AP® US History

How to write a new ap® us history dbq.

  • The Albert Team
  • Last Updated On: March 1, 2022

How to Write a New AP® US History DBQ

Hey! We wrote an updated version of this post here . Check it out for helpful videos and FRQ tips.

The dreaded AP® US History Document Based Question. For years it has struck fear in the hearts of many, turned boys into men and rookie students into old, weathered veterans. Rumor has it that little Jimmy Walker once took the AP® US History exam and when he got to the DBQ section, proceeded to spontaneously combust. Okay, so maybe that is a little dramatic. But the DBQ can be a really intimidating process that stands in the way of success for many students. Lucky for you, with this comprehensive guide, it can be relatively painless, and you will be well on your way to academic success and glory.

To start with, it is a good idea to figure out what exactly you are trying to  accomplish on the DBQ .  The quickest way to a high score is to know what the test scorers are looking for, and then do it! The rubric for grading the AP® US History DBQ can be found  here . Also lucky for you, we broke down the rubric to make it easy to understand. Before you continue through the rest of this how-to guide, be sure to go check out the DBQ rubric guide  here .

All right, so now you know what they are looking for and what you are trying to accomplish. Let’s get started.

The DBQ Layout:

Okay, so here’s how it works. Basically, you will be given an essay prompt, a set of primary source documents (never more than 7), and only 60 minutes to come up with a well written, clear and coherent essay response. The general rule of thumb, recommended by the good people at CollegeBoard, is to dedicate about 15 of those precious minutes to planning and the last 45 to writing. That may seem a little overwhelming, but it is totally doable! Especially with these 6 easy steps!

1. Read the Question.

Then figure out what the question is asking you. I can’t stress this enough, figuring out what the prompt is asking you is critical. No matter how good of a writer you are, or how much history you may know, if you don’t answer the question, you are sunk. A neat tip might be to write out in your own words what the question is asking.

As you are reading the question, be on the lookout for which skills they are trying to test you on. Every DBQ is looking to test your skills of historical argumentation, use of historical evidence,  contextualization , and synthesis. These things are outlined in the rubric and are consistent parts of every good DBQ. In addition to these critical skills, a DBQ will be looking to analyze one of a number of certain skills. These include: causation, change/continuity over time, comparison, interpretation, or periodization. Don’t waste too much time trying to figure this out, and don’t get so caught up in it that you forget to answer the actual question, just be sure to keep it in mind as you plan out your answer.

That probably seems like an insanely long first step, but all of that will really only take a couple of minutes and set you up to breeze through the rest of the process. Once you have thoroughly read and interpreted the question, you are ready for step number 2!

2. Dig into the Sources

While you want to make sure that you read each document, don’t waste your time on too focused of a reading. Underline or highlight things that stand out, and make notes out to the side. One suggestion is to write a quick sentence or two that summarizes the main idea of each document. And again, this is all just part of the 15-minute planning period; so don’t get too caught up on any document. You are just looking for main ideas and details that really stand out. To take this one step further, you can organize the documents into groups based on their main point. (For highest score possibilities, make sure to use either all or all but one of the primary source documents).

3. Make an Outline.

First decide on a thesis, and from there think about how you want to use your primary source documents to support that thesis. Think about what kinds of outside information you might want to bring in to further support your argument, and where it will fit into your essay as a whole. Once more, don’t get stuck mapping out every single thing that you are going to say, but be sure that you include documents where they fit in the response. This will make it much easier to incorporate them into your answer. Hopefully it has only been 15 minutes or less at this point and you are now ready to write!

4. Start Writing!

ap us history dbq rubric

Most of your highly intensive, critical thinking type stuff should already have happened and now it is just all about putting those thoughts into words. If you played your cards right and made good use of the first 15 minutes, this part of the process should be pretty straightforward. Start with a brief introduction that gives a little context to the subject matter and shows that you know some of the details surrounding the subject matter. Introduce your thesis, then a few of your main ideas that support your thesis. This part of your paper is not much different than a regular essay response.

5. Keep Writing!

As you get going on some longer paragraphs and stringing together lots of sophisticated and smart sounding sentences, it can be easy to lose sight of the main points of your paper. I have said it a couple times already, but it is absolutely essential that you answer the question!

A few key things to keep in mind as you write your body:

1. Use specific references from your documents, and always show where you are getting the information. At the same time, don’t just use huge block quotes to take up a bunch of space. Use what you need to answer the question.

2. Make sure you use some outside knowledge to support your argument, along with your documents. Specific examples that aren’t on the documents are super helpful in making your argument stronger, and just showing that you know what you are talking about.

3. Don’t forget to contextualize. Things that happen in history are not isolated events, and the circumstances surrounding things matter. Don’t forget to address that.

6. Wrap it up with a ballin’ conclusion.

Don’t draw it out and don’t introduce new ideas in the conclusion. Make it short and to the point. Summarize what your main thesis and arguments were and leave it at that. Don’t try to be too clever or witty or trite and you actually don’t have to use the term “In conclusion” every time you write a conclusion. (Mind blown, I know).

If you follow these 6 easy steps and  ANSWER THE QUESTION , you will demolish the DBQ section of the  AP® US History  exam. (That’s a good thing). And at the very least, you will make it out better than poor Jimmy Walker.

Looking for AP® US History practice?

Kickstart your AP® US History prep with Albert. Start your AP® exam prep today .

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4 thoughts on “how to write a new ap® us history dbq”.

This says it was updated in May of 2020, bull crap! YOu are telling students they have 15 min to read the documents and 45 to write. Thats wrong! They have a total of 45 min. on the new 2020 online DBQ. So Im telling students to spend no more than 19 min with reading the docs. Come on guys! get this updated

I meant 10 min on reading Docs.

Paul, this was written several years ago as noted by the disclaimer. For the 2020 exam, please review our new guide here: https://www.albert.io/blog/ap-us-history-review/

Thanks for the comment!

Paul, this is an article from a few years ago (note the disclaimer). The updates made to this were just images, not core content. Our 2020 AP® US History guide can be found here: https://www.albert.io/blog/ap-us-history-review/

Comments are closed.

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ap us history dbq rubric

AP U.S. History DBQ rubric

Rubric for the document-based free-response question of the AP U.S. History exam.

Turnitin Teaching and Learning Innovations Team

Rubric aligned to the 2019-2020 scoring guidelines for the Document-based Question of the AP United States History exam.

This rubric is available and ready to use in your Feedback Studio account. However, if you would like to customize its criteria, you can "Duplicate this rubric" in your Feedback Studio account and then edit the rubric as needed. Or, you can download this.rbc file and then import to your account to begin editing the content.

ap us history dbq rubric

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The AP US History DBQ: What You Should Know

The AP US History DBQ: What You Should Know

Many test takers dread the AP US History DBQ, but there’s no need to fear! By knowing what to expect, you can come prepared for success.

AP US History DBQ Format

The AP US History DBQ consists of one essay question. You will have 55 minutes to complete the essay, which will count for 25% of your overall exam score.

You will be presented with an essay question, followed by a series of documents (typically 7) related to the theme of the question. These documents can be:

  • photographs
  • political cartoons
  • other artwork

  You will be expected to use information from the documents as well as your outside knowledge to construct an essay response to the question. Your response should be a persuasive essay and must include a thesis statement backed by evidence.

AP US History DBQ Requirements and Scoring

In writing your essay, you must:

  • Have a strong thesis statement that directly answers the question asked and takes a clear position
  • Develop a cohesive argument in which you support your thesis with multiple pieces of strong, relevant evidence
  • Cite information from all or all but one of the documents (so if there are 7 documents, you have to use at least 6)
  • For each document, include analysis of its author’s point of view, purpose, intended audience, and/or historical context
  • Include outside information not found in the documents
  • Place your argument and evidence within a larger historical context (contextualization)
  • Make connections between the given topic and another time period, theme, or discipline (synthesis)

  The DBQ is worth 25% of the overall APUSH exam score. The essay is graded on a 7-point rubric. You will receive one point for meeting each of the above seven requirements. Learn more about the rubric here .

