How Do You Write a Thesis Statement for AP World History DBQ?

If you are taking AP World History, chances are you will be required to write a Document-Based Question (DBQ) essay. One of the most critical components of a DBQ is the thesis statement.

Your thesis statement is the backbone of your essay, and it sets the tone for everything that follows. A strong thesis statement is essential for earning a high score on your AP World History exam. So, how do you write a thesis statement for AP World History DBQ?

Understand the Prompt

Before you can write a thesis statement, you must first understand the prompt. The prompt will provide you with a historical context and several documents that relate to that context. Your job is to analyze these documents and use them to support an argument or claim about the period in question.


Once you understand the prompt, it’s time to brainstorm. Take some time to think about what you already know about the topic and review any relevant notes or readings. Then, make a list of potential arguments or claims that could be supported by the documents provided.

  • Tip: Don’t worry about crafting perfect sentences at this stage; focus on generating ideas.

Create a Thesis Statement

Using your brainstorming notes, choose one argument or claim that you feel strongly about and formulate it into a clear and concise sentence.

  • Tip: Your thesis statement should be one or two sentences long and should clearly state your argument or claim.

For example:

Prompt: Analyze how economic, religious, and social factors affected European expansion in the Age of Exploration.

Possible Thesis Statement: The economic motives behind European exploration were the primary driving force, as demonstrated by the emphasis on trade and commerce in the documents provided.

Revise and Refine

After creating your initial thesis statement, take some time to revise and refine it. Consider whether your argument is clear, concise, and specific enough. Make sure that it answers the prompt and addresses all of the key points that you want to discuss in your essay.

  • Tip: Your thesis statement should be a roadmap for your essay. It should provide a clear direction for your argument and help guide your writing.

In Conclusion

Writing a strong thesis statement is essential for earning a high score on your AP World History exam DBQ essay. Take the time to understand the prompt, brainstorm potential arguments or claims, create a clear and concise thesis statement, and revise and refine until you have a strong foundation for your essay. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to acing that DBQ!