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Be sure to bring a blue or black pen and read all instructions on the front of the green booklet. Very carefully read the directions pertaining to the question and follow them exactly. Before you read the documents, make a list of historical facts and information that will help you answer the question as well. When included in the essay, this will be your “outside information.” Then quickly read through the documents to glean historical facts and information. Remember, this is not and essay on the documents. This is an essay using facts and information from the documents.
Underline points you want to remember. Think of how you may use each document. Make notes to yourself beside the documents. And note the level of sophistication of the document. Is it presented as something someone thought, or as cold hard facts? Next, read through the document more slowly and add information you have taken from the documents to your list of “outside information.” Rather than simply paraphrasing the documents, analyze them. Then organize your facts and information into categories. Finally, develop topic sentences and get ready to write your essay.
In the first paragraph, start with a broad general statement on the topic of the questions. For example, this may be the historical setting, the time period in which the question takes place. What is going on in America at the historical time of the questions? Do not take more than two or three minutes at most here. At the end of your broad general statement, write the thesis. It is imperative that you write a strong thesis as it is the main point that you want to prove in your paper. The only way you can convince your reader to believe as you do is to present him/her with factual historical (or textual) information that supports your thesis. Next, add an organization statement that includes topics, major points, and/or areas of information you are going to use to present your categories. If you wish you may include your organizational statement in the thesis.
Using the first item in your organizational statement, open the second paragraph with a topic sentence that supports your thesis. As you write, make sure that your supporting evidence helps you answer the question posed and that your argument flows from your thesis statement. Continue to utilize this model for subsequent paragraphs, adding transitions as needed.
Include information from the documents AND information NOT in the documents. DO NOT quote the documents unless you must. When you use information from the documents, include the letter of the document, in parenthesis, at the end of the sentence to show which document you have used. For example: (doc.C), (doc.G), (doc.A) or just (F), (B), (H). Remember that you do not have to use all of the documents, but do not exclude too many. Be sure to answer the question asked of you. Relax and put forth your best effort.
Avoid the common mistake of merely paraphrasing the document from A – Z. Refrain from quoting too much of the document directly. But avoid using only outside information to the neglect of the actual documents, or vice versa. Do not employ the “Garden of Eden” Approach of going too far back in time. Nor should you implement the “Nostradamus” Approach of going too far into the future.