How To Get The Complexity Point

Hi! I was wondering how I get the complexity point on the DBQ. On many practice DBQ’s I have done, half of them I get the point but the other half I do not. I watched one of Heimer’s History videos on how to get the point but it was not really clear.

The most straightforward way is to do BOTH parts of the historical thinking skill throughout your essay. If your argument is to compare, make sure you also contrast. If you talk about causes, include effects. If you present how something changed, make sure you also show how things stayed the same (continued).

You might want to spend more time working with documents – you have more options for lots more points on the modified rubric, especially in the shortened 45-minute time frame.


Hello! My WHAP teacher called complexity the “magical unicorn” point; it’s not always clear how to get it. That said, College Board’s mentioned that doing these could get you the point:

  • Looking at multiple factors involved in an issue
  • Explaining both sides of the prompt (similarity and difference, continuity and change, cause and effect/multiple causes)
  • Making connections in and across periods…

And so on! I hope that this helps.

(More ways to get complexity can be found on the College Board Rubric here:

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