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Easy Steps to Write an LEQ

Easy Steps to Write an LEQ

What is an LEQ?

An LEQ, or Long Essay Question, is a type of essay commonly used in Advanced Placement (AP) history exams. It requires students to analyze and evaluate historical evidence, develop an argument, and support it with relevant facts and examples.

How to approach an LEQ?

When approaching an LEQ, it is important to follow a systematic process to ensure a well-structured and coherent essay. Here are some easy steps to help you write an effective LEQ:

Step 1: Understand the Prompt

step 1  understand the prompt

The first step in writing an LEQ is to carefully read and understand the prompt. Pay close attention to the specific historical context , time period, and key terms used in the question. This will help you focus your research and develop a clear thesis statement

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement is a concise and arguable statement that presents the main argument or claim of your essay. It should be specific, debatable, and supported by evidence. Your thesis statement will guide the direction of your essay and provide a framework for your analysis .

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Step 2: Conduct Research

step 2  conduct research

Once you have a clear understanding of the prompt and have developed a thesis statement, it is time to conduct research. Use reliable and credible sources such as textbooks, scholarly articles , and primary documents to gather evidence and support your argument.

What are primary documents?

Primary documents are original sources created during the time period under study. They can include letters, diaries, speeches, photographs, and government records. Analyzing primary documents can provide valuable insights into the historical context and perspectives of the time.

Step 3: Organize Your Thoughts

Before you start writing your LEQ, it is important to organize your thoughts and create an outline. This will help you structure your essay and ensure a logical flow of ideas. Divide your essay into introduction, body paragraphs , and conclusion.

What should be included in the introduction?

The introduction of your LEQ should provide background information on the topic, present your thesis statement, and outline the main points you will discuss in your essay. It should grab the reader's attention and set the tone for the rest of the essay.

Step 4: Write the Essay

Now it's time to start writing your LEQ . Begin each body paragraph with a topic sentence that introduces the main point or argument. Support your arguments with evidence and examples from your research. Make sure to analyze and interpret the evidence to demonstrate your understanding of the topic.

What is analysis?

Analysis involves breaking down complex ideas or concepts into smaller parts and examining their relationships. In an LEQ, analysis is crucial to demonstrate your critical thinking skills and ability to evaluate historical evidence.

Step 5: Revise and Edit

Once you have completed your LEQ, take the time to revise and edit your essay. Check for grammar and spelling errors, ensure that your arguments are clear and well-supported, and make any necessary changes to improve the overall coherence and readability of your essay.

What is coherence?

Coherence refers to the logical and smooth flow of ideas in your essay. Make sure that each paragraph connects to the previous one and that your arguments are presented in a clear and organized manner.

Step 6: Practice Time Management

step 6  practice time management

During the AP history exam, time management is crucial. Practice writing LEQs within the time constraints to improve your speed and efficiency. Develop a strategy that allows you to allocate enough time for each step of the writing process , from understanding the prompt to revising your essay.

What are some time management techniques?

Some time management techniques include creating a schedule, setting specific goals for each writing session, and using timers to stay on track. Find a method that works best for you and helps you stay focused and productive.

Step 7: Seek Feedback

After completing your LEQ, seek feedback from your teacher, classmates, or a writing tutor. They can provide valuable insights and suggestions for improvement. Take their feedback into consideration and make revisions accordingly.

What is the importance of feedback?

Feedback is essential for growth and improvement. It helps you identify areas of strength and areas that need further development. Embrace feedback as an opportunity to enhance your writing skills and become a better historian.

Step 8: Practice Critical Reading

In order to write a strong LEQ, it is important to develop your critical reading skills. Practice analyzing and evaluating historical texts, identifying biases, and understanding different perspectives. This will help you develop a nuanced and well-informed argument in your essay.

What are critical reading skills?

Critical reading skills involve actively engaging with a text, questioning its content, and evaluating its credibility and relevance. It requires you to go beyond surface-level understanding and delve deeper into the author's intentions and the historical context.

Step 9: Review Sample LEQs

To further enhance your understanding of how to write an LEQ, review sample essays from previous AP history exams. Pay attention to the structure, argumentation, and use of evidence in these essays. This will give you a better idea of what is expected in an LEQ and help you refine your own writing skills.

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Where can I find sample LEQs?

You can find sample LEQs on the College Board website, in AP history review books, or by asking your teacher for additional resources. Take advantage of these resources to familiarize yourself with the format and requirements of an LEQ.

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An LEQ stands for Long Essay Question. It is a type of essay question commonly used in history and social science exams.

What are the key components of an LEQ?

An LEQ typically consists of a prompt or question, a thesis statement, supporting evidence, and a conclusion.

How do I write an effective LEQ?

To write an effective LEQ, it is important to carefully analyze the prompt, develop a clear thesis statement, provide relevant evidence, and demonstrate critical thinking skills.

Asim Akhtar

Asim Akhtar

Asim is the CEO & founder of AtOnce. After 5 years of marketing & customer service experience, he's now using Artificial Intelligence to save people time.

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How to Earn the AP Euro Thesis Point for LEQs

4 min read • december 15, 2021

📌 Check out these other Euro resources! 👉

  • Click  here to watch students' LEQs being graded.
  • Watch  this stream reviewing the 2019 AP Euro essay questions to get some examples.
  • Watch AP Euro live review streams every week with Fiveable+  👉  Join Today!

About the Thesis Point

The thesis point is where you introduce the premise of your essay and state your argument.

  • It must be "historically defensible," which means there must be enough evidence present to defend your claim.
  • Your argument must be decisive and contain a development from what the prompt says. Steer clear of rephrasing!
  • The thesis needs to be between one to two sentences long and should be located in the introduction or conclusion.

Tips for a Great Thesis

Always state your thesis in the introduction. That way, if you miss out on your point there, you have a second chance to earn it in the conclusion.

  • Take a tip from AP English classes- qualify your argument. This means accepting a scenario where your thesis might not apply. If done well, this could help you earn the complex historical understanding point later.
  • Use simple wording. The essay isn't being graded on your writing skills, so there's no need for a nuanced or creative thesis. Write decisively, but in the most straightforward way possible.
  • If you're writing a DBQ, don't introduce documents in the thesis. Utilize the documents' themes to categorize your essay and defend your claims.
  • Read the prompt closely and make decisions for what to include based on the type of question being asked.

Continuity and Change Over Time

You can recognize a CCOT prompt if it asks about change, developments, or stagnation during a specific time period. These prompts always give you a defined time frame and will occasionally provide specific areas to write about (politics, religion, economics, etc.)

  • The best way to write organize a thesis for a CCOT essay is to write about one way the subject matter evolved during the given era and one way that it stayed the same.
  • Arguing broadly, such as simply asserting a country or region's economics changed, will not be enough to get the point. To guarantee your thesis is descriptive enough, write a short description of the way your theme changed, such as "During the late 15th and early 16th centuries, Spain's economy became increasingly globalized." Repeat this for your continuity.
  • Remember to stick to your thesis points. They are your roadmap and deviation from them risks confusing your audience.

Study Guide: Continuity and Change in the 18th-Century States

A causation question will always ask about the relationship between two specific events, movements, or historical trends. It will often use phrases like "to what extent did ______ result from _________?" Sometimes, the prompt will not inquire about the level of causation, but rather the type or to identify a cause or effect.

