 45 min. on the new 2020 online DBQ. So Im telling students to spend no more than 19 min with reading the docs. Come on guys! get this updated

I meant 10 min on reading Docs.

Paul, this was written several years ago as noted by the disclaimer. For the 2020 exam, please review our new guide here:

Thanks for the comment!

Paul, this is an article from a few years ago (note the disclaimer). The updates made to this were just images, not core content. Our 2020 AP® US History guide can be found here:

Comments are closed.

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How to Write a DBQ Essay?

01 October, 2020

20 minutes read

Author:  Richard Pircher

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

dbq essay

What Is a DBQ?

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

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

The Purpose of A DBQ Essay

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

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

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

Preparing For The DBQ Essay

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

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

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

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

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

DBQ Outline

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

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

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

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

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

DBQ Structure

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

DBQ Essay Introduction: Starting DBQ Format

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

Strong Thesis Statement: What Should It Include?

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

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

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

DBQ Essay Example: Describe Your Main Ideas in Body Paragraph

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

DBQ Essay Example: Logical Conclusion

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

How to Write a DBQ essay With a Strong Thesis Statement

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

Steps of Writing a DBQ

Create dbq essay outline: write an intro.

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

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

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

Write a Powerful Thesis Statement

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

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

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

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

Correctly Structure a Body Paragraph in Your DBQ Essay Outline

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

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

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

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

Draw a Conclusion

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

Wrapping Up

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

DBQ Essay Examples

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

Writing Tips to Succeed with Your DBQ Essay

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

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

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

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

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

How To Be Successful On The DBQ Test Day?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Comprehensive Guide on Writing a DBQ Thesis in 2023

dbq thesis

You’ve probably heard of the term DBQ thesis, or it’s your first time encountering it here. Either case, this is the right place for you! In this all-inclusive guide on writing a DBQ thesis, you will find the definition, how to write a DBQ thesis outline and topic ideas.

Stay put as we embark on a great adventure!

What is a DBQ Thesis?

It is an unpopular type of thesis that can cause dread among many college and university students. However, this shouldn’t happen as we are going to see in the subsequent discussions. We will demystify every aspect of how to create a DBQ thesis easy and fast!

How To Write a DBQ Thesis: Outline

To score highly in such a thesis, you have to be familiar with the DBQ thesis formula. It will help you determine the specific approach to take without eliminating any essential part. Below is everything you need to rock this unique type of essay!

  • Collect all the necessary information (documents)

You have to collate all the possible available knowledge on the question of the study. Remember that this is not just a matter of your personal opinion, but facts backed with substantial evidence! For instance, if you have a DBQ thesis example on the best masks for preventing against COVID-19, you will gather the following information:

  • Online reviews of the available masks
  • A top doctor’s opinion
  • Prices at different outlets
  • The cost of other masks
  • Available TV, radio, and newspaper ads for the masks

Doing this will help you have all the necessary background information on the question.

  • Analyze the documents

It will help you identify any form of bias and or irregularities in the documents. By doing this, you will know if indeed the mask you settled on is best for you or not. A good DBQ thesis will have its grounding on authentic and reliable documents.

After going through these two stages, you are now ready to write your DBQ thesis.

DBQ Thesis Template: Structure

If you wish to have a successful DBQ thesis, understanding its structure will be the backbone of all that. Since this is a unique type of idea, you will have to take a strategic approach. To achieve this, you can use a DBQ thesis template or any available DBQ thesis examples online.

Look at the structure below:

  • The introductory paragraph

It entails the background of the question or context of the period concerned. Your introductory paragraph should capture the following aspects:

  • Bring the problem into perspective (background and context)
  • Incorporate an exciting and captivating hook sentence
  • End with a DBQ thesis statement

This section should not be very long. An essential element is to ensure that the document question comes out clearly and plainly.

Write the body paragraphs in sequential and logical order. Have a topic sentence for each section that you begin. So how long should a DBQ be? Well, it depends on the magnitude of the question as well as the number of body paragraphs.

Therefore, whichever length you opt for, ensure that you cover every aspect of the question to the core. Every argument should relate to the DBQ thesis statement.

  • The conclusion

How to start a DBQ thesis is as important as its ending. Conclude your paper with a summative statement that answers the question raised in the intro.

