AP US History



Preparing for the AP US History Exam

DBQ Possible Score

Average DBQ Score

Plan B Score

The DBQ scoring rubric awards students 7 possible points. Between 2017 and 2019 average DBQ scores ranged from a low of 2.22 to a “high” of 2.54. Low DBQ scores make it difficult for students to earn overall APUSH scores of a 5 or 4. The 2022 edition of ITP’s Doing the DBQ provides 8 carefully selected and annotated DBQ essays.

A student’s Plan A approach should always begin by carefully reading the prompt and the seven documents. But what if a student is unprepared for the prompt and doesn’t understand all the document? Is there a Plan B that can help students write a successful DBQ essay?

Fortunately, the answer is YES! Plan B is designed to help students earn 4 rubric points. It is important to remember that earning 4 of 7 DBQ rubric points will keep a student on track to earn an overall score of a 3 or 4. In brief, Plan B recommends that students earn 4 points by writing a straightforward thesis (1 point), describing and sourcing 3 documents (2 points), and providing one example of evidence beyond the documents (1 point). The 2022 edition of the Insider’s Doing the DBQ provides 4 detailed examples of the Plan B method.


Plan A · Earn a 5-7 for a High Score


Plan B · Earn a 4 to help score an overall 3 or 4


Our DOING THE DBQ Book provides 4 examples of Plan B