Continuity and Change Examples

Compare and Contrast Examples

Causes and Effects Examples




You will be given a Document Based Question essay and a standard Long Essay.  The DBQ makes up 25% of your grade, and the Long Essay is worth 15%. 

First, letís talk about the Document Based Question (DBQ) essay. The test will give you a series of 7 documents. The topics tend to be general, and the question looks to show continuity and change, or one of the other historical thinking skills.

Here is a guide as to how you should write your essay. It is your job to group the 7 documents into different categories and argue a thesis.






Your Score on the DBQ will be largely based on you answering ďyesĒ to the following questions:

Section II will consist of a DBQ and a Long Essay. First, letís talk about the Document Based Question (DBQ) essay, where you will be given a question followed by a series of seven documents. The topics tend to be general and the question looks to address the AP History Disciplinary Practices and Reasoning Skills (see earlier). The DBQ will be on a topic from periods 3-6.

You can succeed on the DBQ if you answer ďyesĒ to the following:

1. Do I have a detailed thesis?

2. Did I put the documents into historical context?

3. Did I utilize at least six of the documents to support the argument?

4. Is my outside information impressive?

5. On at least three documents, did I explain the relevance towards the argument regarding the audience, purpose, historical situation, or authorís point of view?

6. Did I demonstrate a complex understanding of what the question is looking for? Did I use evidence to corroborate, modify, or qualify an argument?



Now a deeper breakdown of the point system:

The new DBQ will have 7 Documents, and most likely ask you a question that can have two different sides to it. It is your job to do all of the following to get 7/7 points on your essay score.



Thesis = 1 Point (The Essay is Worth 7 Points in Total)


            The exam wants you to make a defensible thesis or claim which responds to all parts of the question. Be warned! Do not just use the sentence they give you as your thesis. We know that there are economic, political, and social causes for conflict. If you get a little creative, it will help your grade.

Average Thesis: The economic, political, and social issues of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries created division and conflict around the world.

Better Thesis: Although economic, political, and social divisions were similar in that they brought about increased tensions and global conflict, economic motivations were more powerful in that they ultimately caused immense political and social strife.

            The second thesis shows a greater level of creative and critical thinking. Often, starting your thesis with a word like ďalthoughĒ will send you on the right path to comparing and contrasting, or showing continuity and change. Your thesis doesnít have to be as elaborate as above, but this example should help you understand critical thinking.


Evidence from the Documents = 2 Points 

            Mark up those documents in the 15 minute reading period! Include only the vital bits and pieces from them. Use the clock or bring a noiseless watch to the testing site, and keep an eye out on the time! You should be able to write down in the margin of each document the answers to the following:


1. What are the important and relevant details of this document? 

2. Where does it fit into my essay, and how does it relate to the history reasoning skill being targeted? 

3. How can I use this information to support the argument?


            Donít just quote Ö analyze and utilize the documents to support that all-important thesis! For both points, you must support the argument by accurately describing at least six of the documents. Accurately describing three documents will help you only get one point.





Evidence Beyond the Documents = 1 Point; Contextualization = 1 Point

            No Bull, you need to have a lot of evidence beyond the documents, or outside information. You will not get credit for only providing a phrase! As you go through each document, jot down notes in the margins.

I donít see anything about the Treaty of Nanjing in the documents. Thatís political outside information.

I donít see anything about resistance to apartheid. Thatís social outside information.

I donít see anything about diamonds in South Africa. Thatís economic outside information.

Throw it in. Show impressive detail, or a great scope of knowledge, to get this point. A phrase wonít cut it!

Impressive Detail: On June 28, 1914, Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo by a Serbian nationalist named Gavrilo Princip. The assassination set off a chain reaction that caused World War I.

Impressive Detail: After European nations divided up Africa at the Berlin Conference, there was still conflict in South Africa, as the superior British military fought the Second Boer War c1900.

Do you see the difference? Throw in a fact here, a year there. It must relate to the prompt and argument. Thatís impressive detail!

            Similar to your outside knowledge, you must show contextualization. In other words, you must connect the documents to the larger picture of events, processes, and developments occurring before, during, or after. You canít use the same outside knowledge for your contextualization. So, if the document is about the rise of fascism, connect it to the Treaty of Versailles. If itís on Japanese imperialism, link it to the Meiji Era and modernization of Japan. But like above, be in-depth, as a phrase just wonít cut it.


Analysis and Reasoning = 2 Points                   

      For at least three documents, you should point out the Historical Situation, Audience, Point of View, and/or Purpose and explain why it is relevant to the argument. For instance, in Document 2, the Historical Situation would be the uneasy calm before World War I. The Audience would be the Austrian public who would see the event as a national tragedy. The Purpose would be to inform about hostilities and conflict. The Point of View would be sympathetic, angry, and perhaps suggest retribution. This effort is worth one point.


      Now for the final point: Complex Understanding. This question is looking for you to compare and contrast. Donít just show similaritiesÖshow differences as well! If they ask for continuity and change, SHOW BOTH! If they ask a question about causation, show short-term and long-term causes, as well as short-term and long-term effects. This will display a higher level of understanding. You get one point for this type of complex understanding. For the point, you could also analyze multiple variables, qualify or modify an argument by looking at alternative views or evidence, explain relevant connections across different time periods, or confirm an argumentís truth by looking at perspectives in different themes.





Continuity and Change Examples

Compare and Contrast Examples

Causes and Effects Examples



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