Improve Your Writing
How to Write a DBQ
Review the PowerPoint on “How to Write a DBQ.” Pay special attention to the slides on document analysis and the use of outside information.
Look at some of the released DBQs from past AP exams. You can find selected DBQs on the appropriate Unit Pages of this website. Or you can find all of the released DBQs, organized by year, on the AP Exam Homepage.
File #1: Prompts & Documents
If you look closely, you’ll see that I have made available three downloadable files for many of the released DBQs. The first file is simply the essay prompt and the accompanying documents. That’s exactly what you'll see when you take the AP Exam.
For example, here's the prompt for the 2011 DBQ on the Nixon administration:
Feedback on Essays
I give each essay fair consideration and write helpful, individualized feedback before determining a score. Please keep your graded writing assignments and refer to my written comments before beginning your next writing assignment.
I also upload some general, class-wide commentary to this website after I have graded everyone's writing assignment.
File #2: Scoring Guidelines
The second file contains the scoring guidelines developed by the AP essay graders. The guidelines list plenty of key terms and concepts the graders are looking for when they read your essay. The guidelines also provide a very detailed analysis of each document.
This file shows you evidence and analysis that graders expect students to demonstrate when they write their essays.
Continuing our example from above, here are the scoring guidelines for to the 2011 DBQ about the Nixon administration:
File #3: Three Sample Responses
The third file contains three real, handwritten student responses – one of poor quality, one of adequate quality and one of excellent quality. This file also provides the graders’ commentary on each essay explaining why it got the score that it did.
Here are some real student responses to the 2011 DBQ about Nixon:
HHS Student Exemplars
If a student does a particularly nice job on an essay, I may ask them to type it up, email it to me and grant me permission to post it on this website in exchange for some extra credit.
To see student exemplars from Hopewell High School, check the appropriate unit page on this website a few days after the assignment is due.
USe every Resource
Use your classroom notes, your textbook and every scrap of information on this website to gather evidence for your essays.
I work hard to provide you with plenty of resources. Please use them!
Free Response Questions (FRQs)
I will soon be uploading AP grader commentary on past FRQs (that is, the open-ended essays that don't require document analysis).
In the meantime, if you can master the DBQ, answering a FRQ should be very easy.