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Advanced Placement (AP)


One of the best ways to prepare for the DBQ (the "document-based question" on the AP European History, AP US History, and AP World History exams) is to look over sample questions and example essays. Doing this will help you to get a sense of what makes a good (and what makes a bad) DBQ response.

That said, not all DBQ essay examples are created equal. We'll briefly cover what makes a good DBQ example and then provide a list of example essays by course. Lastly, we'll give you some helpful tips on how to best use sample essays in your own preparation process.

What's a Good DBQ Example?

Without a doubt, the best sample resources come from the College Board . This is because they are the ones who design and administer the AP exams . This means the following:

Any DBQ essay example that the College Board provides will include a real DBQ prompt

All samples are real student responses from previous years , so you know they were written under the same conditions you'll have when you write your DBQ—in other words, they're authentic!

They not only have scores but also explanations of each essay's score , in accordance with the rubric

Each prompt includes several sample essays with a variety of scores

Some DBQ examples outside those available from the College Board might be worth looking at, particularly if they highlight how a particular essay could be improved. In general, though, a superior example will do the following:

Include the prompt and documents: It will be much easier for you to see how the information from the documents is integrated into the essay if you can actually look at the documents themselves!

Have a score: Seems simple, but you'd be surprised how many DBQ examples out there in the uncharted internet don't have one. Without a real, official score, it's hard to gauge how trustworthy a sample actually is.

With that in mind, I have compiled lists, organized by exam, of high-quality example DBQs below.


Don't spend all your study time on false starts with your practice DBQs. 

Every DBQ Example Essay You Could Ever Need, by Exam

Here are your example essays! We'll start with AP US History, then move to AP European History, and finally wrap up with AP World History.

AP US History: Official College Board Examples

The APUSH test was redesigned in 2015 and again in 2018, so right now there are eight  official College Board sets of sample essays you can use in your studies . Make sure to give yourself a 15-minute reading period and 45 minutes to write your answer. In addition, don't forget to use the current scoring guidelines when grading your own practice responses.

  • 2023 Free-Response Questions | Scoring Guidelines 2023
  • 2022 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2022
  • 2021 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2021
  • 2019 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2019
  • 2018 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2018
  • 2017 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2017
  • 2016 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2016
  • 2015 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2015

If you want additional sample question sets, you can look at older College Board US History DBQ example response sets . To look at these, click "Free-Response Questions" for a given year. For the corresponding DBQ examples and scoring guidelines, click "Sample Responses Q1."

Note that these examples use the old rubric (which is integrated into the Scoring Guidelines for a given free-response section). General comments on the quality of the essay, outside information, and document analysis still apply, but the score is on a 9-point scale instead of the current 7-point scale, and some of the particulars will be different. Older DBQs had up to 12 documents, while the current format has seven documents.

If you do look at older DBQ examples, I recommend using the current rubric to re-grade the essays in the sample according to the 7-point scale. I'll also give more advice on how to use all these samples in your prep later on.


Mr. Bald Eagle is an AP US History DBQ grader in his spare time.

AP European History: Official College Board Examples

Unfortunately, there aren't as many sample resources for the AP Euro DBQ compared to the other AP history tests because 2016 was the first year the AP Euro test was administered in the new format . Since then, more minor changes have been made in terms of time (you now have an hour on the DBQ) and individual parts of the rubric (you can view the current scoring guidelines here ).

This means there are seven sets of official samples graded with the current 7-point rubric:

The rest of the existing available samples were graded in the old 9-point format instead of the 7-point format implemented in 2016.

In the old format, there were 6 "core" points and 3 additional points possible. The old rubric is integrated with the sample responses for each question, but we'll highlight some key differences between the old and current formats :

With the old format, you were given a brief "historical background" section before the documents

There were more documents—up to 12—but the current format has seven

There was an emphasis on "grouping" the documents that is not present in the current rubric

There was also explicit emphasis on correctly interpreting the documents that is not found in the current rubric

While the essential components of the DBQ are still the same between the two test formats, you should definitely refer to the current rubric if you decide to look at any old AP European History samples . You might find it useful to look at old essays and score them in accordance with the current rubric.

Here are the old sample DBQ questions and essays, organized by year:

  • 2014 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2014
  • 2013 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2013
  • 2012 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2012
  • 2011 Free-Response Questions | Sample DBQ Responses 2011

You can get samples in the old format all the way back to 1999 from the College Board . (Click "Free -Response Questions" for the questions and "Sample Response Q1" for the samples.)


