That’s the only word that can truly describe me right now.
- DBQ is due by 12 tonight
- I’m procrastinating ^
- I’m stuck with a horrible fever that is sucking the life out of me
- Not only am I just frustrated in general I’m also sexually frustrated
- I miss my boyfriend. 61 one flipping days.
- My mom is still giving me crap for everything
- School is tomorrow
I really want to just crawl into a hole and cry. I don’t want to do anything. I can’t concentrate.
Can you help me! I've never written a DBQ before and my teacher just threw one at me to do this weekend without telling any of our class how to do it and I need help! STAT! Is it a 5 paragraph essay? :/
DBQs are usually four or five paragraphs, depending on how you split up your body. The object of the game is to basically use the documents given plus any additional information that you know yourself in order to answer the question given. Here’s a list of tips we find helpful:
- As soon as you get the test, pretend as if it’s an FRQ. Read the question and jot down all of the information you already know about the prompt and the time period. After you have your ideas down, then you can read the documents.
- You should take approximately 15 minutes to prepare and read the documents before starting your essay. While reading the documents, take note of the source and date, and underline and annotate the main ideas of each document.
- Make a brief outline of what you’re going to write and decide how you’re going to break up the paragraphs. For example, if the question is: “Assess the political, economic, and ideological causes that led to the French and Indian War,” then you should have a five paragraph essay: 1) Introduction, 2) Body paragraph on politics, 3) Body paragraph on economy, 4) Body paragraph on ideologies, 5) Conclusion. Make sure you address all components of the question.
- In the outline, decide where you are going to use each document. You should aim to use “almost all” of them, meaning you can leave out one or two if you really don’t understand them. Try to use as many as possible though.
- Have a really strong thesis. If your essay isn’t organized and focused right from the start, you are automatically bumped down to the 5-7 range (DBQs are graded out of 9).
- Have a specific thesis. Jump right into what you’re going to talk about in the essay— don’t be vague. Don’t say: There were many political, economic, and ideological causes of the French and Indian War. Instead, say: Strict obligations enforced upon the colonists, increased taxes, and differing ideas regarding colonial rights and liberties were all factors that led to the war.
- In your introduction, it’s also a good idea to open the essay by addressing the larger picture. Look at the time frame given and use your outside knowledge to set the stage and tell what was going during the context of the question.
- When you have finished using all the information from a document, make sure to cite it. You can cite in two ways:
- A) Introduce the document by stating it’s source. For example: In a 1759 diary entry written by a Masachuets soldiers, it is clear that…
- B) After your last sentence about the documents, close it up with a parenthetical citation like this (Doc. 5).
- However, DO NOT use both techniques. Choose one and go with it.
- Also, DO NOT combine them and say: In document five, it is clear that… The grader of the essay doesn’t care what number document it is— they want to know WHAT the document is.
- Try to integrate as much of your outside knowledge another topic as often as possible. Also, is not necessary to cite any information that is not from the documents.
- Avoid exact dates if you don’t know them, but if you are confident with your information, try to be as specific as possible.
- It can be short and sweet, but try not to just restate the introduction paragraph. If you wish, you can talk about how the events discussed throughout the essay tie in to later events in history.
- DO NOT say something like, “The French and Indian war was a very important event in history and has influenced us today,” or “Without the French and Indian war, American would not be the same.” Although it may be true, my teacher has said that it’s very cheesy and graders don’t like to hear it.
I hope this helped! I wish you luck, and don’t worry about this being your first time. You’ll have a lot more practice by the time the AP rolls around. If you’re still unsure about things, trying looking up some old practice example on CollegeBoard.
If anyone has any more tips to add to the list, please send us a message!