DBQ WRITING TIPS
1. Read the question three times. Do not move on until you fully understand it.
2. Identify the task by circling the main words. (For example: assess the validity, compare and contrast, evaluate relative importance, analyze the significance, etc.)
3. Ask yourself “what do I have to prove?” (e.g. Foreign policy is more important than domestic policy).
4. Pay special attention to economic, political, social issues that need to be included.
5. Make a list (outline) of outside information (as if you were writing a standard essay).
6. Examine the documents, underlining any key words or phrases that you may use later in the essay. Reread the question again after reading the first three documents.
7. Construct a thesis that is well-developed and clear. If the thesis is a mystery to the writer, it will be a mystery to the reader!
8. Write your essay.
Some Key Points to Remember:
· Start with outside information first & write it down; then read the documents; then construct a thesis.
· Make your life easier by constructing a thesis that can reasonably include most/ all of the documents (even if you don’t really believe your thesis). It is better to be “practical” than “right.”
· Use as many documents as you can as long as they fit your thesis.
· Don’t explain documents -- that is not your task.! AP readers have a list and a summary for each document. Use documents to reinforce your main points and outside information.
· Don’t rewrite large portions of documents. Try to limit quotations to 1 sentence or less.
· Reference author’s you are citing (e.g. …“In the letter by Abraham Lincoln”)
· Cite every document used, e.g., (Doc. A), (Doc. F)
· All fundamental AP writing principles you have learned regarding standard essays apply to DBQ essays.