AP US History DBQ Strategy

You have a total of 55 minutes to complete this essay. It is recommended that you spend 15 minutes planning and 40 minutes writing. Here’s how to spend that time:  

  • Read the question carefully. Make sure you understand what it is asking. Some questions have multiple parts. Be sure to address them all. Think about what you already know about the topic before you get into the documents.
  • Read each document and take brief notes (quick bullet point reminders) about the main ideas and arguments.
  • Decide on your argument and draft your thesis statement. Make sure you take a clear position and that you address all parts of the question.
  • Make an outline. Figure out the main points of your argument and devote one paragraph to each. Include brief notes on which documents and outside information support each point. Make sure you follow a logical plan of organization that helps the reader follow your line of thinking as you convey your argument.
  • Write! Follow your outline to make sure you stay organized. Include an intro and a conclusion.
  • Check it over. Make sure you leave yourself a few minutes at the end to re-read and edit what you’ve written.

For even more tips on acing the AP US History DBQ, check out our DBQ essay guide .

Sarah Bradstreet

Sarah is an educator and writer with a Master’s degree in education from Syracuse University who has helped students succeed on standardized tests since 2008. She loves reading, theater, and chasing around her two kids.

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AP World Document-Based Question (DBQ) Overview

19 min read • november 18, 2021

Melissa Longnecker

Melissa Longnecker

Overview of the Document-Based Question (DBQ)

The one thing you need to know about this question:

Section II of the AP Exam includes the one required Document-Based Question (DBQ.) Unlike the other free-response sections (SAQ and LEQ), there isn’t any choice in what you write about for this essay.

You will be given a prompt and a set of seven documents to help you respond to the prompt. The documents will represent various perspectives relating to the prompt, and they will always include a mixture of primary source text documents and primary or secondary source visuals . Your task is to use these documents, and your knowledge of history, to answer the prompt.

The DBQ is designed to test your knowledge of history, your ability to analyze a variety of sources, and your skill in crafting and supporting a clear and complex argument. It is the single most complicated task on the exam; however, it is very doable with practice and preparation.

Your answer should include the following:

A valid thesis

A discussion of relevant historical context

Use of evidence from the documents (all) and evidence not found in the documents to support your thesis

A discussion of relevant factors that affect the document

Complex understanding of the topic of the prompt.

We will break down each of these aspects in the next section. For now, the gist is that you need to write an essay that answers the prompt, using the documents and your knowledge as evidence. You will also need to discuss some additional factors that impact your use of the documents.

Many of the skills you need to write a successful DBQ essay are the same skills you will use on the LEQ. In fact, some of the rubric points are identical, so you can use a lot of the same strategies on both writing tasks!

The topic of your DBQ will come from the following time periods, depending on your course:

AP World History: Modern - 1200-1900

AP US History - 1754-1980

AP European History - 1600-2001

The writing time on the AP Exam includes both the DBQ and the Long Essay Question (LEQ), but it is suggested that you spend 60 minutes completing the DBQ. You will need to read and analyze the documents and write your essay in that time.

A good breakdown would be: 15 min. (reading & analysis) + 45 min. (writing) = 60 min.

The DBQ is scored on a rubric out of seven points and is weighted at 25% of your overall exam score. We’ll break down the rubric next.

The DBQ is scored on a seven-point rubric, and each point can be earned independently. That means you can miss a point on something and still earn other points with the great parts of your essay.

Let’s break down each rubric component...

The thesis is a brief statement that introduces your argument or claim and can be supported with evidence and analysis. This is where you answer the prompt.

This is the only element in the essay that has a required location. The thesis needs to be in your introduction or conclusion of your essay. It can be more than one sentence, but all of the sentences that make up your thesis must be consecutive in order to count.

The most important part of your thesis is the claim , which is your answer to the prompt. The description the College-Board gives is that it should be “historically defensible,” which really means that your evidence must be plausible. On the DBQ, your thesis needs to be related to information from the documents, as well as connected to the topic of the prompt.

Your thesis should also establish your line of reasoning. Translation: address why or how something happened - think of this as the “because” to the implied “how/why” of the prompt. This sets up the framework for the body of your essay since you can use the reasoning from your thesis to structure your body paragraph topics later.

The claim and reasoning are the required elements of the thesis. And if that’s all you can do, it will earn you the point.

Going above-and-beyond to create a more complex thesis can help you in the long run, so it’s worth your time to try. One way to build in complexity to your thesis is to think about a counter-claim or alternate viewpoint that is relevant to your response. If you are thinking about using one of the course reasoning processes to structure your essay (and you should!) think about using that framework for your thesis too.

In a causation essay, a complex argument addresses causes and effects .

In a comparison essay, a complex argument addresses similarities and differences.

In a continuity and change over time essay, a complex argument addresses change and continuity.

This counterclaim or alternate viewpoint can look like an “although” or “however” phrase in your thesis.

Sample complex thesis: While some cultural traditions and belief systems, such as Confucianism, actively warned against the accumulation of wealth through trade, other societies reliant on trade used their belief systems to rationalize the behavior of merchants despite moral concerns. Still, others used religion as a means to promote trade and the activities of merchants.

👉🏾 Watch Patrick Lasseter break down the thesis and craft this sample here!


Contextualization is a brief statement that lays out the broader historical background relevant to the prompt.

There are a lot of good metaphors out there for contextualization, including the “previously on…” at the beginning of some TV shows, or the famous text crawl at the beginning of the Star Wars movies.

Both of these examples serve the same function: they give important information about what has happened off-screen that the audience needs to know to understand what is about to happen on-screen.

In your essay, contextualization is the same. You give your reader information about what else has happened, or is happening, in history that will help them understand the specific topic and argument you are about to make.

There is no specific requirement for where contextualization must appear in your essay. The easiest place to include it, however, is in your introduction . Use context to get your reader acquainted with the time, place, and theme of your essay, then transition into your thesis.

Good contextualization doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t have to go into a ton of detail, but it does need to do a few very specific things.

Your contextualization needs to refer to events, developments and/or processes outside the time and place of the prompt. It could address something that occurred in an earlier era in the same region as the topic of the prompt, or it could address something happening at the same time as the prompt, but in a different place. Briefly describe this outside information.

Then, connect it to your thesis/argument. The language from the College Board is that contextualization must be “relevant to the prompt,” and in practical terms; this means you have to show the connection. A transition sentence or phrase is useful here (plus, this is why contextualization makes the most sense in the introduction!).

Also, contextualization needs to be multiple consecutive sentences, so it’s all one argument (not sprinkled around in a paragraph). The introduction is the best place for contextualization, but not the only place. 

Basically, choose a connected topic that “sets the stage” for your thesis, and briefly describe it in a couple of sentences. Then, make a clear connection to the argument of your thesis from that outside information.

Sample contextualization: The period 1200-1600 saw the growth of centralized empires such as the Song in China or the Ottoman Empire. These empires promoted trade and growth as state policy, and this economic growth created new economic elites. In response to this change, religious leaders, thinkers, and scholars weighed in to promote, criticize, or simply comment on the moral aspects of trade and economic growth. 

👉🏾 Watch Evan Liddle break down contextualization and write an example here!

Evidence is the historical detail, the specific facts, and examples that prove your argument. In the DBQ, your evidence comes from two places: the documents themselves, and your outside knowledge of history. You should plan to use all seven documents as evidence AND bring in your knowledge on top of that.

Having evidence is important, and one of the rubric points on the DBQ is just about having evidence. Of course, it’s not enough just to know the facts. You also need to use those facts to support your argument/claim/thesis, and the other two possible rubric points for evidence on the DBQ are about using the evidence you have to support what you’re trying to say.

Evidence goes in your body paragraphs. In fact, the bulk of your body paragraphs will be made up of evidence and supporting analysis or commentary that connects that evidence to other evidence and/or to the argument you are making.

Good evidence is specific, accurate, and relevant to the prompt.

Don’t simply summarize the documents. Use a specific idea or argument from the document as your evidence.

Evidence from the documents should come directly from part or all of a document, ideally without quoting.

Paraphrasing allows you to transition directly into your argument without all the work of embedding a quote like you might for an English essay. Take a specific idea from the document, phrase it in your own words, and use it in support of your argument.

You earn a point of using evidence from at least three of the documents. There’s an additional point up for grabs for using evidence from at least six documents and supporting your argument with that evidence, which means you should always link your evidence back to your topic sentence or thesis.

Example: Ibn Khaldun observed that trade benefitted merchants at the expense of their customers, and he feared that participating in trade, though legal under Islamic law, would weaken the moral integrity of merchants.