Consider how you might integrate this castle into the DBQ that is your life.

AP World History: Official College Board Examples

The World History AP exam transitioned to a new format to more closely resemble AP US History and AP European History for the 2017 test. This means that there are six past exams available that use the current DBQ format:

Note that starting with the 2020 exam, AP World History will only cover the years 1200 to the present instead of thousands of years of history. As a result, both the course and exam have been renamed AP World History: Modern (a World History: Ancient course is in the works). What this means for you is that previous DBQs might have to do with time periods you're no longer required to study, so just keep this in mind.

In the old format, there were 7 "core" points and 2 additional points possible. The old rubric is integrated with the sample responses for each question, but we'll highlight some key differences between the old and current formats :

There were more documents—up to 10—but the current format has seven

There was an emphasis on "grouping" the documents on the old rubric that is not present in the current rubric

  • In the old rubric, you needed to identify one additional document that would aid in your analysis; the new rubric does not have this requirement

The essential components of the DBQ are still the same between the two formats, though you should definitely look at the current rubric if you study with any old AP World History questions and samples. You might find it useful to look at the old essays and score them according to the current rubric.

Here are old AP World History questions and DBQ sample responses , organized by year:


Don't worry, the old format isn't as old as this guy right here.

How Should I Use DBQ Examples to Prepare?

Now that you have all these examples, what should you do with them? In this section, we'll give you some tips on how to use example DBQs in your own AP history prep , including when to start using them and how many you should plan to review.

What Should I Do With These DBQs?

Official sample essay sets are a great way to test how well you understand the rubric. This is why we recommend that you grade a sample set early on in your study process—maybe even before you've written a practice DBQ .

Then, when you compare the scores you gave to the official scores and scoring notes given to the samples, you'll have a better idea of what parts of the rubric you don't really understand . If there are points you are consistently awarding differently than the graders, you’ll know those are skills you'll need to work on.

Keep giving points for the thesis and then finding out the sample didn't get those points? This tells you to work more on your thesis skills. Not giving points for historical context and then finding out the AP grader gave full credit? You need to work on recognizing what constitutes historical context according to the AP.

Check out my tips on building specific rubric-based skills in our guide on how to write a DBQ .

Once you've worked on some of those rubric skills you're weaker in, such as evaluating a good thesis or keeping track of how many documents were used, grade another sample set. This way you can see how your ability to grade the essays like an AP grader improves over time!

Obviously, grading sample exams is a much more difficult process if you're looking at examples in an old format. The old scores as awarded by the College Board will be helpful in establishing a ballpark —a 9 is still going to be a good essay using the current 7-point scale—but there may be some modest differences in grades between the two scales. (For example, maybe that perfect 9 is now more like a 6 out of 7 due to rubric changes.)

For practice grading with old samples, you might want to pull out two copies of the current rubric, recruit a trusted study buddy or academic advisor (or even two study buddies!), and have each of you re-grade the samples .

You can then discuss any major differences in the grades each of you awarded. Having multiple sets of eyes will help you determine whether the scores you're giving are reasonable, since you won’t have an official 7-point College Board score for comparison.

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How Many Example DBQs Should I Be Using?

The answer to this question depends on your study plans.

If it's six months before the exam and you plan on transforming yourself into a hard diamond of DBQ excellence, you might do practice grading on a sample set every few weeks to a month to check your progress to being able to think like an AP grader. In this case, you would probably use six to nine official sample sets.

If, on the other hand, the exam is in a month and you're just trying to get in some extra skill-polishing, you might do a sample set every week to 10 days . It makes sense to check your skills more often when you have less time to study because you want to be sure that you are focusing your time on the skills that need the most work. For a short time frame, expect to use somewhere in the range of three to four official sample sets.

Either way, you should be integrating your sample essay grading with skills practice and doing some practice DBQ writing of your own .

Toward the end of your study time, you could even integrate DBQ writing practice with sample grading. Read and complete a timed prompt and then grade the sample set for that prompt, including yours! The other essays will help give you a sense of what score your essay might have received that year and any areas you might have overlooked.

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to using sample sets, but in general they are a useful tool for making sure you have a good idea what the DBQ graders will be looking for when you write your own DBQ on test day.


Hey, where can we find a good DBQ around here?

Closing Thoughts: Example DBQs for AP History Tests

Example DBQ essays are a valuable resource in your arsenal of study strategies for the AP history exams. Grading samples carefully will help you get a sense of your own blind spots so you'll know what skills to focus on in your prep.

