How to Write a Good DBQ AP World

Have you just been assigned a DBQ as part of your AP History exam? If so, you may need to understand the process involved in writing a good DBQ paper. In this article are steps that demonstrate how to write a DBQ APUSH or AP World History essay.

What is a DBQ Essay?

So, you may have wondered, “What is a DBQ paper?” DBQ is an abbreviation for Document Based Question. It is an essay question exam that every AP History student is subjected to in the course of their academic journey. You may encounter this exam in various forms, such as; APUSH (for US History), APEH (for European History), or even APWH (for World History).

In such an essay, you will need to analyze a historical-based matter or trend, as evident from several documents that will be supplied.

Since students are to assess the content of multiple documents within a finite period, many of them find it to be overwhelming. However, with the tips I relay in this article, you should be more comfortable writing your APDBQ essay.

Step 1: Understand the Prompt

Before anything else, it is vital to ensure you understand what the question requires of you. You should identify any keywords that help contextualize the information in the documents. 

Without understanding what direction the information provided should go, your paper can hardly score a good grade. The keywords will guide the way you approach the provided sources.

Also, keep an eye out for the following words; analyze, assess, evaluate, compare, contrast, describe, discuss, explain, etc. Your understanding of what is needed will take you a long way in competently tackling the question.

Step 2: Document Analysis

If you want a good grade on your APDBQ exam, you will need to spend some time analyzing the documents. This will help you in developing your thesis.

As you scrutinize the content of the documents, it would be wise to take some summary notes. These notes should provide you an overview of the material you analyze. It is vital to identify the intended audience, the author’s purpose, the historical context, and the author’s perspective.

This information will assist you in developing and supporting your arguments. Try to see how the data from the documents can relate to the prompt.

Step 3:Document Classification

After a thorough examination of the information provided, you should group the documents into at least three categories. These categories should help organize your argument as guided by the essay prompt. Use the sources to demonstrate the various perspectives of your claim.

You should classify information in a way that supports your thesis. You may use the summary notes you took when analyzing the documents to identify the main idea in each text. You could also find the crucial thoughts by summarizing each historical account into one sentence. Then, contextualize the data according to the requirements of the prompt.

Step 4: Find Relevant Outside Sources

As you organize the data into relatable ideas, it will be essential for you to provide additional information. For a good grade, you will need at least one supplementary data source to support your argument.

You should derive this data from a relatable source that is not among the documents provided. It should be contextually relevant to the content of your paper. Also, this additional information should be related to the prompt of your essay.

It would be helpful to identify an extra piece of evidence during the planning phases. Should any information come to mind, note it down for reference when you will be writing your paper.

Step 5: Form a Thesis

A thesis should be a concise statement that envelops your argument. The bulk of your paper should go into supporting what you are proving with the relevant evidence. You should have enough material to defend your claim in response to the prompt logically.

Step 6: Draft Your DBQ Essay Outline

You will not have an unlimited amount of time to write your paper. As such, you will want to be familiar with the format for your DBQ essay.  Its framework is similar to that of other academic essays. You will need; an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.


This is your first paragraph. Begin by introducing the topic or issue of discussion with an exciting hook to capture your reader’s attention. Next, provide the background information relevant to the matter. It is one of the natural ways of starting your essay. Setting the historical context in place as it relates to the prompt is a step towards writing an outstanding paper.

You should include your thesis as part of your introduction. Since your DBQ essay test will be timed, keep this portion short and enticing. Also, should any key terms require clarification, define them in this section.

Body Paragraphs

This section will form the majority of your essay. Your paper’s body should comprise of at least three passages. Each passage should discuss one of the main points supporting your thesis in connection with the essay prompt.

Begin each portion with a topic sentence. This is a statement of what the passage will be discussing as it relates to your thesis. It will help your reader to be aware when you are transitioning from one idea to the next.

After the topic sentence, quote the evidence you need to support your claim. This quote should be derived from the documents provided. Perform a thorough analysis of the quoted passage while relating it to the prompt as well as your thesis. Add at least one more evidence from an outside source in support of your argument.

As you answer the question in response to the prompt, identify the relevant elements. They may be; the intended audience, the author’s purpose, and claim and the historical context of the information. Be sure to cite your source at each point you quote them.

Every one of your paragraphs should follow the above structure.


This section should not merely restate your thesis. It should sum up your argument and remind the reader of how you proved your claim. You could briefly examine how a historical phenomenon relates to another here.

Step 7:Write and Revise Your Paper

With the above steps, you can now write a good DBQ paper. Make sure to maintain cohesiveness as you develop your argument. Also, ensure that you have satisfied all the requirements of the question provided.

Later, read and reread your paper and ensure you have accurately written all factual data such as names, dates, and other facts.

Final Thoughts

The steps involved in putting together a paper worthy of a good grade can be challenging to grasp at first. But, if you practice these steps regularly, you should have no problem producing a good DBQ paper.

If you are still struggling to master these steps, do not fret. Subscribe to our exceptional writing service and receive the write up that will earn you the best grade at a surprisingly affordable price.

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