  • A good causation thesis begins with a position on the question. The prompt will probably be nuanced, and the answer will not be a simple yes or no. Including phrases like "largely influenced" and "had little correlation" could demonstrate your knowledge of this and strengthen your writing.
  • Then, introduce causation and links to other developments beyond the one you reference. A potential thesis could read: "Although Germany's fascist descent was strongly influenced by the "war guilt clause" from the Treaty of Versailles, rampant industrialism and the US's abandonment of isolationism also played roles in inciting conflict."

Study Guide: Causation in the Age of Industrialization

Study Guide: Causation in the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery

A comparison prompt will ask you to articulate similarities and differences between content. It will also usually for an explanation or description of their importance.

  • A comparison thesis needs two parts: explanation of similarities and differences, and an introduction to the other required skill.
  • Start by introducing the evidence you plan on using for both similarities and differences. For example, "The Northern and Italian Renaissances both experienced significant economic shifts. However, the Northern Renaissance was more centralized, as exemplified by the strong states of England, the Netherlands, and the Holy Roman Empire."
  • Then, depending on the prompt, you may need to explain possible causes of the difference.
  • Your full thesis might look like, "Both the Northern and Italian Renaissances saw significant economic shifts. However, the Northern Renaissance was more centralized, while the Italian Renaissance occurred in city-states and was, by comparison, secular in nature."

Study Guide: Comparison in the Age of Absolutism and Constitutionalism

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How to Write an LEQ Essay? (Step-byStep)

Preparing to take AP History exams is always daunting — your score will play a major role in determining your future, after all. Many students find the LEQ portion of US, European, and World History exams to be the most challenging, as it requires quick thinking and relies on confident writing skills. Do you need a little extra help in preparing for your long essay question? We’re here to help.

Understanding an LEQ

APUSH, AP World History, and AP European History exams feature the same question types every year. Each of the sections in your exam has an established format, and will be scored to make up a predetermined percentage of your overall exam result. Together, the types of questions you will find on your AP History exam serve to test your knowledge and analytical skills.

The APUSH exam, for instance, consists of:

  • A total of 55 multiple-choice questions, which students are given 55 minutes to complete and which amount to 40 percent of the total score.
  • Three SAQs, or short answer questions, in which students are called on to demonstrate their analytical skills. The SAQs represent 20 percent of the total score.
  • DBQs, or document based questions, which make up 25 percent of the exam score.
  • LEQs, long essay questions, which make up 15 percent of the total score.

Students will be offered two different prompts to choose from in this section of an AP History exam, and are given 40 minutes to complete a short essay with the purpose of demonstrating rhetorical and reasoning skills, as well as proving they have the required background knowledge to pass the exam.

While the LEQ portion of an AP History exam is bound to be daunting to many students, who find multiple-choice questions easier to tackle than a free response task, acing your long essay questions will be easier once you understand what the purpose of this portion of the exam is. The LEQ:

  • Primarily serves to demonstrate that the student has a complex and nuanced understanding of historical events.
  • Tests whether students are able to draw parallels and see contrasts in different historical events, as well as to compare and contrast distinct events or time periods.
  • Puts the student’s analytical and reasoning skills to the test.

Is the LEQ Hard?

Students who prepare for their AP History exams — and who have had plenty of practice in writing essays — should not find the long essay question too challenging. Students will be offered two prompts, and are given the opportunity to choose from among them.

Because the long essay question they select will prompt students to engage in a free response, and there is no clearly defined “right” or “wrong” answer, many students experience the long essay question as the most difficult part of the AP history exam. There’s no need to be scared of this portion of the exam, though!

You will not primarily be judged on the beauty of the words you choose, and a formulaic response that “ticks all the right boxes”, by answering the prompt in the expected format, will help you maximize your score. This ultimately means that the LEQ portion of your APUSH, World History, or European History exam does not have to be difficult, as long as you practice in advance and are familiar with the expectations being placed on you.

How Is the LEQ Scored?

The prompts students are able to choose from change every year — but the scoring guidelines for the LEQ remain consistent. Grading personnel will be on the lookout for evidence that students:

  • Address the prompt directly. You will be given a clear task, and you will need to show that you have understood the prompt.
  • Offer clear reasoning for the position they choose to take in the essay, citing evidence from the material encountered in the AP History coursework that precedes the exam.
  • Draw on the wider historical context relevant to the chosen prompt, by addressing developments that occurred before the events in the prompt, by pointing to the effects of the event referenced in the prompt, or by comparing it to another event.
  • Offer specific examples relevant to the prompt.
  • Can compare and contrast the referenced event, or point to cause and effect. Alternatively, students may demonstrate complex understanding by discussing multiple consequences, causes, or variables related to the prompt.

You may notice that the beauty of your writing is not addressed in any of these points — especially artful wording or syntax cannot lead to additional points, because the examiners are looking for evidence that you have meaningfully interacted with your AP History classes, instead. It is therefore sensible to focus all your efforts on answering the LEQ prompt, without agonizing over your stylistic choices.

How to Format the APUSH LEQ?

While students are free to format their long essay questions in any way they would like, a five-paragraph essay format is extremely effective. This format offers students the chance to write an introduction in which they state their thesis — the historically-defensible claim they are making in the essay. They can then write three supporting paragraphs in which they elaborate on the thesis and explain why it is valid. Finally, such an essay should have a concluding paragraph in which the thesis is restated and defended in brief.

Students who believe they need additional paragraphs to defend their thesis can certainly write more, but each supporting paragraph in the body of the essay must speak to the prompt, by providing evidence to back the thesis up, in order for the student to gain as many points as possible.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing an LEQ Essay

Are you preparing for your AP History exams? Practice makes perfect — and practicing for your LEQ will help you knock an effective essay, one that ticks all the right boxes, out in no time. Practice using these techniques by looking up LEQ prompts from previous years!

1. Read the LEQ Prompts Carefully

Before you write a response to the long essay question of your choice, take the time to read both prompts carefully. You have 40 minutes to complete the entire LEQ portion of your AP History exam, and you would be advised to take at least 30 seconds to a minute to decide which prompt you are most likely to be able to answer well. Consider which topic you know more about, and what specific evidence you could offer to support your claim.

2. Formulate Your Response In Your Mind

Keeping in mind that students are expected to address the prompt directly, to formulate a thesis, to back it up with specific evidence, and to place their answers into a broader historical context, think about the points you would like to include in the response to your long essay question.

Take the time to formulate a specific and defensible thesis, and think about the evidence and context you can offer to support your claim. If you can, include a hook that will interest the person grading your LEQ, such as a quote, statistic, or interesting fact. Consider strong ways to end your LEQ essay, paying special attention to your concluding sentence.

Overall, this preparatory work should take you up to five minutes.

3. Write Your LEQ Response

Now that you have outlined the formula of your response in your mind, you can go ahead and write down your answer. Your LEQ should begin with an introductory paragraph, which will include your thesis statement. The next paragraphs in your LEQ essay should be devoted to showing why your thesis is defensible, using material you mastered during your AP History classes. Finish off with a concluding paragraph that clearly lays out why the points made in your essay are valid. You can take around 30 minutes crafting your LEQ essay.

4. Edit and Proofread Your LEQ Response

Finally, you will want to look over your LEQ essay and to check for grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. Correct those, as needed.

