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Want to improve your DBQs? Practice makes perfect! Well, in this case, graded practice makes perfect. Practicing document-based questions is good, but in order to improve, you'll need to have a score/feedback for them. The great thing is the college board posts former exam questions with scoring guides, so you can practice and then score your own essays!

You can use these scoring guides in two ways: one, you could write full DBQs, or two, you can practice analyzing the documents and then use the scoring guide to check your thought process.

However, I wouldn't do a lot of full DBQs where only you grade them, because you will always be biased. Practicing DBQs or even just the documents with a study group and grading and discussing each others' essays will give you the best feedback. If you aren't able to do that, however, practicing DBQs on your own is a great way to review content and prepare for the exam, especially if you don't have any in-class practice tests. Here's how to practice, score, and improve your DBQs.

  1. Find the College Board's Scoring guideline and prompts for DBQs
  • Here are DBQ prompts and their scoring guides from past APUSH exams

2018 exam questions and scoring guide
2017 exam questions and scoring guide

2) Time yourself writing the DBQ

  • Give yourself 60 minutes to do 1
  • Use a pen while writing because the exam will require you to do so
  • At some point, I'd recommend doing a full practice test or writing the DBQ and LEQ within an hour. This helps with the time management aspect of the exam and also writing for an hour straight hurts your hand, so you'll want to be ready for that

3) Use the scoring guide and rubric

  • Scroll down to find what answers will get you the points for each part of the rubric. Using this you'll be able to give yourself a score, know which part of the rubric you need to work on, and what content you'll need to review.
  • To get a better feel of scores and what graders are looking for, here are student example essays with their actual exam scores

2018 student examples and explained scores
2017 student examples and explained scores

Remember practicing, scoring, and discussing DBQs with others is the best way to improve, so find some friends and start writing! Studying is also more fun this way too :)

Good luck studying and don't worry! DBQs take practice to master, but you can do it! With a little practice, you'll have this down and will pass the exam 😊πŸ’ͺπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

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