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Document Based Questions. How to Write a DBQ for APUSH By Maureen Murphy. Where do I start? With the QUESTION. If you do not know what the question is asking, you cannot answer it! Break it down, circling or underlining the important words. What do I have to do ? What do I know?

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document based questions

Document Based Questions

How to Write a DBQ for APUSH

By Maureen Murphy

where do i start with the question
Where do I start? With the QUESTION
  • If you do not know what the question is asking, you cannot answer it!
  • Break it down, circling or underlining the important words.
  • What do I have to do ?
  • What do I know?
  • Read the question at least three times….circle all the important words and dates.
what do i have to do find the key word you need to know what these words mean
What do I have to do?Find the KEY word You need to know what these words mean!
  • Analyze – determine their component parts; examine their nature and relationship
  • Assess/Evaluate – judge the value or character of something; appraise; evaluatethe positive points and the negative ones; give an opinion regarding the value of; discuss the advantages and disadvantages of
  • Compare – examine for the purpose of noting similarities and differences.
  • Contrast – examine in order to show dissimilarities or points of difference.
  • Describe – give an account of; tell about; give a word picture of.
  • Discuss – talk over; write about; consider or examine by argument or from various points of view; debate; present the different sides of the topic.
  • Explain – make clear or plain; make clear the causes or reasons for; make known in detail; tell the historical meaning of.
what it is asking me
What it is asking me?
  • Is it asking about cause and effect?
  • Is it asking about change over time?
  • Is it looking at a SPRITE issue:
    • Does this affect Social, Political, Religious, Intellectual, Technological, or Economic view of an historic time?
    • Most questions will include at least SOCIAL, ECONOMIC, or POLITICAL ideas
    • If it is about a war or industrial change look for TECHNOLOGY If it is talking about a revolution, civil rights issue, or foreign policy look for INTELLECTUAL or RELIGIOUS views
tips who when what why where how
TIPS – Who, When, What, Why, Where, How?
  • If you totally understand the question, this is not a step you need to take.
  • If you want to change the KEY words into ideas you can answer and write the question in your own words, that can help organize your ideas.
  • What is the time frame? What important ideas were popular at this time? Why did it happen at this time? How does it affect another thing in history (cotton gin 1783 – increase in slavery)
  • Who were the major players in this era? Who was president? Who were important people?
  • Was there any SPRITE issues mentioned in the question?
  • It is VITAL to answer the QUESTION THAT IS ASKED in the correct time period.
unpack the bag
Unpack the BAG
  • Brainstorm
  • Arrange
  • Generate Categories
b rainstorm
  • Write down everything you know about the question – that can lead you to discovering categories
    • People- key players, presidents, inventors, thinkers, politicians, writers, reformers
    • Events – in the RIGHT time period
    • Changes: cause & effect, changes over time, new inventions
    • Time period – when did it happen?, background from previous time affecting this one?
    • SPRITE: How can you analyze and assess the question using social, political, religious, intellectual, technological, and/or economic idea?
b a g it a rrange bucket list put into categories
  • Create 3 categories to fill with your ideas
  • How do all these ideas about this time relate to the question?
  • Look them over
  • Is there a time sequence, cause, effect, progression, attitude, reactions change?
  • Think of SPRITE
  • Think of the key words
  • What kind of evidence and argument can you make?
  • Is there a side you can take or statement that you can make?
Take your question, if there are two sides, and make a chart with your 3 categories arranging the information you have
look at the documents you need to use at least 7 documents for a top grade
Look at the documents – you need to use at least 7 documents for a top grade
  • Analyze them according to APPARTS – summarize in one sentence. Need to know Author, Period of time, Prior knowledge, Reason for writing (bias), The main idea, and Significance.
  • Where do the docs fit into your categories?
  • Put their letter in related categories you created for your DBQ
  • The documents may help you recall ideas, names, events, dates, time frame…add any outside information to your categories that are triggered by a document
  • If the documents give you an idea for another category, add it!
  • If there is something that opposes your idea in a category , put the letter of that document there to refute it or show the other side
now look over the question one more time look over your i nformation and write the thesis
Now, Look Over the Question One More Time, Look Over Your Information and Write the THESIS
  • The thesis needs to :
  • Answers the question that is asked
  • Takes a point of view or a stand on the question
  • Gives at least three specific reasons that validate the point of view and shows the reader the organizational structure of the essay. One of these reasons will be included in the topic sentences of each of the body paragraphs of the essay.