How to Pass the APUSH LEQ Exam

Do you suffer from essay-related “stage fright”? Are you a history buff, but was writing never your strongest point? Don’t worry — it is entirely possible to earn a good score on the LEQ portion of any AP History exam without being a great writer. You can increase your chances of earning a great score on the LEQ portion of an AP US, European, or World History exam by:

  • Using prompts used during previous years to practice for this portion of your exam — the more you practice, the easier it will be to simply write.
  • Analyzing the prompt carefully, being sure to pay attention to the core message.
  • Offering specific examples to show why the claim you are making is valid.
  • Offering a broader context to show that you understand how the topic addressed in the LEQ relates to other historical events.

The long essay question requires writing, but the quality of your writing is not being examined — to pass your APUSH LEQ exam, you simply need to understand what expectations are being placed on you. If you arrive fully prepared, you will not have any trouble!

Related posts:

  • How to Write a DBQ (APUSH) Essay?
  • 14 Tips to Help you Write An Essay Fast
  • How to Write an Effective Claim (with Examples)
  • How to Write a Counter Argument (Step-by-Step Guide)
  • How to Write an Effective Counterclaim in 5 Steps
  • How To Write A Movie Title In An Essay

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AP® World History

How to answer ap® world history saqs, dbqs, and leqs.

  • The Albert Team
  • Last Updated On: March 1, 2022

how to answer AP® World History free response questions

If you’re taking AP® World History, you probably already know just how important the free response section can be for making or breaking your AP® score. This post will help give you the best tips and tricks for answering AP® World History free response questions including but not limited to short-answer questions, document-based questions, and long essays. 

We’ll go over things like must-know tips for how to write perfect score SAQs, DBQs, and LEQs, mistakes students often make on the AP® World exam, and how to use past AP® free response questions to start practicing for your upcoming exam. 

Read on to get the scoop on everything you need to make the most of your AP® World History: Modern exam review. 

What We Review

5 Steps on How to Write Effective AP® World History: Modern Free Responses

Regardless of whether you’re answering a SAQ, DBQ, or LEQ, there are a few key steps when it comes to putting your best foot forward in your AP® World free response section.

1. Knowing what you’re being asked and answering that specific question.

All too often, students enter the AP® World History: Modern exam suffering from two key weaknesses in their exam prep: not understanding the rubric or not answering the question asked. 

You need to know exactly how you earn your points. This way, you can write your response to directly address what you’re being asked. 

Here is a link for AP® World History past released exams

These past exams include scoring guidelines PDFs which outline how points were distributed for each respective question. 

Here’s a screenshot from the second question of the 2019 released exam:

AP® World History saq

Source: College Board

You can gather a lot from these scoring guidelines. In the example above, you can see that points are distributed based on the student’s ability to answer the prompt. One point was given for identification from data in a chart, another from identifying a similarity, and a final point for explaining how longer life expectations impacted society on a political, economic, or social level. 

There are commonly used directive words to be wary of when reviewing past AP® World History free response questions. We’ll cover what some of those are later. 

When it comes to the AP® World History DBQ, know where each of your points will come from. Most importantly, keep in mind how to use the documents to advance your argument and don’t just rehash what is already known from the documents provided. This means knowing for example that you’ll receive one point for successfully connecting documents to the prompt, knowing you have to argue with the documents to earn more points, or using at least six (if not seven) documents to support your thesis.

For now, just make sure you go over at least two years worth of released exam scoring guidelines so you understand how everything is weighted and distributed.

2. Flag every directive word or key phrase in the question prompt. 

Now that you know how points are earned, you need to start to develop a habit for mentally confirming you’re getting all of the points possible in each question. 

Let’s take a look at the first SAQ from the 2019 AP® World History exam:

saq world history example highlighted

What you can tell here is that oftentimes for SAQs, you will be asked to identify in part A (and sometimes B, as is the case here), followed by explain in part B and/or C. 

To properly identify , you must provide 1-2 sentences where you directly answer the question, within the proper time period.

When asked to explain , these responses often will be three sentences. One sentence to answer the question, and then two sentences to provide specific facts that support your answer. Teachers often refer to these questions as ones where you want to “show the why”. 

Take note of what we highlighted above. We not only flag for ourselves what the key directive word is, but we also mark how many things we need to identify or explain and the time period being asked of us. 

Students often make the mistake of bringing in historical examples that are outside the scope of the time period asked. If you do this, you will miss out on valuable AP® World History SAQ points. 

Here’s how we might flag the DBQ from that same 2019 AP® World History free response section:

AP® World History dbq example

When you’re flagging the key directives or phrases, the things to keep in mind are: 

  • Typically when it comes to the DBQs or LEQs, you’ll be asked to compare, explore causes, discuss change or continuity over time.
  • What’s the time period? 

To answer the first question, you must understand that AP® World History: Modern develops students to have these six historical thinking skills: 

The four core historical reasoning skills from the College Board are:

ap historical reasoning skills

3. Plan out your response BEFORE you start writing.

Taking just a few minutes to map out your response to each AP® World History free response question can make a big difference in the cohesion of your responses. 

Too often, students jump right into answering questions and as a result either simply regurgitate what was already given to them, or fail to answer the question they’re being asked directly. 

To serve as a “compass”, always remember:

  • What’s the historical reasoning skill being asked of me?
  • What’s the time period? What do I know about this time period?

Then, when it comes to specifics to the DBQ, ask yourself questions such as:

  • What type of DBQ is this? Is it asking me a social, political, or economic question? 
  • How can the documents I’ve been provided be grouped together? 
  • What is the sourcing of the document? 
  • What’s my thesis? Can it be agreed with or disagreed with and have I put everything into historical context? 
  • Have I planned to use at least six documents? 
  • Is my intended outside evidence specific and relevant to the question and time period?
  • Have I planned how I’ll introduce complexity? (We’ll give you tips on this final point later)

For the AP® World LEQ, be sure to ask:

  • Do I have a defensible thesis? Is there a clear line of reasoning? 
  • Is it clear how I’ll place things into historical context?
  • Do I have specific evidence that is relevant to the question and time period?
  • Have I planned how I’ll introduce complexity?

The College Board uses the free response section to test your ability to connect the dots between historical time periods and to be able to fluidly navigate historical time periods with accuracy. 

This means planning is essential. Really think hard on what the question is asking you and if you’re giving a direct answer to that question. 

AP® Readers often express frustration with not being able to give students points because students simply got distracted by a catch phrase from the text, or wrote about something not relevant to the question of the prompt.

4. Double check you’ve made explicit references to connections in your writing.

One of the common pitfalls of student responses for AP® World History: Modern FRQs is not using documents or evidence to advance an argument. 

It isn’t enough in your response to simply demonstrate you understand what the document is. You have to also show how that document serves as evidence to support your thesis. 

In the past, Chief Readers of the exam have expressed that students often understand historical content, but aren’t able to present the evidence in a way that will earn points for the response. 

The easiest way to check yourself here is to remember the word “therefore”. Make your argument, describe your evidence from what’s provided (or what you know), and then say “therefore” followed by the argument you are trying to make. 

In other AP® subjects, teachers tell their students that this is the equivalent of “showing the why” or “closing the loop”. 

Closing the loop in AP® World History can be made into more of a habit using words like “because” or “therefore” to help bridge two concepts together and solve for the “why” this matters. 

5. Practice, practice, and then practice some more

When you really think about what are the keys to AP® free response success, it boils down to mastering the rubrics and crafting responses to fit those rubrics. 

It’s not uncommon for students to walk into the exam and to have never seen an AP® World History: Modern SAQ, DBQ, or LEQ rubric. Don’t be that student. 

The College Board provides a plethora of past released exams to help you navigate the preparation process, so use them! 

Try one of the past released exams and then have a friend grade your responses with the scoring guidelines. See how you might have done without any deliberate practice. Then, review your mistakes, log them in a study journal, and keep working through the other prior years. 

After a while, you’ll develop your own internal checklist of questions for yourself such as:

  • Do I have a thesis? Does it include evidence and a clear line of reasoning?
  • Have I explained what happened before this time period to earn the contextualization point?
  • Is the evidence I’ve used supporting my thesis? Have I included bridge words like “therefore” or “because” to demonstrate this alignment? Have I used at least six of the documents?
  • Have I discussed sourcing? Is it clear who the documents were written for and how that might impact the author’s point of view? 
  • Is there an attempt at earning the complexity point and evidence to support my complexity?

Return to the Table of Contents

37 AP® World History and Politics FRQ Tips to Scoring a 4 or 5

Alright! Now that we’ve reviewed a 5-step process for writing grade ‘A’ worthy AP® World History: Modern free responses, we can review some test taking tips and strategies to keep in mind. 

We recommend you read through a few of these every time you start and end your AP® World FRQ practice. Then, in the days leading up to your exam, read the entire list so they stay fresh in your mind. 

11 AP® World History SAQ Tips and Test Taking Strategies

  • Be smart about how you review your textbook for your FRQs. There is so much content that it can often be more practical to look over your outlines and notes from when you were in class, or to find online teacher notes that are free to build notes on top of. 
  • Prioritize chronology and periodization over dates. You should have a strong sense of the overall timelines but not have to rely on specific dates to position your responses. Students often force specific dates to memory without more broadly understanding what happened during that time period. 
  • Focus on understanding how the AP® World History themes intersect with one another. This directly relates to the ability to discuss and explain continuity and change over time. 
  • Answer the question.
  • Cite your supporting evidence.
  • Explain how your evidence proves your point. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the common categories of analysis: economic, demographic, political, cultural, and social developments are commonly assessed not just in the SAQ, but in all the AP® World FRQs. 
  • Readers have often mentioned that students struggle with periodization. As a result, they make mistakes mentioning things that are outside the scope of the time period given. 
  • Student struggles with periodization are often exacerbated when the test asks you about two different time periods. Be prepared for this scenario — it happened as recently as 2019 and led to many students writing outside the specified time period. 
  • Be wary of what the College Board calls “catch phrases” in the text. These are popular terms like “checks and balances” or “serial murderers”. These phrases have led students to write about topics not relevant to the question in the past such as the death penalty, school shootings, or the criminal justice system. 
  • Practice your ability to link secondary sources to course content. This is a skill that students often struggle with and the premise of doing well on a number of the SAQs.
  • Focus much of your prep time on the E in ACE . Students often are not effective at earning the point for explaining because they simply restate a fact and fail to show how that fact supports comparison, causation, or continuity and change over time. 
  • To help you score points in demonstrating your historical reasoning skills, use words like whereas, in contrast to, or likewise when drawing comparisons. 

22 AP® World History DBQ Tips and Test Taking Strategies

  • Before you start planning out your DBQ, double check the time period. 20th century means anything that happened between 1901 and 2000, 18th century means anything between 1701 and 1800, etc. You’d be surprised that students sometimes write about the wrong time period just due to test day stress. 
  • For the AP® World History DBQ, understand that you’ll only earn a point for your thesis if there is a historically defensible thesis that establishes a line of reasoning. In other words, you cannot just restate or reword the prompt.
  • X is your counterargument or counterpoint
  • ABC are your strongest supporting points for your argument.
  • And Y is your argument. 
  • If you don’t like the above formula, another common way to form a thesis is to remember to include the word “because” — the claims you make after you state “because” will be your argument. 
  • Gut check your thesis by asking yourself, “Is this something someone can or cannot agree to? If so, then it’s a good enough thesis because it needs to be defended.
  • Some AP® World History teachers recommend placing context in your opening paragraph. This way you don’t forget about it later. 
  • Historical Context
  • Point of View
  • Remember that you only get one point to describe how at least three documents from the documents provided relate to the prompt. Don’t spend your entire DBQ simply describing documents. 
  • The other points when it comes to the evidence section of the DBQ come from arguing with the documents. In other words, remember to use the documents as evidence to support your thesis. 
  • If you use six documents to support the argument of your thesis, you can earn the second point for the evidence section. If you’re unsure about how you interpreted one document, try to use all seven to give yourself a backup. Past Chief Readers of the exams have even given this tip as a good tip for responding to DBQs. 
  • XYZ, therefore ABC
  • XYZ is the description of the document
  • ABC is the implication and support of how what you described relates to your thesis. 
  • To earn the final point for evidence, the contextualization point, you need to bring in at least one piece of specific historical evidence from what you know that is relevant to the prompt and your thesis . The last part is very important. 
  • An easy way to earn your contextualization point is to explain what happened immediately before the time period being tested. 
  • In document 1, XYZ
  • In document 2, XYZ
  • Refer to the authors of the documents and not just the document numbers — this can serve as a helpful reminder to remember the HAPP acronym. 
  • Make sure your DBQ supporting paragraphs have topic sentences. Doing so helps build a cohesive argument instead of just jumping your reader from one document or one group of documents to the next.
  • To earn the sourcing point in analysis and reasoning, ask yourself, “Who was this document written for? What’s their intent or what might this document have accomplished? Why did the writer say what he said in the way he said it?” Then, link what you’ve considered to your thesis. 
  • You must demonstrate sourcing for at least three documents to earn the point. Try to do more than the minimum of three.
  • Do not ask for additional documents. This is an outdated tip that AP® World History teachers have continued sharing with students over the years that no longer is applicable. As recently as 2018, 15-20% of essays requested more documents when this hasn’t been part of the rubric. 
  • The College Board rubric describes this as “explaining relevant and insightful connections within and across periods” 
  • The College Board describes this as “explaining both similarity and difference”
  • If you’re writing about causation, discuss the effects. 
  • If you want another way to earn this point, you can earn it by applying your argument to another time period and drawing a connection. If you do this, keep in mind you must apply your entire argument to another time period. 
  • When aiming to score your complexity point, remember it needs to be integrated into your argument and not just a brief phrase or reference. Always explain why you’re including something in your response. 
  • A series of possible stems to signal to your grader you are attempting complexity is to say use one of the following phrases: another time, another view, or another way.

4 AP® World History LEQ Tips and Test Taking Strategies

  • Understand and be comfortable with all forms of the LEQ: causation, comparison, or change and continuity over time questions.
  • One point comes from having a historically defensible thesis or claim that establishes a line of reasoning (see above tips for how to make sure this is covered).
  • One point is awarded for contextualization. The easiest way to do this is to start with specificity on what was happening two to five decades before the time period you’re writing about. Be specific as you do not earn points for just citing a phrase or reference.
  • Two points are given for evidence. One is earned for just naming two pieces of evidence that are relevant to the prompt. The second is given when you use those pieces of evidence to support your argument in response to the prompt. 
  • Finally, two points are given for analysis and reasoning. One point is given for doing what is asked in the prompt (i.e. comparing, evaluating causation, exploring change and continuity over time). The second point is earned by having complexity in your response. See the above tip #31 from the DBQ section for the easiest ways to earn this point. 
  • When practicing your LEQs, try writing your response. Then, give yourself a dedicated time to reference your class notes and resources and add in specific facts that could have helped support your LEQ. This will help you gain confidence in being specific in your supporting evidence. 
  • If you’re often forgetting to bring in contextualization, try going through the last five years of LEQs and just answering how you would have tried to earn the contextualization point. 

Wrapping Things Up: How to Write AP® World History and Politics FRQs

AP® World History tips and tricks

We’ve reviewed so much in this AP® World History study guide. At this point, you should feel pretty confident when it comes to answering either your short answer questions, document-based questions, or long-essay questions. 

As we wrap up, here are a few things to remember:

  • Good AP® World History free response scores are only achieved when you know how you’re being assessed. Understand the point breakdowns for the SAQ, DBQ, and LEQs.
  • Form a mental checklist for yourself for each type of AP® World FRQ — for example, for SAQs, remember ACE: answer the question, cite your evidence, and explain how your evidence proves your point. 
  • Always take note of what time period is being asked of you. Students miss so many points by simply writing about something outside of the time period asked. 
  • Be specific in your responses. It is not enough to simply describe what’s going on in documents for example. You need to use the documents to support your thesis. Close the loop or “show the why” to your reader. 
  • Focus the bulk of your time on commonly tested AP® World History time periods. See the curriculum and exam description for the period breakdowns. Units 3-6 are typically weighted more than other time periods (12-15% respectively).  
  • Make sure your thesis includes a clear line of reasoning. Remember the model: Although X, ABC, therefore Y.
  • Put an attempt at contextualization in your introduction and then another when wrapping up your evidence to support your thesis. Explain what happened immediately before the time period being tested. 
  • Make sure to source at least three documents in your DBQ. Address HAPP (historical context, audience, purpose and point of view).
  • The easiest way to earn complexity is to do the opposite historical reasoning skill of what’s being asked of you. See tip #31 for how to do this. 

We hope you’ve taken away a lot from this AP® World review guide.

If you’re looking for more free response questions or multiple choice questions, check out our website! Albert has tons of original standards-aligned practice questions for you with detailed explanations to help you learn by doing and score that 4 or 5.

If you found this post helpful, you may also like our AP® World History tips here or our AP® World History score calculator here .

We also have an AP® World History review guide here .

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The 6 Best Ways to Prepare for the LEQ APUSH Section

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What Is the LEQ APUSH Section?

The LEQ APUSH section (a.k.a. the long essay question section) is worth 15% of your overall score. It asks you to choose one of two prompts. Then, you need to write a solid essay within the 35 allotted minutes. The essay should demonstrate one of the historical thinking skills . Here are the 6 best ways that you can prepare in order to ace the LEQ APUSH section.

1. Dissect the Question

Start by analyzing the question. Find out what the question is asking you to do. You need to make sure that you answer every part of it.

Go through the question and circle all the directive words, such as analyze , compare/contrast , or assess .

There may be a few trick directives in the question. These are there to distract you from the topics you really need to address. Pay attention, and read closely to determine what the question is really asking you to answer.

2. Craft a Solid Thesis

One of the most important parts of any essay is the thesis. Why? Because it is the outline to your paper. Your thesis tells the reader what your stance is on the issue, what you’re going to compare and contrast, etc. Then, it tells the reader which supporting details you will discuss further.

Practice crafting a thesis that won’t just reiterate the question. Be prepared to answer every part of the question, with relevant evidence to support your ideas.

3. Create an Outline

Once you have your thesis, you have a pretty good idea of what you’re going to discuss throughout your essay. Take a minute to brainstorm ideas. It could be a cluster, bulleted list, or other way to get your ideas on paper.

Then, jot down an outline with a few notes to remind you what you want to include in each paragraph. Refer to your outline while writing the essay. This will allow you to attack the question methodically to help you earn more points.

4. Use Historical Lingo

Since your essay should prove to graders that you know what you’re talking about, try to use as much historical lingo as possible. Of course, you need to use it correctly. Study the vocabulary so you can speak as an expert on American history.

5. Make Connections

The paragraph before your conclusion should be used to make connections to a different historical period , geographical area, or theme. Don’t just make the comparison. Take some time to develop the idea, so you can describe the period (or theme, geographical area, etc.) and discuss why you chose it.

6. Practice Good Writing Techniques

Don’t simply spill all your good ideas on the paper. You need to use good writing techniques, and pay attention to your spelling, grammar, capitalization, and so on. Some of the common things to watch for include:

  • Active voice (not passive voice)
  • Third person
  • Strong verbs
  • Descriptive adjectives and adverbs

Refrain from using abbreviations, casual language, or a lot of fluff. Keep your essay concise as you answer the question.

As you work on these 6 things, practice writing solid essays for the LEQ APUSH section. Have a friend or teacher check your writing to help you determine what you can do to improve. You can also refer to the College Board’s LEQ scoring guidelines and commentary for examples that can guide your writing, and help you ace the LEQ APUSH section. Remember, practice makes perfect!

Jamie Goodwin

Jamie graduated from Brigham Young University- Idaho with a degree in English Education. She spent several years teaching and tutoring students at the elementary, high school, and college level. She currently works as a contract writer and curriculum developer for online education courses. In her free time, she enjoys running and spending time with her boys!

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6 APUSH DBQ Examples to Review

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  • Summer Work
  • Period 1: (1491-1607)
  • Period 2: (1607-1754)
  • Period 3: (1754-1800)
  • Period 4: (1800-1848)
  • Period 5: (1844-1877)
  • Period 6: (1865-1898)
  • Period 7: (1890-1945)
  • Period 8 & 9: (1945- Present)
  • Short Answer Question (SAQ)
  • Document-Based Question (DBQ)
  • Long Essay Question (LEQ)
  • Polls/Surveys

 AP U.S. History: Long Essay Question (LEQ)

Short description, breakdown of essay:.

  • The AP U.S. History exam gives students a choice between two long-essay questions. You chose ONE !
  • A thesis statement is required.
  • You will have 35 minutes to answer the one question you select.
  • Makes up 15 % of final exam score.
  • Graded on a 0-6 point scale.

Different Types of LEQ Questions:

  • Argumentation:  Develops a thesis or relevant argument that addresses all parts of the question.
  • Use of Evidence:   Supports the thesis using specific evidence, clearly linked to the thesis.
  • Targeted Historical Thinking Skill:  Each question will assess an additional thinking skill, such as causation, comparison, continuity and change over time, or periodization.
  • Synthesis:   Written answers need to extend the argument of the essay, connect it to a different time historical context, or connect it to a different category of analysis.

Thesis Statement:

Steps to completing the leq:.

