AP World DBQ Practice Responses & Feedback

20 min readjanuary 1, 2021

Melissa Longnecker

Eric Beckman


Practicing DBQs is a great way to prep for the AP exam! Review student responses for this DBQ prompt and corresponding feedback from Fiveable teachers Eric Beckman and Melissa Longnecker!

The DBQ Practice Prompt

Evaluate the extent to which Mongol states changed Eurasian societies in the 13th and 14th centuries CE.
Specifically, use TWO documents to support an argument related to the prompt, include how the sourcing of the document is relevant to the argument. Click here to see the documents.
Your response to this prompt will work toward these two elements:
  1. Support an argument in response to the prompt using at least 4 documents.
  2. 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.

Student Responses and Teacher Feedback

Practice Submission 1

Thesis: The Mongols changed Eurasian societies to a great extent because the Mongols improved societies and by expanding their territory.
Body Paragraph: One way in which Mongols changed Eurasian societies was by helping the growth of societies in Eurasia. According to Ala ad-Din Juvaini, the Khan’s family donated money to people of all religions. The point of view of this document is that the Khan’s family are good people because they choose to donate to religions that they do not even believe in. (Doc 3) Furthermore, Friar John of Monte Corvino states that the Khan bestowed many kindnesses upon the Christians. The intended audience of this document are Franciscans because the Friar wants to show that the Khan is a tolerant person and is willing to support any other religion. (Doc 5) Both of these documents show that the Mongols had changed Eurasian societies to a great extent because the Mongols helped improve societies. A few decades prior to the publishing of these documents, The Mongols had conquered a huge piece of land that stretched all the way from Asia to the Middle East and Europe. By having such a massive territory under the control of one empire, the Mongols were able to facilitate trade and more importantly, the spread of ideas. Since some religions actively promoted discoveries in science and math such as Islam(i.e. House of Wisdom), once this information spread far and wide all throughout the lands of the Mongols, and communities were able to use this new found knowledge to improve their quality of life by improving certain systems such as irrigation.

Teacher feedback

1. Support an argument using documents: this would earn two rubric points, b/c you explain how to documents individually support your claim of “improved” Eurasian societies.
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevantattempted, you identify an element of sourcing for the Corvino document, but do not explain how this affects the document. POV analysis needs to be of the author of the document, not of the view expressed in the document. Otherwise the reasoning is circular. Which aspect of Juvaini’s perspective might have led him toward a pro-Mongol conclusion?
You show a strong understanding of the underlying history. Bonus: your use of “House of Wisom” would earn a point for additional evidence.

Practice Submission 2

The Mongols conquest of Asia led to vast amounts of cultural diffusion and blending due to increased interregional connectivity during the one hundred year span from 1200 to 1300. In Document 4, Kublai Khan, the Mongolian emperor of China, and a group of Mongols are depicted hunting. The document was likely created for Mongol court officials and even Kublai Khan himself. As such, the painter made an attempt to depict the Mongols in their traditional nomadic environment of the East Asian steppes. However, despite this attempt at cultural purity, many examples of cultural blending and diffusion are evident in this picture. Kublai Khan is painted wearing Chinese silk, one of China’s most valued goods, in addition to Mongolian furs, which was a traditional garment of the nomadic Mongols. While this shows the blending of cultural traits, namely clothing, what is perhaps the most significant cultural transfer depicted in this image is that of horses. Horses were native to the Asian Steppes, where the Mongols lived. Under Mongol rule, the use of horses increased drastically throughout Eurasia. This is exemplified in the messaging system that was instituted by Ghenghis Khan, the first of the Mongol emperors. This system was essentially a medieval Pony Express in which messengers would transport and relay messages throughout the Mongol empire by horse travel. However, these messengers carried more than just messages. They carried the cultures of the regions that they had visited, and as they traveled throughout Eurasia, they facilitated the diffusion and spread of that culture. While the Chinese silk demonstrates the Mongol conquest’s effects on Mongol society, the horses depict the effect that it had on conquered societies.

Teacher feedback

Nice work with this paragraph - you’ve done a good job braking down the document and bringing in outside information. Note that the prompt was asking you to use two of the documents together to create your argument in this paragraph. I only see one document in this response, and I’d love to see what you can do when you bring multiple documents together!
1. Support an argument using documentsattempted This paragraph definitely uses evidence from Document 4 to address cultural diffusion and blending. What other document from the set would also support this idea?
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: yes This is a good example of addressing the artist’s POV and explaining how that POV impacted the creation of the document.
The explanation of horses and the Mongol Pony Express would earn you the point for outside information (possibly two points), by the way!

