The DBQ requires you to analyze the documents in addition to bringing outside information to bear on the question. This is a difficult task, and you have only 15 minutes to plan before you begin writing. Don’t panic! Use the same strategies given for the LEQ for document analysis. The more you practice using these strategies, the better you will become at quickly finding significance in the documents.
Use the prompt and documents below to practice writing a DBQ. Either create an outline of key points or time yourself for 55 minutes (15 to prep and 40 to write) to get test day practice. Check your answers against the sample response at the end to see how yours compares!
DBQ Sample Question
“We believe in national unity which recognizes equal opportunity of black and white citizens to jobs in national defense and the armed forces and in all other institutions and endeavors in America. We condemn all dictatorships, Fascist, Nazi and Communist. We are loyal, patriotic Americans, all. But if American democracy will not defend its defenders; if American democracy will not protect its protectors; if American democracy will not insure equality of opportunity, freedom and justice to its citizens, black and white, it is a hollow mockery and belies the principles for which it is supposed to stand. Only power can affect the enforcement and adoption of a given policy. Power is the active principle of only the organized masses, the masses united for a definite purpose. We loyal Negro-American citizens demand the right to work and fight for our country.”
Asa Philip Randolph, January 1941, “The Call to March,” from The Black Worker, May 1941
“Now therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of War, and the Military Commanders whom he may from time to time designate, whenever he or any designated Commander deems such action to be necessary or desirable, to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any persons to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restriction the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion.”
Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, February 19, 1942
“1. Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34 which, during a state of war with Japan and as a protection against espionage and sabotage, was promulgated by the Commanding General of the Western Defense Command under authority of Executive Order No. 9066 and
the Act of March 21, 1942, and which directed the exclusion after May 9, 1942, from a described West Coast military area of all persons of Japanese ancestry, held constitutional as of the time it was made and when the petitioner—an American citizen of Japanese descent whose home was in the described area—violated it.”
– Supreme Court decision Korematsu v. U.S.
Overall, this essay is very thorough and develops the analysis well. Considering there is a 45-minute suggested time limit for writing the DBQ essay, this essay is clear and well supported. It utilizes and analyzes all six documents very accurately. The narrative is complemented by outside information, which is also explained well.
This essay has a strong thesis, very clear and relevant and the context of the question is also very clear. This thesis would earn the one point possible for the thesis.
The use of factual information is exceptional, and the information is explained very well and is nicely linked to the analytic information. This essay would receive all 4 possible points for the analysis of historical evidence and support.
The context of the analysis is very clear; the reader can tell exactly when the events are taking place in American history. One point for the context out of 1 point available.
The evidence and analysis are all synthesized into a clear and well-developed narrative. One point of 1 for synthesis. The total score for this essay would be a 7 out of 7 possible points.