  • Analyze the Question
  • Organize the Evidence
  • Develop a Thesis
  • Write the Introductory Paragraph
  • Write the Supporting Paragraphs and Conclusion
  • Evaluate Your Essay​
  • Take the time to consider what the question really asks, which is often overlooked in the rush to start writing.
  • Stop and ask yourself, "What is the targeted historical thinking skill in the question? Causation? Comparison? Continuity and change over time? Periodization?"
  • You might try reading over the question or prompt three times. What is the key word(s) or phrase in the question? CIRCLE it. It could be verbs such as "analyze,“ "explain" or "support," "modify," or "refute."
  • All questions have one thing in common: They demand the use of historical thinking skills and analysis of the evidence.
  • A long-essay answer will not receive full credit by simply reporting information. Therefore, be on your guard for questions that start out with the verbs "identify" or "describe."
  • Such a question is usually followed by "analyze“ or some other more demanding thinking skill.
  • Identify what you know about the question and organize your information by making a brief outline of what you know.
  • Write your outline in the test booklet.
  • List facts pertaining to the question to help organize your thoughts.
  • Ask yourself, do I have enough evidence to support my thesis? It is obviously not very productive to select an essay or take a position that you cannot support.
  • A strong thesis is necessary in every APUSH essay answer.
  • Don’t be afraid of making a mistake!
  • The direction for the long-essay may give clear directions on the formation of the thesis, such as "support, modify, or refute" an interpretation.
  • The setting, time, and place by providing the background or historical context for the question or your thesis.
  • The thesis statement.
  • The “blueprint” or “controlling ideas” to the main arguments of the essay, which will be developed in the body or supporting paragraphs.
  • The number and length of the supporting paragraphs forming the body of the essay should vary depending on the thesis ( not necessarily 5 paragraphs! ), the main points of your argument, and the amount of historical evidence.
  • To receive the highest possible AP score, you must explain how specific historical evidence is linked to your thesis.
  • Each essay will also have a targeted historical thinking skill, which should shape one argumentation and choice of evidence.
  • More essay writing does not necessarily produce better essays.
  • Breaking down the process into manageable a nd sequential steps is one key for improvement.
  • Peer evaluation and self-evaluation both help students internalize the elements of an effective essay and learn ways to improve.

Tips/ Suggestions:

  • Write essays in the third person, not 1st person ("I," "we").  
  • Use specific words. 
  • Define or explain key terms. 
  • Communicate awareness of the complexity of history. 
  • Anticipate counterarguments. 
  • Remain objective. 
  • Communicate the organization and logical development of your argument.  
  • Focus on the thesis in the conclusion. 

Muller's Golden Rules:

  • Assume your reader is an idiot . .. That’s right, a class A imbicile. In other words, spell things out… Don’t take it for granted that “he/she know what I mean/knows what I’m talking about.” You’ve never met the guy/gal who’s going to read & grade your essays.
  • Things, a lot, & stuff… NEVER !
  • Keep your eye on the ball… Are you answering what is being asked?
  • Are you staying in or straying from the time scope of your question?
  • Ditch “Happily Ever Aftersims.” To wit, “…and if the pilgrims had never landed here, we could not have become the great, freedom-loving nation that we are today.”
  • Keep conclusions narrow. Just like the frame of study. You don’t have to go from the beginning of time to the year 5000 in six paragraphs.
  • It’s cool to be P.C . Use “Native Americans” instead of “Indians,” and “African-Americans” instead of “Black.”
  • Tenses: Don’t shift them!!! This is the PAST that you are writing about.
  • Never write conversationally!!! ​ Don’t write like you talk, and don’t talk to the reader ; NO FIRST PERSON. NO RHETORICAL QUESTIONS .
  • Spelling & Capitalization , Spelling & Capitalization, Spelling & Capitalization!!
  • Along the lines of #9. Stay crisp and professional . Don’t beat around the bush. Write as an expert in the field.
  • Watch out for repetitions… avoid tendencies in word or phrase usage & sentence structure.
  • Stream of Conciousness… unless you’re William Faulkner, don’t just ramble on. Have a specific mental picture, an intellectual starting point & destination for your work.
  • Direct is nice, but jumping right in is not. Give the reader a thesis first —tell the reader what it is you’re going to prove/disprove, advocate/reject, agree with/disagree with, etc…
  • Don’t leave hanging points! JUSTIFY your conclusions . Express facts rather than imply them. In other words, demonstrate to me why I should believe you/your conclusions.
  • Responses should be free-standing : I should be able to read your work and right away know what the question must have been, even if I never say it.
  • No cuteness —leave humor and funnies to the Daily Show, Colbert & Letterman. Always display your scholarship, not your wittiness…
  • Identify your pronouns, and use “Them” sparingly … It’s pretty easy to confuse the daylights out of the reader in no time at all if he/she has to struggle to figure out who “them” is/are/could be…
  • “ LUMPING ” is as vague as it is inaccurate . Be cautious about placing too much unity into the thoughts & actions of the many, i.e. “The colonists felt… The Indians hated… The Europeans wanted…” Could there be subsets within the groups? Specifically, which groups or sorts of the aforementioned felt, hated or wanted? It’s like saying, “All teens are…”
  • Along the lines of #8. Don’t inject yourself into history by using “ WE ” when you really mean, “Americans who have been dead for a long time.” WE didn’t evict the Cherokees from Georgia, win World War I, give women the right to vote, build the railroads, land on the moon, etc; THEY/ the U.S. did!

Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Try to fill up a specific number of pages but, instead write an insightful, persuasive and well-supported essay.
  • List a few generalities or a "laundry list" of facts.
  • Write in the narrative style by telling “stories,” but rather your goal should be to write analytically and support your argument with specific knowledge .
  • Use fillers and flowery language in an attempt to impress the reader. Write a a concise, coherent essay in which every word has a purpose. Don’t waste time! ​

Decode Essay Questions:

Leq packet:, past assignments:.

How to Write a DBQ, LEQ, & SAQ

General tips.

  • Planning, reading, and annotating documents  (15 minutes) and writing essay (40 minutes) 
  • Do NOT answer the question in bullet points.
  • Read the question carefully.
  • Use the language of the prompt to directly answer the questions.
  • Look for key action words and circle them (describe, analyze, explain, identify, etc). 
  • Look for plurals (ex: reason vs. reasons), if something is plural you must do two!
  • USe specific proper nouns that are given in each part of the question. This will support what you are trying to say and will give you credibility. 

ACE The question

  • Answer the question using a claim or topic sentence 
  • Cite specific factual evidence
  • Explain how the evidence proves the claim

DBQ: Requirements

  • A DBQ is a document based question where you take information from given documents and write an essay
  • There is no set format for DBQ writing, however there are certain things you have to touch up on which are 
  • Thesis/Claim 
  • Contextualization 

Analysis and Reasoning 

DBQ: Outline

Contextualization

  • Conclusion (if you have time)
  • Contextualization includes historical information relevant to the prompt
  • Think before, during, and after what you are going to be writing about.
  • Should be 3-4 sentences.
  •        Last sentence is your thesis statement.

1.A Thesis Statement

  • Your thesis statement is trying to prove a point.
  • DO NOT RESTATE THE PROMPT.
  • Should be 1-2 sentences.
  • Be specific! 
  • A strong thesis answers the “How” or “Why” question about your topic through a specific language.
  • Should include date (can be centuries) and location.
  • Ex: “ [Event] changed [example #1], [example #2], and [example #3] realities in [given place] during [date].” 
  • Body paragraphs  
  • Your body paragraphs go into detail for what you are trying to prove.
  • Focus on these main categories (think PERSIANS ) based on your promt (remember, you will not need to cover all of these in your body paragraphs , but these are good ways to get analysis points. Political Social, and Economic are the ones that will show up the most).
  • I ntellectual
  • N ear (Geographical location)
  • S ignificant Figures 

What should be included

  • Document citations (you can just say “Doc #” next to where you add your information pertaining to the document).
  • Description of document (even if it is a picture of a painting, you still have to describe it).
  • Why does the document pertain to your thesis statement?
  • For at least half of the documents you need to state at least one of the following and explain why it is relevant
  • Credibility; is the document reliable?
  • Point of view of the author
  • Purpose of the document
  • Intended audience (who would support/refute)
  • *Remember, the whole point of doing this is to strengthen your argument. Choose something that is relevant to what you are talking about so you can earn points!
  • Refresh everything that you have stated BRIEFLY.
  • Try to end powerful, you want to show you have a complex understanding on what you are talking about.