Practice Submission 3

The mongol states changed Eurasian societies by causing more cultural diffusion and assimilation. in document 4, khublai khan can be seen wearing Chinese silk under Mongolian furs. This shows assimilation, but since this is a mongol painting this could just be just to exaggerate mongol accomplishment with conquering China. either way, it shows that Chinese clothing was worn by the mongols, showing cultural blending between mongols and the Chinese. Chinese culture was then brought along by mongols while they conquered other states, which led to further cultural blending. in document 5, Friar John of Monte Corvino goes into India through the mongol empire to baptize roughly a hundred people and says that the mongol empire was pretty safe to go through. this shows that the power of the mongol empire let many people to pass through safely and spread their culture and religion. there is likely no bias from the source as it is a positive view of the mongols from a European and Europe for the most part, besides from Russia, was relatively safe from the mongols.

Teacher feedback

1. Support an argument using documents: attempted - one point The discussion of Document 4 does a good job of using specific details from the document and connecting it to your discussion of cultural diffusion. For Document 5, while this would earn the point for using evidence from this document, it doesn’t quite connect back to the argument you started in the topic sentence. How do other documents also show cultural diffusion? This would also help you link the documents together so the paragraph is one complete thought.
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: attempted You have identified that the POV of the artist in Document 4 is significant, but you haven’t given enough information to demonstrate that there is any exaggeration in the painting (or why that exaggeration might be there.) Think about this: what would a court painter most likely want to show with his work? (And was he likely Mongol, or Chinese?)

Practice Submission 4

Thesis: The Mongols significantly affected societies in Eurasia through obliterating some societies and stunting their development, while increasing cultural diffusion and economic activities between other societies by making travel across them safer and therefore leading to cultural changes and more economic prosperity in these societies.
The Mongols made travel across land routes safer and this promoted trade and missionary activity which led to exchanges of culture and also economic prosperity from more trade. In Document 4, a camel caravan is shown in the background and it is travelling across the Silk Roads. During the time the painting was made, the Mongols had made the trading routes safer along the Silk Road and this promoted caravans like these to travel across them. The result of more trade along the Silk Roads was economic prosperity for all societies involved in the trade including the Mongols who taxed the trade. In Document 5, a European Christian missionary is talking about how he traveled along a very safe route from Europe to the court of the Mongols and spread Christianity along the way. The missionary forwards the message to Rome to fellow Missionaries and talks about how there are multitudes of missionaries in the Mongol lands hinting at his purpose which is to get more missionaries to come through the path he describes and convert other people. This document and missionary shows how the Mongol lands were safe to travel through and how they were used by missionaries for cultural exchanges. These exchanges changed the culture of societies ruled by the Mongols.

Teacher feedback

Your thesis, not necessary for this but useful, is effective. You could cut it off at “safer”. Also, the thesis in AP Histories can be multiple sentences, which may be different from essays in your classes at school.
1. Support an argument using documents: one, maybe two. With the painting you need to be more clear about how this supports your argument that the Mongols changed Eurasia. This could connect to the sourcing of this as a court painting. Why did Kublai Khan want the caravan included? But, a reader who did not count this as using the document as evidence would probably award a point for outside evidence (Silk Roads, safer, tax). You clearly use the Friar Corvino source as evidence.
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: one or two, The Silk Roads could also count as context, aka historical situation, for the painting. Sourcing on Friar Corvino is an excellent example of using analysis of purpose of evidence to support your claim.

Practice Submission 5

The Mongol states did not change Eurasian societies, even though they expanded the physical land. The Mongols did not change the culture of those they conquered. Their strategy was through war, and not religious or other cultural prosecution. In source 5, Khublai Khan is drawn to be wearing Chinese silks under Mongolain fur. The painter of this image was a court painter, therefore he was hired to show the utmost level of dignity of the rulers. The fact that Khublai Khan would wear Chinese silks and let them be shown shows that he respected the culture as long as the citizens did not revolt. Along with style culture, there was extreme religious acceptance. Sorqotani Beki, although being a clear Christian, was pleased to let the citizens continue to practice Islam (source 3). Ala ad-Din Juvaini recorded this as a Persian scholar, therefore his words are reliable and he is a conquered not a conquee making his positive look even more significant. The cultural acceptance left very little room for societal change during the Mongol rule. Although they did expand their territory greatly, the eminence of nomad cultures and religions made the extent to which mongol states change Eurasian societies subliminal.

