Study Tips 101 :: Writing A DBQ

Once you get to high school, you'll start to write lots of DBQs. DBQs are popular in history, and they are especially popular in an AP history class because the AP exam has a DBQ. I take AP US History, so I have written quite a few DBQs this year. Because I have written so many, I have come up with a system on how to write one correctly and efficiently, and I thought I would share it with all of you!

one // pick a side
Most DBQs give you a question with two sides and ask you to defend one of the sides. Read the question a couple of times to make sure you completely understand it. Pick a side that you think you would be able to write about the best

two // highlight & take notes
Read through all of the documents that are given to you. Highlight anything that seems important and anything that you would be able to use in your essay. Taking notes of what you highlight helps as well so you know what to write in your essay when you're looking back on the documents.


three // use background information
Ironically enough, you aren't supposed to rely a lot on the documents in your DBQ. Your DBQ is mostly supposed to contain the information you know about the topic while using some of the documents to back your point and the information you already know. So, think about everything you know about the topic that would help your argument and write it down. The textbook that I have for my class is really good, so I always go through the chapter that we're on (we have to do a DBQ for each chapter we cover) and write down important information. It really helps because when I'm actually writing the essay, I can easily look back at my notes and know what to write.


four // write the essay
Now it's time to write the essay! Refer to your highlights and notes from the documents to use in your body paragraphs. Look back on the notes you took from your textbook or other sources. Use all of those in your DBQ, but remember to not rely on the documents too much.

If you do all of these, you should be golden! The one bad thing about doing a DBQ at home is they take a super long time for me to write. I like to be very thorough with them, so it can take a while!

Do you do a similar process when writing a DBQ?

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