Scoring on AP Exam 

Thesis/Claim

Responds to the prompt with a historically defensible thesis/claim that establishes a line of reasoning.

The thesis must make a claim that responds to the prompt rather than restating or rephrasing the prompt. The thesis must consist of one or more sentences located in one place, either in the introduction or the conclusion.

Describes a broader historical context relevant to the prompt.

The response must relate the topic of the prompt to broader historical events, developments, or processes that occur before, during, or continue after the time frame of the question. This point is not awarded for merely a phrase or reference.

Evidence from Documents

Uses content of 

At least three documents to address the topic of the prompt

Supports an argument in response to the prompt using at least six documents

Evidence from Beyond the Documents 

Uses at least one additional piece of the specific historical evidence (beyond that found in the documents) relevant to an argument about the prompt.

To earn one point, the response must accurately describe — rather than simply quote — the content from at least three of the documents. 

To earn two points, the response must accurately describe — rather than simply quote — the content from at least six documents. In addition, the response must use the content of the documents to support an argument in response to the prompt

To earn one point, the response must accurately describe — rather than simply quote — the content from at least three of the documents. To earn two points, the response must accurately describe — rather than simply quote — the content from at least six documents. In addition, the response must use the content of the documents to support an argument in response to the prompt

 For at least three documents, explains how or why the document’s point of view, purpose, historical situation, and/or audience is relevant to an argument. 

Demonstrates a complex understanding of the historical development that is the focus of the prompt, using evidence to corroborate, qualify, or modify an argument that addresses the question.

To earn this point, the response must explain how or why (rather than simply identifying) the document’s point of view, purpose, historical situation, or audience is relevant to an argument about the prompt for each of the three documents sourced. 

A response may demonstrate a complex understanding in a variety of ways, such as: • Explaining nuance of an issue by analyzing multiple variables • Explaining both similarity and difference, or explaining both continuity and change, or explaining multiple causes, or explaining both cause and effect • Explaining relevant and insightful connections within and across periods • Confirming the validity of an argument by corroborating multiple perspectives across themes • Qualifying or modifying an argument by considering diverse or alternative views or evidence This understanding must be part of the argument. 

(from AP history DBQ rubric (7 points) - MRCASEYHISTORY. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2023, from https://mrcaseyhistory.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/ap-dbq-rubric-and-reasoning-skills.pdf ) 

LEQ: Requirements

  • An LEQ is long essay question that is usually compare/contrast or cause/effect.
  • Thesis based prompt. 
  • Should take around 40-50 minutes.
  • 15% of total grade. 
  • You do NOT NEED to have a five paragraph essay, you need as many to make your point.

LEQ: Outline

  • Body paragraph #1
  • Body paragraph #2
  • Conclusion (if you have extra time). 
  •        Last Sentence is your thesis statement.
  • Your thesis statement is what you are trying to prove.
  • A strong thesis answers the “How” or “Why” question about your topic through a specific language. 
  • Should have at least three points 
  • ex:  if you are comparing and contrasting the French and American Revolutions,  you can have two differences and one similarity, or one similarly and two differences. 
  • “While both [topic 1] and [topic 2] are similar in [similarity #1], they are different in terms of [difference #1] and [difference #2].”
  • Body paragraphs 
  • Your body paragraphs go into detail for what you are trying to prove
  • Start each paragraph with a topic sentence.
  • Ex: X caused significant [selected PERSIANS] change during [given period].
  • Focus on these main categories (think PERSIANS ) based on your prompt (remember, you will not need to cover all of these in your body paragraphs , but these are good ways to get analysis points. Political, Social, and Economic are the ones that will show up the most).
  • Specific examples and analysis to prove your thesis.
  • Background information (bringing in an outside source of information) (ex: if you are talking about American and French Revolutions, you can talk about the Haitian Revolution). 
  • BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE.
  • However if you do not know something, do not make something up.

Scoring on AP Exam

Scoring Criteria

Decision Rules

Provides specific examples of evidence relevant to the topic of the prompt.

Supports an argument in response to the prompt using specific and relevant examples of evidence.

To earn one point, the response must identify specific historical examples of evidence relevant to the topic of the prompt.

To earn two points the response must use specific historical evidence to support an argument in response to the prompt.

Analysis and Reasoning

Uses historical reasoning (e.g. comparison, causation, CCOT) to frame or structure an argument that addresses the prompt.

To earn the first point, the response must demonstrate the use of historical reasoning to frame or structure an argument, although the reasoning might be uneven or imbalanced.

To earn the second point, the response must demonstrate a complex understanding. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, such as:

• Explaining nuance of an issue by analyzing multiple variables

• Explaining both similarity and difference, or explaining both continuity and change, or explaining multiple causes, or explaining both causes and effects

• Explaining relevant and insightful connections within and across periods

• Confirming the validity of an argument by corroborating multiple perspectives across themes

• Qualifying or modifying an argument by considering diverse or alternative views or evidence This understanding must be part of the argument, not merely a phrase or reference.

(From AP history long essay question (LEQ) rubric (6 points). (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2023, from http://www.sultztonianinstitute.com/uploads/7/8/5/5/7855396/leq-rubric.pdf ) 

SAQ: Requirements

  • An SAQ (Short answer question) allows students to show their knowledge to answer questions from key concepts through a few sentences.
  • Does not require a thesis statement.
  • Does require complete sentences.
  • Usually broken into parts A,B, and C, but sometimes one section might ask two questions (for example, part A might ask two questions and B will ask one) but there will always be three questions asked. 
  • There is limited space to answer, so be careful not to overwrite!
  • At least half of the questions will include a reference of some sort (ex: photos, charts, graphs) that could be primary or secondary.
  • 40 minutes in total to answer all SAQs.

SAQ: Scoring

  • Each part of the SAQ is worth 1 point, therefore there are 9 possible points to earn.
  • Worth 20% of overall grade (most students who get a 5 get at least 7/9 points on the SAQ).
  • Considered “rough drafts” (grammatical errors will not count against you).
  • Points are earned through historical accuracy, quality of explanations, and depth of description that answer the question. 
  • Remember points are only earned on AP exams. If you do not know something the worst thing you could do is not answer. ANSWER EVERYTHING!

SAQ Outline Example

  • The Neolithic Revolution has been seen by many historians as the biggest cause of the early advent of civilizations.
  • a)  Identify and explain ONE argument that supports the assertion above.
  • b)  Identify and explain ONE argument that refutes the assertion above.
  • c)  Explain which is more useful, (a) or (b), in evaluating the assertion above.

Scoring Guide for the above question

●  One point for ​identifying​ and explaining​ one argument that supports the Neolithic Revolution being the biggest cause of the early advent of civilizations. .

  • ●  One point for ​identifying​ and explaining​ one argument that refutes (disproves) the idea that the Neolithic Revolution was the biggest cause of the early advent of civilizations.
  • ●  One point for ​explaining ​which argument, (a) or (b), is more useful in evaluating the assertion that the Neolithic Revolution was the biggest cause of the early advent of civilizations.

(Birdville ISD / Overview. (n.d.). from https://www.birdvilleschools.net/ ) 

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  • How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

Published on January 11, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on August 15, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . It usually comes near the end of your introduction .

Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you’re writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across. Everything else in your essay should relate back to this idea.

You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps:

  • Start with a question
  • Write your initial answer
  • Develop your answer
  • Refine your thesis statement

Table of contents

What is a thesis statement, placement of the thesis statement, step 1: start with a question, step 2: write your initial answer, step 3: develop your answer, step 4: refine your thesis statement, types of thesis statements, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about thesis statements.

A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay. It is a signpost telling the reader what the essay will argue and why.

The best thesis statements are:

  • Concise: A good thesis statement is short and sweet—don’t use more words than necessary. State your point clearly and directly in one or two sentences.
  • Contentious: Your thesis shouldn’t be a simple statement of fact that everyone already knows. A good thesis statement is a claim that requires further evidence or analysis to back it up.
  • Coherent: Everything mentioned in your thesis statement must be supported and explained in the rest of your paper.

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The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction .

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts and among young people more generally is hotly debated. For many who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education: the internet facilitates easier access to information, exposure to different perspectives, and a flexible learning environment for both students and teachers.

You should come up with an initial thesis, sometimes called a working thesis , early in the writing process . As soon as you’ve decided on your essay topic , you need to work out what you want to say about it—a clear thesis will give your essay direction and structure.

You might already have a question in your assignment, but if not, try to come up with your own. What would you like to find out or decide about your topic?

For example, you might ask:

After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process .

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how to write leq thesis

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Now you need to consider why this is your answer and how you will convince your reader to agree with you. As you read more about your topic and begin writing, your answer should get more detailed.

In your essay about the internet and education, the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments you’ll use to support it.

The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education because it facilitates easier access to information.

In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.

The invention of braille in the 19th century transformed the lives of blind people, allowing them to participate more actively in public life.

A strong thesis statement should tell the reader:

  • Why you hold this position
  • What they’ll learn from your essay
  • The key points of your argument or narrative

The final thesis statement doesn’t just state your position, but summarizes your overall argument or the entire topic you’re going to explain. To strengthen a weak thesis statement, it can help to consider the broader context of your topic.

These examples are more specific and show that you’ll explore your topic in depth.

Your thesis statement should match the goals of your essay, which vary depending on the type of essay you’re writing:

  • In an argumentative essay , your thesis statement should take a strong position. Your aim in the essay is to convince your reader of this thesis based on evidence and logical reasoning.
  • In an expository essay , you’ll aim to explain the facts of a topic or process. Your thesis statement doesn’t have to include a strong opinion in this case, but it should clearly state the central point you want to make, and mention the key elements you’ll explain.

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A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :

  • Ask a question about your topic .
  • Write your initial answer.
  • Develop your answer by including reasons.
  • Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.

The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .

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UCLA History Department

Thesis Statements

What is a thesis statement.

Your thesis statement is one of the most important parts of your paper.  It expresses your main argument succinctly and explains why your argument is historically significant.  Think of your thesis as a promise you make to your reader about what your paper will argue.  Then, spend the rest of your paper–each body paragraph–fulfilling that promise.

Your thesis should be between one and three sentences long and is placed at the end of your introduction.  Just because the thesis comes towards the beginning of your paper does not mean you can write it first and then forget about it.  View your thesis as a work in progress while you write your paper.  Once you are satisfied with the overall argument your paper makes, go back to your thesis and see if it captures what you have argued.  If it does not, then revise it.  Crafting a good thesis is one of the most challenging parts of the writing process, so do not expect to perfect it on the first few tries.  Successful writers revise their thesis statements again and again.

A successful thesis statement:

  • makes an historical argument
  • takes a position that requires defending
  • is historically specific
  • is focused and precise
  • answers the question, “so what?”

How to write a thesis statement:

Suppose you are taking an early American history class and your professor has distributed the following essay prompt:

“Historians have debated the American Revolution’s effect on women.  Some argue that the Revolution had a positive effect because it increased women’s authority in the family.  Others argue that it had a negative effect because it excluded women from politics.  Still others argue that the Revolution changed very little for women, as they remained ensconced in the home.  Write a paper in which you pose your own answer to the question of whether the American Revolution had a positive, negative, or limited effect on women.”

Using this prompt, we will look at both weak and strong thesis statements to see how successful thesis statements work.

While this thesis does take a position, it is problematic because it simply restates the prompt.  It needs to be more specific about how  the Revolution had a limited effect on women and  why it mattered that women remained in the home.

Revised Thesis:  The Revolution wrought little political change in the lives of women because they did not gain the right to vote or run for office.  Instead, women remained firmly in the home, just as they had before the war, making their day-to-day lives look much the same.

This revision is an improvement over the first attempt because it states what standards the writer is using to measure change (the right to vote and run for office) and it shows why women remaining in the home serves as evidence of limited change (because their day-to-day lives looked the same before and after the war).  However, it still relies too heavily on the information given in the prompt, simply saying that women remained in the home.  It needs to make an argument about some element of the war’s limited effect on women.  This thesis requires further revision.

Strong Thesis: While the Revolution presented women unprecedented opportunities to participate in protest movements and manage their family’s farms and businesses, it ultimately did not offer lasting political change, excluding women from the right to vote and serve in office.

Few would argue with the idea that war brings upheaval.  Your thesis needs to be debatable:  it needs to make a claim against which someone could argue.  Your job throughout the paper is to provide evidence in support of your own case.  Here is a revised version:

Strong Thesis: The Revolution caused particular upheaval in the lives of women.  With men away at war, women took on full responsibility for running households, farms, and businesses.  As a result of their increased involvement during the war, many women were reluctant to give up their new-found responsibilities after the fighting ended.

Sexism is a vague word that can mean different things in different times and places.  In order to answer the question and make a compelling argument, this thesis needs to explain exactly what  attitudes toward women were in early America, and  how those attitudes negatively affected women in the Revolutionary period.

Strong Thesis: The Revolution had a negative impact on women because of the belief that women lacked the rational faculties of men. In a nation that was to be guided by reasonable republican citizens, women were imagined to have no place in politics and were thus firmly relegated to the home.

This thesis addresses too large of a topic for an undergraduate paper.  The terms “social,” “political,” and “economic” are too broad and vague for the writer to analyze them thoroughly in a limited number of pages.  The thesis might focus on one of those concepts, or it might narrow the emphasis to some specific features of social, political, and economic change.

Strong Thesis: The Revolution paved the way for important political changes for women.  As “Republican Mothers,” women contributed to the polity by raising future citizens and nurturing virtuous husbands.  Consequently, women played a far more important role in the new nation’s politics than they had under British rule.

This thesis is off to a strong start, but it needs to go one step further by telling the reader why changes in these three areas mattered.  How did the lives of women improve because of developments in education, law, and economics?  What were women able to do with these advantages?  Obviously the rest of the paper will answer these questions, but the thesis statement needs to give some indication of why these particular changes mattered.

Strong Thesis: The Revolution had a positive impact on women because it ushered in improvements in female education, legal standing, and economic opportunity.  Progress in these three areas gave women the tools they needed to carve out lives beyond the home, laying the foundation for the cohesive feminist movement that would emerge in the mid-nineteenth century.

Thesis Checklist

When revising your thesis, check it against the following guidelines:

  • Does my thesis make an historical argument?
  • Does my thesis take a position that requires defending?
  • Is my thesis historically specific?
  • Is my thesis focused and precise?
  • Does my thesis answer the question, “so what?”

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