Slow and steady wins the race!
1. READ THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND (sometimes called the Historical Context)
- The Historical Background gives you some basic information about the DBQ you'll be writing. It tells you the basic subject and gives you a timeframe. The Historical Context will say, "In the years after the Civil War..." or "During World War II...". This means that any example you discuss in your DBQ must be from this time period. Even if your example is logical, it won't count as correct if it's from a different time period than the one required.
- When you read the Historical background, highlight the key phrases which identify the SUBJECT and the TIME PERIOD.
2. READ THE TASK
- The Task tells you what you are expected to write about in your DBQ essay. It may be in the form of a question, but not always. Sometimes the Task will be stated like this: "Discuss three reasons why..." or "Describe the impact of...".
- PAY ATTENTION TO THE BULLETS! Very often, they indicate what categories, or topics, should be included in your essay. Hooray for the Test Gurus in Albany - they're helping you do a good job.
- The Task always commands you to write your DBQ essay using both the documents and your knowledge of Social Studies. You have lots of this, so don't worry.
- What do you already know about this Task? Before you even read the documents, think about what knowledge of Social Studies you've got.
- Categorize your knowledge. If the Task provided topics, great. If not, you have to think it through. Look at your evidence. How can you group your examples together logically?
- All this information is your Knowledge of Social Studies (KSS). You'll need this in your essay.
4. READ THE DOCUMENTS and ANSWER THE SCAFFOLDING QUESTIONS
- It's a good idea to read the Scaffolding Questions before you read the Documents, so you know what you're looking for.
- Read and paraphrase each written document.
- Scan each visual document (maps, political cartoons, graphs, etc.) from left to right, slowly and carefully. The details are very important!
- The Scaffolding Questions are yet another good deed done by the Test Gurus in Albany. The Scaffolding Questions tell you what you should know about each document.
5. CATEGORIZE YOUR DOCUMENTS
Go back to your Brainstorming work (Step 3). What category (or categories) does each document fit into? Try to pick one category for each document.
- Create an outline for your essay. Remember the basic rules:
- You must use more than half of the documents
- You should provide at least 2 examples in each body paragraph
- One of your examples MUST be KSS (Knowledge of Social Studies)
Need more help? See more helpful hints for writing the actual essay...
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