DBQ Time Management

Personally, I’m really overwhelmed at the thought of putting together a good essay in just 45 minutes. I think it’s really useful when I can analyze each document and write down all the evidence/ideas I have before I start writing. But I worry that doing a thorough job of that will take far too much time. Do you have any tips on how much time we should spend reading the documents and prepping our essay? Maybe some good time intervals (i.e. at 20 minutes, be on your second body paragraph)? I know I can write a good essay, it’s just the time constraint that’s the biggest factor contributing to my nervousness for the exam.

This year is unique; you usually have an hour, including reading time, and this year you have 45 minutes. For that reason, I would suggest that you spend only about 5 minutes reading the documents and sorting them into groups. I believe that your goal to get full credit should be 4 paragraphs:

Intro. with contextualization, thesis, and a statement that lays out how you plan to prove your thesis (sometimes called an organizing statement).
Body paragraph with a topic sentence for that paragraph, describe a document, tie it to your thesis, identify an element of HIPP, tie to your thesis, outside info., tie to your thesis. In the same paragraph, use another document that supports your topic sentence for this paragraph and attempt to do the same thing.
Second body paragraph follows the format of the first.
If you have time, in your fourth paragraph, aim for the complexity point.
How do you get the Complexity Point? GEM

  1. Generate Nuance–tell different sides of the question, expound on one or more of your arguments
  2. Explain–explain both sides of the historical reasoning skill being used for the DBQ. College Board will ask you to use one of 3 historical thinking skills–Causation, Comparison, or Continuity and Change.
    If the question asks you to tell you the causes of the Civil War, tell the effects of it; if the question asks you to compare two periods, the other side would be to tell what was different between the two periods; if it asks you to evaluate the extent of change, also tell what things stayed the same;
  3. Make Connections across Time; connect your information to something that happened later in history.
    Any part of “GEM” can gain you the complexity point!

Mr. Lagerway will be going over DBQ topics in the second half of the stream, and the link to Fiveable’s Ultimate Guide to the DBQ is here: https://app.fiveable.me/ap-world/-/ultimate-guide-dbq-2020/study-guide/ZT0GZwEWSNreRHs0jwUi

I’ve heard lots of different methods to split up time in that 45 minutes - for my Euro DBQ, I spent the first ten or so minutes scanning documents and taking notes on index cards labelled per document. So, when I moved from document to document, I was able to have my thoughts in order. But if this takes too long for you, feel free to try something else!

Hope this helped :slight_smile:

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Can you talk about to how recognize what the DBQ prompt is asking? I have hard time trying to figure out which historical skill (Comparison, Continuity or Change, Causation) the prompt wants me to use. Thanks!!

Do you guys think that it’s better to develop amazing paragraphs but risk not finishing in time OR write mediocre paragraphs but at least you finish your thoughts.


That is understandable. Usually the comparison will say something like, “What were the similarities between the 1960s and the 1990s?” This would be comparison. Continuity and Change is usually one or the other in prompts now; answering for both will get you the complexity point. So it may say something like, “How did women’s roles change from the beginning of World War I until the end of the Cold War?” In that case, by telling what did NOT change, you could gain the complexity point. For causation, it would be something like “What were the reasons for the American Civil War?” You could gain the complexity point by telling some of the effects of the Civil War.

Oh okay I see. When you word a prompt like that, it’s more straight forward. However, a lot of prompts usually start off with “Evaluate/Analyze the extent of…” and it just doesn’t quite make sense. I find myself not always knowing if I should be doing Continuity or Causation.

If it says “evaluate or analyze the extent of,” you must then look at the rest of the prompt to determine how it is being used. I know that sounds like I am just being lazy, but let me give you an example. For instance, there was a question recently that asked the following: “Analyze the values and purposes of Renaissance education and the extent to which these values and purposes were transformed and challenged over time.”
Here, it wants you to do two tasks: Analyze the values and purposes of education AND how did they change over time." Yet you wouldn’t really know that if you stopped at “analyze.”

So with your example, could you give an example of how you would write a thesis for it?

Sure! So for that question, “Analyze the values and purposes of Renaissance education and the extent to which these values and purposes were transformed and challenged over time.” I would say something like this in my introduction paragraph:

Renaissance education was a departure from that of the Middle Ages. Petrarch, the Father of the Renaissance, emphasized the study of Greek and Latin literature, history, poetry, and mathematics and the burgeoning art culture in Florence as well as an emphasis on logic and rhetoric and becoming a “courtier”–one who could do well in social, political, and physical situations. Yet as the Renaissance developed and moved from Italy to Northern Europe, there was a much greater emphasis on Christian art and literature, and people began to further question the Church and its teachings in the Christian community.

I know that isn’t a U.S. history example, but it was the first DBQ that I found that had an example like you were discussing!

Do you think you could do a APUSH example? If you’re willing? Sorry, I just couldn’t follow with the AP World example.

Sure! So here is an APUSH example:

Evaluate the extent to which the Progressive movement fostered political change in the United States from 1890 to 1920.

So…this would be a continuity and change essay. You are going to focus on the change.

Progressivism sought to improve the human condition by applying logic, the government, and the people to improve the lives of those around them. From 1890-1920, Progressivism caused politicians to change their tactics as forces from many sectors of society put pressure on the government and politicians to enact change.

Does that one make more sense to you?

Oh okay I see. That prompt was more straight forward about the historical skill to use. Thanks for the help! Hopefully the AP exam prompt tomorrow won’t be super wordy and not straight forward.

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