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How to Write a DBQ Essay for Ap World History

How to Write a DBQ Essay for Ap World History

There are several rules for writing AP history essays. To get started, you need to choose a suitable topic. Read all the themes (statements) proposed for writing a paper very attentively. Choose the subject that will be of interest to you. Determine the main idea of the statement (what is it about?). For this, use the technique of paraphrase (say the same thing but in your own words).

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Find the arguments for and against this statement using a draft. If you write enough arguments both for and against this topic, your essay may be polemical. Select examples and facts for each argument.

Writing Algorithm

Think about what linguistic tools you will use to make your language more interesting (comparisons, analogies, epithets, etc.). Distribute your arguments and counterarguments. They will form your plan. State your point of view in the sequence that you have outlined. Formulate a general conclusion of the work and, if necessary, edit it. Pay attention to these important points.

  1. It should be noted that in history, there are no absolutely correct or incorrect answers to questions, as is the case in physics or mathematics; there are only more or less reasoned points of view.
  2. The promotion of your own position in the center of attention can help you:
  • to assess the range of data and points of view (argumentation) of others critically and independently;
  • to understand, evaluate, and establish a connection between the key ideas of any problems and issues;
  • to differentiate facts;
  • to apply analytical approaches and models;
  • to consider opposing approaches and models and their application to empirical material, discussions on fundamental issues.

Essay Editing

After writing your essay, you should edit it. Do not think that you ought to check only the spelling of the words. Reread your essay and make sure that there are no ambiguous expressions, style or structural inaccuracies.

Remember that essays are limited to a certain number of words, so you need to manage this volume reasonably. Sometimes, you should give up some ideas or details, especially if they have already been mentioned somewhere or are not directly related to the topic of your paper. Do not overload your work with unnecessary information. When writing an essay, avoid the words from the encyclopedias. The usage of such terms distracts the reader’s attention. You should avoid using slang, stereotyped phrases, and excessively frivolous tone. The language used in your paper should be taken seriously. When writing an essay, it is important to clarify its topic, determine the desired volume and goals of each paragraph.


Start your text with the main idea or a catchy phrase. Your main task is to grab the attention of readers. In such cases, a comparative allegory is often used; when an unexpected fact or event is associated with the main topic of the work. A good essay has a number of characteristics.

  • It should be perceived as a whole; the idea should be clear and understandable.
  • An essay should not contain anything superfluous; it must include only the information that is necessary for the disclosure of your position and the main idea.
  • Your paper should have a competent compositional construction, be logical, clear in structure.
  • Each paragraph of the essay should contain only one main idea.
  • The text should show that its author knows and makes proper use of theoretical concepts, terms, generalizations, and ideas.
  • The essay should contain a convincing argument stated position on the problem.

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You should avoid:

  • Misunderstanding of the essence of the stated topic.
  • Failure to adhere to the answer to the main question (extensive distractions from the topic).
  • The use of rhetoric instead of argumentation (evidence).
  • Careless handling of data, including excessive generalization.
  • Too extensive narrative, not supported by analytical material.
  • Statements of other points of view without reference to the authors of these ideas.


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