Teacher feedback

This is a lovely example of using two documents to support the same argument. Your transition sentence does a great job of bridging the discussion of Document 4 and Document 3 (“Along with style culture…”)
1. Support an argument using documents: yes - two points This paragraph correctly describes content from the painting and Juviani’s document, and both are connected to the idea of cultural continuity in conquered lands. Very well done!
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: yes This paragraph addresses the POV of Juviani (Persian, conquered people) and gives a thoughtful explanation for why his views are relevant.

Practice Submission 6

During the 13th and 14th centuries, Mongol states had a significant impact on Eurasian societies, through the transfer of religion. For example, Ghengis Khan listened and had the master of Dao teachings recorded (doc 1). This was a significant change in Eurasia, because taoism had been a strictly Chinese philosophy that was shared in central Asia because of the Mongols. The daoist’s disciple who wrote the doc. also realized that this was a change, and therefore emphasized how the Khan kept calling the master back, signifying that the Khan was taking the teachings seriously. Another example of how Mongol states changed Eurasian society through religion was when Friar John was accepted into Chinese society by the Great Khan. (doc 5). Although some would argue that it was not a significant change, because the Khan himself did not adopt the religion, it was a significant change because the document was written to other missionaries, which they would see that the Khan was accepting of the Christians, so they would probably seek converts in China as well. That proves the change because before and after Christians were not welcomed, in fact during the Ming dynasty they tried to purge China of all other cultures including the Christian religion, proving that there was change during the Mongol rule because other wise there would be no reason to purge.

Teacher feedback

Nice work bringing together two documents in one argument in this paragraph. It’s not an easy skill, and I like the work I see in this paragraph. I haven’t yet seen anyone tackle Documents 1 and 5 together like this, so yours was a fun read!
1. Support an argument using documents: yes - two points With this rubric, connecting two documents to your argument, as you’ve done here, earns two evidence points - well done!
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: not attempted? I see a couple things in this paragraph that could be the beginning of sourcing analysis (POV for the Daoist disciple, audience for Friar John), but no explanation. Remember that for sourcing the task is to describe the sourcing category (historical situation, audience, purpose, or author’s POV) and explain how or why it is relevant to the document or your argument. The explanation is the most important part of this skill.

Practice Submission 7

The Mongol states greatly changed Eurasian societies in the 13th and 14th centuries CE through cultural exchange and their religious tolerance. The Mongols improved trade by making the trade routes safer and punishing bandits. Cultural diffusion passed along these trade routes and spread religions such as Islam and Christianity throughout Eurasia. A Christian missionary named Friar John traveled to China so he can persuade the Great Khan to adopt Christianity. The Mongols were religiously tolerant and showed kindness to the Christians instead of persecuting them (source 5). Sorqotani Beki was a follower of Christianity, but she still gave alms and gifts to people who observed the faith of Mohammed which was Islam (source 3). Ala ad-Din Juvaini was a Persian scholar who wrote about Sorqotani Beki being religiously tolerant. The Persians were conquered by the Mongols in the early 13th century and Juvaini’s positive response to their ruler influenced how other Persians view Beki. The Mongols accepted many religions which helped Eurasian societies prosper because they could practice their own beliefs freely and spread their ideas.

Teacher feedback

You have a good grasp on these Mongol documents, and I enjoyed reading your thoughtful response. I see two different ideas in this paragraph: that the Mongols changed societies by allowing cultural diffusion, and that the Mongols didn’t change societies because they allowed people to continue practicing their local beliefs. Both of these are true, and could be developed in an essay. For this paragraph, I would recommend focusing on just one idea so that you can develop it fully.
1. Support an argument using documents: yes-ish I think a College Board reader would give you the benefit of the doubt here, because your discussion of Document 5 relates to the idea of cultural diffusion (change), and your discussion of Document 3 relates to the idea of religious tolerance (continuity of local belief). Like I said above though, each of these ideas would be stronger if developed more - possibly in their own paragraphs with additional evidence.
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: yes - probably Again, I think a CB reader would give you the benefit of the doubt. You correctly identify some relevant POV for Juviani and explain that his perspective on Beki is relevant to being a conquered Persian. I’m not sure that you’ve fully explained why his view would influence other Persians though, so there’s some room for growth in that section.

Practice Submission 8

In the 13th and 14th centuries, Mongol states altered Eurasian societies drastically, to a cultural and economic extent, both by making trade routes safer, thus allowing cultures to flourish, and by changing the status of women in societies. Friar John of Monte Carvino, while writing about traveling along the trade routes en route to the Mongols in China, claimed "the way through the land … is the shortest and safest…as far as I ever saw or heard (5). This is significant because it shows the extent to which the Mongols changed the routes, establishing passports and establishing punishments for bandits on the route, thus. The fact that the Friar’s letter was forwarded to Rome is significant because it shows how the change is very positive, because the knowledge of the routes being safer is shared. Through making trade routes safer, specifically the Silk Roads, the Mongols fostered cultural development along the routes, , such as the spread of Buddhism, the syncretism of Buddhism and Daoism into Mahayana Buddhism, and Islam. The Mongols also changed socities by redefining the status of women. Juviani’s letter states that be administered in accordance to the council of Tolui’s wife Sorqotani …that the army and the people, great and small, should be under the control of her command (3). Before, in Baghdad, women were given little power as the Abbasid Caliphate was practiced the veiling of women, undermining their capabilities and social stature. By having Tolui’s wife serve as an administrator, the Mongols changed society to a greater extent because they promote equality among all genders socially and politically, a radical alteration. The point of view, a Persian scholar, is influences the document because as a Persian, Jivani would have been able to see how women were treated socially before the Mongols.

Teacher feedback

What an ambitious paragraph! This looks like the outline of a whole essay. The topic sentence alone is practically a thesis (and a pretty good one!) I’ve been saying this to a lot of students lately, and I think it’s worth repeating to you: I recommend keeping each body paragraph focused on just one idea, rather than treating each paragraph as an entire essay. Look for documents that connect together and seem to address different facets of the same topic. In this case, which documents would best work together to support the idea of Mongol contributions to cultural diffusion in Eurasia?
1. Support an argument using documents: yes-ish I think a College Board reader would give you the benefit of the doubt here and credit each piece of information relating to an argument, even though they relate to different arguments. This mean’s you would earn two points on this year’s rubric! The discussion of safe travel in Document 5 and the link to cultural development is really well thought-through, and the separate discussion of Document 3 and how it demonstrates a change for women is also well-explained.
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: yes The sourcing is strongest in your analysis of Juviani’s POV and his knowledge of women’s roles in Persia. Nice work!
PS - you would also earn two additional points for your use of outside evidence for bringing in (and explaining) mention of the spread of Buddhsim/Daoism and specific details about veiling women in the Abbasid Caliphate.

Practice Submission 9

The Mongolian States did not change Eurasian societies, they only gained more territory and were not interested in any other aspect of it. When the Mongolian states went on their conquests their only goal was to conquer. If the Eurasian societies surrendered, the Mongols allowed them to keep their culture and religion so they had no effect on changing the society. In Doc 3, the Mongolian ruler, Sorqotani Beki, went out of her way to further her peoples faith of Mohammed even though she was a follower of Jesus. Additionally in Doc 4, the painting of the Kublai Khan hunting was painted by a Yuan Dynasty painter which suggests that the Mongols hired him to paint it. Not only did the Mongolian States not change Eurasian societies, they integrated the conquered societies into their own.

Teacher feedback

I enjoyed reading your thoughtful connection of documents 3 and 4 in this response. I haven’t seen anyone put those two documents together, so this was a fun read! It’s a good reminder that documents can be combined in a lot of different ways!
1. Support an argument using documents: not quite You have accurately described content from Document 3 about Sorqotani Beki and connected that to your argument about not changing conquered peoples. However, the discussion of Document 4 doesn’t really use content from the painting or fully explain how it shows a continuity. How does the painting show that the Mongols integrated existing societies in East Asia?
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: almost! You’ve done well to identify the POV of the artist (a hired court painter) - that’s half the battle in sourcing! The other half is to explain why that characteristic (POV, in this case) is relevant to your argument. Why does it matter that the painter was paid to paint for the Khan? How would that affect what is shown in the painting?

Practice Submission 10

One way the Mongols changed the Eurasian states was by being tolerant to religions. According to Ala ad-Din Juvaini, the Great Khans wife granted mercy and gifts upon those of different religions. He states that she was a believer of Jesus and she also wanted to revive the Muslim faith. This shows that the Mongols were tolerant of religions across their conquered lands (doc. 3). Furthermore, Friar John of Monte Corvino expresses the Great Khan’s kindness towards Christians. He also expresses the kindness that the Khan had show him (doc. 5). He was very complimentary of the Khan and his people, suggesting that the Mongolian Empire was not a weak empire, as well. Continually, the Mongols helped their conquests by integrating them into their economies and their trade networks. This helped with the expansion of trade in Eurasia.

