Dbq Essay Tips And Tricks

 

THEMATIC ESSAY ... Scariest Part

CLICK HERE FOR MR. KLAFF'S SUMMARY OF GLOBAL THEMATICS AND DBQs SINCE 2001

(Global Regents Review Sheet)

 

NOW FOR SOME THEMATIC TIPS.

NOTE: The Thematic and DBQ Essays are graded on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest).

 

Tip #1:  Depth and Analysis

    Do you remember when someone in your past told you that "it's not quantity, it's quality"? They lied. It's both which you need.  You could answer a thematic essay in two sentences and be sort of correct ... but that doesn't mean you will get a good grade! You need to offer details ... DETAILS!!! Let's assume you have the following part of a question:

Explain how 1 geographic feature impacted a region.

Well, you could answer it one of two ways:

 a) "Britain is an island, and is therefore isolated. It was safe from Napoleon."

Wow, two sentences. One of those was five words long!! That's not ANALYSIS. You need to analyze, or in simpler terms ... you need to make a detailed examination using plenty of relevant facts.  Maybe you are better off saying:

b) "Britain is an island, and therefore it could not be taken over by land or air. First, in the early 19th Century, Napoleon couldn't defeat Britain despite the Continental System and Battle of Trafalgar. A century later, Hitler attempted to defeat Britain with a blitzkrieg, but later lost in battle. It was the geographical isolation of Britain which made both adversaries powerless to mobilze a military victory."

Do you see the difference there? Both are correct, but (b) is SO MUCH BETTER! It offers specifics, history, and context.

Tip #2: Choose what you can write a lot about!

    I know it sounds obvious, but you really need to write about a topic you know very well. After the question, the Regents will offer you different options as to what you can write about (though you are not limited to their choices). For instance, if the  essay is on "Revolution and Rebellion," then choose what you can write the most on. To me, I would think you could write much more on the Industrial Revolution than the Sepoy Mutiny. Don't choose something that you can only write a few sentences about!

 

 

 

Tip #3: Answer every bullet equally!

   The question will give you 2-3 bullets to answer. If you write 10 pages on one bullet, and nothing on the others ... that's bad! Don't forget to answer every part. Let's say you get a question that says

     Choose two global conflicts:

      - Describe two causes regarding the conflict.

      - Discuss two effects of that conflict (short-term and/or long-term).

Notice, they are asking you 6 things in total! For this type of question make the following grid. Though you only need two, here are some suggestions:

This type of grid will ensure that you won't miss or mix up a question. Now that you are organized, you can write the essay with EVEN MORE details!

Tip #4: Be Careful!

   NOTE: You CAN NOT write about US History. For crying out loud!! Martin Luther was NOT Martin Luther King, Jr. Also, the thematic sometimes says ... "You can not write on certain topics." Topics in the DBQ are usually off limits for the thematic essay. Make sure you read the bold words under the question! 

 

Tip #5: What to Study?

The thematic is scary ... but not scary if you study the right things. KNOW THE FOLLOWING FIVE THINGS, AND YOU HAVE A GREAT CHANCE OF KNOCKING THIS OUT OF THE PARK. Historically, the following are the topics found most often on thematics.

1. I would know a couple of the impacts of Geography on world history ... Ex.  Britain is an island -- and couldn't be attacked my Napoleon or Hitler. Also, England's natural harbors allowed the Industrial Revolution to start there.  Scroll down to get the low-down on geography!

2. I would know two Revolutions REALLY WELL. Go French Revolution ... or Russian ... Peace, Land, and Bread! Studying both would cover you for the Political Systems of Absolutism (overthrow of) and Communism! Also, know a non-political one such as the Industrial Revolution! By studying Industrial, you are covered for the Economic Systems of capitalism and socialism. A revolution is GREAT for the Thematic, because it can be used for: Change, Conflict, War, or Turning Points. The Regents has asked that type of question often in recent years.

3. Human Rights Violations -- Study 2 of these very thoroughly: Holocaust, Khmer Rouge, Tiananmen Square, Apartheid.

4. Know a few individuals REALLY well. Pick two who are seen in a favorable light, and two who aren't. Scroll down on this sheet for a list of the major people of the course. When in doubt, Gandhi and Locke are easy to write about.