Evidence from your outside knowledge is much the same, except that you won’t have a document to structure it for you. Describe a specific example of something you know that is relevant to the prompt, and use it to support your argument. Using course-specific vocabulary is a great strategy here to know that you are writing specific evidence.

Example: Muhammad himself was a merchant before becoming the Prophet of Islam, which accounts for the support of merchants and trade by Muslim societies.

👉🏾 Watch Caroline Castellanos break down the sample DBQ and pull out key pieces of evidence here.

Analysis and Reasoning: Sourcing

What is it? For at least three of the documents, you need to analyze the source of the document as well as the content. There are four acceptable categories of sourcing analysis:

Historical situation - this is like a miniature version of contextualization. Ask: when/where was this document created? How does that historical situation influence what the document is or what it says?

Intended audience - every document was created with an audience in mind. A document created for a king will likely be very different from a document created for a lover. Ask: for whom was this document created? How would that person have understood it? What did they know or understand that the creator could leave unsaid? What did they need to be explained?

Point of view - every document was created by someone, and that person has specific knowledge, opinions, and limitations that impact what they create. Ask: who created this document? How well did they understand the topic of the document? What would limit their understanding or reliability on this topic? What characteristics might influence them (race, gender, age, religion, status, etc.)

Purpose - all documents were created for a reason. Figure out the reason and understand why a document says or shows what it does. Ask: why was this document created, and how does that impact what it is?

Any of these characteristics will have an impact on how you use a document to support your argument. Sometimes a characteristic will weaken a document’s reliability. Sometimes a characteristic will strengthen a document’s usefulness. In addition to describing the relevant characteristic of a document, you should also explain how or why it impacts your argument.

Where do I write it? You should connect sourcing directly to your discussion of evidence from a particular document. This will occur throughout your body paragraphs.

How do I know if mine is good? Your sourcing should describe a relevant characteristic of the document and explain why/how that characteristic is relevant to your argument.

Sample sourcing statement: As a Muslim scholar, Ibn Khaldun would have had a deep understanding of religious laws, but perhaps limited knowledge of common trade practices in his day and culture. This could factor into his low view of the morality of merchants, whom he saw as less moral than someone devoting their life to their faith.

The second part of the Analysis and Reasoning scoring category is complexity. This is by far the most challenging part of the DBQ, and the point earned by the fewest students. It isn’t impossible, just difficult. Part of the difficulty comes in that it is the least concrete skill to teach and practice.

If you’re already feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of the DBQ, don’t stress about complexity. Focus on writing the best essay you can that answers the prompt. Plenty of students earn 5’s without the complexity point.

If you are ready to tackle this challenge, keep reading!

The College Board awards this point for essays that “demonstrate a complex understanding” of the topic of the prompt.

Complexity cannot be earned with a single sentence or phrase. It must show up throughout the essay. 

A complex argument starts with a complex thesis. A complex thesis must address the topic of the prompt in more than one way. Including a counter-claim or alternate viewpoint in the thesis is a good way to set up a complex argument because it builds in room within the structure of your essay to address more than one idea (provided your body paragraphs follow the structure of your thesis!)

A complex argument may include corroboration - evidence that supports or confirms the premise of the argument. A clear explanation that connects each piece of evidence to the thesis will help do this. In the DBQ, documents may also corroborate or support one another, so you could also include evidence that shows how documents relate to one another.

A complex argument may also include qualification - evidence that limits or counters an initial claim. This isn’t the same as undoing or undermining your claim. Qualifying a claim shows that it isn’t universal. An example of this might be including continuity in an essay that is primarily about change.

A final way to introduce complexity to your argument is through modification - using evidence to change your claim or argument as it develops. Modification isn’t quite as extreme as qualification, but it shows that the initial claim may be too simple to encompass the reality of history.

Since no single sentence can demonstrate complexity on its own, it’s difficult to show examples of complex arguments. Fully discussing your claim and its line of reasoning, and fairly addressing your counterclaim or alternate view is the strongest structure to aim for a complexity point!

Watch Melissa Longnecker break down documents and describe Analysis and Reasoning here.

Understanding the Process of Writing a DBQ

Before you start writing....

Because the DBQ has so many different components, your prep work before writing is critical. Don’t feel like you have to start writing right away. You are allotted a 15 min. “reading period” as part of your DBQ time - you should use it!

The very first thing you should do with any prompt is to be sure you understand the question . Misunderstanding the time period, topic, or geographic region of a prompt can kill a thoughtful and well-argued essay. When you’re practicing early in the year, go ahead and rewrite the prompt as a question. Later on, you can re-phrase it mentally without all the work.

As you think about the question, start thinking about which reasoning skill might apply best for this prompt: causation, comparison, or continuity and change over time. You don’t necessarily have to choose one of these skills to organize your writing, but it’s a good starting place if you’re feeling stuck.

Original prompt : Evaluate the extent to which cultural traditions or belief systems affected attitudes toward merchants and trade in the period 1200-1600.

Revised : How much did religion and culture impact attitudes about merchants/trade 1200-1600?

Once you know what to write about, take one minute to brainstorm what you already know about this time period and topic. This will help you start thinking about contextualization and outside knowledge as you read the documents.

Now it’s time to read the documents . As you read, pay attention to the source line that introduces the author, date, etc. about each document. It should contain information that will help you with your sourcing analysis. Mark this info with a symbol that is relevant for you, such as H for the historical situation, I for the intended audience, etc. 

If the source line doesn’t give you much, it’s ok to skip sourcing for some of the documents. Try to analyze each one though, since you have to choose at least three to write about sourcing in your essay.

Read the document for content next. Think about what the document is saying or showing. Summarize it briefly in the margin or in your head and note how it connects to the prompt and to other documents in the set.

Example (download modified DBQ prompts here ):

Documents that reject merchants on moral grounds: 2, 3, (4?)

Confucianism = mistrust of merchants: 2, 7

Documents that permit trade, despite dishonesty of merchants: 4, 6 Documents that see wealth a religious blessing: 1, 5

Islam = support of trade as a custom: 4, 6

Rationalizing/compromising morals in areas that rely on trade: 1, 4, 5, 6

Note: you wouldn’t use all of these groupings in one essay. This list shows a sample of different ways the documents might connect to build a thesis and structure an essay. The three bolded notations here correspond to the topics selected for the sample thesis.

After reading all of the documents, take a minute to organize your thinking and plan your thesis. Decide which documents fit best to support the topics of your body paragraphs and choose your three or more documents for sourcing analysis.

Once you have a plan you like, start writing!

How to Write The DBQ

Your introduction should include your contextualization and thesis. Start with a statement that establishes your time and place in history, and follow that with a brief description of the historical situation. Connect that broader context to the theme

and topic of the prompt. Then, make a claim that answers the prompt, with an overview of your reasoning and any counterclaim you plan to address.

Body paragraphs will vary in length, depending on how many documents or other pieces of evidence you include, but should follow a consistent structure. Start with a topic sentence that introduces the specific aspect of the prompt that paragraph will address. There aren’t specific points for topic sentences, but they will help you stay focused.

Follow your topic sentence with a piece of evidence from one of the documents. This should be paraphrased in your own words, and you should explain how that evidence specifically supports your argument. 

After 1-2 sentences of evidence, make an argument about sourcing . This is where you explain the specific characteristic and how it impacts your argument (“because...” or “in order to…” are good phrases here.)

Follow the sourcing with additional pieces of evidence, sourcing, and explanation. Ideally, you would do this with 2-3 documents relating to one topic sentence per paragraph. Somewhere in your body paragraph, you should also introduce a piece of outside evidence and connect it back to your topic sentence as well.

Each body paragraph will follow this general format, and there are no set number of paragraphs for the DBQ (minimum or maximum.) Write as many paragraphs as you need to both use all seven documents and fully answer the prompt by developing the argument (and counter-argument if applicable) from your thesis.

If you have time, you may choose to write a conclusion . It isn’t necessary, so you can drop it if you’re rushed. BUT, the conclusion is the only place where you can earn the thesis point outside the introduction, so it’s not a bad idea. You could re-state your thesis with different words, or give any final thoughts in terms of analysis about your topic. You might solidify your complexity point in the conclusion if written well.

