To write a DBQ essay, you need to read the question, then draw on your prior knowledge and the provided source material to develop a thesis statement. Write an essay that defends your thesis statement.
- Read the question
Read the question carefully at least three times to make sure you have identified all the tasks in the prompt. Restate the tasks in your own words, and underline any key words that may be helpful later.
- Draw on your prior knowledge
Make a list of main events that happened in the time period referenced in the prompt. The College Board recommends using the acronym PERSIA, which stands for political, economic, religious, social, intellectual and artistic, to help you develop a list of major historical events.
- Read the provided documents
Read the source materials. For each document, take notes on the author's reliability, bias and point of view. Observe differences or similarities in authors' perspectives and reflect on each author's frame of reference with respect to the topic. Highlight or underline important quotes, events or charts that you may want to reference in your essay.
- Organize your information
Gather all the information into a single thesis statement. Decide what your stance is on the topic, and outline how the provided documents support or refute your position. Don't forget to reference your prior knowledge of major events in the time period that pertain to the topic. Identify any additional documents that may provide additional context.
- Write the essay
Put your thesis statement in the introduction of your essay, then go on to the body paragraphs. In the body paragraphs, include references to all the provided documents. Discuss each document in reference to the tasks outlined in the prompt, and demonstrate that you understand how context affects each author's perspective. Use the conclusion to summarize your analysis and paraphrase your thesis statement. Leave the reader with a lasting impression by ending with a striking quote, a reference to the historical significance of the topic or a prediction for the future.