6 Crucial And Effective Steps To Write A DBQ Essay

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The DBQ (Document-Based Question) essay is regularly asked in AP exams, and US and European history exams. This assignment is usually given to students in order to assess their analytic and comprehension abilities. 

Furthermore, it is also used to test a student’s ability to think beyond the box. However, writing a DBQ essay can be difficult for students as it involves high levels of academic aptitude and the capacity to think ‘outside the box.’

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Nevertheless, you don’t need to fear as we are here to guide you through the steps in writing a sensational DBQ essay.

Do You Know What A DBQ Is?

DBQ simply means Data Based Question or Document Based Question. It is a part of the United States College Board’s AP U.S. History test (APUSH). It requires the student to master a specific topic from 3 to 16 credible sources. It is one of the essay styles in which you are given documents to use as sources of information for your writing. 

The below things are available while writing the DBQ:

Historical Context: This is the paragraph that provides background information on the essay’s topic and will assist you in writing your introduction.

Task: This is the question you are seeking to answer in your essay, and it will assist you in writing your THESIS or the final sentence of your introduction.

Documents and Scaffolding Questions: Typically, 5-7 documents will be utilized to assist you in writing your essay. Before writing the essay, you must answer 1-3 questions in each document. These questions will help you think about the structure of your essay.

What Should A DBQ Outline Look Like?

We recognize that learning how to write a DBQ essay might be challenging for novices. That’s the reason why writing a DBQ outline can be helpful. This essay is similar to others, it has an introduction, thesis statement, body paragraphs, and conclusion.


  • Include an introduction statement to pique your audience’s interest.
  • Explain the topic’s background. You can use a historical occurrence or historical character.
  • Compose a paragraph that outlines how the DBQ essay question will be handled.

Body (include at least 3-4 paragraphs)

Paragraph 1 

  • Include the most compelling argument related to the thesis statement.
  • Examine the sources related to the strongest argument and incorporate them in the para.
  • Construct a remark that concludes the analysis from a new perspective. Furthermore, add a link to the thesis statement.
  • Incorporate a transition sentence at the end of the next section.

Paragraph 2 

  • Similar to the previous paragraph, offer a credible argument that is affiliated with the thesis along with the previous paragraph’s argument.
  • Include an analysis of the sources that support the strongest argument.
  • End the analysis with a new perspective. Include a relevant link to the thesis.
  • Incorporate a transition sentence at the end of the next section.

Paragraph 3 

  • In addition to the second argument from the previous body paragraph, please include a reasonable argument that is relevant to the thesis.
  • Examine the sources that support the strongest argument and incorporate the paragraph.
  • Write a statement/point to end the analysis from a new perspective. Include a link to the thesis statement.
  • Write a final transition sentence.


  • Summarize the entire paper’s argument in this section
  • Do not include new details, but incorporate the principal points or key information from the sources.
  • Provide a final question or statement that challenges the opposing viewpoint.

6 Steps On How To Write A DBQ

Writing a DBQ essay may be difficult for some students. However, you need not worry about it anymore. The step-by-step tutorials that we offer in this post cover all essentials, such as analysis, time management, how to create a DBQ thesis, and proofreading your work. It is critical to compose your paper according to the DBQ plan to achieve the success you are capable of.

The DBQ essay includes:

  • 15 minutes for planning
  • 2 hours and 45 Minutes for writing 
  • 10 minutes for proofreading 

Managing time is crucial for the success of this examination. As the duration of this exam is 3 hours and 15 minutes, it is better to plan beforehand to get success. We suggest that you plan your writing for 15 minutes, write the essay for 2 hours and 45 minutes, and finally cater 10 minutes for proofreading.

Follow the following simple step-by-step guidelines to compose a DBQ thesis, body, and conclusion correctly:

Step 1: Planning – 15 minutes

It is crucial to go through the recommended resources during the exam. It is known that the exam is three hours long, so including a15 minutes preparation time is reasonable. During this time, go through all of the documents that you have been provided. 

