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How to write a DBQ: College Essay Examples

What is a DBQ (Document-Based Question)?

 

Document-Based Questions (DBQs) are an essay type that requires you to answer a question or a series of questions by analyzing and using evidence from historical documents. The essay writer goal in knowing how to write a DBQ is to show your understanding of the time period and the major events that occurred.

 

Here are a few questions that you may encounter:

 

  1. What were the causes of the American Revolution?
  2. How did the Constitution guard against tyranny?
  3. What caused the Civil War?
  4. How did industrialization impact American life in the late 19th century?

 

Although a DBQ can be based on any type of document (including primary and secondary), they are typically based on primary sources such as letters, newspaper articles, or speeches.

 

Some examples of primary documents include the following:

 

  1. A letter from a soldier during the Civil War
  2. An article from a newspaper during the Civil Rights Movement
  3. A speech given by a leader during the American Revolution

 

DBQs are an excellent way to assess historical knowledge. Typically, they are administered as part of a larger exam, such as the AP US History exam, but they can also be assigned as standalone assignments in high school history classes.

 

If you are taking the AP US History exam, please visit this page for a sample of past exam questions: AP United States History Past Exam Questions – AP Central | College Board. It will provide solid tips on how to write a DBQ.

 

Many high school students consider DBQ the most challenging component of the AP US History test. Not only do you have to know the material inside and out, but you also have to be able to write a clear and concise essay under time pressure.

 

But DBQs are also a great opportunity to showcase your aptitude. You will need the ability to take in information from various sources and put forth a coherent argument. Consequently, DBQs are a great way to demonstrate your skills in research, writing, and critical thinking.

 

How to write a DBQ?

 

The first step in knowing how to write a DBQ is to carefully read the question. Ensure you comprehend the question’s intent and the evidence you must locate in the documents to answer it.

 

For instance, you may be required to write about the causes of the American Revolution. In this situation, you would need to utilize documents that discuss the causes of the American Revolution, such as the Declaration of Independence or the Boston Tea Party.

 

Once you have a solid grasp of the question, you can begin to plan your response.

 

How to write a thesis statement for a DBQ?

 

In order to write a thesis for a DBQ, you will need to first do two things:

 

  1. Read the documents carefully and take note of any information that will help you answer the question.
  2. Develop a thesis statement that answers the question.

 

Here is a more detailed look at each step:

 

  1. Read the documents carefully and take note of any information that will help you answer the question.

 

When reading the documents about how to write a DBQ, you should look for:

 

  1. The main idea of each document
  2. Any information that supports or contradicts your thesis statement

 

As you read through the documents, take notes on key points that you think will help you answer the question. Be sure to note where you found each piece of evidence so you can easily find it again later.

 

As you read through the documents, ask these questions to guide your reasoning:

 

  1. Think about the time period the documents are from. What was happening in the world at that time?
  2. Think about the people who wrote the documents. What were their experiences?
  3. Think about the questions you will be asked. What are the key points you need to address?

 

  1. Develop a thesis statement that answers the question.

 

Thesis statements are important because they provide a clear and concise way to communicate the main point of your paper, which is an important part of knowing how to write a DBQ. A good thesis statement will be the difference between an A paper and a C paper.

 

Your thesis statement should:

 

  1. Address the question directly
  2. Be arguable
  3. Be specific
  4. Be concise

 

Here is an example of a thesis statement for a DBQ that addresses the question directly:

 

Question: “What were the causes of the American Revolution?”

 

Thesis statement: “The American Revolution was caused by the economic and political policies of the British government.”

 

Keep in mind that a thesis statement is not a fact; it is an argument. As an argument, a thesis statement usually includes two parts: a topic and a claim. The topic is the general subject of the paper, and the claim is the specific point that the paper is trying to make about the topic. More importantly, you will have to support the claim with evidence to persuade your examiner.

 

Imagine yourself as a researcher who is presenting your findings to the public. In doing so, you are saying, “This is what I have found, and this is what I believe.” Then, you present a series of findings to back up your claim, and your audience becomes convinced of your argument. That is what it feels like to write a thesis statement and is important in knowing how to write a DBQ.

