How to Write a Dbq Essay for Global History

How to Write a DBQ Essay for Global History

A Document-Based Question (DBQ) essay is an important component of the Global History and Geography Regents examination. It requires students to analyze and interpret a series of historical documents and construct a coherent essay response based on the provided prompt. Writing a DBQ essay may seem challenging at first, but with the right approach and preparation, you can excel in this task. In this article, we will explore the step-by-step process of writing a DBQ essay for Global History and answer some frequently asked questions to help you succeed.

Step 1: Understanding the Prompt
Before starting your essay, carefully read and understand the prompt. Identify the key terms and concepts that will guide your analysis. Pay attention to any specific requirements, such as time periods or regions to focus on.

Step 2: Analyzing the Documents
Thoroughly examine each document provided. Identify the main idea, purpose, and perspective of each document. Take note of any similarities, differences, or contradictions between the documents. Make sure to consider the author’s background and the historical context in which the document was produced.

Step 3: Create a Thesis Statement
Based on your analysis of the documents, develop a strong thesis statement that directly answers the prompt. Your thesis should present an argument or a claim and guide the overall structure of your essay.

Step 4: Organize your Essay
Divide your essay into clear and logical paragraphs. Each paragraph should focus on a specific aspect of your thesis statement. Use the documents as evidence to support your arguments. Be sure to include an introduction and a conclusion that summarize your main points.

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Step 5: Integrate Outside Knowledge
While the documents serve as the foundation of your essay, you should also incorporate your knowledge of global history to strengthen your arguments. This includes information you have learned in class or from related readings. However, be cautious not to rely solely on outside information without referencing the provided documents.

Step 6: Provide Analysis and Context
As you discuss each document, provide analysis and context to support your claims. Explain how the document relates to the prompt and how it supports or challenges your thesis. Offer insights into the author’s perspective and the historical context that influenced their viewpoint.

Step 7: Use Clear and Concise Writing
Write in a clear and concise manner, using proper grammar and punctuation. Make sure your ideas flow logically and your arguments are well-supported. Avoid unnecessary repetition and use transition words to create coherence between paragraphs.

Step 8: Review and Edit
After completing your essay, take the time to review and edit your work. Check for any errors in grammar, spelling, and sentence structure. Ensure your essay is well-organized and that your arguments are effectively presented. Consider seeking feedback from a teacher or classmate to further improve your essay.


1. How many documents should I analyze in my DBQ essay?
Typically, you will be provided with 5-7 documents to analyze. However, the number can vary, so carefully read the instructions provided in the prompt.

2. How long should my DBQ essay be?
There is no strict word limit for a DBQ essay, but it is recommended to write an essay of around 500-700 words. Focus more on the quality of your analysis rather than the length of your essay.

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3. Can I use bullet points in my essay?
No, your essay should be written in complete sentences and follow a proper essay structure. Avoid using bullet points or lists.

4. Can I use personal pronouns in my essay?
While it is generally better to avoid personal pronouns in an academic essay, it is acceptable to use them sparingly when referring to your own analysis or interpretation.

5. Do I need to include all the documents in my essay?
You are not required to mention every document in your essay. Instead, focus on the documents that are most relevant to your thesis and arguments. Make sure to analyze a sufficient number of documents to demonstrate your understanding of the topic.

6. Can I use outside sources in my DBQ essay?
No, you should only use the documents provided to construct your essay. However, you can draw on your background knowledge of global history to enhance your analysis.

7. How much time should I allocate for writing a DBQ essay in the exam?
The recommended time for writing a DBQ essay is around 45 minutes. Allocate some time at the beginning to carefully read and understand the prompt, analyze the documents, and plan your essay. Leave enough time at the end to review and edit your work.

In conclusion, writing a DBQ essay for Global History requires careful analysis of the provided documents, integration of outside knowledge, and clear and concise writing. By following the step-by-step process outlined in this article and addressing the frequently asked questions, you will be well-equipped to tackle this challenging task and excel in your Global History and Geography Regents examination.