That said, sample essays will be most useful when integrated with your own targeted skills prep . Grading 100 sample essays won't help you if you aren't practicing your skills; rather, you'll just keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

Make sure you aren't using sample essays to avoid writing practice DBQs either—you'll want to do at least a couple, even if you only have a month to practice.

And there you have it, folks. With this list of DBQ examples and tips on how to use them, you are all prepared to integrate samples into your study strategy!


What's Next?

Still not sure what a DBQ is? Check out my explanation of the DBQ to learn the basics.

Want tips on how to really dig in and study for AP history tests? We've got a complete how-to guide on preparing for and writing the DBQ .

If you're still studying for AP World History, check out our top AP World History study guide , or get more practice tests from our complete list .

Want more study material for AP US History? Look into this article on the best notes to use for studying from one of our experts. Also, read our review of the best AP US History textbooks !

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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Ellen has extensive education mentorship experience and is deeply committed to helping students succeed in all areas of life. She received a BA from Harvard in Folklore and Mythology and is currently pursuing graduate studies at Columbia University.

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What’s a DBQ Essay Mean?

dbq example essay

DBQ stands for Document Based Questions. In such questions, students are given specific documents which must be studied carefully and then the given questions must be answered. Mainly, the student has to write an essay after analyzing the documents. This type of essay was the part of AP history exams in the past but now it is gaining popularity. Many students find it difficult to answer such questions due to lack of awareness but this guide will help you in writing the best document based question essay. Previous knowledge is a major component for writing a DBQ essay.

How Do You Write a DBQ Essay?

To write a DBQ essay, you need to be aware of some rules or tips. The key points for writing such essays are:

  • Carefully read the given document. Do not skim the text; it will only put you in hardship.
  • Focus on keywords like since, cultural, society, etc.
  • Collect relevant evidence that supports the main idea.
  • Think out of the box.
  • Pick the best idea that comes to your mind once you have carefully read the document.
  • Develop a thesis statement.
  • State the writer’s point of view.
  • Go through the documents again and polish the thesis statement.
  • Most importantly, manage your time in the perfect manner so that you have sufficient time for reading, writing, and revising the essay.

DBQ Essay Outline

The basic outline of a DBQ essay is similar to other essay types. It consists of an introduction, the body paragraphs, and the conclusion. The minimum number of paragraphs should be four; introduction, body paragraph 1, body paragraph 2, conclusion.

Once you have designed the thesis statement, you can put the ideas in a table that shows the document number, information taken from the document, information from other resources.

How Do You Write an Introduction for a DBQ?

A strong introduction is responsible for extra points when you are writing a DBQ essay.

  • The introduction should start with a brief historical context reflecting the period you are going to talk about in the body paragraphs.
  • After the historical context, a good thesis statement is an important part of the introduction.
  • Once you have written the thesis, state a precise sentence that will reflect the areas you are going to cover in the essay.

After the introduction, explain the thesis statement by providing necessary supporting details from the given documents. Make sure you do not copy all the points from the documents. Blend your knowledge with the points from documents and that would be the best. Keep the AP history requirements in mind while blending your points. For AP US history, you will be asked to provide maximum details from the outside sources while some points can be cited from the given documents.

At least two paragraphs are necessary for a document based essay. Each paragraph should explain one point. For bonus points, prove that the points you have stated have evidence in the documents. Be precise while providing information. Your point of view should be clear in a minimum number of words. Writing the whole stories will not give you marks.

Apart from how to write the body paragraphs, be confident with your points and show that you have understood the period really well.

After the body paragraphs, a strong conclusion will make your way to bonus marks. A strong conclusion and introduction have equal importance. Restate the thesis statement and summarize your discussion into two or three sentences. The conclusion should not include any new point and must be brief.

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Explain the causes of the rise of women rights movement in the period 1940-1975.

Suppose this is the question in your exam.

  • You will be given documents (the number of the document varies)
  • Analyze the documents and then brainstorm points that are relevant and can be linked to the points from documents.
  • Make sure you give your essay a strong introduction.
  • Add a minimum of 2 body paragraphs.
  • End your essay with a strong conclusion. Do not tell stories here. Just summarize what you have discussed in the body paragraphs.
  • Make sure you revise the essay to minimize the errors.

Bottom Line

To be precise, analyze the documents carefully. Do not copy all the points from documents; add information from other resources as well. Manage your time for the better reading of documents and then writing the essay. Keep a five-minute margin for revising the essay; everyone can make mistakes while writing.


dbq example essay

How to Write a DBQ 2023

dbq example essay

A DBQ essay is an assigned task which tests a student’s analyzation and understanding skills. They also test a student in thinking outside the box. These skills are essential for success in gaining this academic qualification. In this article from EssayPro — professional essay writers team, we will talk about how to write a DBQ, we will go through the DBQ format, and show you a DBQ example.

