AP History DBQ
HOW TO CONQUER THE HISTORY DBQ
The DBQ, like other AP History essays, is graded on a point system. A dash is given if nothing is written, a zero is something is written (even if it's just a poem or letter written to the grader or an essay that has none of the requirements) then additional points for every fulfilled requirement.
IN A NUTSHELL
Here's a breakdown of the points students can earn for the DBQ:
In a Nutshell (from the College Board)
Thesis and Argument Development (2 points)
Document Analysis (2 points)
Using Evidence Beyond the Documents (2 points)
Synthesis (1 point)
Total possible: 7 points.
THESIS (1 point)
1) Make a claim (argument). That is, state something that one could argue against. For example, "The Civil War resulted more from economic concerns than a fight over slavery." One could counter-argue that it was all about slavery.
GROUPING/ARGUMENT (1 point)
2) Support the claim by showing the relationship between the documents. Grouping them into three categories is the easiest way to do this. These three categories will also be the topics of your three body paragraphs. Each category should have at least two documents (you can use documents in more than one category). The groupings can agree or disagree but you have to prove one side more powerfully than another. For example: "While it's true that in some cases this might be true, there are stronger arguments to support that."
Here's a helpful site that provides a good outline for the opening. paragraph.
Start with a historical background sentence (this will be your "Contextualization"- SEE BELOW).
Then a sentence that incorporates the prompt (in order to understand... one must assess ...)
Discuss your three groupings (this is your "Grouping/Argument")
Then state your argument ("Thesis") SEE ABOVE
USES ALL DOCUMENTS (1 point)
3) "Uses at least 6 of the documents" (hint: Use all documents in case one or more are misinterpreted).
AUTHOR'S POINT OF VIEW (1 point)
4) Explains the significance of the author's point of view (why he/she is writing it, who is the audience etc.) in at least 4 of the documents (again, try to analyze more than four just to be sure)
CONTEXTUALIZATION (1 point)
5) Explain the broader historical events beyond what's in the documents.This would be a little background information of the time period and what led to an event (for example, the Civil War). This would be most conveniently placed in the first paragraph. It's like setting the scene in a play. You could say something like "After the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, South Carolina seceded in protest. Six more states soon joined South Carolina setting of a Civil War that lasted for four years."
EVIDENCE BEYOND THE DOCUMENT (1 point)
6) Here you need to insert information beyond what the documents cover. For instance, if you have a document from the Declaration of Sentiments, explain that this was written at the Seneca Falls Convention promoting women's writes, attended by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
SYNTHESIS (1 point)
7) Extend the argument by referring to a different time period, geographical area or situation. In this case, for example, if you had an essay about slavery, you could talk about Britain outlawing slavery, how slavery is mentioned in the Constitution, blacks getting the vote (15th amendment), women getting the vote (19th amendment) etc.