AP Extra Credit

Create Your Own DBQ Assignment


Create a complete DBQ based on a topic of major significance of a chosen time period. This assignment is not a one night and done deal, so work ahead of time.


Some possible topics include: FDR & the Great Depression; French Revolution, Great Britain and the U.S.; Slavery in the U.S.; Colonial America; Indian Policy; Foreign Policy; Expansion; Women's Rights; etc.


Directions and Tips:

1)      Write a good debatable question and choose 8-10 documents to use in conjunction with it.  Decide the focus of the topic that you want to develop – are you looking for analysis of cause and effect or comparison and contrast, gauging validity, understanding perspective … etc???

2)      Writing a good question: Develop a question you believe to be significant in studying the topic. This question might be one that can be answered in more than one way. If so, then try to have documents offering support for different answers and sides. For instance, take “Andrew Jackson’s Specie Circular was largely responsible for the Panic of 1837. Assess the validity of this statement.” You could easily find documents supporting this statement and others undermining it. Also note that a good DBQ question will draw upon the key phrases and words that are standard for the AP exam.  (You might want to google some old DBQ duestions to  

3)       A good question needs to cover a good portion of the assigned time period.

4)      Lay out documents in chronological order.

a.       Use the most relevant parts or excerpts from documents rather than using huge whole documents. See examples of DBQ for model.

b.      Be sure to identify the author/source of the document and its date. Again, see examples of DBQ’s.

c.       Use a variety of document types such as newspapers, speeches, letter, cartoons, charts, maps …. Etc. But no more than four visuals and/or charts and no less than two.

d.      Documents should be arranged in chronological order and each should be labeled A, B, C, etc.


5)      After the question and documents, provide a rationale for the question and the documents selected – that is to say, explain why it is a good question and how the documents can be used. 

6)      Then make a list of outside factual information that a reasonably informed writer might use to answer the question. Consider what the document would trigger and what a reasonably informed writer would know of the period in general. Does not have to be exhaustive, but don’t skimp either (think "Goldilock and the Three Bears").

7)      Keep focused on a particular subject when doing all of this.


TIPS: the web is a great place to look. I recommend the History Study Center as well as Harper’s Weekly Cartoon archive. There are also books in the library containing collections of primary documents. See me if you have questions.