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Here are a few things to look for: I know, it can be pretty stressful to have to read, outline, draft, and revise all in less than an hour. Having a few writing strategies in your back pocket can only help, so take a look at these posts: The reverse outlining process will also help you identify essay components and see how the writer developed his/her ideas. If you don’t have access to a practice test, grab a few sources you’ve used to write previous research papers.Then complete the entire process of note-taking, outlining, and essay writing.In a DBQ essay, you’re given a variety of documents, usually six or seven, that might include articles, letters, charts, images, or other sources.
In most cases, it’s suggested that you use about 15 minutes to read the documents and plan the essay and then about 40 minutes to actually write the essay. In front of you, you have an essay prompt, six documents, and the dreaded blank page.
Your first thought might be, “I have absolutely no idea where to begin or even how to plan this type of paper.
And what about all those times they made you annotate, prewrite, outline, and take notes? Are you supposed to compare and contrast time periods, people, ideas, opinions, or events?
They’re important skills to have when writing any essay and will be just as important when you write a DBQ essay. Are you supposed to argue a specific stance on an issue? If you write a historical overview of the Vietnam War when you’re supposed to be comparing causes of the Vietnam War to causes of WWII, you’re aren’t going to earn any points.
What’s the point of scrolling through zillions of products if you’re really only looking for a chew toy for your new puppy? If the essay prompt asks you to compare soldiers’ attitudes toward the war, you can probably skip over the parts of the letters that ask about Aunt Harriet’s health or that ask if the garden is doing well this year. Instead, focus on soldiers’ comments about whether they believe in the war or their comments about the government, fellow soldiers, or those they’re fighting against.
As you locate details to include in your essay, write notes in the margins to help you remember their significance and to help you locate the information later. After all, you’ll need to incorporate all of the given documents into your paper, so you need to be able to review them relatively quickly.
When you look at it that way, it doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
But just in case you’re still freaking out (even just a little bit), here are some tips to help you write a DBQ essay the easy way.
These might be personal connections, connections to arts or literature, or connections to current events. It demonstrates your ability to not only use the documents provided but also see how they apply to the larger context.
(The people grading your exam will be looking for these types of connections, so make sure to include them.)You’ve written lots of different types of essays, and the DBQ essay is no different when it comes to standard essay format.