DBQ stands for Document-Based Question Really, it should be more of a Document- Supported Question
Directions: “The following question requires you to construct a coherent essay that integrates your interpretation of Documents A-J and your knowledge of the period referred to in the question. High scores will be earned only by essays that both cite key pieces of evidence from the documents and draw on outside knowledge of the period.” The Prompt Will include task words & a time period The Documents Can be anywhere from 5-12 documents Will be assigned a letter Can be a piece of a manuscript, a map/chart, a newspaper clipping, an eye witness account, etc. – any primary source document is fair game!
Always think of your reader Use blue/black ink only Do not use contractions Write in the 3 rd person First person = I, we, our, us, me, mine, my Second person = you, your Write in the past tense You may mark out mistakes. BUT… Do not try to be cute Use STANDARD ENGLISH! Use correct historical terms i.e. “normalcy” is not a standard English word, but it is a historical term Facts are names, dates, people, events, places, things All fundamental writing principles you have learned regarding standard essays apply to DBQ essays
1. The outline of your paper should be evident in your proof statements in your intro paragraph 2. Refer to terms used in the question throughout your essay. 3. Follow up any general statements with concrete examples. Support all your arguments with evidence (including dates, names, terms) 4. Think quality, not quantity. A structured & compressed essay in which every sentence “speaks” is much more impressive than a long rambling essay 5. Use transitional expressions to clarify relationships among the sentences in your essay. The expressions serve as connecting links in a narration. (examples to follow) 6. Avoid the use of abbreviations (i.e. gov’t) 7. Avoid the use of contractions 8. Avoid the use of “etc.” 9. WRITE WITH CONFIDENCE!! 10. Understand the rubric so that you know what an outstanding essay is suppose to look like.
1. Read the question three times. Do not move on until you fully understand it. 2. Identify the task by circling the main words. 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) Some recommend 7-10 pieces of outside information Use SPICE 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 3 documents 7. Construct a thesis that is well-developed & clear. If the thesis is a mystery to the writer, it will be a mystery to the reader! 8. Write your essay Adapted from Mr. Mercado’s 8-step process
After you read the prompt, briefly list the main events of the historical time period addressed. Use the acronym SPICE to help you categorize: S – Social P – Political I – Interactions (human & environment) C– Cultural E – Economic You may also want to use SPICE to categorize your documents
Find a sequence in the documents Either chronological or point/counterpoint Always be aware of the source of the document Who said it? When? Why? DO NOTE QUOTE DOCUMENTS You should not feel like you have to refer to all of the documents in your essay. However, the more you use the better! If there are 8 documents, you should incorporate AT LEAST 6 of them Avoid laundry-listing the documents Don’t simply “hang them out there on the line” for people to see with no apparent rationale. This often happens towards the end when students feel as though they haven’t used enough documents
To analyze documents, we use the acronym APPARTS: A – Author P – Place & Time P – Prior Knowledge A – Audience R – Reason T – The Main Idea S – Significance
Author Who created the source? What do you know about the author? What is the author’s point of view? Place & Time Where and when was the source produced? How might this affect the meaning of the source? Prior Knowledge Beyond information about the author and the context of its creation, what do you know that would help you further understand this source? ▪ e.g. Do you recognize any symbols and recall what the represent?
Audience For whom was the source created and how might this affect the reliability of the source? Reason Why was this source produced & how might this affect its reliability? The Main Idea What point is the source trying to convey? Significance Why is this source important? Ask yourself, “So What?” in relation to the question asked.
After you have analyzed all of the documents, refer back to the prompt. If the prompt requires you to take one position or another, group the documents on the basis of those positions.
Simple mechanics – note parenthetical referencing Writing the parenthetical references helps you keep track of how many documents you have utilized within your essay DO NOT use the word “document” in the narrative of your essay. “Document A says…” Paraphrasing During a campaign speed in 1860, Lincoln contended that the Democrats are using John Brown against the Republicans for political gain (Doc E). Short Quoting Editorial writer Horace Greely reflected some in the North when he described Brown’s actions as “utterly mistaken and, in its direct consequences, pernicious” (Doc A). Simple Reference The image of Brown in the popular culture of the North is evidenced by the Currier and Ives print (Doc H). Here Brown is depicted as a martyr on his way to his death, perhaps connecting Brown to Christ in the minds of the people.
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 the documents – that’s not your task! Use documents to reinforce your main points & outside information Don’t rewrite large portions of documents. Try to limit quotations to 1 sentence Reference authors you are citing “In the letter by Abraham Lincoln…” Cite every document (Doc A) (Doc E) Have a powerful conclusion.