 

A good thesis statement is specific. For instance, it is not enough to say that something is “good” or “bad”; you must point out the exact benefits and cost. Here is an example of a vague thesis statement:

 

“The American Revolution was caused by various factors.”

 

As you can see, a weak thesis statement is close to being a factual statement, not an argument. Not only does a weak thesis statement make it difficult for your teachers to understand the message you are trying to convey, but you will also find it difficult to back up your claim with evidence. After all, how can you back up a claim if you don’t know what it is?

 

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Finally, it is important to keep your thesis statement concise. It should be short and sweet, with no more than one or two sentences. Any longer, and you risk losing both clarity and your reader’s attention.

 

For more examples of thesis statements in general, please visit this page: Creating a Thesis Statement, Thesis Statement Tips // Purdue Writing Lab

 

After you have your thesis statement, you can start writing your essay.

 

How to write a DBQ essay?

 

When you begin writing your DBQ essay, use the documents to support your thesis statement.

 

In your essay, you will need to:

 

  1. Provide an introduction
  2. Explain how each document supports your thesis statement
  3. Include outside information to provide context for the documents

 

An example introduction includes:

 

“The American Revolution was caused by the economic and political policies of the British government. These policies placed a heavy burden on the colonists, who responded with resistance and eventually violence. The British government’s refusal to listen to the colonists’ grievances led to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, resulting in the independence of the United States of America.”

 

For each document you use, you will need to introduce and explain how it supports your thesis statement. What information does the document provide that helps to support your argument? Be sure to use specific quotes and examples from the documents to support your points.

 

For instance, you may use the following three acts to support the example thesis statement: the Stamp Act of 1765, the Townshend Acts of 1767, and the Coercive Acts of 1774:

 

“In 1765, the British government enacted the Stamp Act, which placed a tax on all printed materials in the colonies. This tax was met with resistance from the colonists, who argued that they should not be taxed without representation in Parliament…”

 

“The Stamp Act was eventually repealed, but the British government soon enacted the Townshend Acts of 1767, which placed taxes on a variety of imported goods. These taxes were also met with resistance, and in 1773, the colonists dumped a shipment of tea into Boston Harbor in protest…”

 

“The British government responded to the Boston Tea Party by passing the Coercive Acts of 1774, which placed strict limits on the colony’s self-government. The colonists responded to the Coercive Acts by forming the First Continental Congress and issuing the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, which stated that the colonies were entitled to the same rights as the people of Britain…”

 

In addition to the documents, you’ll also want to include outside information to provide context for the documents. This outside information can help to explain why the documents are important and how they fit into the larger picture. Doing this improves the overall coherence of your essay and makes your examiner see how everything fits together to support your thesis statement.

 

How to conclude a DBQ essay?

 

In the end, your essay should conclude with a conclusion that summarizes the main points and leaves the reader with something to consider.

 

In your conclusion, you should:

 

  1. Restate your thesis statement
  2. Summarize the main points of your essay
  3. Explain the significance of your argument

 

“The American Revolution was caused primarily by the economic and political policies of the British government. The Stamp Act of 1765 taxed all printed materials in the colonies, which colonists saw as an attack on their liberty. The Stamp Act was followed by the Townshend Acts of 1767, which taxed glass, lead, paper, and tea, and these taxes were protested and boycotted by the colonists. The British government responded to protests with the Coercive Acts of 1774, further enraging the colonists. The British government had enacted a series of policies that placed a heavy burden on the American colonists, and these policies were the main cause of the Revolution War in 1775.”

 

Do you need more help?

 

If you need help with answering DBQs, our team at myessaywriter.net can help!

 

Our team of academic experts has years of experience helping students answer DBQs, and we can help you too. We’ll work with you to understand the question and the documents, and we’ll help you develop a clear and concise essay that addresses the question and supports your thesis.

 

If you’re struggling with knowing how to write a DBQ assignment, don’t wait any longer—contact us today!

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Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.
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