Document Based Essay Introduction

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A Document Based Question (DBQ) essay is the bread and butter of most advanced history classrooms; the APUSH exam is no different.

For this exam, you will have to read and synthesize information provided to you in the documents the AP test provides. Follow these three steps and you will be well on your way to writing a DBQ essay that works. There are more than three steps required to write a DBQ essay; however, you should break down your approach to the essay into three sections.

Here is an example from the College Board – makers of the APUSH exam – for a DBQ, including scoring notes and student samples. But if you are serious about doing well on the APUSH exam, you will look over it.

After all, you wouldn’t start playing a game before you know the rules, right?

Those sections are: *#3 could also be titled “As you write” since, after you read, you will be putting together your essay.

The point of breaking down your time into these three sections is to make sure that you are thinking of your approach to the documents (before you read) and your reading of the documents (while you read) as a part of your writing process.

She loves it so much that she not only taught high school history and psychology after receiving her Master's degree at Stanford University, she is now studying how students learn history at Northwestern.

That being said, she does not have a favorite historical time period (so don't bother asking).

The Document Based Question (DBQ) essay is a key feature of the APUSH exam.

And at 25% of your total score, it’s an important feature!

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