AP World DBQ Body Paragraph Practice & Feedback

10 min readdecember 31, 2020

Melissa Longnecker

Eric Beckman

DBQ Practice is very important when preparing for the AP World exam. In this blog, we'll be focusing on writing the body paragraphs.

DBQ Prompt

Evaluate the extent to which Mongol states changed Eurasian societies in the 13th and 14th centuries CE.
Specifically, use ONE document (no more!) and ONE piece of evidence beyond what is in the documents to support an argument related to the prompt. In addition, analyze how the sourcing of the document is relevant to the argument.

Source 1

Xiyou ji [Journey to the west], a record of the Daoist Master Changchun’s (b. 1148 CE) journey from coastal China to visit Chinggis Khan in 1222 and again in 1223 at camps in Central Asia, written by his disciple Li Zhizhang, 1228 CE
[First visit]The Emperor appointed the fourteenth of the fourth month (June 24th) as the day on which he would question the Master about the Dao. This engagement was recorded by his state officers... as well as by three of his personal attendants. But just as the time was arriving, news came that the native mountain bandits were in insurrection. The Emperor was determined to deal with them himself, and put off the meeting till the first of the tenth month (November 5th)...
[Second visit] ... an imposing pavilion was erected, the women of the Khan's retinue were sent away. To left and right candles and torches flared. ... The Master entered accompanied by the Governor... The Master's words were translated into Mongol ... The Emperor was delighted with his doctrine and on the nineteenth, when there was a bright night, sent for him again. On this occasion too he was much pleased by what he heard, and sent for the Master to his tent once more on the twenty-third (October 29th). He was here treated with the same regard as before and the Emperor listened to him with evident satisfaction. He ordered that the Master's words should be recorded, and especially that they should be written down in Chinese characters, that they might be preserved from oblivion. To those present he said: " You have heard the holy Immortal discourse three times upon the art of nurturing the vital spirit. His words have sunk deeply into my heart. I rely upon you not to repeat what you have heard". During the remainder of the Imperial Progress to the east, the Master constantly discoursed to the Emperor concerning the mysteries of Dao.

Source 2

A Russian Chronicle, recorded by Russian Orthodox Christians, mid-13 th century, described the Khanate of the Golden Horde’s attack the Russian city Riazan
It happened in 1237. That winter, the godless Tatars*, under the leadership of Batu...encamped at Onuza, which they took and burned. From here they dispatched their emissaries—a woman witch and two men—to the princes of Riazan demanding tribute...the princes of Riazan...did not allow the emissaries to enter the city...
The princes of Riazan...engaged them in a battle. The struggle was fierce but the Tatars emerged victorious...Thus angered, the Tatars now began the conquest of the Riazan land with great fury. They destroyed cities, killed people, burned, and took people into slavery. On December 6, the cursed strangers approached the capital city of Riazan, besieged it...the Princes of Riazan shut themselves up with the people of the city, fought bravely, but succumbed. On December 21, the Tatars took the city of Riazan, burned it completely, killed Prince Iurii Igorevich, his wife, slaughtered other prices, and of the captured men, women, and children, some they killed with their swords, others they killed with arrows and then threw them into the fire; while some they captured they bound, cut, and disemboweled their bodies. The Tatars burned many holy churches, monasteries, and villages, and took their property
*People of Mongol ancestry, in this case the forces of the Khanate of the Golden Horde

Source 3

Ala ad-Din Juvaini, Persian scholar and later governor of Baghdad for Mongol overlords, The History of the World Conqueror (the Mongol conquest), begun c. 1252-53.
After Chinggis Khan’s son, Tolui’s death, the Great Khan commanded that as long as he lived affairs of state should be administered in accordance to the council of Tolui’s wife Sorqotani Beki...and her sons...that the army and the people, great and small, should be under the control of her command and prohibition... ...And her hand was ever open in great generosity and gift giving...Although she was a follower...of the religion of Jesus she would bestow alms and presents upon imams and shaikhs and strove also to revive the sacred observances of the faith of Mohammed. ... And as the token and proof of this statement...she gave 1000 silver balish...that a madrasa


