AP Exams-What is a DBQ?

When you first begin writing, it is hard enough to formulate an argument and back it up with evidence. Synthesizing information is not something that comes very easily to high school writers. I remember when I was assigned my first Document Based Question (DBQ), and I was anxious about where to begin. Luckily, my teachers had effective lesson plans, and I understood how to write a DBQ after some time and practice. In this blog post, I will explain what a DBQ is and why it is on several AP Exams, in order to show parents and students that this exam question is actually easier than the others!

Document Based Question may seem like a vague term. You may be wondering: what kind of documents is this title referring to? What kind of prompt will I have to answer? How can I get the most points on this part of the exam? I will try to answer these questions for you in this blog post!

The title of the essay question format, Document Based Question, actually refers to documents. These documents are pieces of historical or contemporary news articles, historical sources like diaries, letters or legal documents, pictures, maps, political cartoons, and many other types of documents. Instead of having to come up with your own reasons why your argument is correct, you are given evidence by the College Board on this part of the exam. This evidence should guide your thesis and the rest of your essay. You should always go through the documents thoroughly, in order to see how you should compose your thesis.

Usually, prompts on AP English Language and Composition Exams ask questions about contemporary issues and ask students to formulate arguments about these issues. For example, a popular AP English Language exam question focuses on the ramifications of social media on society. This is different from the prompts a student will be assigned on Social Science Exams, which pose questions that pertain to the subject matter of the course.

On AP US History exams, you are required to use at least six documents in your analysis, while on AP English Language and Composition exams, you are required to use just three. Depending on the exam, the number of documents needed in the analysis changes, so be sure to ask your teacher or tutor about the specifics of your exam. By correctly analyzing the documents and using more than the specified number of documents on your exam, you will gain extra points on that portion of the essay.

You may still have questions about why this type of essay exam is important to assess your knowledge of the course, especially after completing an entire multiple choice portion of the exam prior to this. DBQs are important because they require the high-level analysis that the College Board cannot judge just from the multiple choice portion of the exam. In addition, DBQs are important because these questions are the most like those you will find in a real college end-of-term exam. In fact, in humanities courses in many colleges, multiple choice exams are rarely used. Professors more than likely will require students to write essays in class in order to pass their class’s final!

My next blog post will focus on how to write a DBQ. Stay tuned for more info!

Blog Post by Rachel S. Stuart a Tutor and Featured Blogger for Academic Advantage Tutoring

rachel-close-up-good-pic (183x200)

About Rachel

I have always been a proud “nerd.” When I could, I always helped my friends with their homework because I just loved to teach them how to think about the world differently. In particular, history and writing have always been my specialties. When I was a little girl, my aspiration was to one day be a history professor! I hope to begin Master’s classes in the field of education and continue to be fascinated by changing technology in the classroom and different ways of engaging my students’ creativity!
Honors and awards: Phi Beta Kappa, Highest Honors in History Honors Program at Emory, Recipient of the Theodore H. Jack Award, Phi Alpha Theta, Pi Sigma Alpha, Dean’s List at Emory.
Please follow and like us:

Ace Your AP United States History Test

The second-most popular Advanced Placement Exam in 2013 was Advanced Placement United States History, which was just slightly less popular than the Advanced Placement English Language Test.[1] The course’s curriculum introduces the student to the US’s major historical themes and events. Because this class is widely taken among AP students, this post will focus on some advice that I normally give my students to prepare for the exam.

A good AP United States History test student should be attentive in class and write detailed notes during their teacher’s lecture. The teacher is an expert on American history and can provide many major insights and analyses that you will not necessarily get when reading the textbook that accompanies the class. United States History is a discipline with varying opinions and emphases on differing events.

A teacher may have done in-depth research into the Proclamation of 1763 and its ramifications for the United States, and therefore can provide the student with insights that may not be found in a typical textbook. Their research will enrich a student’s understanding of the event that can be later written on the AP US History Essay portion of the exam. Moreover, tutors like me who were United States History majors may also have done intense research into American History topics, and can add analytical perspectives to a student’s understandings of US History that could not necessarily be found in any textbook or Prep-book.

That is not to say that the student should not read the textbook, they certainly should. Reading the textbook will help the student to understand the narrative arc of United States History. In fact, I often advise students to read their chapters more than once before the AP Exam, because it will help them remember the sequence of major events. While reading their textbook, they should take special note of any pictures or documents in the textbook, because these primary sources will likely be referenced in either the Multiple Choice or the Essay Portion of the exam. It may be helpful for the one to write an analysis of several of these primary sources as practice for the AP Exam’s questions of interpretation.

Students should also try to immerse themselves into US history. They should read classic American history novels, like The Scarlet Letter, Huckleberry Finn, Moby Dick, The Grapes of Wrath, and The Great Gatsby. By understanding the characters found in these books, students will have a greater personal grasp of history.

If you take these steps, you too will be prepared to ace your AP US History Test!

[1] “10 Most (and Least) Popular Advanced Placement (AP) Subjects.” Education by the Numbers.org. 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2016. <http://educationbythenumbers.org/content/10-least-popular-advanced-placement-ap-subjects_930/>.

Blog Post by Rachel S. Stuart a Tutor and Featured Blogger for Academic Advantage Tutoring

rachel-close-up-good-pic (183x200)

About Rachel

I have always been a proud “nerd.” When I could, I always helped my friends with their homework because I just loved to teach them how to think about the world differently. In particular, history and writing have always been my specialties. When I was a little girl, my aspiration was to one day be a history professor! I hope to begin Master’s classes in the field of education and continue to be fascinated by changing technology in the classroom and different ways of engaging my students’ creativity!
Honors and awards: Phi Beta Kappa, Highest Honors in History Honors Program at Emory, Recipient of the Theodore H. Jack Award, Phi Alpha Theta, Pi Sigma Alpha, Dean’s List at Emory.