5. A pretty fun topic to write about is technology. But remember: WRITE ABOUT A TOPIC THAT YOU CAN DISCUSS IN DEPTH. The atomic bomb, Sputnik, or gunpowder are topics that fit this theme. Other choices include the astrolabe, aqueducts, and the printing press.

Low Percentage Thematics include: Economic and Political Systems (mentioned above), Movements of People and Trade Organizations (OPEC, NAFTA), Collapse of Governments (Fall of Louis XVI & Soviet Union), Nationalism (WWI and WWII), and Global problems such as pollution and deforestation.

BUT IT REALLY COULD BE ANYTHING! See the entire list of the thematic history by clicking the link above.

Tip #6: How many Paragraphs?!?!!?

Students are always scared about how many paragraphs they should write. Well ... according to the state standard you need to do the following:

Have a logical and clear plan of organization. Also, have an introduction and conclusion that doesn't just restate the theme.

Hmmm ... it doesn't say how many paragraphs to write! The number of paragraphs is usually determined by the amount of bullets in the question. But usually, if they ask for two religions as shown above, a body paragraph for each religion will do. Suppose you have SO MUCH information on both ...  then you can write 4 body paragraphs. That's a paragraph per religion for each bullet (or square on the above chart). Does that mean you can't get a good grade with 2 body paragarphs? It doesn't mean that! According to the state standard, you can get a 5 if you have very good organization, you analyze and answer all parts thoroughly, and include a lot of facts, examples, and details. Perhaps, you can even create new information based upon your knowledge.

 

 

 

 

DBQ

Your Score on the DBQ will be largely based on you answering “yes” to the following questions:

1. Did I put the documents into proper groups and analyze them? (DO NOT SUMMARIZE)

2. Did I use the MINIMUM amount of documents which they suggest?

3. Did I answer the bullets SPECIFICALLY as to what is asked?

4. Do I have a detailed thesis?

5. Is my outside information impressive?

NOW FOR SOME TIPS.

 

Tip #1:First, the Scaffolding Questions 

Do you know how important those little questions are after the documents?  They are worth BIG points. They count the same as multiple choice questions. So, make sure you TAKE YOUR TIME with them. I know, it's hot outside and you want to go swimming. The pool can wait! If you see 2 lines, write 3 lines! Answer in full sentences. Give all you know! My recommendation would be to first scan the document. Notice who is speaking, what the year is, and the focus of the document. Then, read the question so you know specifically what is being asked.

 

Tip #2: Organize

They will give you a few sets of documents. Usually there's about three topics in a general category such as human rights violations, change, turning points, or technology. Organize the documents by topic so you know which ones will fit in the same paragraph when you write.

 

Tip #3: Outside Information

Use extensive outside information.

No Bull, you need to have a lot of outside information. As you go through each document, jot down notes in the margins. Your documents should be drowning in ink by the end of the hour! Give anything...ANYTHING...relevant that is not in the documents. For example, consider a document that deals with John Locke. In the margin write down “Enlightenment,” “Rousseau, Montesquieu, Voltaire’.” Any note about thinkers of that era would be a great addition of outside information. Cite your Outside Information (O.I.) as well as your documents (Doc 1) (Doc 2). Be warned ... your teachers are pretty smart! Don't write down ... Russia is big and cold. (O.I.) That's not the outside info we are looking for!

 

Tip #4: DON'T SUMMARIZE! Discuss, Describe, Explain.

If you just copy over the documents, you'll have a really long and TERRIBLE essay. The documents are there to guide your argument. If they are asking about thechanges brought on by the Scientific Revolution, and you just summarize the Heliocentric Model without focusing on the question, you are NOT doing it correctly! If they say:

Describe - It means to tell about it.

Discuss - It means to make observations using reasoning and present detail.

Explain - It means to make understandable and provide reasons, causes, or results.

If they ask to Discuss change, then show that you understand how the heliocentric model brought about change and why it can be considered a turning point. Thus:

The heliocentric model of Nicolaus Copernicus was an important contribution of the Scientific Revolution of the sixteenth century. The model illustrated that the Sun was the center of the solar system and the planets revolved around it. This was great change, as for centuries people believed in the geocentric model whereby the Earth was the center of the universe. Galileo looked to prove the heliocentric theory by using a telescope to observe the moons of Jupiter. The Church didn't take kindly to Galileo's work. He was convicted of heresy and forced to live under house arrest. Still, the Scientific Revolution was a turning point as scientists continued to question ancient teachings from those such as Aristotle. A new era of scientific observation and experimentation took over Europe.

