DBQ Essay

  • DBQ Essays are often very difficult for 10th grade students. Most students tend to rely too much on the information in the documents themselves and fail to include additional information or organize the essay in a manner that would demonstrate that they actually know what they are talking about. Using the steps below will help you to improve your DBQ essay writing ability.

    Follow these steps as you write your DBQ essay.

    1. Read the front page and the front page only. Write down the questions that you will need to answer. (Outline form would be perfect)
    2. Without looking at the documents try to answer the questions that you are being asked to answer. (Fill in part of the answer section on your outline if you are able)
    3. Brainstorm! Make a list of everything you know about this topic that relates to the questions you need to answer.
    4. Now you can look at the documents, answer the scaffolding questions (the questions under the document) and make notes on each document. Does the document describe a cause or an effect, is it positive or negative? Your notes should relate to the questions you are being asked to answer.
    5. Once you have answered all the scaffolding questions check them against the list you brainstormed about the topic. Cross anything off your brainstorm list that appeared in the documents. Whatever you have left on your brainstorm list will be used in your essay as outside information.
    6. Now decide what documents will best help you illustrate (prove) your answers to the questions that the essay is asking you to answer. Add those documents in appropriate places on your outline.
    7. Begin writing your essay. 2 VERY IMPORTANT NOTES. 1) When you use a document you may use phrases like "as seen in the document..." or "from document..." however even if you use a phrase like that to introduce the document YOU MUST cite the document when you are done using it by putting the document # in parenthesis and underlining it example (DOC #1) 2) You must follow the same format when you are including what you consider to be outside information. Once you are done explaining your point, cite the point the same way you cited the documents just write O/I instead of the document #, for example (O/I) REMEMBER THE HIGHEST GRADE POSSIBLE ON A DBQ WITHOUT OUTSIDE INFO IS A 2 OUT OF 5!
    8. When you refer to a document, be sure to explain it. Who is it by? What type of a document is it? What is the document saying? Use the information located above and below the document to help you figure that out. As for the type of document, if it's a map, say it's a map, if it's a chart say it's a chart, if it's from a newspaper article, say it's from a newspaper article and so on.
    9. When you are done writing your essay go back through and count the documents and the O/I. Make sure you have used one document more than half and that you have included what you think is relevant O/I. Look for and correct and spelling or grammatical errors.
    10. Finally remember a DBQ is not just an explanation of the documents and it is not a list of your answers to the scaffolding questions. DBQ is an essay like any other that is giving you some information to work with before hand. Use the information in the documents to help support your answers to the questions that the essay is asking you.