When you finish, it’s time to write the Long Essay Question (if you haven’t already), so turn the page in your prompt booklet and keep going!


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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, how to ace the ap world history dbq: rubric, examples, and tips.

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Advanced Placement (AP)


AP World History is a challenging class, and in order to get credit for it you’ll have to take an equally challenging exam. And one of the toughest parts of the test is the AP World History document-based question, or AP World DBQ. This question asks you to read and analyze documents on the fly, then write an argumentative essay…all in one hour. 

It can be hard to know what–and how–to study for the AP World History DBQ, especially when you don’t know which documents you’ll receive on test day. But don’t worry: we’ll break down everything you need to know about the AP World History DBQ so you can ace it on test day. (We’ll even give you AP World History DBQ example questions and an AP World History DBQ rubric example!) 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • An explanation of what the AP World History DBQ is 
  • A look at how the DBQ works on the AP World History exam
  • A step-by-step process for tackling the AP World History DBQ
  • A guide to studying for and answering the AP World History DBQ

Let’s get going!


What Is an AP World History DBQ? 

The document-based question (DBQ) is a question on the AP World History exam in which you are given a selection of seven documents and are asked to write an essay that incorporates information from at least six of them in a coherent argument based on a given prompt.

In other words: you’ll be writing an essay on a topic and incorporating resources that you’re given on the day of the exam! 

The DBQ tests over a wide range of skills , like writing, organizing thoughts, making arguments, making connections between different perspectives, and having a knowledge of world history. Yeah, the DBQs are definitely tough! That’s why it’s important to understand what the DBQ APWH is and how to best tackle it. 

How DBQs Work on the AP World History Exam

The DBQ format AP World History uses consists of a single open-ended prompt , and will focus on the time period of 1450-2001 .

Of the two free response questions, one is a long essay (worth 15%) and one is a DBQ. This means that the sole DBQ is, by itself, worth 25% of your total grade, making it the single most heavily-weighted question on the AP World History exam.  

Here are some actual AP World History DBQ examples from previous years’ AP World History exams:

  • “Evaluate the extent to which economic factors led to the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920).” ( 2021 )
  • “Evaluate the extent to which the Portuguese transformed maritime trade in the Indian Ocean in the sixteenth century.” ( 2019 )
  • “Evaluate the extent to which railroads affected the process of empire-building in Afro-Eurasia between 1860 and 1918.” ( 2018 )

Of course, one of the things that makes AP DBQ questions unique is that you’ll be given seven documents to analyze as part of your essay response. Not only will you have to read and analyze these documents on exam day, you’ll have to include them as evidence in your essay to prove your argument! 

The seven documents you’ll receive will be a mixture of: 

  • Primary texts : texts that were actually written in the time period you’re being asked about 
  • Secondary texts : texts written by later historians that explain or interpret the time period 
  • Images: usually either political cartoons or artwork from the time period 

How many of each type of document you get varies by year, so you’ll need to be comfortable using all three types to support an essay-based argument. 

To answer the AP World History DBQ, you’ll have to read through all seven documents and write an argumentative essay that answers the prompt. So not only will you have to come up with an arguable point, you’ll have to prove that thesis using evidence contained in at least three of the seven documents. If you want to earn full credit for your DBQ, you’ll actually have to use six of the seven documents to support your position! 


Just like in a sport, understanding how to score points on your DBQ is key to doing well on your exam. 

Understand the AP World DBQ Rubric

First, y ou need to understand what the expectations are and how your answer will be graded. Doing this will help you figure out what you need to study and which skills you need to brush up on. It’ll also ensure that you know exactly what a great DBQ response requires so that you earn as many points as possible! 

The good news is that the College Board has provided the AP World History DBQ rubric 2021 as part of their 2021 AP World History: Modern Sample Student Responses and Scoring Commentary document. The AP World History DBQ rubric contains all the information you need to know about how your response will be scored. 

Here’s how the rubric breaks down:

Thesis (1 Point) 

First you’ll need to create a thesis that “responds to the prompt with a historically defensible thesis/claim that establishes a line of reasoning.” In order to get this point you’ll need to make an arguable claim based on the documents that answers the question of the prompt.  

Contextualization (1 Point) 

In order to get a point for contextualization you’ll need to “accurately describe a context relevant” to the time period covered by the prompt. What this means is that you’ll have to describe the political, social, or economic events and trends that contributed to the topic you’re writing about. 

Some of this you’ll know from the provided documents, but some of it you will also be expected to know based on what you’ve studied in AP World History class. You’ll also need to relate your knowledge to “broader historical events, developments, or processes that occur before, during, or continue after the time frame of the question.” In other words, you’ll have to show how the events of this time period are relevant now or how they are similar to some other historical situation.

Evidence (3 Points) 

This category assigns points based on how well you use the documents provided to you on the test. 

For this category, you get one of the potential three points solely for if you incorporate specific evidence that does not come from the provided documents in a way that is relevant to your thesis. 

However, in order to earn the other two points, you must support your argument by using even more evidence from the documents provided . If you use three to five documents, you’ll earn an additional point. If you integrate six or more documents in your response, you can earn up to two points…and full credit for this category!  

Just remember: You can’t just randomly throw information from the documents into your essay, though, you have to use it in a way that supports your argument and accurately represents what the documents are saying . 

Analysis and Reasoning (2 Points) 

For the analysis and reasoning section, you get one point for explaining “how or why the document’s point of view, purpose, historical situation, and/or audience is relevant to an argument,” and you get one point for “complexity,” showing that you understand the time period that the prompt covers and use evidence to prove your understanding and back up your argument . 

Here’s what that means: you’ll have to prove how the documents are relevant to your argument, and your argument has to show that you understand the period you’re writing about. Additionally, you’ll need to write an essay that proves your argument in a way that shows you understand that there are a variety of possible perspectives about that time period or issue, and that not everyone in that period had the same experiences. 


If all that sounds like a lot...that's because it is! But don't worry. We'll walk you through the steps you can take to get prepared for your DBQ.

5 Steps for Tackling an AP World History DBQ

The AP World History DBQ is a complicated question that tests you over several different skills, so there isn’t a simple technique to ace it. However, if you master each of the individual skills it takes to do well on the DBQ examples, you’ll set yourself up to write a successful DBQ! response! 

Here are five steps you can follow to prepare for–and tackle!--the AP World History DBQ. 

Step 1: Use Past AP World DBQ Prompts to Practice

Taking practice exams is a great way to prepare for any standardized test–including the AP World exam. Not only do you get a chance to test your knowledge, practice tests also give you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the test format…which is really important when it comes to AP World DBQs.

There’s good news when it comes to AP World DBQ prompts, though. College Board’s website has the actual AP World DBQ prompts from 2002-2020 available to download. This means you can take almost 20 practice AP World History exams, as well as access AP World History DBQ example responses and AP World History DBQ rubrics, for free!  

It’s good to take one practice test before you start studying intensely for it because that will let you know where your skills are now (and it’ll let you track your progress). However, the nature of a free response means that it won’t be easy for you to grade by yourself. When it comes to assessing your response, use the AP World History DBQ rubric and honestly assess whether or not you incorporated the information thoroughly and accurately. If that doesn’t work for you, you can always ask a family member, tutor, or teacher to give you feedback on your response as well! 

Don’t be afraid to use multiple AP World DBQ prompts as part of your test prep strategy. The more DBQs you do, the better prepared you’ll be on test day! 

Step 2: Practice Creating a Thesis

A thesis statement is a sentence or two, located in your essay’s introduction, that explains what your essay will be about. In this case, your thesis will outline the argument you make in your AP World DBQ. 

The most important aspect of your thesis is that it has to make a claim that is both arguable and relevant to the prompt you’re given. However, you don’t want to just restate the prompt in your thesis! 

Here’s what we mean. Say you’re given the following prompt:

“Evaluate the extent to which economic factors led to the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920).” 

You don’t want your thesis to be “Economic factors led to the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution,” since that just restates the prompt without adding in your own argument. To write a great DBQ, you want to make a specific claim about how and why economic factors led to the Mexican Revolution, and you want to be able to use the AP World History DBQ documents provided to prove it!