Be sure you read the question correctly! The best thesis that answers the wrong question cannot help you.

body paragraphs
Body paragraphs
  • Strong topic sentence – this is really a baby thesis you will prove with evidence and then argue to its validity
  • Strong evidence that what you say is true using at least 3 specific historical reasons why this is true from your prior knowledge. Use SPRITE – social, political and economic are usually in a question somewhere.
  • You need to include the argument you are making in each body paragraph. (If your thesis is slavery caused the Civil War, show how the topic and evidence in the paragraph lead to that conclusion ..”all this points to slavery causing the civil war.”)
  • If possible write a transitional sentences but…
  • Finishing your essay is better. If you can’t come up with one, or are short on time, go on, it is better to finish and show your argument is valid.
how to use documents in your essay
How to use documents in your essay
  • Do not make a laundry list – in Document A Patrick Henry says, “Give me liberty of give me death,” which indicates he was willing to die for his country. In Document B…. The AP readers know what the documents say…, you don’t have to quote or explain the obvious. It would be better to say that. “Although one third of American colonials, as Patrick Henry in his speech (Doc. A)felt strongly that the colonies should revolt, one third were Loyalists, and one third were probably more worried about their daily lives to take a stand.”
  • Use the documents to back up your view, ”Without compromises, the Constitution would never have been written, as the large states were concerned about losing their power, as shown in the journal of James Madison (Doc. E).” Using the (Doc. E) is called a document tag…this is the acceptable way to identify a document in your writing.
  • Use the documents to show the other side’s point of view and explain with historical facts, ideas, events, why this is not true.” Although businessmen like John Jones (Doc F) thought FDR was a curse to business, the created projects of the PWA provided markets for those who produced and sold materials for new schools, community buildings, roads, bridges, dams, and other public projects. Manufacturers of heavy duty trucks and construction equipment as well as the business contractors that used them made money. CWA jobs incomes were spent in grocery stores and department stores. The increase of money in products sold and incomes spent helped business. Business did benefit from a healthier if not perfect economy.”
the dbq a few more suggestions
The DBQ – A Few More suggestions
  • There will be 10 documents, find a way to mention 7.
  • Never use the words “I” or “We” – you are making statements. Even if they are your opinion, you write them as if they are a known truth.
  • Never, “I am going to explain to you why states rights caused the civil war” but “ Although slavery was a large part of why the war was fought, it and other problem are states rights issues. States rights caused the Civil War because of a, b, c, and d.” Actually some people feel that Lincoln being elected caused the Civil War…some feel slavery….I am not stating this to prove a point but to explain one.
  • If you can’t write in cursive, printing is OK. If someone cannot read your essay, how can they grade it?
  • If you are not sure of a specific date, it is better to be vague and mention it in the right time period.
  • The more specific background information, the better. You cannot generalize about evidence, you must produce REAL historical ideas, historical outlooks, and SPRITE information.
  • 50% of your essay is supposed to be based on OUTSIDE KNOWLEDGE
  • Do not turn a document into a topic sentence…it should be used to back up your argument or show the opposite side and then show how it is not true.
keep the basics in mind
Keep the basics in mind
  • And you will do fine!
  • As you evaluate other peoples ideas in their essays in class you can see some outlines come to life
  • As you self evaluate your own essays, you will get better with every DBQ.