The biggest piece of advice I can give is to answer their questions with analysis (or detailed examination). If you just summarize documents without focus, the essay will be in big trouble!

 

 

Tip #5: How many Paragraphs?!?!!?

TO REPEAT FROM ABOVE IF YOU'RE TOO LAZY TO SCROLL BACK UP:

Students are always scared about how many paragraphs they should write. Well ... according to the state standard you need to do the following:

Have a logical and clear plan of organization. Also, have an introduction and conclusion that doesn't just restate the theme.

Hmmm ... it doesn't say how many paragraphs to write! The number of paragraphs is usually determined by the amount of bullets in the question. But usually, if they ask for two religions as shown above, a body paragraph for each religion will do. Suppose you have SO MUCH information on both ...  then you can write 4 body paragraphs. That's a paragraph per religion for each bullet (or square on the above chart). Does that mean you can't get a good grade with 2 body paragraphs? It doesn't mean that! According to the state standard, you can get a 5 if you have very good organization, you analyze and answer all parts thoroughly, and include a lot of facts, examples, and details. Perhaps, you can even create new information based upon your knowledge.

 

(Global Regents Review Sheet)

 

The purpose of the DBQ (Document Based Question) is not to test your knowledge of the subject, but rather to evaluate your ability to practice the historian's craft. You will be required to work with the documents and use them to answer a question.

Writing the DBQ is an acquired skill, one that takes practice. You should not get discouraged if you do not "get it" right away. The goal is to acquire the skill by May.

Remember that there is actually no right or wrong answer. Your answer is YOUR interpretation of the content of the documents. As long as your answer is logical and your interpretation is supported by the content of the document you are correct.

The following is your guide to writing a successful DBQ.

 

 

1. Read carefully the question prompt and the historical background. Underline the tasks demanded and the terms which are unique to the question.

2. Read the documents carefully.

a. Make sure that you understand the content of the document.

b. What is the author's Point of View (POV).

c. Where is the tension?

1. Are there people from the same place with differing POV?

2. Is a Frenchman critiquing the French or is it an Englishman?

Which is biased, which has great knowledge?

d. What is the origin of the document?

e. Is the document valid or is it hearsay?

f. If time, gender or age were changed would the person be saying the same thing?

3. You should strive to use most of the document (omitting no more than 1 or two).

4. Do not simply site the documents in "laundry list" fashion. You should strive to IMPOSE order on the documents. Find groupings for the documents. Can they be organized into a format? What is the OVERALL picture presented by the documents. Can you use the documents implicitly?

5. Your essay should be an ANALYSIS of the documents and their content.You are demonstrating analysis if you are doing the following:

a. The essay contains a thesis which divides your answer into categories.

b. The documents are used as evidence to support your thesis.

c. Frequent reference is made to the terms of the question.

Be certain that your answer is always focused directly on the question. Do not drift afield.

6. Be certain that, if the question allows, you exploit all of the following in writing your answer.

a. Point of View (POV) is both indicated and discussed from several angles.

b. The Validity (VAL) of documents is noted.

c. Change Over Time (COT) is recognized and discussed (if this occurs in the documents)

d. Did the pendulum of history swing in the chronological course of the documents? Did it swing back again?

 

1. The essay has an adequate introduction in which the time frame is noted.

2. The thesis provides an answer to the question and divides the answer into

categories.

3. Proper essay style is used (think 5 paragraph format where applicable).

4. Grammar and spelling are adequate (do not misspell words that are supplied in

the documents).

5. You have not referred to yourself in the essay and you have not told the readers what they are "going to learn".

6. A great majority of the documents have been used in a manner which makes their use readily apparent to the reader.

7. Quotations are limited to a phrase which is placed within the context of your answer.

8. ALL PARTS OF THE QUESTION have been answered.

9. A conclusion exists which summarizes the evidence, restates the thesis and indicates a direction for further study or occurrences.

10. Base all of your comments on the documents, NOT on outside information. Outside information may be used to enhance understanding but it must not be the basis of your argument.

 

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