For your inspiration, use any of our professional examples of DBQ thesis statements to identify a possible question. Better still, you can try our DBQ thesis example topic ideas below:

Topic Ideas For a Top-Notch DBQ Thesis

  • The impact of the Holocaust on Jews
  • Strategies that colonialists used to colonize their colonies
  • Causes and effects of piracy in the Caribbean Sea
  • What are the strides made in space exploration?
  • Why is Roman Catholic the longest-serving Christian denomination?
  • The regime of Adolf Hitler: Is it worth remembering?
  • The first man to visit the moon
  • The roots of slavery in America
  • Importance of the reconnaissance period
  • The development of nuclear energy through the ages
  • The achievements of Karl Marx
  • The Spanish flush and its impact on humanity
  • Why is America consider a Super Power nation?
  • The effects of the 1st and 2nd world wars
  • The origin of racism

DBQ Thesis Writing Help: Pro Tips

When you look at an example of a DBQ thesis, you will note that it has unique aspects that make it stand out. Some of these include:

  • Do not use personal pronouns and desist from statements such as ‘I think.’
  • Provide evidence and support with references to specific documents
  • Restate the historical context of the question in conclusion (The what, who, where)
  • Use this structure in the body paragraphs (begin with the main idea, explain it, cite the relevant evidence, and analyze it while connecting to the thesis statement)

Thesis writers from can help you crack your DBQ thesis thick and fast! With decades of experience in the online academic writing industry, these experts guarantee you a quality paper.

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How To Write a DBQ Essay

How To Write a DBQ Essay

Remaining relevant in today's academic and work institutions is getting increasingly difficult. Preparing for your college career requires renewed focus on scoring all the points in each program in your course. Since this is improbable, your best option is to take many Advanced Placement (AP) programs. You will definitely get the college board interested in your resume if this works and you score high points. There is one obstacle to this. Passing the AP exam may involve writing a document-based question (DBQ) essay.

A DBQ is an important part of your college career. Learn how to write a DBQ essay in 5 simple steps.

How To Write A DBQ Essay In 5 Steps

You must have a basic understanding of what DBQ writing looks like before you begin writing your essay. Studying former students' DBQ examples at your library may help you get a glimpse of what is expected. You must note that historical knowledge takes up a small part of the essay question. Rather, your tutor wants to discern your ability to analyze sources and develop an optimal conclusion with relevance to contemporary study.

Your DBQ essay is a concise statement demonstrating you have mastered your course. Follow these steps to avoid unnecessary words and grammatical mistakes that could be costly to your grades.

  • Read the question several times
  • Carefully analyze the documents
  • Create an outline and organize your paper
  • Come up with a strong introduction
  • Start writing and edit your essay as you go

As you can surmise, writing a good DBQ essay needs devotion and top-notch time management skills. We'll now look at each step in more detail.

1. Read the Question Several Times

Writing the best DBQ essay among your peers means nothing if you ignore the question. You must demonstrate your point of view on a question. Do not bring in a second argument that does not match the essay instructions. This automatically translates to a deduction of points as your essay is being scored.

Conduct several practice tests using previously written DBQ essays to hammer this routine in your head. ALWAYS REREAD THE PROMPT. This lets you get a better view of the main idea and how your body paragraphs individually contribute to the main argument.

Students rarely get time to finish their assignments, let alone spend their time doing leisure activities. Going through sample DBQ essays from a site like My Custom Essays can prove immensely helpful in managing your time. You get to see how a professional writer focuses on one point in each paragraph. This can help you in the prewriting stage by giving you pointers on how professional writers tackle DBQ essays, a practice you can use in your own essays.

2. Carefully Analyze the Documents

It would help if you ascertained the importance of outside knowledge in strengthening your main idea and overall DBQ essay thesis. A student must selectively choose sources based on their similarities and differences in terms of content. You must also note several things to cite your documents correctly. These include:

  • Time period
  • Author(s) point of view
  • Publication details

Note that this is not the only relevant material you could get from your sources. Carefully weave in supporting document citations within your paragraphs to bolster the strength of your essay.

3. Create an Outline and Organize Your Paper

Creating a brief DBQ essay outline is a good way to capitalize on your limited time. Your DBQ essay must have at least five paragraphs beginning with an introduction and ending with a conclusion. Naturally, this leaves you at least three body paragraphs to push your main idea. A DBQ essay has the structure and format of a typical essay you might get in class, with the key difference being its implication on your college application resume. This structure looks as follows.