Your response to this prompt will work toward three of the elements of this year’s rubric (but only with one document and one piece of evidence):
  1. Support an argument in response to the prompt using at least 4 documents.
  2. Use at least 2 additional pieces of specific historical evidence (beyond that found in the documents) relevant to an argument about the prompt.
  3. For at least 2 documents, explain how or why the document’s point of view, purpose, historical situation, and/or audience is relevant to an argument.

Responses and Feedback

Body Paragraph Practice Submission 1

The Mongols never really contributed anything culturally and instead assimilated into the ones they conquered (Doc 3). Doc 3 shows an article describing after the ruler in Persia who was Genghis’ son died, his wife took over and also would contribute to Islam and Christianity by payments. Therefore, while the Mongols were the rulers and controllers of Persia at one point, they accepted and even followed the culture due to not having one of their own. Juvaini, who was a Persian scholar, must have had teachings from Persia’s ideologies and their way of government and also must have been taught to try to praise their government of mainly Islam through showing support of the religion, which could be a reason why her support of Islam is shown. During this time, another khanate that was similar to this was the Golden Horde. They accepted religions like Christianity and were also respectful towards them while also sometimes paying respect to them and basically let them continue their lives as long as they followed certain rules to create a safe society.

Teacher Feedback

You’ve done a great job here in taking evidence from the document and putting it into your paragraph without quoting - this is some good paraphrasing! It’s also clear that you have a good understanding of the Mongols from your studying.
This paragraph does a good job drawing evidence out of the document. The next step to strengthen it is to be sure that your evidence is directly connected to your argument. How is Sorqotani Beki’s support of Muslims and Christians evidence that the Mongols assimilated into the culture of Persia? The connection is implied here, rather than stated, and a direct piece of analysis is going to help.
This paragraph does a good job of identifying an element of sourcing (author’s point of view). To strengthen your sourcing analysis, the next step is to develop your explanation of why that point of view is relevant to your overall analysis. How would Juviani’s experience as a Persian scholar (or as a Mongol governor) be relevant in understanding his comments?
This is a good job of identifying an outside piece of evidence relevant to your topic. Like with the use of evidence from the document, it is a good idea to be explicit in your connection between the evidence and the argument you are making. How did the Golden Horde assimilate into the cultures they conquered? (Tolerance of Christianity isn’t the same thing as assimilation, necessarily, so just a little bit of explanation would help here.)

Body Paragraph Practice Submission 2

Although some would argue that Mongol states greatly changed Eurasian societies because of the spread of the Bubonic plague, The Mongol state did not significantly change Eurasian societies in the 13th and 14th centuries, because the Mongol people assimilated into European culture. In the Kublai Khan Hunting, (doc 4), it shows how Mongols were starting to wear Chinese silks under their Mongolian furs. This is the start of how the Mongols were assimilating into Chinese culture by wearing a very significant clothing to Chinese culture. Also, because the painting was drawn by a court painter, the Mongols are probably symbolized as less assimilated that they really are, because paintings such as these in courts were used to legitimize leaders power and were often exaggerated to make the ruler look different to show they were in charge. This supports the fact that the Mongols did not significantly change Euraisan society, it changed them. Also, even though the Mongols did contribute some to the bubonic plauge, it was also spread through the Indian Ocean trade network on infected rats and fleas, so the disease was not solely spread because of the Mongols. Furthermore, during the Mongol rule over the Yuan dynasty, they used Chinese Confucianism to legitimize their power, as well as banning intermarrige betwwen Mongols and Chinese people, further lessening the impact they had on European societies. Therefore because the Mongol states assimilated into European culture, were not the only cause of the Bubonic plauge, and used common Chinese teachings and banned marrying the Mongol states did not have a significant impact on Eurasian societies.

