Guidelines for Writing

Answering a Document Based Question (DBQ)

General Guidelines
Writing your answer

Your DBQ should follow the following format:
  1. Opening paragraph with a sentence for each category and a thesis statement (Include a definition if a term is presented such a "radical" or "liberal").
  2. "Setting the Scene" paragraph: This is crucial. This will allow you to load up on the outside information and bring the reader to the "heart" of your essay. Do not overdo it. Remember that you will need time for your other paragraphs. It should be no longer than six sentences.
  3. The next three to four paragraphs will be your discussion of the outside information with your use of the documents to back up your thesis statement.
  4. Remember our work with documents. The outside information that you would include in your essay would be the facts that your already knew about the topic; you probably have these facts under your categories before you even looked at the documents; you were reminded of these facts by the documents.
  5. However, you also need to include the significance of each document or what each document reveals. In some cases, you might be familiar with the information revealed by the document. Weaving the "significance" of the documents is a bit tricky, but you will get it with time.