  • Introduction

Experts at academic writing organizations such as My Custom Essays recommend taking a step back once you have created an outline. Look at the overall structure to see whether it meets instructions in your essay prompt before .

4. Come up with a Strong Introduction

Other than your thesis statement, the introduction, and conclusion clearly define your stance and the paper's main idea. The introduction includes a thesis statement. Take your time ensuring that your thesis answers the original DBQ and is invulnerable to criticism.

5. Start Writing and Edit Your Essay As You Go

You are finally ready to tackle the paper. Remember to use every opportunity to support your thesis statement using credible information. Take care to use historical sources as references repeatedly.

You must utilize your analytical skills to examine each document's argument and the reason for its conclusion. Wrap up your DBQ assignment with a conclusion and show how the topic you chose to address influenced history.

The Purpose Of A DBQ Essay

It would be best if you came out guns blazing when writing a DBQ that will capture its intended audience. A strong thesis statement goes a long way in setting you on the right path. Writing a DBQ outline can help clarify your main points, effectively aiding you in addressing all the points in your overall argument. You need to consider the following skills as the key focus of your assignment when writing your DBQ. A student shows their ability to:

  • Assess primary sources, including the target audience and author's point of view
  • Connect key points in various documents
  • Create a strong thesis statement and analyze it in the body paragraphs
  • Merge your main point with your knowledge of the historical context it fits to strengthen your case

A DBQ, therefore, aims to showcase a student's prowess in understanding and analyzing information. This specific document can address many topics, such as women's rights, the progressive movement, the first world war, women's suffrage, or any other historically significant topic. You must select the appropriate period in US history and choose strong supporting details to fill your body paragraphs.

How To Format A DBQ Essay

We will now show you how to format your essay. Writing a DBQ outline will ease you into the paper and give you a structure to organize your main points. Your history teacher will appreciate a properly formatted essay and reward you with an A+ if you have high-quality historical evidence to support a well-thought-out thesis statement. To this end, you must familiarize yourself with the DBQ format and your essay prompt to avoid losing marks unnecessarily. Scoring high grades in your AP US History exam requires a mastery of several things.

  • DBQ outline
  • Essay prompt

The first fifteen minutes are integral to your success. You must read over the documents carefully before you start writing your essay so as not to lose points. Each student has about 40 minutes to write the entire essay consisting of a long essay and a DBQ. You have exactly 90 minutes to come up with a response so your time management skills must be top-notch!

Your AP exam DBQ typically appears first on your essay test. This is Part II of the exam. You'll see the following sections on your exam sheet

  • Instructions (top of the page)
  • Historical documents (second section on the page)
  • Essay question (underneath the instructions in your essay prompt)

Completing both AP exam essays will guarantee a high score in your GPA. You need to visit your university library. Get access to a large pool of research materials that will help you create a defensible claim with irrefutable historical proof to back it up for excellent custom writing that shows mastery of course content.

DBQ Essay Outline

A DBQ essay outline typically follows the Chicago/Turabian citation style. This is because the essay is primarily a requisite in history courses. Your essay should still follow the DBQ format and rubric. You may have encountered a DBQ essay example or two as you researched your topic.

Whether you choose to write on one world war, women's suffrage, women's rights, or any other topic, your DBQ essay outline should clearly illustrate each topic sentence your essay will cover. Let's take a look at the different parts of a DBQ essay.

  • Part a: thesis - 2 points
  • Part b: document analysis - 2 points
  • Part c: using evidence beyond the documents - 2 points
  • Part d: synthesis - 1 point

1. Part a: Thesis - 2 Points

As you may have surmised from any DBQ essay example you saw in your school's library, this paper has several layers. The first part involves writing a thesis statement supported by your first argument, followed by a second argument with slightly lower strength and so on. Taper your argument from the strongest points to the weakest to convince your reader about the accuracy of your thesis early on in your paper.

This connection to the thesis must be evident in all your all body paragraphs, culminating in a strong conclusion that summarizes and restates your thesis statement. You must do the following to ensure your DBQ essay has a well-structured thesis statement:

  • Clearly describe your claims with supporting evidence
  • Write a short description of the evidence to be used in each body paragraph
  • Demonstrate how you intend to answer the DBQ

2. Part b: Document Analysis - 2 Points

Analyzing your documents helps avoid getting caught off-guard by a critic of your thesis. Each body paragraph must use the strongest evidence available and link it to the main idea.

