First, you’ll figure out what you need to work on by establishing a baseline level for your DBQ skills. Finally, you’ll take another DBQ to see how you've improved and what you still need to work on.
In this next section, I’ll go over the whole process.
For a general overview of the DBQ—what it is, its purpose, its format, etc.—see my article “What is a DBQ? Preparing for the DBQ Establish a Baseline Foundational Skills Rubric Breakdown Take Another Practice DBQ How Can I Succeed on Test Day?
Reading the Question and Documents Planning Your Essay Writing Your Essay Key Takeaways Your AP exam study timeline depends on a few things.
If you want to look at one or two sample essays, see my article for a list of DBQ example essay resources.
Keep in mind that you should use a fresh prompt you haven’t seen to establish your baseline, though, so if you do look at samples don’t use those prompts to set your baseline. This page was created primarily for the AP European History Long Essay question, but the definitions are still useful for the DBQ on all the history exams, particularly since these are the definitions provided by the College Board. Don’t worry if you don’t do well on your first practice! The point of establishing a baseline is not to make you feel bad, but to empower you to focus your efforts on the areas you need to work on.
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Whether you need help with science, math, English, social science, or more, we've got you covered. The first thing you need to do is to establish a baseline—figure out where you are at with respect to your DBQ skills.
If, for example, you got a six out of seven and missed one point for doing further document analysis, you won’t need to spend too much time studying how to write a DBQ.
Maybe just do a document analysis exercise every few weeks and check in a couple months later with another timed practice DBQ to make sure you’ve got it.