Teacher Feedback

Wow - you made the most of the one paragraph rule in this response! I can tell that you had a lot of ideas you wanted to write about from this DBQ, and you fit a ton of great content into just this paragraph. Nice work!
I’m impressed that you chose to use the image for this practice paragraphs - sometimes those can be the trickiest to pull evidence from! In this case, I want to encourage you to really use the image itself as evidence beyond what is given in the source line. Knowing that this is an image of Kublai Khan hunting (wearing the Chinese silks under his furs), what else do you see going on? What can that tell you about how the Mongols assimilated (or didn’t) into Chinese culture?
This is some really thoughtful sourcing - it’s clear that you’ve had some practice with this skill. You’ve done a good job identifying a sourcing category (POV of the artist) and giving a rationale for why that is relevant. Nice work.
There is actually a lot of outside evidence in this paragraph about the plague, Indian Ocean trade, and the Mongols in China. Very nice.
If this were a real DBQ essay, I would encourage you to split the topics of this paragraph into two separate ideas: the Mongols and the plague, and the Mongols assimilating in China/Eurasia. For this practice, it works. In an essay, keeping your ideas separate gives you room to develop and analyze each one thoroughly. Nice work, keep it up!

Body Paragraph Practice Submission 3

Mongol states changed Eurasian societies in the 13th and 14th centuries CE by their constant rebellions and conquests undertaken to accumulate more wealth in larger land portions. The Mongols were ruthless and powerful because their army had great tactics that allowed them to prosper in their attacks on other countries. They would repeatedly attack after not getting something they desired. Their main purpose was to attack and by force would conquer other nations. When the princes of Riazan did not allow for the emissaries to enter the city, they called for a battle, prideful that they would come out successful, and immediately the Tatars strength overcame them. The Tatars were so furious with these princes that they ruled with anger and this caused much destruction and harm to come to the innocent peoples of the land (Document 2). This battle loss encouraged the building of stronger armies and navies on the Eurasia land mass because the other nations became fearful from the Mongols power. A Russian Orthodox Christian viewed this destruction occur to the city in the mid 1200s which shows that the writer might have over exaggerated on the Mongols destruction because it was his home that they destroyed, or that the mongols had fury and the way they dealt with that was by punishing the people of the city. Although the Mongols were harsh, destructive leaders and forced others to succumb to their authority, they happened to hold practices of religious tolerance knowing that their people would rebel if they began to reduce the people’s freedom. This proves that the Mongols did not hold religion among the peoples as their reason for establishing conquests on new territory, but instead did it to gain more land and wealth through the gains of trade and new resources. They changed Eurasian societies by allowing them to keep their culture and religion which showed other rulers that peace is brought with freedom and not forced religious beliefs and their constant conquest diminished the powers of other rulers which encourage them to build up their armies and navies before becoming prideful and believing that they are invincible.

Teacher Feedback

    I can see that you’ve done your homework on the Mongols. You have a lot to say in this DBQ, and from this paragraph it looks like you could have written the whole essay if we had let you!
    You’ve done a good job pulling evidence out of Document 2 and paraphrasing it to work with your argument. That’s good! As you develop your paragraphs, look for ways to directly tie the evidence back to your main argument and/or connect evidence from multiple documents together (not in this paragraph, but in your real essay!) In this case, I’d love to see more development of your idea that the Mongol conquests were a force of change in Eurasian societies.
    The sourcing here is really good. You’ve identified that the historical situation AND POV of the author both contribute to the tone, and possible exaggeration, in this document. That’s some good work!
    For the piece of outside evidence, you can be even more specific (if possible.) I think you were going for the idea of religious tolerance as outside evidence, which is correct. If you can think of (or find) an example of religious tolerance in the Mongol khanates, that would be even stronger evidence to develop your idea about change here. Try to make the outside evidence as specific as evidence from the document, if it’s possible to do so without going crazy trying to do research on the fly!

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