What Is a DBQ?

Many students may prosper: “What is a DBQ?”. Long story short, DBQ Essay or “Document Based Question” is an assigned academic paper which is part of the AP U.S. History exam (APUSH) set by the United States College Board. It requires a student’s knowledge of a certain topic with evidence from around 3 to 16 reliable sources. Understanding the APUSH DBQ and its outline is essential for success in the exam, itself.

DBQ Outline

We understand that learning how to write a DBQ essay can be difficult for beginners. This is why our professional writers have listed the DBQ format for your own reference while preparing for the exam. Like all essays, this involves an introduction, thesis, body, and conclusion.

How to Write a DBQ


  • An introductory sentence to hook your audience.
  • State the background of the topic. Using a source relating to a historical occurrence or historical figure can be helpful at this time.
  • Describe the claims made in your paper which can be supported by the evidence.
  • Create a brief description of the evidence that will be included in the body paragraphs.
  • Write a paragraph which talks about how the DBQ essay question will be answered.

Body Paragraph 1

  • Include the strongest argument. This should be linked to the thesis statement. Read our example of thesis statement .
  • Include an analysis of the references which relate to the strongest argument.
  • Write a statement which concludes the analysis in a different point of view. Include a link to the thesis.
  • Write a transition sentence to the next body paragraph.

Body Paragraph 2

  • Include a reasonable argument which links to the thesis, and the first argument in the previous body paragraph.

Body Paragraph 3

  • Include a reasonable argument which links to the thesis, and the second argument in the previous body paragraph.
  • Write a transition sentence to the conclusion.
  • Create a summarizing argument of the whole paper.
  • Include the main points or important information in the sources.
  • Create a concluding sentence or question which challenges the point of view that argues against these sources.

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How to Write a DBQ: Step-By-Step Instructions

For some students, writing a DBQ essay may be hard. Not to worry. Our easy-to-read step-by-step instructions talk about the essential points which includes how to write a DBQ thesis, analyzation, time-management and proofreading your work. It is always important to write your paper in accordance to the DBQ outline for achieving the success you’re capable of.

The DBQ involves:

  • Planning: 15 Minutes
  • Writing: 2 hours and 45 Minutes
  • Proofreading: 10 Minutes

Time management is essential for a successful grade in this form of examination. The general DBQ outline states that the duration is 3 hours and 15 minutes. Spend around 15 minutes planning, 2 hours and 45 minutes writing, and 10 minutes proofreading. Follow these easy-to-read step-by-step instructions to learn how to write a DBQ thesis, body and conclusion successfully.

Step 1: Planning (15 Minutes)

During the exam, it is important to study the provided sources. The exam is 3 hours, so 15 minutes for planning is a reasonable approach. During this time, analyze all of the important key-points from the sources provided. Then, take a note of all of the key points, and write them under the titles; introduction, thesis, body, and conclusion.

Step 2: Introduction (5 Minutes)

First impressions count. Keep the introduction short and brief. Don’t go straight into answering the question in this part of the paper. For a successful introduction, write a brief summary of the overall paper. It is also important to include an introductory sentence.

Step 3: Thesis (20 Minutes)

This form of essay requires a separate 3 paragraphs for the DBQ thesis. Describe the claims made in your paper which can be supported by the evidence. The second paragraph should include a description of the paper. The third paragraph should include how you’re going to answer the question.

  • The key difference with other essays is that the thesis plays an important role in the DBQ structure.
  • The APUSH DBQ thesis should not be two sentences long.
  • The thesis should be written with act least 2 or 3 paragraphs long.

Step 4: Body (2 Hours and 16 Minutes)

Write well-structured, categorized paragraphs. Each paragraph should include one point. Avoid mixing ideas in the paragraphs. Include your answer to the assigned question with the provided documents. It is also important to read between the lines. Each paragraph should link to the thesis.

Step 5: Conclusion (10 Minutes)

The final part of your paper. The conclusion plays a vital role in persuading your audience. A poorly written conclusion means a skeptical audience. For well-written conclusion, summarize the entire paper. Link the conclusion to the thesis. Answer the question in a concluding sentence, “the big idea”.