This stage of the writing process requires you to develop a statement concluding the paper's analysis from the writer's point of view. You should follow this format in each body paragraph and include a transition sentence between them. This will help in maintaining a connection to the thesis statement.

3. Part c: Using Evidence Beyond The Documents - 2 Points

This is the trickiest part of DBQ writing. It is also the most demanding as it does not have a clear manual showing students how to tackle it. The first thing to consider is that each body paragraph posits one point. Whether it's the second or third paragraph, each body paragraph, other than the introduction and the conclusion, must show its relevance to the broader historical context.

A student should carefully analyze and synthesize information from the documents provided and information derived from outside sources to give the argument more weight.

Weaving your creativity and understanding into the DBQ is integral to writing this paper. You should leave your AP history class with the knowledge and tools to tackle real-life problems. In this way, connecting the dots between past and present events in a body paragraph or two shows the depth of a student's understanding of their course and its place in academic study.

4. Part d: Synthesis - 1 Point

Synthesizing information is another crucial stage in writing your DBQ essay. It would be best if you came up with a summary argument for your paper linked to your thesis statement. Including the main ideas and other key issues raised by authors in your sources is prudent to score a point in this section. Finally, write a concluding statement or question that poses a challenge to critics arguing against your sources.

Writing An Effective Thesis

It takes skill and knowledge to put a writer's point across while providing accurate information on your topic. Your DBQ thesis shows your position on a matter that has historical significance. Going through your school's library will undoubtedly lead you to a DBQ essay example or two that will help you adhere to the DBQ rubric. You may find your DBQ focuses on topics such as:

  • Political cartoons
  • Women's suffrage
  • The second world war
  • Women's rights

Basically, you just need a topic on issues that influence society. Getting acquainted with the DBQ essay format and structure will go a long way in improving your time management skills as you look for research materials to support your DBQ thesis.

Regardless of your topic's difficulty, writing a strong thesis statement is the first step in developing a DBQ essay to die for! Mastering how this vital component fits into your argument sets you apart from many students and brings you closer to an A+ grade in this assignment.

AP US History

The AP US History exam requires a mastery of the political, economic, social, and cultural events that have shaped development in the United States since c.1491. A student must visualize sources and analyze texts and other historical information. There are several skills you'll learn in your AP history class that will help you in future assignments.

  • Evaluation of primary and secondary sources
  • Analysis of evidence, claims, and reasoning by source authors
  • Putting historical background in context
  • Making connections between historical background and your main points
  • Creation of a DBQ thesis and supporting it with irrefutable proof in writing

The DBQ is an example of an essay showcasing an understanding of historical notions required to pass this course. You must understand different eras in US history that will be helpful as you write a DBQ essay outline for your final paper. Take a look at the units covered in any AP History class.

  • Unit 1: 1491-1607
  • Unit 2: 1607-1754
  • Unit 3: 1754-1800
  • Unit 4: 1800-1848
  • Unit 5: 1844-1877
  • Unit 6: 1865-1898
  • Unit 7: 1890-1945
  • Unit 8: 1945-1980
  • Unit 9: 1980-present

Your body paragraphs will need information from some of these periods in history. Learning how to write a DBQ that responds to the prompt succinctly will require a lot of research. You may find that your DBQ requires information from more than one school year. Here is a list of the course content you'll cover to get you ready for your finals.

Unit 1: 1491–1607

Students learn about Native American communities, European exploration and colonization of the Americas.

Unit 2: 1607–1754

You learn about the Dutch, Spanish, French, and British colonies established in the New World.

Unit 3: 1754–1800

Students discern events leading up to the American Revolution and subsequent creation of the United States and its early years.

Unit 4: 1800–1848

You'll examine how the USA grew politically, economically, and culturally in this period.

Unit 5: 1844–1877

Students learn about American expansion and the events that led Southern states to secede from the US, leading to a Civil War.

Unit 6: 1865–1898

Students examine demographic and economic shifts as well as their connection to political and cultural changes in this period.