 

Please follow and like us:

Preparation for AP Exam Essays

Six years ago, when I was in an AP English Language and Composition class in high school, in-class essays were the bane of my existence. The difficulty stemmed from the intense and frequent AP English Language and Composition practice test essays that we completed in class. There were so many, and we had to complete these practice essays at least once a week! However, as much as I despised doing these weekly practice essays, I completely understood why my teacher imposed these assignments on our class. The assignments were necessary to us to become fluent writers.

Six years later, I recommend to my students that they write as much as possible. I tell my students that it doesn’t matter what he or she is writing about at first. My goal is to have my students become comfortable processing their thoughts through the written word. The practice of writing habitually—in a journal, blog, or a letter to a friend—will furnish the student with the ability to apply thought to the page. When the student becomes   used to string-of-consciousness essay writing, the essay portion of the exam would not seem as frightening or insurmountable.

I also advise students to regularly write about the subjects they are studying in school, as writing out the ideas on paper will help them to remember information that could appear on tests. Keeping a journal or detailed notes about what is going on in class will definitely help the student to be able to work out intricate ideas and analysis through writing. Later on, this experience with analysis will also help students to ace their exams.

When a student takes an  AP exam with a writing component, they should prepare before writing. Some teachers and tutors suggest that students follow formulaic pre-planning steps, such as creating bullet points or clustering ideas. Both of these methods involve brainstorming. In the bullet points method, the student can jot down ideas and  keep these ideas in order by putting a bullet point in front of each separate idea. In a similar exercise, a student can create a cluster of related ideas separated by circles. After this brainstorming exercise, the student can then begin the outline for the paper with a thesis and a topic sentence for each paragraph.

Despite the importance of pre-planning, the ability to process thought into words is arguably the most important step to achieve high marks on the AP Exam Essays. Pre-planning can only take the student so far; if a student knows how to turn thought into prose, he or she will most definitely succeed. Writing practice will prepare the student to answer all necessary components of the essay prompt with style and efficiency to well in their preparation for AP Exam Essays.

Blog Post by Rachel S. Stuart a Tutor and Featured Blogger for Academic Advantage Tutoring

rachel-close-up-good-pic (183x200)

About Rachel

I have always been a proud “nerd.” When I could, I always helped my friends with their homework because I just loved to teach them how to think about the world differently. In particular, history and writing have always been my specialties. When I was a little girl, my aspiration was to one day be a history professor! I hope to begin Master’s classes in the field of education and continue to be fascinated by changing technology in the classroom and different ways of engaging my students’ creativity!
Honors and awards: Phi Beta Kappa, Highest Honors in History Honors Program at Emory, Recipient of the Theodore H. Jack Award, Phi Alpha Theta, Pi Sigma Alpha, Dean’s List at Emory.
Please follow and like us:

When a Student Needs Academic Support

There’s one easy pin-point moment when a parent knows without hesitation that a child needs help with their school work. That’s when the parent receives a phone call from the student’s teacher explaining that the student is struggling with the topic, is falling behind with school work, and may be making grades below a “C.” As a parent, you may feel relieved to hear that the teacher is in touch with your child’s progress and that you were promptly alerted to the difficulties as they appeared. Some parents even feel a little guilty for not realizing the problem themselves. Parents may even wonder to themselves, “What are the warning signs that my child is falling behind in school? How can I better prepare my child for success?”

Parents can identify when a child is struggling in school when that child comes home and has a strong aversion to completing homework. When a parent has to play “homework police” that may be the first warning sign that the child is struggling with a concept. Students may try to avoid a specific type of school work because they feel bad that it is a subject that they struggle with. Essentially, a student’s self-esteem drops when they come across a topic that they cannot master without the help of an adult. Students can become vehemently against completing assignments that make them feel inferior. They may disobey parents in order to avoid doing homework that they need extra help with.

These anxieties should be eased by reinforcing the concepts that the student needs help with. Parents could do this by asking for some direction from the student’s teachers and then helping the student with the concepts. Parents should try to become familiar with his or the child’s personal areas of strength or weakness. Reviewing the child’s test scores and seeing how they are doing with their work firsthand is the best first step to help a student to succeed in school. Every child’s learning style is different, and a parent could spend some time getting to know how their child learns in order to evaluate his or her needs.

Asking a tutor for additional help is also a great way to bolster a student’s skills in their most needed area of learning. Tutors have experience with evaluating where the student’s learning level is and how to best support continual growth in a student’s skills.

Thanks for reading! Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions. Email me at rachelsstuart@gmail.com.

Blog Post by Rachel S. Stuart a Tutor and Featured Blogger for Academic Advantage Tutoring

rachel-close-up-good-pic (183x200)

About Rachel

I have always been a proud “nerd.” When I could, I always helped my friends with their homework because I just loved to teach them how to think about the world differently. In particular, history and writing have always been my specialties. When I was a little girl, my aspiration was to one day be a history professor! I hope to begin Master’s classes in the field of education and continue to be fascinated by changing technology in the classroom and different ways of engaging my students’ creativity!
Honors and awards: Phi Beta Kappa, Highest Honors in History Honors Program at Emory, Recipient of the Theodore H. Jack Award, Phi Alpha Theta, Pi Sigma Alpha, Dean’s List at Emory.
Please follow and like us: