How to Write a THESIS for the DBQ & LEQ [APUSH, AP World History, & AP Euro]


hi and welcome back to Hamlisch history in this video I’m gonna show you how to write a perfect thesis statement for your DBQ and your leq and this will work for all the AP histories AP World AP US and AP euro let’s get to it okay so what you’re about to see is the thesis module from a much larger course that I just recorded about how to write all the essays in AP US history AP World History and AP European history the whole course goes over every point of the DBQ the le q and the SI q and if you like what you’re about to see then the whole course is linked down below in the description I hope you enjoy it [Music] okay thesis what is a thesis your thesis is just the argument in miniature for the essay that you are writing now in order to earn this point the rubric says that you have to respond to the prompt of the historically defensible thesis slash claim that establishes a line of reasoning okay let’s break that down now there are two very important phrases in that definition that I want to draw your attention to the first is this historically defensible claim and the second is establishes a line of reasoning now what that means is is that your thesis has to argue for something if you merely restate the prompt as it is no point for you you must argue something so for example in the 2017 national exam for AP US history the prompt was this evaluate the extent of change in ideas about American independence from 1763 to 1783 and here’s an example of just restating the prompt from 1763 to 1783 ideas about American independence changed yeah no doy but I don’t need to know anything about anything to write what I just read all I did was take the prompt and rearrange the words it is not historically defensible and it certainly does not establish a line of reasoning but let me give you two examples of theses that do establish a line of reasoning that are historically defensible and these come from student samples that the College Board says will earn the point for our thesis number one from 1763 to 1783 colonial ideas about American independence changed from just questioning British policies to calling for revolution and the second one is this from 1763 to 1783 colonial ideas about American independence did not change much because throughout the period many colonists continued to oppose the Patriot cause all right now notice that the first one said that the extent of change was enormous from mere questioning to full-blown revolution but the second one said that nothing much changed you’ve got two opposing sides here that are arguing different things but they are both arguments they are both historically defensible and they can both draw from the evidence to make their argument ok so just make sure your thesis makes an argument instead of just restating the prompt also your thesis needs to be specific now it’s at this point that you’re going to have to expunge from your brain folds all that your English teacher taught you about writing theses you see an English class they teach you to make your thesis vague and then fill in the details as you go along in the essay but your thesis for your AP History essay needs to be stuff fuller than a Scottish haggis don’t know what a haggis is haggis is a savory pudding containing sheep’s heart liver and lungs minced with onion oatmeal spices and salt mixed with stock traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach anyway in English class your thesis is just going to be a deflated sheep stomach and that’s it but in AP History you’re gonna take that thesis and you’re gonna stuff it so full of sheep nasties that it’s about to explode now in the examples of theses that I mentioned earlier notice that they are not elegant they are not spectacular but they are specific that first student wrote about exactly what changed at first the colonists were just questioning British policies and by the end they were calling for full-blown revolution and the second theses argued that there wasn’t much change because there was a continuing resistance to the Patriot cause again specific now I myself would prefer more specificity than just that for example here’s an elegant thesis on the same product from 1763 to 1783 ideas of American independence change from the colonies blindly accepting the tyranny of the British by religious rights of divine kings to believing in natural rights of rules against British rule oh that’s just tasty that argument is very specific the tyranny of the British the Divine Right of Kings natural rights mad haggis is about to burst but here’s the thing all the theses that I’ve read you so far earned the point you see your thesis does not have to be elegant to get the point it just has to be argumentative and specific now for some of you that’s enough but others of you might appreciate a formula and I’ve got one for you that intrepid AP history teacher John Irish has given us what I think is a marvelous formula for a complex thesis let’s go look at it the formula is this although X a and B therefore Y although X a and B therefore Y now in this case X is going to be the best argument against your argument which is to say the best counter argument a and B are going to be your evidence and then Y is your argument now let me give you another example of this in response to the prompt that we’ve been considering although most colonists identified in the beginning of the American Revolution as part of the British people and only saw greater representation there’s your X that was the counter argument the continued contention over economic policies there’s your first piece of evidence a and political autonomy be forced many colonists to strive for a new identity as an independent America that’s your argument Y and that’s what you’re gonna argue in the essay now let me tell you something even though you can get the point for a simpler thesis like I mentioned before it’s better to argue for a complex thesis like this because if you do then you are setting yourself up later to get the complexity point you see if you can argue in an essay both the argument that you think is right and the best counter arguments and you can say well it’s kind of this and kind of that but mostly this then you are on your way to getting a complexity point and by the way the thesis that I just read was from a student who got a seven on their essay okay one more last piece of instruction about your thesis and where it should go in your essay according to the rubric you need to put your thesis all in one place either at the front of the essay or at the end of the essay and traditionally most people put their thesis upfront and the advantage of putting it first is that you already know the structure of your essay because your thesis remember is your argument in miniature but some people like to put it at the end of the essay and if I were writing a DBQ I would probably put it at the end and the reason for this is that I think by writing I can’t just think of stuff in my head have the argument fully formed and then just go write it out I have to figure out what I’m going to say by actually saying and so I don’t even know what my arguments going to be until I’ve written it out so if you’re like that too don’t sweat it just put your thesis at the end [Music]


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