First, I’ll give guidance on how to establish a baseline. Want to get a perfect 5 on your AP exam and an A in class? Prep Scholar Tutors is the world's best tutoring service.Then I’ll go over some basic, foundational essay-writing skills and how to build them. We combine world-class expert tutors with our proprietary teaching techniques.First, how much time you have to study per week, and how many hours you want to study in total?
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the earlier you start studying for your AP test, the less material you will have covered in class.
Make sure you continually review older material as the school year goes on to keep things fresh in your mind, but in terms of DBQ prep it probably doesn’t make sense to start before February or January at the absolute earliest. I recommend you complete a baseline DBQ around early February to see where you need to focus your efforts.
Because of its unfamiliarity, many students are at a loss as to how to even prepare, let alone how to write a successful DBQ essay on test day. I, the DBQ wizard and master, have a wealth of preparation strategies for you, as well as advice on how to cram everything you need to cover into your limited DBQ writing time on exam day.
When you're done reading this guide, you'll know exactly how to write a DBQ.
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.For the AP US History DBQ, you’ll be given a 15-minute reading period and 45 minutes of writing time.A selection of practice questions from the exam can be found online at the College Board, including a DBQ.This will let you know where you need to focus your preparation efforts.To do this, you will take a timed, practice DBQ and have a trusted teacher or advisor grade it according to the appropriate rubric.A history teacher would be a great resource, but if they are not available to you in this capacity, here are some other ideas: about the DBQ and you’d like to do a little basic familiarization before you establish your baseline, that’s completely fine.There’s no point in taking a practice exam if you are going to panic and muddle your way through it; it won’t give a useful picture of your skills.How often you take the practice DBQs and how many times you repeat the cycle really depends on how much preparation you need, and how often you want to check your progress.Take practice DBQs often enough that the format stays familiar, but not so much that you’ve done barely any skills practice in between. The general preparation process is to diagnose, practice, test, and repeat.The College Board has provided practice questions for the exam, including a DBQ (see page 200 in the linked document).If you’ve already seen this question, the only other questions available through the College Board are in the old format, because the 2016 DBQ is in a new, seven-point format identical to the AP US History exam.