Next, please make a list of all the essential topics and label them under introduction, thesis, body, and conclusion (which fits the best). 

Step 2: Introduction – 5 – 10 minutes

The first impressions are crucial, and an introduction plays an essential role in this type of essay. Always keep this section succinct and to the point. The opening sentence should ideally be followed by a few sentences that provide additional information on the topic being discussed.

Avoid answering questions on the go. It would be best if you could write a quick synopsis of the overall article for an effective introduction. 

Step 3: Thesis – 20 minutes

The DBQ thesis must be separated into three paragraphs. You must describe the statements and back them up with evidence. The third paragraph should explain how you are going to respond to the inquiry.

  • The thesis statement is essential and it distinguishes the DBQ from other essay formats.
  • The APUSH DBQ’s thesis statement must not be too long. Thus, ensure that you don’t go beyond two sentences.

Step 4: Body – 2 hours and 16 minutes

Each of the body paragraphs must include only one point that is related to the thesis. Additionally, the paragraphs must be organized and categorized according to relevant groups.

Avoid combining different ideas in paragraphs. Your answers (responses) to the assigned questions should have document-based evidence (which is provided). 

Try to ‘read between the lines of your proof texts rather than focusing entirely on the obvious points.

Step 5: Conclusion – 10 minutes

The conclusion is crucial in persuading your audience. Therefore, begin by summarising the entire paper and next link the conclusion with your thesis statement. Next, respond to the question. Remember that the conclusion requires you to persuade your audience who is nothing but the instructor in most cases.

Step 6: Proofreading – 10 minutes

Cater some time for proofreading your paper once you complete the exam. You can reserve some 10 minutes to go through the paper. It is a crucial step to proofread your work to make sure there are no grammatical errors in the write-up. 

Any faults in writing can result in a low score. Therefore, ensure that the body paragraphs connect to your thesis statement and answer the question as it is the most crucial aspect of the paper.

Simple Tips For An Effective DBQ Essay

  • Make sure you comprehend the sources and the essay question before you begin writing.
  • Before taking the exam, practice writing a DBQ.
  • Determine the main things to mention in your essay from the sources. Make use of a highlighter to assist you.
  • Write about what the paragraphs indicate rather than just what you read.
  • Prior to writing the paper, ensure that you have read and understood all the given sources.
  • It is really crucial to structure the work during the exam. Thus follow the DBQ essay outline properly to compose your essay.
  • Sort each point into a relevant group or category. This will be helpful while composing the body paragraphs.

DBQ Examples For You

Through 1833, American political parties underwent significant transformations, adjusting their interpretations of their goals as they faced the reality of governance and even founding new political parties as issues evolved. Nonetheless, all parties remained committed to the principles of the Constitution.

The first two parties arose as a result of differences over the formation of a Bank of the United States. Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, devised a comprehensive interpretation of the Constitution. He cited the implicit powers of the federal government in the Constitution to explain his support for a bank. 

Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson recommended a strict construction position, and thus opposed the Bank as it was not explicitly permitted by the Constitution and hence unlawful, according to him.

These ideologies served as the foundation for the first two political parties. Hamilton who was the head of the Federalists advocated for a robust federal government. The Democratic-Republicans, led by Jefferson and James Madison, thought authority lay with the states.


Using the steps and outline given in this article is an excellent technique for learning how to create a DBQ essay. In addition to writing advice, time management is critical for a successful outcome. Following our suggestions can help you create an effective DBQ and get good marks in the examination.

Please understand that learning the APUSH DBQ format is a crucial step. Therefore, practice DBQ without neglect a number of times before attempting the examination. We cannot stress enough as this is a necessary step without which you cannot perform well. Thus, learn and practice to ace the DBQ. Another cheap option is to hire an essay writer to write a DBQ essay for a cheaper price.

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