Sample DBQ



© 2010 The College Board.

Visit the College Board on the Web:

You may refer to relevant historical information not mentioned in the documents.


  1. Using the following documents, analyze similarities and differences in the

mechanization of the cotton industry in Japan and India in the period from the

1880s to the 1930s. Identify an additional type of document and explain how it would

help your analysis of the mechanization of the cotton industry.


Question 1 — Document-Based Question (continued)

  • Includes groupings beyond the three required.
  • Brings in accurate and relevant “outside” historical content.
  • Explains why additional types of document(s) or sources are needed.

o Identifies more than one type of appropriate additional document.

o Provides a sophisticated explanation of why the additional document is


o Request for additional document is woven into the essay and integrated into a

broader analysis.





The intent of the question was to compare the characteristics of the mechanization of the cotton textile industry in Japan and India during the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Unlike most recent document based questions (DBQs), these documents could not simply be classified in one category for analysis.

Many of the 10 documents had internal evidence that represented multiple characteristics of mechanization. Given the richness and diversity of the sources, students could use individual documents in a variety of ways to represent different characteristics of mechanization in India and Japan and to provide multiple differences and similarities between the two. Documents could be grouped in a variety of ways: for example, in terms of growth in production, gender of the labor forces, traditional forms of production, and labor conditions in both India and Japan.


Attribution for the individual documents was clear and provided ample opportunities for discussion of point of view and analysis of potential additional documents and sources.


Readers were enthusiastic in their view that this was an exemplary DBQ in terms of both the question and the ease and reliability of applying the scoring guidelines. Students were given the opportunity to construct arguments in myriad ways, with evidence found internally within the same document(s). The question was very efficiently and accurately scored.





Sample: 1A

Score: 8

The essay earned all of the Basic Core points and an additional point from the Expanded Core. The thesis is in the introduction and clearly makes a case for a similarity as well as differences in the characteristics of mechanization of the cotton industry in India and Japan (1 point). All of the documents are understood (1

point) and are used for evidence (2 points). Points of view of the sources are provided for Documents 6 and 9, although 9 is marginally acceptable when the student discusses the veracity of the British commissioner (1 point). The essay successfully groups the documents in five ways: production (Documents 1, 2 and 6), men (Documents 8 and 10), women in Japan (Documents 4 and 7), peasant origins of workers (Documents 4, 5 and 9), and conditions of labor (Documents 3 and 9) (1 point). The student asks for three excellent additional documents: a document separating the Japanese hand- and machine-spun yarns for a better comparison with India, a report from an Indian worker, and a comparison of the actual machines used (1 point). The essay earned a point in the Expanded Core for a consistent comparison throughout, multiple additional documents, and a consistent utilization of the documents as evidence of the characteristics of mechanization of the cotton industry.  accessed on 1/25/11.