On the AP Exam, scoring for the Document Based Question (or DBQ) is based on a nine-point scale developed by the College Board. Document Based Questions are essentially "open note" essays - you don't need to bring in prior knowledge in order to score well on the question. You do need, however, to interpret the documents given in way that shows meaning.

Core type
  • Has an acceptable thesis
  • Discusses a majority of the documents individually and specifically
  • Understands the basic meaning of the documents (may misinterpret up to one)
  • Supports the thesis with appropriate interpretations of a majority of the documents.
  • Analyzes Point of View (POV) or bias in at least three documents.
  • Analyzes documents by explicitly organizing them in at least three appropriate groups.
  • Has a clear, analytical and comprehensive thesis
  • Uses all or almost all documents
  • Addresses all parts of the question thoroughly
  • Uses documents persuasively as evidence
  • Shows understanding of nuances in the documents
  • Analyzes bias or point of view in at least four documents cited in the essay
  • Analyzes the documents in additional ways - additional groupings or other.
  • Brings in relevant "outside" historical content
The student will earn one point for successfully completing each of the first six tasks (Basic Core) in order to have the opportunity to get points in the Expanded Core. Failure to earn a total of 6 points in the Basic Core with leave student with a score reflective of the number of tasks which were successfully accomplished. There is no half credit for these - you either answer them correctly or not. In the Expanded Core section, a student may earn 1, 2 or 3 points for successfully demonstrating any, all or some of the points listed there.