Teacher feedback

You have a good understanding of these documents, and you have connected them together well here.
1. Support an argument using documents: almost This response would earn one point for accurately using content from two documents. One strength in this response is the way you explain the meaning of each piece of evidence you present from the documents. However, it’s not clear what argument you are making in response to the prompt. While it is true that the Mongols were religiously tolerant, how did that change Eurasian societies? Be sure that your argument connects back to the prompt so that your analysis can support your argument!
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: not attempted This is a challenging skill on the DBQ, and it’s a good one to practice now. To do sourcing, you want to identify a key characteristic of just one document (historical situation, audience, purpose, or author’s POV) and then explain why that characteristic is relevant to your understanding of the document and/or your argument.

Practice Submission 11

The Mongol states have changed the Eurasian societies during the 13th and 14th centuries due to their religious tolerance. For example, in document 5, Friar John, a christian missionary, went to China and persuaded the Great Khan to accept Christianity. The Great Khan expresses kindness towards all Christians. Even though the Khan is described as having great wealth and a large domination over an extent of lands, He still accepted Christians into his empire without punishing them. Being a Christian missionary helps identify Friar John as he respected the Great Khan for being tolerant towards the Christian religion. Friar John likes that because then his followers will be able to practice their religion in the Great Khan’s empire. Additionally, in document 3, Juvanini, a Persian scholar and governor of Baghdad, writes about how Sorqotani Beki, follower of Jesus, was generous and wanted to accept the Muslim community into her empire. She wanted to help the Muslim community which shows that She, along with the Mongols allowed the people to continue their religion, which shows their religious tolerance. Juvanini, was a Perisan scholar and later a governor meaning that she must have been reliable with her sources and maybe a follower of the Islamic religion as she incorporated some information about the Muslim community. Overall, the Mongols have accepted different religions which allowed people to practice their religions openly which changed Eurasian societies.

Teacher feedback

You’ve done a good job in this response showing your understanding of the documents as well as knowledge of the Mongols. One thing I notice right away is that your response almost answers the prompt, but not quite. In this case, the prompt asked you to evaluate the extent to which the Mongols changed Eurasian society. That phrase, “evaluate the extent to which” can also mean “how much did…” This paragraph talks about religious tolerance, but not how that tolerance changed Eurasian societies. A little more argumentation to fully address the prompt would strengthen everything about this paragraph!
1. Support an argument using documents: really close! This paragraph does a great job of describing content from two documents, which is worth one point on the rubric. The additional evidence points all require you to connect that evidence to an argument in response to the prompt. You’ve done a great job here of proving that the Mongols were religiously tolerant, so now how did that fact change the societies they conquered?
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: attempted For both documents, you’ve done a good job of describing the POV of the author. Your description of Juviani is probably the strongest of the two. The next step is to explain how or why that POV is relevant, or why it is important to understand. In the case of Juviani, why does it matter that he was a Muslim himself? How would that affect the way he wrote about Sorqotani Beki and the Mongols in Persia?

Practice Submission 12

Mongol states did not change Eurasian societies that much because of the way they interacted with the culture of Eurasian societies. In Kublai Khan Hunting, the Khan is shown in the center to be wearing Chinese silks and Mongolian furs, showing an adoption of Chinese culture, rather than getting rid of and changing it. Since the artist was a court painter from the Yuan Dynasty, they place the Khan in the center, and the artist’s choice to show the ruler with Chinese textiles makes the Khan seem like a traditional but powerful ruler, and someone that the Chinese will want to follow (doc 4). In The History of the World Conqueror, Tolui’s wife, Sorqotani Beki, is described to be very generous towards Muslims, funding the construction of a college and giving alms, despite being Christian. As a Persian scholar, Ala ad-Din Juivani, focuses on the building of a college to be a significant factor of her generosity because of her promotion of scholarship, and it also shows how like other Mongol leaders, she embraced the continuance of other cultures in Eurasian societies (doc 3). Overall, Mongol Khans easily adopted and got involved in the culture of societies they ruled over, which also made it easier for local people respect and obey them.

Teacher feedback

This is a really thoughtful response that develops your argument well over the course of the paragraph. Nice work!
1. Support an argument using documents: yes - nicely done! This response would earn two rubric points for describing content from two documents and connecting that evidence to an argument. I especially like the final sentence in the paragraph, which pulls the whole thing together!
2. Explain how or why sourcing is relevant: yes - twice!! This response would earn both points available for sourcing. You’ve described and explained the purpose in Document 4 and the POV of Juvaini in Document 3. Great job!

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