How to Write an Essay/DBQ

A DBQ is a document-based question. It typically provides anywhere from 4 to 10 primary source documents and is primarily found on the European History, World History, and US History Advanced Placement classes.

Analyze the QuestionEdit

1. Rask Words? - Analyze, compare, contrast, criticize, interpret, trace, etc.?

2. What are the key subjects and terms? - People, places and events?

3. What are the boundaries or limits? - Dates and periods

4. What is the source? (Hint: In the source, look for anything that could have possibly influenced the author or documents' point of view)


1. Brainstorm a list of ideas to write about (i.e. P.O.V., frame of reference, credibility, bias, etc.)

2. Group your documents by category, which arouse you most?.

3. Practice writing a thesis sentence on scratch paper making sure to answer all parts of the question.


1. The intro paragraph should include an introduction sentence, possibly including the historical setting, significance and/or history of the subject, and the thesis statement.

2. Each of the body paragraphs (2-3) SHOULD tie back to the categories in the thesis sentence.

3. Each of the body paragraphs (2-3) SHOULD explain the P.O.V. of at least 1 document, and what might have influenced this P.O.V. (i.e. frame of reference).

4. In each of the body paragraphs, explain what additional document P.O.V. would have helped you better answer the question and why.

5. Good essays have conclusions. Good writers will pick up one essay point in their conclusion. (Hint: D.B.Q. conclusions could easily be used to discuss missing documents or “voices”) see #4.