DBQ – Document Based Questions

DBQ – Document Based Questions
The Document Based Question (DBQ) is an essential activity you need to master when it
comes to analyzing history. DBQs require you to analyze multiple points of view of a singular
historical event, group the points of view accordingly, and then use ALL of the points of view to
prove your thesis statement. You are basically writing a 50-minute research paper where all of
the sources are already provided for you! These skills are also crucial to learn in order to
become a more questioning, skeptical, and logical adult and citizen as well. You take part in
many DBQs every week, whether you are hearing different views of an argument amongst
family or friends, or hearing a debate about the latest political topic. These DBQ skills will
transcend beyond the 50-minute essays you will be writing in class this year .
DBQ Rules and Tips
1. You have 50 minutes to complete a DBQ. The first 10 minutes are used to analyze the
documents and plan your essay. The last 40 minutes are used to write the essay.
Tip: If you need to use an extra 5 minutes to analyze the documents, use it. But do
not use any more time!
2. The basic rules to essay writing apply to DBQ writing.
a. Your introduction MUST include a clear and original thesis statement and 3
Points of Proof (supporting points)
3. You can include outside information in your DBQs, if you feel it helps you explain some
of the documents, and it bolsters your thesis. But it is essential that you prove in a DBQ
is how well you can…
a. Analyze the Points of View (POV) within the documents
b. Group the Points of View from the documents to support a thesis
4. DBQs must have an introduction and conclusion, and you need AT LEAST 3 body
paragraphs…but 4 is acceptable too.
5. How to analyze the documents.
a. You can form a preconceived framework/thesis before you read the documents,
but be flexible with it…it might change.
b. Quickly look at the SOURCES of the documents
i. You might be able to form ideas and/or groups just by looking at the
author of the document
c. Read the documents and make notes on the packet
i. Circle key words or phrases
ii. You must accomplish the two big DBQ Skills…POV and Grouping
1. Continue to look for varying Points of View based on Authorial
POV, Reliability, and Tone
2. Begin to form your ideas based on the grouping of your Documents
iii. Spend 10-12 minutes…you need to read quickly!!
iv. You need to find at least 3 POV Groupings
Tips for writing out the DBQ
1. You MUST use almost EVERY DOCUMENT in your DBQ.
2. You can use documents more than once…it is encouraged to do so.
3. With Introductions, NEVER just copy the background information that is provided to you
in the question!!
4. NEVER EVER QUOTE FROM THE DOCUMENTS!! Paraphrase instead. Put the
information in your own words…that is what impresses!!
5. NEVER just summarize the documents…make sure you are using them in an analytical
6. NEVER create a list of documents one after the other.
7. Make statements of your own that prove your thesis and then use information from the
documents to support your statement.
Example: Using the DBQ you wrote about the Boston Massacre:
“Another reason why the colonists are to blame for the Boston Massacre is because of
the physical violence they inflicted on the Redcoats. The Bostonians arrived at the scene that
evening with weapons that they were eager to use. Newton Prince stated that he saw people
striking the Redcoats’ guns with sticks. Richard Palmes testified to seeing a piece of snow or
ice falling among the soldiers. A slave named Andrew confirmed Palmes’s and Prince’s
observations by stating that he saw boys throwing snowballs at the soldiers. Andrew also saw
soldiers getting hit on the hands with sticks. (Docs A, B, D)
8. ALWAYS include the author/source in the essay. [see above example].
9. Conversely, NEVER write the following…
“In Document A and Document D, both men stated that they saw the soldiers getting hit
with sticks that the colonists were wielding.”
“Documents 1 and 8 say…”
10. ALWAYS write History in the PAST TENSE
11. ALWAYS include both topic sentences and summary sentences in all of you body
12. NEVER use a document in the introduction. Don’t go on a tangent and fluff up your
introduction either.
13. Thesis, Groups, and Point of View Visual Tip
14. Here is the essay structure your DBQ should follow
a. Introduction
i. Opening Sentences
1. gives the reader a framework of what they are about to read
2. should be 1 or 2 sentences…no more
3. do not repeat what the test question gives you
1. Should be derived from the 3-4 POV groupings you discovered after
analyzing the documents
2. The thesis statement is the overall theme of the groupings you created
a. Boston Massacre question you already wrote
i. Thesis = Blame for the Boston Massacre should be
shared by the colonists of Boston and the Redcoats
ii. Your thesis came from lumping arguments (Points of
Proof…or POP) from the documents that were provided
to you
1. Colonists verbally provoked the Redcoats
2. Colonists physically provoked the Redcoats
3. Redcoats did not show enough discipline amongst
the chaos
iii. 3-4 Points of Proof
1. Should be written in one sentence
2. Points of Proof = the supporting argument/grouping you create after
you analyze the documents
3. Do not write 3 long sentences explaining each point of proof…you will
do that in the Body of the paper
b. Body Paragraphs
i. Topic Sentences (TS) start each paragraph
1. The topic sentence should MATCH the Point of Proof you wrote in your
a. Group/POP1 = Paragraph and TS1
b. Group/POP2 = Paragraph and TS2
c. Group/POP3 = Paragraph and TS3
ii. Following sentences
1. Information and analysis of the documents should support the
TS/POP, and not deviate from what you are trying prove
2. Information must be accurate and specific. Don’t be vague
c. Conclusion
i. THESIS STATEMENT will be the first sentence
1. Rephrase the thesis in a different style
ii. Explain the 3 Points of Proof again
iii. Closing sentence should give your final opinion/analysis of the question