Step 6: Proofreading (10 Minutes)

Spend around 10 minutes proofreading your work at the end of the exam. It is important to proofread your work to make sure it does not contain any grammatical mistakes. Any writing errors can lower one’s grade. Please make sure that the body paragraphs answer the question and link to the thesis, this is the most important part of the paper.

Writing Tips to Success with Your DBQ Essay

Understand: Before writing, make sure that you understand the sources and the essay question. Duration: Remember that the exam duration is 3 hours and 15 minutes. Study: Practice how to write a DBQ before the actual exam. Identify: Find the key-points from the sources to include in your essay.

How to Write a DBQ

Read Between the Lines: Don’t just write about what you read, but write about what the passages imply. Read all Documents: Make sure you have read all of the sources, prior to writing the paper. Read the Outline: Following the DBQ essay outline is essential for understanding how to structure the paper during the exam. Categorize: Put each point into categories. This will come in useful for writing the body paragraphs. Write the Author’s Opinion: Show an understanding of the writer’s point of view. Write a Temporary DBQ Thesis on your Notes: Doing so will assist you during the paper writing. Follow DBQ Examples: Following a DBQ essay example, while studying, is an excellent way to get a feel for this form of assignment.

DBQ Example

Do you need more help? Following a sample DBQ essay can be very useful for preparation. Usually, when practicing for exams, students commonly refer to an example for understanding the DBQ structure, and other revision purposes. Click on the button to open our DBQ example from one of our professional writers. Feel free to use it as a reference when learning how to write a DBQ.

The Great War and the second ordeal of conflict in Europe, played a fundamental in the increase of the rights for women. During the second world war, the British government encouraged house-wives to do the work of what was primarily traditional for men to do.Such as growing crops and butchering animals, which was generally considered to be“men’s work”. One of the slogans was “dig for victory”. The reason for this was for people to take care of themselves during the difficult times of rationing.

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Following steps and outlines for custom writing is a great way to learn how to write a DBQ essay. As well as writing tips. Time management is vital for the positive result. Following our advice will enable you to get a good grade by learning how to write a good DBQ. Because learning the DBQ format is essential. Practice is very important for any form of examination. Otherwise, one could not do as well as his or her potential allows him or her to do so.

You might be interested in information about this type of essay, such as the definition essay .

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Our experts are able to produce a DBQ essay example within hours. Why not give it a try to improve your knowledge?

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Examples of Writing a DBQ Essay

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  • Academic Essay Examples
  • Parts of an Essay

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Preparing for the DBQ essay

  • Prompt 1: Analyze the extent to which a historical stereotype is true for a given period or concept. Example: Analyze the extent to which the Suffragettes were depicted as manly, uncivilized women during the 1890s to the 1920s.
  • Prompt 2: Analyze multiple reasons that cause a particular movement to develop.
  • Prompt 3: Compare and contrast differing attitudes toward a concept or policy.
  • Prompt 4: Analyze the degree of truth in particular statement examples . Take a stance on the statement.
  • Prompt 5: Analyze the impact of an event or concept on some part of American society.
  • Prompt 6: Analyze the relative importance of a specific factor or factors on an event or concept.

pen writing notes studying1

  • Prompt 1: Suffragettes were seen as unpatriotic, unfeminine women by the people who opposed the idea of women having the right to vote during the 1890s-1920s in the United States.
  • Prompt 2: The Progressive movement gained power in the 1890s to 1920s since lots of American citizens were shocked by the poor living conditions and the economic climate in which trusts dominated the major sources of income in America.
  • Prompt 3: In the United States; during the 1890s to the 1920s, some women joined the suffragettes to fight for the right to vote. However other women, particularly the elite class, snubbed at the suffragettes because they believed that women were meant to be housewives.
  • Prompt 4: The Women’s Rights movement was a big part of the Progressive era from the years 1890 to 1920 in the United States.
  • Prompt 5: The Progressive era majorly impacted American society drastically in terms of economics, politics, and culture during the 1890s to the 1920s.
  • Prompt 6: Women were able to gain the right to vote, due to the fact that they made up most of the workforce during WWI.
  • What is the main idea of each document?
  • How does a document relate to the prompt?
  • How does the document will help your assumptions?
  • The Bill of Rights. The Women’s Rights movement resulted in the establishment of the 19th Amendment.
  •  A list made by suffragettes at a meeting about their strategies for getting the right to vote.

DBQ Sample Essay

dbq sample essay

DBQ Essay Outline

dbq essay outline

Writing the essay

  • Women who were not suffragettes but still supported the movement wrote letters discussing their desire to help (doc 2).

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Sample DBQ and Scoring:



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