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Document Based Questions (DBQ)

AP World DBQ Outline + Thesis Practice with Feedback

5 min readdecember 31, 2020

melissa527938

Melissa Longnecker

eric515101

Eric Beckman

fiveable-mrliddle

Evan Liddle


AP World History 🌍

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DBQ Practice is very important when preparing for the AP World exam. It is recommended to write a short brief outline of your argument before writing your body paragraph.
Your task: In 20 minutes or less, read the documents and:
  1. Outline arguments you would make, using LESS than a full sentence for each
  2. List, but DO NOT describe, evidence, both documents and outside evidence
  3. Write a thesis based on these arguments Note: on the actual exam spending more than 20 minutes on this will not leave you with enough time to complete what you plan

DBQ Revolutions in Americas Prompt

Use these documents to answer the following prompt:
Develop an argument that evaluates the extent to which revolutions in the Americas between c. 1770 - c. 1825 successfully challenged social hierarchies.

Outlines and Feedback

Thesis and Outline Practice Submission 1

Thesis: Although the revolutions in the Americas themselves were successful, they did not successfully challenge social hierarchies because the lower class people including the Black and mixed races and the slaves still dealt with prejudice and the Whites stayed in power. However, there was some successful social hierarchy change for the Whites because a new class of Whites did gain more political power.
  1. Lower classes and Prejudice continued: Doc 2, Doc 4 (Only Creoles benefited, slavery continued) Doc 5
  2. White Creoles gained power: Doc 3 (Bolivar was a Creole, Hidalgo and Mexican Revolution)
  3. But, still great divisions among social classes–> underdevelopment + neocolonialism
(My thesis starts with “although” but that was not what I was trying to set up the complexity with. Would I still need to prove that the revolutions themselves were successful? If so, I would use doc 1 for that).

DBQ Teacher Feedback

A way to improve your thesis would be to indicate a specific revolution which corresponds to your description. As for your question, abut complexity, that nuance could contribute to complexity but that itself is not complexity. Overall your structure looks good to me, but for your first paragraph you could be a bit more narrow. Prejudice against the lower classes? Race or labor based prejudice? Narrow that down.

Thesis and Outline Practice Submission 2

Revolutions in the Americas that took place from 1770 - 1825 were generally extremely successful at challenging established social hierarchies, as they diminished the power of traditional elites and led to the liberation of formerly enslaved peoples, mainly African Americans and their descendants. However, In some areas such as Latin America, the new elites that arose from revolutions to replace the old, leaving the rest of the social hierarchy intact.
  1. Diminished Power of Elites: Doc 5, Doc 3, American Revolution (Freedom from Monarchy), French Revolution
  2. Freed Enslaved People: Doc 1, Doc 2, Haitian Revolution
  3. Social Hierarchy Intact: Doc 4, Creole Revolutions (Creole replace Peninsulares)

DBQ Teacher Feedback

Your thesis is sufficient. If you want to make it better you could consider using hedging and qualified language such as the types of hierarchies reinforced/challenged (Labor, race, class). Your essay structure looks fine, but if you are running out of time consider combining paragraphs 1 and 2. Hope this helps keep practicing.

Thesis and Outline Practice Submission 3

Thesis: Although revolutions ranging from 1770-1825, made a profound effect on social hierarchies at the time through freedom of slaves and the destruction of monarchies in Britain, they did not last for the long term in most regions such as Latin America as the continuance of racism towards people of dark skin and harsh as well as inconsiderate ruling dominated these new changes.
  1. Freedom of slaves: 1, 2
  2. Destruction of monarchies: 3
  3. Continued racism: 4
  4. Continuance of harsh/inconsiderate ruling: 5
Could my complexity have to do something with racism still persisting in modern-day or would that not give me the point?

DBQ Teacher Feedback

This thesis does a good job setting up your claim (the word “profound” works well here) and your line of reasoning. It’s clear what you plan to develop for your argument in your body paragraphs.
As you practice with DBQs, consider how you might bring documents together in your body paragraphs. This outline works, but a stronger (and easier to write) outline might find ways to bring documents together under a common argument and keep your overall essay to just 2 body paragraphs.
Complexity isn’t about bringing in modern examples necessarily. That skill point is about developing a complex argument throughout the whole essay. Think about how you could connect all of your ideas together throughout the paragraphs and fully explain your ideas. That will get you closer on many points, whether or not it earns that one complexity point.

Thesis and Outline Practice Submission 4

Thesis: Although the revolutions in the Americas successfully overthrew the direct rule of the European monarchies and led to an emergence of creoles who came to power, social inequality still plague the lower class peoples of the newly liberated nations and the obstacles of forming a fair government amidst the grievances of the mixed race and indigenous people did not greatly contribute to change the preexisting social structures.
  1. Social inequality: Docs 2,4; continued to enslave African Americans in North America
  2. Obstacles of forming a fair of government: Doc 5; instability and poor governance=poverty and economy dependent on former colonizer countries
  3. Creoles gaining power: Docs 1,3; Simon Bolivar, Jose de San Martin
And also, are there more than one definitive, and correct answer to this prompt? I’m worried about misinterpreting the documents on the exam, thus leading to a non-historically defensible essay. 

DBQ Teacher Feedback

To start, I’ll address your question. Yes, there are multiple correct answers to this prompt (and any DBQ). The questions and document sets are designed to allow students to successfully defend any of a variety of claims. If your claim fits with your knowledge of history AND your understanding of the documents, it will likely count as “historically defensible.” (Basically, don’t stress it - you’ve got this!)
This is a really sophisticated thesis that addresses both political and social ideas. It looks like you know that to make the political/governance stuff work, you’ll need to connect it to social hierarchies. Good work.
I’m glad to see your body paragraphs include multiple documents. That’s the fastest/easiest way to be sure that you’re using them and actually developing an argument. Keep it up!
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🐎Unit 1: The Global Tapestry
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