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The Definition of the DBQ Essay

March 7, 2020

The Definition of the DBQ Essay

If you need to write an essay on the AP History Exams (AP World History, AP European History, and AP US History), you should compose a document-based question paper. In other words, you should a current trend or a historical-based problem with the help of given documents as pieces of evidence.

Many students tend to panic when they are given such a task to write. However, you should not fear since in this article you will find all the information you need to compose a great DBQ essay.

What Are the Elements of the DBQ Essay Structure?


Begin your DBQ essay with a short historical context of a certain period you are supposed to write about. Make sure you included the thesis statement which is the main point of your paper. After it, compose a short sentence that mentions the topics you should cover in this essay.

Main body

Make sure the body paragraphs are presented in the logical order. Start each of your body paragraphs with a topic sentence which explains what the paragraph is about. Your paragraphs must sufficiently address the problem. Then you will need to refer to the given documents with the titles. When you refer to them, attach the documents’ analysis.

Get to know the requirements of the various types of DBQ papers. For instance, if you need to write AP United States History, utilize many outside pieces of evidence, however, the vast majority of citations should be from given documents. If it’s AP European History, the overwhelming majority depends on the given documents.

If you need direct quotations, ensure they are relevant to the context. Make sure the body paragraphs contain a relevant citation. They also must be in line with the thesis. Make sure you include the necessary number of pieces of evidence from the given documents. Besides, it will be better for you to show that you understand the event or period of time you are writing about.


This is a very important part of the DBQ essay. Give a short summary and restate the thesis statement here.

DBQ Essay Writing Tips

  • Take some time to get prepared before you start to write the DBQ essay. Adequately prepare the data you want to put on paper. Don’t just jump to writing!
  • Consider these things when you are preparing:
  • Read the task carefully. When you do it, try to understand the question completely, identify the certain keywords (economic, cultural issues, society, and period), identify the pieces of evidence to take from the given document, try to think in a creative and original way.
  • Collect all the data about the given question and forget about the documents. Think about all the things you learned being in the class regarding the topic to help you with writing.
  • Define the stand. Jot down the several ideas that come up to your mind when you read the prompt for the first time. Choose the greatest perspective to be elaborated in your paper.
  • Generate a temporary thesis statement. When you read the prompt, generate a temporary thesis statement, guiding you in terms of how to utilize the documents.
  • Glance over the documents. You will be provided with several historical documents. Take your time to look at those documents. Figure out the main point of each document. Determine the way they are related to the prompt. Define the way they are related to your thesis statement. Make some notes on every document. Keep the chronology, analyzing the change.
  • Put the documents in logical categories. Depending on the way the documents would assist the answering the prompt’s question, categorize them. For instance, you might identify the documents which you need to contrast and compare.
  • State the opinion of the author. Back up your thesis statement with the provided documents. Try to understand clearly the various authors and their opinion. Also, it will be better to define the reason behind their opinion. Reflect this in your paper.
  • Develop groups. Your paper must present an ideal understanding of the different documents that you were given. Cluster these documents. reflect it several times in your paper. Create the groups, making sure they are in line with the thesis. They should present the various sides of the claim.
  • Additional document. Apart from the documents, you were provided with, you should be asked to utilize the additional document. Ensure this document is relevant to the question of your DBQ paper.
  • Improve the thesis statement. Go back to your current thesis. Improve it, making sure it covers explicitly the question. It must be concise and clear.

DBQ Essay Topics:

  1. What are the causes of the American Revolution?
  2. What are the signs of imperialism in the late 19th century?
  3. What were the elements of the Women’s Rights Movement?
  4. The elements of the New Conservatism in America’s history.
  5. Analyze the women’s suffrage movement’s responses in the USA?
  6. What were the reasons for the French Revolution?
  7. What were the outcomes of World War II?
  8. How the abolition of slavery was implemented in the USA?
  9. Why people from Europe decided to move to America in the 17th century?
  10. What are the signs that prove the USA is such a prosperous country today?

DBQ Essay Example

TopicCauses of the American revolution

          One of the most significant events in the history of the USA is the American Revolution. With it, the country became independent from the authority of Great Britain. Due to several reasons, the Declaration of Independence was written.

         Firstly, the idea of Americans to become separated from the governance of Great Britain appeared when they were asked to pay too big taxes. So, the merchants refused to do it, beginning the movement for independence.

         Secondly, the next step for the independence of the USA was done during the Boston Tea Party. The Americans dumped the British ships that were carrying the tea to show they refuse to pay taxes. Therefore, it made a great impact on further steps of America becoming independent. However, the British Parliament found a way to punish Americans for these actions.

          All in all, even though Americans were punished for the things they did, the Boston Tea Party settled the beginning of the end of the British sovereign upon Americans. Hence, the American revolution started at these steps.

The Final Step of Writing the DBQ Essay

As you finish composing your paper, there are several things you have to do before you hand the paper in the hands of your teacher.

First of all, you will need to check your draft for mistakes. For that, you might do it either yourself or ask your friend to do it. For instance, you may utilize online checking services like our editing and proofreading services to make your paper be mistakes-free. Also, you may ask your friend to read the paper and check whether there are any mistakes.

Secondly, you would better edit and proofread your essay. Even if it looks like you did a great job, still, sometimes there may be minor mistakes. We are not perfect, so you are too.


We guess now your list of questions on how to write a DBQ essay became very short as long as you crossed out the points you wanted to be clarified. If it is about you, it means you found the answers to all your questions which is great.

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