Here are two AP World History DBQ examples that College Board considers acceptable theses for this prompt:

  • “Mexico’s inability to resist the political dominance of the United States and European powers was the most significant factor in leading to the revolution because foreign dominance prevented the Mexican government from enacting economic reforms.”
  • “Ethnic tensions were just as important in leading to the Mexican Revolution as economic factors because much of the economic exploitation that was occurring in Mexico affected poor indigenous communities.”

See how these two examples both make specific claims? The first argues that foreign influences prevented the Mexican government from enacting economic reforms. This is a claim that the author can prove by showing how foreign governments interfered with the Mexican government, and how that action led to reforms being stalled. 

The second AP World History DBQ example thesis addresses something more complex: how ethnic tensions led to economic exploitation. The author can then use the provided documents as evidence that poor indigenous communities were exploited, and can argue that those actions led to the Mexican Revolution.


Outlines take a little time, but they'll keep your DBQ from derailing. (Staying on topic is key!)

Step 3: Practice Creating an Outline

Remember the AP World History DBQ is timed, and you’ll only have one hour to complete it! To keep your writing organized and on track, it’s a good idea for you to create a quick outline before you jump into writing your essay. 

Having said that, you’ll need to be careful not to spend too much time on your outline so you have enough time to write your DBQ. That’s why we recommend spending 15 minutes reading documents, 5 minutes outlining your essay, and 40 minutes writing your response. 

The most important things that your outline will need are an introduction and conclusion ! Your introduction sets up your thesis while your conclusion restates your thesis and explains how it’s relevant to the reader in some way–perhaps by showing that a similar claim could be made about another time period, or that the effects of the thesis are still being felt today. 

Apart from your intro and conclusion, you’ll need body paragraphs. Since you only have about 45 minutes to write this essay, you don’t want too many of them. Three or four body paragraphs will be enough to make your argument. The most important thing about your body paragraphs is that each of them supports your argument and incorporates information from the documents!

To help you out, here is an example of a usable outline for the AP World History DBQ:

  • Set up your argument and include your thesis.
  • You can break down your thesis into several steps, which will then become the topics of each body paragraph
  • Tell the reader what they need to know about the historical situation. 
  • Include any information you might already know from outside the provided documents.
  • Make the first point you mentioned in your introduction.
  • Use information from the documents to illustrate and prove your point.
  • Include two or three documents that support your point 
  • Just like the previous paragraph, use two or three different documents to prove the second point of your thesis
  • If you make a third point in your thesis, explain it here using one or two different documents as evidence 
  • Restate your thesis and summarize the main points you’ve made.
  • Show how it’s relevant to the reader.

Your outline doesn’t need to be anything fancy–it just needs to give you an idea of how to structure your DBQ. Trust us: outlining might seem like a waste of time, but having a guide will make writing go much faster. 

Step 4: Practice Incorporating Quotes and References

As you write your essay, you’ll need to use examples from the documents provided–and each time you do, you’ll need to indicate which documents you pulled the information from . You’ll do this whether you are quoting your source or just paraphrasing it. 

Here are two attribution examples that College Board considers acceptable for the AP World History DBQ:

  • (Document 1): “The finance minister tells strikers that unemployment is the result of supply and demand and is out of the government’s hands, a position which probably increased people’s discontent with the government because they were unwilling to help.”
  • (Document 2): “The newspaper cartoon shows that the government was willing to use violence to put down popular protests against a rigged election system. Such oppressive government policies may have contributed to increased support for the eventual revolution.”

Note that both of these connect the contents of the document to the argument the author is trying to make. They don’t just paraphrase or quote the contents of the document for the sake of using them– you should use documents to support your argument!

Keep in mind that the College Board is pretty specific about how they want you to use AP World history DBQ documents. In the 2021 AP World History Scoring Guidelines rubric, College Board makes the point that you should “ describe and explain ” the contents of the document: By “describe'' they mean you should point out to your reader what about the document is relevant and illustrate it as if the reader did not have the document in front of them. 

From there, you’ll need to explain the document. That means you should use the document to show the reader why changes or situations in history have happened or why there is a relationship between two factors you’re writing about. 

Step 5: Understand Time Management

One of the most important skills you can acquire by taking multiple attempts at the AP World DBQ practice test will be time management. 

When you’re in the actual test environment, you won’t be able to use your phone to set a timer or alarm, so it’ll be difficult to keep track of how much time you’re spending on reading and re-reading the documents, brainstorming, and outlining. You want to leave yourself the majority of the time allowed (which will be one hour) for writing. 

College Board’s AP World History DBQ rubric recommends that you spend 15 minutes reading the documents and 45 minutes writing the essay . When you write your practice DBQs, be sure to use this format so you can get a feel for how much time you do (or don’t!) have for the question. Practicing with a timer is a great way to make sure you’re using your time wisely on test day! 


4 Tips for Studying for and Answering the AP World History DBQs

Now that you’ve read our step-by-step process for tackling the AP World History DBQ and have seen several AP World History DBQ examples, here are some expert tips on doing well on the AP World History DBQ . We’ve developed these tips based on the AP World History rubric to make sure you earn as many points as possible! 

Tip 1: Know Your Rubric

Go through the AP World History DBQ rubric 2021 and notice that it tells you exactly how to earn points in each category . Most categories are worth multiple points, so you need to know how to earn all the points possible. 

For example, the rubric is clear about how to earn points for your thesis statement. You’ll have to make sure that you have a thesis that states outright what argument you are trying to make if you want to earn credit for that category of the rubric! 

The scoring for the DBQ is pretty objective, and knowing exactly what the scorers are looking for will help you earn the most points possible.

Tip 2: Your Essay Can Contain Errors

In an AP World History DBQ, you’ll be able to make tiny errors and still be able to earn full credit for your response. 

Before you get too excited, there are big (and we mean big!) limits to this rule. For instance, you can’t misrepresent a document by saying an author makes one claim when they clearly aren’t. You also can’t write something that is obviously wrong, like that America continues under British rule because the revolution was unsuccessful! 

But you can make minor errors that don’t detract from your argument as long as you are demonstrating a knowledge of the time period and the ability to incorporate evidence to make an argument. So for example, you can make the mistake of saying that President Nixon’s impeachment hearings began in July 1974 (instead of May, when they actually began), and still earn full credit as long as you aren’t making an argument that depends on the accuracy of those dates.  

Tip 3: Write for Clarity 

One thing to keep in mind is that you’re graded on the quality of your argument and how well you prove it– you don’t get graded on how beautifully or fluently you write ! 

So, while you’ll want to use correct grammar and write as clearly as you can, don’t spend too much time making your writing beautiful. Instead, focus on clearly explaining your ideas! 

To this end, you won’t have points taken away for grammatical errors unless they make it difficult for the graders to see how you’ve used the evidence to make an argument. So while you want your writing to be as error-free as possible, it’s more important that you’re making your argument as clearly–and as persuasively–as possible. 

Tip 4: Write for Relevance

As you’re outlining and writing your AP World DBQ, ask yourself, why is this relevant to today’s readers? To earn a perfect score, you’ll have to tie your argument to another time period or historical situation. 

This is your chance to show that while the period you’re writing about may have been long in the past, the events are still relevant to us today ! This is why we read, write, and study history in the first place. So as you outline and write your DBQ, make sure you’re doing your best to show your reader why this historical moment or event is still important.


What’s Next? 

No matter what AP course you’re taking, you’ll want to have a study plan in place when it comes to exam time. This blog article can help you put together a prep strategy that works.

Not sure what a “good” AP test score is for AP World History? This list of the average AP test scores for every exam will help you understand how your scores stack up. 

Perfect test scores are great, but do you really need a perfect AP World History score? Our experts will explain the pros and cons of getting perfect 5s on your AP exams. 

Looking for help studying for your AP exam?

Our one-on-one online AP tutoring services can help you prepare for your AP exams. Get matched with a top tutor who got a high score on the exam you're studying for!

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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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AP US History (APUSH) Score Calculator – 2024

November 14, 2023

APUSH score calculator, AP US History

Thinking about how you’ll score on the APUSH exam? There are many AP US History score calculators that can be confusing to navigate. Through our own APUSH Score Calculator, you’ll be able to calculate ahead of time just how well you’ll do. You may already know how challenging APUSH can be as a subject. So this fun fact probably isn’t a surprise: APUSH is listed not as one of the easiest AP classes but as one of the hardest AP classes .

