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Advanced Placement

AP Document-based Questions

Written by Apoorvaa Agarwal

Updated on: 27 May 2024


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What is an AP document-based question?

An AP document-based question (DBQ) is an essay question that requires students to analyze a set of primary sources and use them to support a thesis statement.

DBQs are typically worth a significant portion of the overall score on an AP exam, and they are designed to assess students’ critical thinking, historical analysis, and writing skills.

What types of documents are included in an AP DBQ?

The types of documents that are included in an AP DBQ can vary depending on the subject and the specific topic of the question. However, some common types of documents that are used in DBQs include:

  • Letters
  • Diaries
  • Speeches
  • Government documents
  • Newspaper articles
  • Political cartoons
  • Maps
  • Photographs

How to write a successful AP DBQ?

Carefully read the prompt and identify the thesis statement that they are being asked to support.

Analyze the documents and identify the key information that supports their thesis statement.

Organize their thoughts and develop a strong argument.

Write a clear and concise essay that supports their thesis statement with evidence from the documents.

Here are some examples of AP DBQ prompts:

  • US History: Analyze the documents and explain how the American Revolution transformed American society.
  • World History: Analyze the documents and compare and contrast the causes of the French Revolution and the American Revolution.
  • European History: Analyze the documents and explain how the Renaissance changed the way Europeans viewed the world and themselves.
  • Human Geography: Analyze the documents and explain how globalization is impacting the global economy.

In Summary

DBQs are an important part of the AP exam. They allow students to demonstrate their understanding of the course material in a more nuanced way than multiple-choice questions, and they also require students to use their critical thinking and analytical writing skills.

Written by by

Apoorvaa Agarwal

Reviewed by by

Priyanshi Agrawal

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