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    evaluate the extent of change in united states foreign policy in the period 1783 to 1828.


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    AP U.S. History Document Based Question Example – Kaplan Test Prep

    The AP US History document based question requires you to analyze the documents in addition to bringing outside information to help answer the question.

    AP U.S. History Document Based Question Example

    October 11, 2021/in AP US History /by admin

    The DBQ requires you to analyze the documents in addition to bringing outside information to bear on the question. This is a difficult task, and you have only 15 minutes to plan before you begin writing. Don’t panic! Use the same strategies given for the LEQ for document analysis. The more you practice using these strategies, the better you will become at quickly finding significance in the documents.

    Use the prompt and documents below to practice writing a DBQ. Either create an outline of key points or time yourself for 55 minutes (15 to prep and 40 to write) to get test day practice. Check your answers against the sample response at the end to see how yours compares!


    Evaluate the extent of change in United States political parties in the period 1791 to 1833.




    First, read the prompt itself: you’ll need to develop an argument about the extent of change in political parties from 1791 to 1833. The prompt uses the verb evaluate, so you will need to make a determination about the changes in political parties.

    Spend the 15-minute reading period analyzing the documents themselves, thinking for each document about its authorship/historical situation, main idea, and why it was written.

    Begin grouping the documents into categories that you can use to help organize your essay. The following is a sample high-scoring writer’s notes on the documents:

    1.  Hamilton – Fed.: federal implied powers equal with explicit powers in Constitution, bank constitutional

    2.  Jefferson – Demo-Rep.: federal government only has powers delegated by Constitution, bank unconstitutional

    3.  Jefferson inaugural address: all parties follow same principles

    4.  Map of territories, feat. Louisiana Purchase – large territory bought by Jefferson

    5.  Hartford Convention – Fed.: want Congress to have high consensus to take action

    6.  Jackson – Demo.: veto bank b/c unconstitutional

    7.  Nat.-Rep. (Whig) cartoon: Jackson like king trampling Constitution w/ vetoes


    Fed. & Demo.-Rep. initial views: 1 & 2

    Feds. changing view: 5

    Demo.-Rep. changing view: 3, 4

    new parties & new issues: 6, 7


    Next, take time to plan your response. Focus on formulating a strong thesis, and check your plan against the DBQ requirements. See the sample plan that a high-scoring writer might make. Scoring requirements are written in bold for reference; note that the writer includes all seven documents and plans to use three documents to meet the requirement for sourcing.

    ¶ intro

    Thesis: parties changed ideals & new parties formed w/ new focuses; all devoted to Constitution (complex understanding: change and continuity)

    Body ¶1: views of first parties

    Hamilton (Doc. 1): Fed. pro-bank, loose construction, strong central government

    Jefferson (Doc. 2): Demo.-Rep. anti-bank, strict construction, powerful states

    Body ¶2: Demo.-Reps. changing ideals

    Jefferson (Doc. 3): reconcile w/ Feds. (sourcing 1)

    LA Purchase (Doc. 4): shift from strict construction

    Add’l Evidence: Jefferson Embargo Act: shift to strong fed.

    Body ¶3: Feds. changing ideals

    Context: war with Britain, impact on Feds.

    Hartford Convention (Doc. 5): shift from strong fed.

    Body ¶4: new parties, new issues

    Add’l Evidence: Era of Good Feelings

    Democrats & Whigs issues: bank, power of president, internal improvements

    Jackson cartoon (Doc. 7) (sourcing 2)

    Body ¶5: continuity: devotion to Constitution

    (Doc. 3) “same principle”

    (Docs. 1 & 2) interpretations of Const.

    (Doc. 6) Jackson claim bank unconst. (sourcing 3)

    ¶conclusion: parties shifted in ideologies, new parties based on events, still devoted to Const.


    Use your plan to write out your response—if you’ve taken the time to plan effectively, everything you write should support your thesis.


    Leave a minute at the end to complete a brisk proofread and double-check that you met each of the DBQ requirements.


    American political parties experienced major changes through 1833, changing their interpretations of their ideals as they faced the realities of governance and even forming new political parties as concerns evolved over time. Still, all the parties remained rooted in their devotion to the principles of the Constitution.

    The first two parties emerged from disagreements about forming a Bank of the United States. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton developed a loose construction view of the Constitution, using the implied powers of the federal government in the Constitution to justify his support for a bank (Document 1). Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson argued for a strict construction view, opposing the Bank since it was not explicitly permitted by the Constitution and, he claimed, therefore unconstitutional (Document 2). These philosophies became the foundation of the first two political parties. Hamilton led the Federalists, who championed a strong federal government. Jefferson and James Madison led the Democratic-Republicans, who believed power rested with the states.

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