With our APUSH Score Calculator and the right preparation, you’ll be sure to set yourself up for success. Often students will want to know how they will score on the APUSH exam before they’ve even done it. We can’t recommend it enough to practice as much as you can. Our APUSH Score Calculator is an excellent motivational tool for you to improve your study habits before the exam. By using the APUSH Score Calculator, see which APUSH areas you can spend more time studying. It’s an efficient way to get ready for a 3, 4 or 5 on the APUSH exam, which are all good scores.

AP US History (APUSH) Score Calculator

Enter scores, total composite score:, predicted ap ® score:.

If you haven’t begun doing so, familiarize yourself with the layout of the APUSH exam. This will only help you by the time the exam date rolls around. Early preparation is the key here. Knowing what type of questions and writing sections ahead of time will only help you in the long run. The AP US History score calculator can help you with just that.

But what does it exactly entail? What can you expect? The APUSH exam lasts for 3 hours and 15 minutes, and is divided into two sections. The first section lasts for 95 minutes and consists of 55 multiple-choice questions and 3 short answer questions. The second section lasts for 100 minutes and includes 1 document-based question (DBQ) and 1 long essay question. It’s absolutely important to be informed about these specific questions and know what to expect.

When reviewing the APUSH exam, you will see that the longest part of the APUSH exam is the APUSH DBQ. The APUSH DBQ lasts for 60 minutes, including a 15-minute reading section, and it makes up 25% of the exam. So it’s no wonder that many students can get intimidated by the APUSH DBQ. However, it often comes down to really understanding what types of questions and materials you’ll be reviewing on the big day.

When you’re about to answer the APUSH DBQ during the APUSH exam, you’ll come across seven documents that describe different views of a historical event or development. These documents will come in visual, numerical or written form. They are there for you to use as evidence to your written argument. You’ll be asked to demonstrate the depth of your knowledge of the prompt’s subject and the time period in question. The time periods can range from any historical event or development from 1491 until present day. Be sure to write a well-supported, thoroughly analytical and argumentative response in your written response. Having a strong grasp of historical developments and the surrounding relevant events will only help elevate your APUSH DBQ. You might see that this is one area you need to improve on, which an AP US History score calculator can show you.

APUSH Score Calculator/AP US History Score Calculator 

Some examples of the APUSH DBQ are:

  • – Evaluate the extent to which commercial development changed United States society from 1800 to 1855.
  • – Evaluate the extent to which the definitions of United States citizenship changed from 1865 to 1920.
  • – Evaluate the extent of change in United States political parties in the period 1791 to 1833.
  • – Evaluate the extent to which economic growth led to changes in United States society in the period from 1940 to 1970.

See those words “evaluate the extent”? The more strongly you can support your answer, the better. Oftentimes this is the section that students can struggle with the most. Once you use our APUSH Score Calculator, take a look at any rooms for improvement here.


According to the APUSH DBQ rubric , the highest score you can get is 7 points. The following is how the APUSH DBQ rubric is determined:

Thesis/Claim – 1 point

The thesis/claim is usually one or two sentences, either in the introduction or conclusion. You must answer the prompt with a thesis/claim that is historically supported and relays your perspective on the topic. It is important here to make sure to answer the prompt fully, rather than reiterating and rewording the prompt. The exam reviewers will want to see a clear, thoroughly supported answer.

Contextualization – 1 point

With contextualization, you want to be able to write about the larger historical context that relates to the prompt. Think about what other historical factors are at play here. Focus on how the wider historical events taking place at the time of the prompt affected the subject you are addressing. But make sure not to focus too much on any events that don’t directly support your stance and have you veer off track.

Evidence – 3 points

How you analyze and use the evidence depends on how far you can go with them. You can score 1 or 2 points through the way you use the evidence from the documents. This corresponds to whether you used at least three or four documents to answer the prompt. To earn 1 point here, you’ll need to specifically describe the evidence you are using, instead of just quoting it or restating what the reviewer can see. Then to earn 2 points, you’ll need to do the same, but also carefully explain the evidence in four documents. The more you can provide a fuller picture using the evidence at hand, the better chance you have of attaining a higher score.

To then score 1 more point, be sure to provide evidence that goes beyond the documents. This means if you use at least one form of evidence, not already in any of the documents provided, to support your argument. Be as detailed as you can when mentioning this piece of evidence because you’re referring to something the reviewers won’t be able to refer to in the documents. The 1 point here will only be granted if the evidence differs from what you provided in the contextualization part, mentioned above. Just remember, don’t repeat any points you’ve already made. Think, what else could I mention that I haven’t done yet?

Analysis and Reasoning – 2 points

This part of the APUSH DBQ rubric is divided into 2 points because the first point will be given if you write about two documents. For each document you choose, you’ll then need to write out exactly how or why it answers the prompt in question. Consider if there is a specific point of view, historical outlook, or intended audience for the documents.

You can get the other point if you show a thorough, complex understanding of the historical development relevant to the prompt. The APUSH DBQ reviewers will be looking for an intelligent, sophisticated answer that shows how well you understand the question. Think of ways to explain multiple points of view, various similarities, or differences that can strongly support your argument. You can also analyze four or all seven documents in your response to the prompt. The ultimate key here is to write with well-informed nuance and acute awareness to help demonstrate your level of understanding.

Keep in mind: It’s important to not just write one or two sentences here, but to create a strongly supported, reasonable argument.

What is the average APUSH score?

Many students think about how many APs they should take and what the average scores for AP exams are, in order to gauge how well they’ll do. Though the average often changes every year, there is most times an even distribution for each subject. Often, as a result, you’ll end up noticing a trend in how students perform when looking at a timespan of several years. Referring to the APUSH score distributions, the average APUSH score was 2.83 in 2020, 2.71 in 2019, 2.66 in 2018, 2.65 in 2017, 2.70 in 2016, 2.64 in 2015. From the data gathered over those six years, the average APUSH score is around 2.70.

How can knowing this help you in your APUSH exam? Instead of viewing this data as a daunting block, it’s another reminder to help inform how exactly you’ll need to approach your exam preparation. By using our APUSH score calculator, you can continue practicing to ensure that you’re on top of it before the big exam day. The more you use our APUSH Score Calculator, you’ll have a stronger grasp on how you’ll fare on the APUSH exam, compared to the average APUSH score.

And in case you’re wondering when to expect the APUSH exam results, this year’s AP scores came out on July 5, 2023. AP scores are usually published in July, but as the exact date can sometimes change, it’s best to always keep yourself updated.

Overall, here are some statistics on how students did for the APUSH score in 2023:

  • 11% of students received a 5
  • 15% of students received a 4
  • 22% of students received a 3
  • 23% of students received a 2
  • 29% of students received a 1

Knowing all this, it’ll be helpful to be aware of how to realistically prepare for the APUSH exam and interpret the average APUSH score.

How to get a 5 on APUSH

It’s a question that many students ask themselves. How can I get a 5 on APUSH? What can I do to increase my chances of getting a 5? As most of us would love to get that score, the data above shows that it’s evidently harder to achieve. There’s sadly no clear-cut answer as to how you can score a 5, but through constant practice and well-informed preparation, like using our APUSH Score Calculator, it’s still very possible.

It will be incredibly rewarding for you to get a head start. Start practicing how to reason well, form a strong, sophisticated argument with relevant historical evidence, and gather information with differing points of view to support your written answer.

One thing to understand is that achieving a 3, 4, or 5 are all good scores. There are a plethora of colleges and universities that will offer you college credit if you get a 3, 4 or 5, which you can find more about through the AP credit policy .

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Joanna Hong

With a BA from Pitzer College and an MA from University College London, Joanna has worked in London, Berlin, and Los Angeles covering many cultural and political issues with organizations such as Byline Media, NK News, and Free Turkey Media. A freelancer for The New York Times, her work has also appeared in Newsweek, Dazed and Confused Magazine, and The Guardian, among others. In addition, Joanna was the recipient of the 2021 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellowship in Fiction and is currently completing her first novel.

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The premier podcast for all students taking (or thinking about taking) AP History classes in high school. From skills to content to tips and pointers, Wendy will not only help you get through AP US History, AP World History, and AP European History, but she'll coach you to success on the AP exam. AP® is a trademark registered by the College Board, which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse this podcast.