Unit 7: 1890–1945

Students learn about changes in American culture and society. You will also examine the causes and effects of world wars and economic downfalls in this era.

Unit 8: 1945–1980

You will examine the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. Students also learn about the emergence of different civil rights movements. They also analyze the political, economic, and cultural transformations of the USA in this period.

Unit 9: 1980–Present

You will study the advancements in science and technology, growth of political conservatism, and demographic changes with major political and cultural influence.

It's clear that writing a good DBQ requires more than just checking for grammatical errors and missing words. You can go through sample DBQ essays from expert writers like My Custom Essays to get an idea about how to write a DBQ that is guaranteed to get you an A+.

Do You Need Help From A Professional Essay Writer?

The DBQ is an essay question. As such, you need to come up with some paragraphs to respond to the essay prompt. One of the most vital parts of this process is finding your document's place in a broader historical context. You must use historical documents to analyze:

  • Main issues
  • Past trends

Your typical DBQ will require between five and seven documents for analysis. Choose where to draw supporting details for each topic sentence. These can either be primary or secondary sources. Use direct quotes sparingly, as using your own words will demonstrate a mastery of document analysis and synthesis.

Writing a DBQ will take a toll on you mentally, physically, emotionally, and probably financially. Taking time off your busy schedule to ensure you have gathered enough information to demonstrate your point of view and provide specific examples could have disastrous consequences for other aspects of your life.

Many students have part-time jobs. Your boss is unlikely to understand they will be constantly understaffed because of your studies. They are more likely than not to fire you. Is this a risk worth taking? We do not think so. Getting professional writers like My Custom Essays to help you with this task can save you from possible heartache once college admission letters start coming in.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Write a DBQ

Writing a history DBQ is a complex task that requires a lot of practice to guarantee you score high grades. Here are some questions that many students ask concerning the process. They may be of use to you as you write a DBQ essay at the end of the semester.

  • How do you write an introduction for a dbq?
  • Which AP History Exams Include A dbq?

1. How Do You Write An Introduction For A DBQ?

Your DBQ's introduction's format does not differ from that of an introduction written for any other type of paper. You must write an introductory statement with the intention of hooking your audience. Use several tried-and-tested ways to accomplish this. These include:

  • Sharing a related personal experience
  • An interesting fact or observation connected to the question
  • Comedic statement
  • Interesting historical event related to the DBQ essay

Hitting the ground running is a routine many custom writing experts recommend to elicit interest in your reader. A DBQ essay tests whether a student understands and can analyze information. You must also demonstrate creativity in writing to pass this test. A DBQ with a thesis statement that shows its place in a broader historical context will score more points than one without such a connection to history. Your introduction should, therefore, state the background of your topic.

Creativity and in-depth knowledge of history are crucial to developing a good thesis statement that captures what you intend to prove to the reader. Use historical evidence to support your DBQ essay's key points. Professors are intent on knowing whether your text adds any knowledge to the existing literature. You must remember to tie each of your points in the document based question to credible articles written by experts in the field.

2. Which AP History Exams Include A DBQ?

Only some AP students encounter document-based questions. These only appear on several exams. For instance, you will definitely take the DBQ if you take AP World History, AP European History, or AP US History. All AP History exams have one DBQ that follows a standard format. An AP History student must learn how to write a DBQ to boost their GPA and guarantee their place in a higher learning institution of their choice.

A good DBQ essay will ensure the college board in each school you apply to rushes to secure a slot in their higher learning institution.

Writing a DBQ essay is not a walk in the park. You can take advantage of academic writers from professional sites like My Custom Essays to help you with the DBQ essay. You may also use the information we have provided to deal with the DBQ essay when it's time for your finals.

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How do I construct a DBQ? (document bassed question)


Step 1: Answer each question in Part A.  Carefully read or view each document relating to the DBQ question, and answer the question that follows each document. Use factual information and base your answer to each question on the specific document to which it is related, and be sure to compose each answer using complete sentences.

Step 2: Compose a thesis statement. Read the task section in of the DBQ essay question and analyze it in order to figure out what it is asking you to do. Key words used in the task may include:

Discuss means "to make observations about something using facts, reasoning, and argument; to present in some detail."

Describe means "to illustrate something in words or tell about it."

Show means "to point out; to set forth clearly a position or idea by stating it and giving data to support it."

Explain means "to make plain or understandable; to give reasons for or causes of; to show the logical development or relationships of" (Global Studies Regents, June, 1997).

Once you understand what the task is asking you to write about, compose a thesis statement that addresses these issues. For example, the sample DBQ below contains a task that could be reworded to form a thesis statement such as:

Step 3: Organize the essay. Organize the information that you want to use in your essay through the use of an outline. During this pre-writing step, you should brainstorm as many facts as possible that could be used in your essay. Also make sure that you are addressing the task as well as the requirements from the rubric.

Step 5: Write the introduction. A. Revisit the historical context and determine if you can use part or all of this statement in your introduction. B. Insert your thesis statement from step three. C. If your thesis does not address the body paragraphs that will follow, compose a sentence that briefly introduces    each topic. Step 6: Write the body paragraphs. Write the first body paragraph. Be sure to include all of the following components:  topic sentence, supporting evidence in the body sentences, and a closing sentence. Follow this same format as you write the additional body paragraphs. Compose additional paragraphs if necessary in order to completely answer the essay question.

Be sure to use most of the documents provided by the teacher in order to provide evidence which proves your thesis statement, and to meet the criteria in the rubric to earn a full credit for your essay.   Step 7: Write the conclusion. Summarize the subject of the essay. You can often do this by restating the question in a different way. Explain what you concluded about the essay question. Summarize how the information in the body of your essay proves your point. A sample DBQ essay grading rubric.

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pease mark this answer the branilest

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How To Write A Dbq Thesis

  • How to Write a DBQ

how to write a good thesis for dbq

A dbq thesis is a thesis that you write for a dbq essay . It should be a clear, concise, and well-argued statement of your position on the question at hand. In order to write a good dbq thesis, you’ll need to do some preliminary reading and thinking about the question. Once you have a good understanding of the question, you can start brainstorming ideas for a thesis.

Your thesis should be something that you can argue convincingly. It should be based on the evidence that you’ve found in your reading, and it should be supported by your analysis of that evidence. Once you’ve come up with a thesis, you’ll need to draft an essay outlining your argument. Be sure to include evidence to support your position, and make sure your argument is clear and well-organized.

If you can write a strong dbq thesis and back it up with strong argumentation, you’ll be well on your way to a successful dbq essay.

How to write a thesis for DBQ AP World?

A DBQ, or document-based question, is a type of essay that asks students to analyze and synthesize historical documents in order to answer a question. DBQs are commonly used in high school and college history classes, but they can also be used in other subjects, such as English or social studies.

When writing a DBQ essay, the first step is to read the question carefully and make sure you understand it. Then, you should make a list of the documents that you will need to answer the question. Next, read and analyze the documents, making sure to take note of any relevant information. Finally, write your essay, answering the question using the information from the documents.

When writing your essay, be sure to include the following:

-A thesis statement, which is a clear, concise statement of your argument

-An introduction, which sets up your argument and introduces the documents

– body paragraphs , which support your thesis statement with evidence from the documents

– a conclusion, which summarizes your argument and restates your thesis statement

Do you need a thesis for a DBQ?

Students in high school and college often have to write DBQs , or document-based questions. A DBQ is a essay that asks the student to analyze a series of documents and then answer a question about them. DBQs are common in history classes, but they can also be found in other subjects.

A thesis is not always required for a DBQ, but it can be helpful. A thesis statement is a sentence or two that states the main argument of your essay. It can be helpful to have a thesis for a DBQ because it can help you stay focused as you write.

If you do choose to include a thesis, it should be related to the documents that you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing a document that argues for a particular position, your thesis could argue for the opposite position.

If you do not include a thesis, your essay will be more descriptive than argumentative. You will still need to make a point, but you will not be as limited in terms of what you can discuss.

Both a thesis-based and a non-thesis-based DBQ can be successful, but it is important to remember to stay focused on the question that you are answering.

How do you write a thesis for AP exams?

When you write a thesis for an AP exam, you want to make sure that you are properly addressing the question that is being asked. You also want to make sure that your thesis is clear and concise. In order to write a thesis for an AP exam, you should follow these steps:

1. Read the question carefully. Make sure that you understand what is being asked.

2. Brainstorm ideas. Write down everything that comes to mind in response to the question.

3. Choose a thesis. Pick the idea that you feel is most important and write a thesis statement around it.

4. Write a rough draft. Flesh out your thesis statement and supporting points.

5. Revise and edit. Make sure your essay is well written and easy to read.

6. Proofread. Check for grammar mistakes and spelling errors.

How do you write a thesis statement for DBQ?

A thesis statement for a DBQ is a sentence that states your argument for the essay. It is the first thing that your essay will build off of, so it is important to make sure it is clear and concise. There are a few things to keep in mind when writing a thesis statement for a DBQ:

1. Make sure your thesis statement is specific.

Don’t simply say that you disagree with the prompt or that you don’t agree with the thesis of the essay. Be specific about what you plan to argue and why.

2. Make sure your thesis statement is arguable.

Your thesis statement should be something that can be debated. It should not be a statement of fact.

3. Make sure your thesis statement is concise.

Your thesis statement should be no more than one sentence long.

4. Make sure your thesis statement is clear.

Your thesis statement should be easy to understand. It should state your argument in a clear and concise way.

What is an example of thesis statement?

A thesis statement is a sentence or two that states the main point of your essay. It is a clear, concise statement of the position you will take in your paper.

How do you write a thesis statement for AP?

A thesis statement is the main point of your essay. It is a statement that you make about a topic and then back up with evidence. In order to write a thesis statement for an AP essay, you need to first understand what the prompt is asking you.

The AP essay prompt will usually ask you to analyze a work of literature or a historical event. In order to write a thesis statement, you need to first decide what your main point is going to be. Then, you need to back that up with evidence from the text or from historical sources.

Your thesis statement should be clear and concise. It should also be arguable, meaning that there is room for debate about it. You don’t want to state a fact as your thesis statement, but rather something that is open to interpretation.

Here is an example of a thesis statement for an AP essay:

The theme of sacrifice is explored in the novel The Great Gatsby.

This thesis statement is clear and concise. It is also arguable, as there is room for debate about what the theme of sacrifice is in The Great Gatsby.

How do you write a thesis statement for a DBQ?

A thesis statement is a sentence that states the main idea of your essay. It is the most important sentence in your essay, and it should be clear and concise. In order to write a thesis statement for a DBQ, you should first understand what a DBQ is.

A DBQ is a type of essay that asks you to analyze a historical event or a period of history. In order to write a thesis statement for a DBQ, you need to understand the question that is being asked. You should then state your position on the question in your thesis statement.

Your thesis statement should be clear and concise. It should state your position on the question, and it should be easy to understand.

How do you write an AP thesis statement?

The thesis statement is a sentence or two that states the main point of your essay. It is usually the last sentence of your introductory paragraph.

Your thesis statement should be specific and focused. It should not be too general or too narrow.

To write a good thesis statement, you need to think about your topic and decide what you want to say about it. Your thesis statement should be arguable, not a statement of fact.

You may need to revise your thesis statement as you write your essay. Be sure to keep your thesis statement focused and specific.

How long should an AP World thesis statement be?

There is no one right answer to the question of how long an AP World thesis statement should be. However, it is generally advisable to keep it concise and to the point. A thesis statement should summarize the argument you plan to make in your essay, and should be no more than a sentence or two in length.

What should be in a DBQ thesis?

A DBQ thesis is the main argument of your essay. It is the point you are trying to make about the documents. Your thesis should be clear, concise, and specific. It should also be something that can be supported by the evidence in the documents.

Your thesis should not be a restatement of the question. It should be something that you can argue for. And it should be something that is interesting and relevant to the question.

When writing your thesis, you should keep in mind the following tips:

-Make sure your thesis is clear and concise.

-Make sure your thesis is specific.

-Make sure your thesis is something that can be supported by the evidence in the documents.

-Make sure your thesis is interesting and relevant to the question.

What is a DBQ thesis?

A DBQ thesis is the main argument of a document-based essay. It is a statement that you make about the topic of the essay, and it is supported by evidence from the documents. The thesis should be clear and concise, and it should state your argument in a way that is easy to understand.

In order to write a strong DBQ thesis, you need to first understand the question that is being asked. Then, you need to read the documents carefully and identify the key points that support your argument. Once you have gathered your evidence, you can begin to formulate your thesis.

Your thesis should be the first sentence of your essay, and it should be clear and concise. It should state your argument in a way that is easy to understand, and it should be supported by evidence from the documents.

