A DBQ is simply a document based question. Just as we have been analyzing primary source documents in class, so you will be asked to analyze a set of documents on your own. The difference is that you will be asked to answer a particular question, or discuss a particular thesis, using the documents as evidence.

Typically, the DBQ:

1.) contains 5-6 documents, including maps, charts, and cartoons.  These are often arranged   chronologically.  Note the dates.
 2.) focuses on topics we have discussed.
 3.) is specific about the information required, so read the question extremely carefully.


1.)  Use a black pen.
 2.)  Remember that you have time to plan, so don't panic.
 3.)  Read the question and note the time period.  Do not include information unless it fits   chronologically or is directly relevant to other events during the period.
 4.)  List all the information about the time period that you can recall--events, names, terms, etc.
 5.)  Write a thesis sentence on top of a scratch sheet of paper.  Make sure that it directly answers   the DBQ question.
 6.)  Outline your essay quickly  without looking at the documents.
 7.)  Now look at the documents and try to decide how you will fit them into your already planned   essay.
 8.)  Each document does different things, so try to use them all.  Here is the format:  As the map   (document B) indicates . . .Or:  The cartoon (document D) shows that . . .
 9.)  Analyze the documents.  Why are they significant?  What do they show?  Do not quote   extensively from them.  Do not, however, be afraid to mention them briefly.
 10.)  If possible, link brief descriptions to the names you use.  For example:  Alexander Stephens, a   Whig senator from Georgia, noted in the Southern Literary Journal (document C) that . .  11.)  Coverage of the documents is important, but the inclusion of outside information is critical.    Strive for balance, because only a balanced essay will recieve the highest scores
 12.)  A possible approach:  Write an introductory paragraph setting the scene and demonstrating   that you have some outside knowledge.  Then state your thesis clearly and directly,   before moving on to support it with a nice balance of specific information from both the   documents and outside sources.

* Thanks to Mr. Michael Flamm for material included in this handout

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