AP History Help Wendy Wawrzyniak

  • FEB 12, 2024

HAPPy Histories: Navigating AP History Analysis on the DBQ

In this episode, Wendy delves into the intricacies of earning the analysis point on the DBQ Essay. Through her signature blend of academic insight and relatable examples, she demystifies the process, guiding listeners through the key components of historical analysis and sourcing. With the help of the HAPPy acronym—exploring Historical Situation, Audience, Point of View, and Purpose—Wendy equips students with the tools they need to excel on exam day.   But "HAPPy Histories" goes beyond theory, providing practical examples and tips to reinforce learning. Wendy shares real AP exam-ples and offers valuable strategies for maximizing points, ensuring listeners are well-prepared for success.   So whether you're a seasoned AP History student or just embarking on your journey, join Wendy on "HAPPy Histories" as she transforms history lessons into moments of discovery and triumph. Don't miss out—listen now and embark on your path to AP History excellence! Show Links/Notes: Website: www.APHistoryHelp.com Amazon link to AP Student Success Journal: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CR8FSHY5 AP History Help on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/@APHistoryHelp Historical situation is looking at what is going on in the time period that the document was created. And how was the document influenced by the time period. Audience can be audience or intended audience. For whom is this document written? And how does the audience influence the message in the document. Point of view is not opinion. Look at any biases. But we ask, why is this author putting forth this message at this time. In other words, why does the document or author say what it does the way it does. Purpose asks what the author is trying to achieve. What impact is the author or creator trying to have on the intended audience? In this episode I will hold your hand through HAPPy-land. Eww. That sounds creepy doesn’t it? Let’s make it sound a little more academic. In this episode, I will help you understand how to get the analysis point on the DBQ Essay. This doesn’t apply to the LEQ because the rubric is just different (and you’re not using documents). But the sourcing point, also called analysis, is easy if you just understand what it is and how to get it. But before we get too far along, if you haven’t done so already, make sure that you listen to my last episode, where I explained the difference between summarizing the documents and using them to support your thesis. There were lots of examples for each of the AP History courses. I managed to work in the Constitution a couple times and even shared which amendment is my favorite. You could go back and listen to it to find out because… they’re all on demand for your listening and/or watching pleasure.  Last week, I wondered out loud if you were sick of documents and then proceeded to spend our time together in class talking about summarizing them and using them as support. So hopefully you’ve come back for more. Because we are going to build on that summary and support piece with some analysis. Like I was saying before, earning this point is easy. All it takes is an acronym and some practice to be happy when it comes to sourcing.  We’re first going to explore what those words, analysis and sourcing, mean wholistically and in the context of the AP exam. Then we’re going to explore that happy acronym and put it into practice. Then just like the last few episodes, we’ll close out with some real AP exam-ples. Ha-ha – see what I did there. Exam pulls! Like they are actually from past AP exams. Huh? Oh. Sorry. Did I tell you that I was going to start including some bad teacher jokes in class? Laughter is so good for remembering what you’re learning. I won’t get into the brain science behind it, but we remember things better when we are in a happy mood.  Analysis. What does it mean to analyze something? It is the process of breaking something into smaller parts in order to gain a better und

  • JAN 29, 2024

Mastering DBQ Essays: Documents Summary vs. Support

In this episode, we focus on a crucial aspect of the AP History exam - understanding and utilizing documents in the DBQ Essay. This specific skill constitutes a significant portion, approximately seven percent, of the exam. Mastering the difference between one and two evidence points can significantly enhance your DBQ essay writing. Ensure you've listened to the previous episode about crafting a perfect thesis, a fundamental skill for scoring points on FRQs. The discussion begins with strategies on reading documents for the DBQ, emphasizing the importance of correctly interpreting the prompt to avoid supporting the wrong argument. Summarizing three documents accurately guarantees a point, providing a safety net in case of misinterpretation. The episode stresses the ease of summarization, a skill students have honed since elementary school. A highlight is the announcement of the Student Success journal, designed to aid students in acing the AP exam. The planner, introduced through TikTok, is user-friendly and focuses on crucial content, thinking skills, and reflective learning. The second half delves into the evidence points, emphasizing the necessity of supporting arguments with content from at least four documents. The discussion navigates through transitioning from summary to support and introduces the concept of counter-claims for added complexity points. An interlude features a fun fact about the 14th Amendment, offering historical insights and linking it to contemporary events. The podcast advocates against quoting documents in essays, suggesting that interpretable paraphrasing is more effective. The episode concludes with document evidence examples from AP Euro, AP US History, and AP World, showcasing effective summaries and supports. Wendy invites listeners to reach out for more detailed sample essays, promising assistance through various platforms. The next episode teaser promises a deep dive into obtaining analysis or sourcing points in the DBQ, with a hint of breaking down the acronym HAPPY. Wendy encourages engagement through social media, emphasizing her commitment to helping students succeed in AP History. Don't miss the opportunity to enhance your AP History skills with Wendy's insightful guidance. Subscribe to the AP History Help podcast for regular updates and valuable exam tips. Show Links/Notes: Website: www.APHistoryHelp.com Blog: www.APHistoryHelp.com/blog  Amazon link to AP Student Success Journal: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CR8FSHY5 AP History Help on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/@APHistoryHelp Constitution Class: https://outschool.com/classes/government-civics-the-living-constitution-orconnecting-to-today-flex-0aFRd6yM?sectionUid=7430895c-9a06-486d-8aaf-03bfc72bc875&showDetails=true AP History Exam: This term is relevant to students preparing for the Advanced Placement (AP) history exam. It signifies content that aids in exam preparation and strategy. DBQ Essay: The Document-Based Question (DBQ) essay is a specific type of essay in the AP history exam. This term targets students seeking guidance on mastering DBQs. FRQs: The Free-Response Questions (FRQs) are another component of the AP history exam. Mentioning this term appeals to students looking for tips on scoring well on FRQs. Thesis Writing: Thesis writing is a fundamental skill discussed in the podcast. Students searching for insights on crafting effective theses may use this term. Student Success Journal: This term is related to the planner introduced in the podcast. Potential buyers interested in a planner to aid AP exam success may use this term. Counter-claim: This term is used in the context of adding complexity points in the DBQ essay. Students aiming for a nuanced approach in their essays may search for this term. 14th Amendment: The discussion about the 14th Amendment adds historical context to the podcast. History enthusiasts or students studying this amendment may use this term. Document Evid

  • JAN 15, 2024

Making a Statement in Your Thesis

In this episode, the focus is on understanding the essence of writing a thesis in AP History courses. Wendy covers what a thesis is, its significance for the AP History exams, and provides insights into how to earn it. A secret formula for crafting a thesis statement, specifically tailored for writing DBQ and LEQ essays, is revealed. Emphasizing the importance of a well-crafted thesis in any written work, the episode explains the nuances of meeting the College Board's expectations for earning points on the AP history exam. The host introduces a formula and stresses the alignment between the thesis statement and the subsequent body paragraphs. Practical examples and advice are given, including the recommendation to read exemplars for a better understanding of successful thesis statements. The episode concludes with prompts from different AP History courses, offering attempts at theses that didn't earn points and exemplars that did, providing valuable insights for students preparing for their exams.   Show Links/Notes: Website: www.APHistoryHelp.com Blog: www.APHistoryHelp.com/blog  Amazon link to AP Student Success Journal: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CR8FSHY5 Prompts:                AP Euro: “Evaluate the most significant effect of the Enlightenment on European society during the period 1688-1815.”                 APUSH: Evaluate the extent to which debates over slavery in the period from 1830 to 1860 led the United States into the Civil War.                AP World: In the period circa 1450–1750, European expansion affected the development of numerous East Asian and South Asian states. Develop an argument that evaluates the extent to which the economies of East and/or South Asian states in this time period changed in response to European expansion. Outschool Tutoring:  https://outschool.com/classes/ap-coaching-help-individual-tutoring-history-social-studies-ib-45-min-sessions-EQbAFXlG?usid=4M9JQc2s&signup=true&utm_campaign=share_activity_link Take Lessons Tutoring: https://takelessons.com/profile/wendy-w13 AP History Help on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/@APHistoryHelp