The thesis is the most important part of the essay, and it is essential to make sure that it is strong and well-written. If your thesis is weak, your essay will not be successful.

What are the requirements for a DBQ?

A DBQ, or document-based question, is a test question type that asks students to analyze historical documents and make inferences about historical events and issues. DBQs are commonly found on Advanced Placement exams in U.S. History and World History , but they can be used in any subject area where students are expected to analyze historical evidence.

To answer a DBQ, students must first read the documents carefully and identify the main points made in each one. They must then make inferences about what the documents say as a whole and how they support or refute one another. Finally, students must form an argument based on the evidence presented in the documents.

There are no specific requirements for what a DBQ must include, but it is usually helpful to provide students with a question or topic that they can use to focus their analysis. The documents in a DBQ should also be arranged in a way that helps students understand the historical context of the question.

Some tips for writing effective DBQs include:

– Providing a question or topic for students to focus their analysis – Arranging the documents in a way that helps students understand the historical context – Asking students to make inferences about the documents as a whole, and how they support or refute one another – Having students form an argument based on the evidence presented in the documents

What does a DBQ thesis look like?

A DBQ thesis is the main argument of your essay. It is a statement that you make about the topic that you are discussing. Your thesis should be clear and concise, and it should be able to be supported by evidence from the documents.

What is an AP thesis?

An AP thesis, or an Advanced Placement thesis, is a type of thesis typically written by high school students who are taking college-level courses. The AP thesis is more rigorous than a traditional high school thesis, and is often more research-oriented. Students who write an AP thesis typically do so in order to earn college credit for the course.

There are a few key things to keep in mind when writing an AP thesis. First, it is important to choose a topic that is both interesting and relevant. Second, the thesis should be well-researched and include a strong argument. Finally, it is important to make sure that the thesis is properly formatted and includes all of the necessary components.

If you are interested in writing an AP thesis, there are a few resources that can help you get started. The AP website offers a guide to writing an AP thesis, which includes information on topics, research, formatting, and more. There are also a number of online resources that can help you with the research process, including databases of academic journals and articles.

Ultimately, writing an AP thesis is a challenging but rewarding experience. It can be a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and skills in a college-level course, and can also help you earn college credit.

What is a good example of a thesis?

A thesis statement is a sentence or two that states the main point of your essay. It is not the only point of your essay, but it is the most important. The thesis statement is the road map of your essay, telling the reader what to expect from your writing.

A good thesis statement is specific, focused, and clear. It should not be too broad or too narrow, and it should always be arguable. A good thesis statement will help you to focus your writing and keep your essay on track.

What are the 3 parts of a thesis statement?

A thesis statement is a sentence or group of sentences that express the main idea of a paper. It is usually placed at the beginning of the paper, but it can be placed elsewhere. The three parts of a thesis statement are the topic sentence, the position statement, and the reasons.

The topic sentence states the main topic of the paper. The position statement expresses the writer’s opinion on the topic. The reasons provide evidence to support the position statement.

How do I start my thesis statement?

A thesis statement is a sentence or two that states the main idea of your essay and helps your reader understand what you will be writing about. It is not the only sentence that can do this, but it is the most important one.

Your thesis statement should be specific enough to allow for a clear and concise essay, but not so specific that you cannot address all of the points you want to make. It should also be arguable, meaning that it is something that people could reasonably have different opinions about.

There are a few different ways to start your thesis statement. You could state the main idea of your essay and then back it up with evidence, or you could state a position that you plan to argue in your essay. You could also start with a question that will be answered in your essay.

No matter how you start it, your thesis statement should be clear and concise. It should also be easy to spot, so your reader knows right away what your essay is about.


Oscar Cunningham is a 41-year-old educational blogger and professor. He has been writing about education for over 10 years, and is known for his expertise on online learning and digital media. Cunningham is also a frequent speaker on these topics, and has given talks at a range of universities around the world. In his spare time, he also enjoys playing the violin and running.

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Oscar Cunningham is a 41-year-old educational blogger and professor. He has been writing about education for over 10 years, and is known for his expertise on online learning and digital media. Cunningham is also a frequent speaker on these topics, and has given talks at a range of universities around the world. In his spare time, he also enjoys playing the violin and running. View all posts by oscarcunningham

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