  • JAN 1, 2024

Contextualization is the Answer to World Peace

This podcast explores the crucial role of contextualization in AP History exams, emphasizing its significance not only for scoring points but also for a deeper understanding of history. The host discusses how context is vital in comprehending historical events and draws parallels to using context clues in language. The episode delves into the interconnectedness of historical events and the necessity of providing broader historical contexts in essays. The College Board's perspective on contextualization in AP exams is highlighted, emphasizing its pervasive role in learning history. The host shares examples of acceptable contextualization statements from APUSH, AP Euro, and AP World, offering insights into crafting effective responses. The episode concludes with a unique analogy relating contextualization to achieving world peace, encouraging listeners to analyze historical examples for potential solutions to global challenges. For those seeking further guidance, the host offers tutoring services and encourages exploring exemplars for inspiration and learning. Show Links/Notes: Outschool Tutoring:  https://outschool.com/classes/ap-coaching-help-individual-tutoring-history-social-studies-ib-45-min-sessions-EQbAFXlG?usid=4M9JQc2s&signup=true&utm_campaign=share_activity_link Take Lessons Tutoring: https://takelessons.com/profile/wendy-w13 AP History Help on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/@APHistoryHelp

  • DEC 18, 2023

How to Write the LEQ (Long Essay Question) on the AP History Exam

The Long Essay Question, or LEQ is the last question on the AP exam and the hardest part of the test. This episode will help you navigate this question, from understanding the rubric, knowing what your choices will be, and a few other tips and strategies to finish the exam strong. Plus, a timely segment of Wendy Teaches History this week!

  • DEC 4, 2023

Understanding the DBQ is Key to Writing a 7-point Essay

The Document Based Question Essay can be intimidating. Not anymore! Listen to this episode to hear a detailed breakdown of how to get each of the points of the rubric. You will also hear about strategies, tips, and tricks to write a killer DBQ essay and ace the AP History exam! There is so much good information that it didn’t all fit. As a result look for a future episode as a follow up where I give you even more great advice on writing the DBQ Essay! Show Links/Notes: DBQ Class on Outschool: https://outschool.com/classes/ap-history-dbq-document-based-question-essay-prep-world-or-us-history-I2OXBxyu?usid=4M9JQc2s&signup=true&utm_campaign=share_activity_link Outschool Teacher Profile: https://outschool.com/teachers/Wendy-Wawrzyniak?usid=4M9JQc2s&signup=true&authTrigger=follow_teacher&utm_campaign=share_leader_link AP History Help Website: https://aphistoryhelp.com/coach%2Fclasses%2Fresources YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvK-ftgULHpZl4DJ3a7ewlA Thesis Statement:  Western European imperialism resulted in the exploitation of labor and resources on non-industrialized nations in African and Asia. This benefitted the Europeans, either by exploiting the labor of indigenous peoples to gather resources, or to expand the markets to yield the most profit, and causing economic decline in Africa and Asia. 

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  1. AP United States History Exam

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  2. PDF AP History Modified DBQ Rubric (10 points)

    AP History Rubrics AP History Modified DBQ Rubric (10 points) 2020 Exam Administration Reporting Category Scoring Criteria Decision Rules A. THESIS/CLAIM (0-1 pt) B. CONTEXTUALIZATION (0-1 pt) C. EVIDENCE (0-5 pts) 1 pt. Responds to the prompt with a historically defensible thesis/claim that establishes a line of reasoning. 1 pt.

  3. PDF AP United States History

    Question 1: Document-Based Question, Early American Identity 7 points General Scoring Notes Except where otherwise noted, each point of these rubrics is earned independently; for example, a student could earn a point for evidence without earning a point for thesis/claim.

  4. APUSH DBQ Rubric and Tips

    The College Board has released revised DBQ rubric guidelines for the AP History courses that will take effect immediately for the 2023-2024 academic year. I have revised my rubric to meet the new guidelines and am providing other resources to help teachers implement the new format. APUSH DBQ RUBRIC UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2023!

  5. Understanding the New AP® US History DBQ Rubric

    Learn how to write a strong DBQ for the AP® US History exam with the new rubric that evaluates your historical argumentation skills, document analysis, and synthesis. The rubric is broken into four strands: thesis and argument development, document analysis, using evidence beyond the documents, and synthesis. Each strand has specific criteria and tips to help you score well.

  6. APUSH 2023 DBQ Grading Rubric Changes

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  7. The Ultimate APUSH DBQ Guide: Rubric, Examples, and More!

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  8. PDF Rubrics for AP Histories

    The rubrics for the AP Histories' Document-Based Question and Long Essay have been modified for 2016*, using feedback received from AP teachers and Readers before, during and after the 2015 AP Exam administration and AP Reading. The Development Committees and Chief Readers for all three history courses have collaborated on these revisions.


    2016 The College Board. 2016 SCORING COMMENTARY. Question 1 — Document-Based Question (continued) b) Evidence Beyond the Documents: 1 point. The response uses the G.I. Bill at the bottom of the first page effectively, and on the next page it uses Rosie the Riveter to support an argument about women in the workforce.

  10. PDF AP History DBQ LEQ SEQ Rubrics

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  11. PDF APUSH DBQ Rubric

    APUSH DBQ RUBRIC Updated September 2023 Name: _____ DBQ Topic: _____ CONTEXTUALIZATION Describes a broader historical context relevant to the prompt. The response must relate the topic of the prompt to broader historical events, developments, or processes that occur before, during, or continue after the time frame of the question. ...

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  13. PDF AP History DBQ Rubric (7 points)

    Primary Sources Describe historically relevant information and/or arguments within a source. Explain how a source provides information about the broader historical setting within which it was created. Explain how a source's point of view, purpose, historical situation, and/or audience might affect a source's meaning.

  14. What is a DBQ? The Document-Based Question Explained

    The dreaded DBQ, or "document-based question," is an essay question type on the AP History exams (AP US History, AP European History, and AP World History). For the DBQ essay, you will be asked to analyze some historical issue or trend with the aid of the provided sources, or "documents," as evidence.

  15. PDF AP United States History

    Question 1 — Document-Based Question Evaluate the extent to which the Progressive movement fostered political change in the United States from 1890 to 1920. Maximum Possible Points: 7 Points Rubric Notes A: Thesis/Claim (0- 1) Responds to the prompt with a historically defensible thesis/claim that establishes a line of reasoning. (1 point)

  16. AP U.S. History DBQ rubric

    Turnitin Teaching and Learning Innovations Team Rubric aligned to the 2019-2020 scoring guidelines for the Document-based Question of the AP United States History exam. This rubric is available and ready to use in your Feedback Studio account.

  17. Decoding the Updated AP U.S. History Rubric

    Thankfully for students this year, the College Board has updated the rubric for the 2023-24 school year to make obtaining all 7 available DBQ points much easier than it used to be. Even better, as with free-response questions (FRQs) on all AP exams, scoring follows a very clear rubric.

  18. The AP US History DBQ: What You Should Know

    The DBQ is worth 25% of the overall APUSH exam score. The essay is graded on a 7-point rubric. You will receive one point for meeting each of the above seven requirements. Learn more about the rubric here. AP US History DBQ Strategy . You have a total of 55 minutes to complete this essay.

  19. AP World History Document-Based Question (DBQ) Overview

    The topic of your DBQ will come from the following time periods, depending on your course: AP World History: Modern - 1200-1900. AP US History - 1754-1980. AP European History - 1600-2001. 💡 For 2020 Only. For this year's exam, the AP World History DBQ prompt will come from Units 1-6.

  20. PDF AP United States History

    Question 1: Short Answer Secondary Source 3 points General Scoring Notes • Each point is earned independently. • Accuracy: These scoring guidelines require that students demonstrate historically defensible content knowledge.

  21. How to Ace the AP World History DBQ: Rubric, Examples, and Tips

    The good news is that the College Board has provided the AP World History DBQ rubric 2021 as part of their 2021 AP World History: Modern Sample Student Responses and Scoring Commentary document. The AP World History DBQ rubric contains all the information you need to know about how your response will be scored. Here's how the rubric breaks down:

  22. AP US History (APUSH) Score Calculator

    The following is how the APUSH DBQ rubric is determined: Thesis/Claim - 1 point. The thesis/claim is usually one or two sentences, either in the introduction or conclusion. You must answer the prompt with a thesis/claim that is historically supported and relays your perspective on the topic. ... APUSH Score Calculator/AP US History Score ...

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