Sample DBQs

The purpose of this page is to draw together examples of relevant ‘Data-Based Questions’ that students will encounter in Section B of the exam and to provide handouts that offer some guidance on how to approach this area. This section is worth 150 Marks (or 30% of a student’s final grade) but is one of the most difficult parts of the course to teach as it currently stands because of the lack of “Past Papers” to give students a sense of how this particular question should be approached. Yes, obviously, students should be getting practice gathering and analyzing data themselves throughout the two years of study, but that only gets them so far when it comes to sitting the exam. I’ll be adding more sample questions as time goes on. (I’ll try add them in both .pdf and .doc format where possible so that teachers can adjust the documents or questions as they see fit and and to help with work that might have to be digitally submitted this year.)

Sample Q 1 – Election Integrity and Electoral Commission

Election Integrity and Electoral Commission DBQ (pdf)

Election Integrity and Electoral Commission DBQ (MS Word)

Sample Q 2 – Migration 

BBC/CSO Migration DBQ (pdf)                    BBC/CSO Migration DBQ (MS Word)

Sample Q 3 – Gender – Employment in Irish Theatre and Nationwide

Gender in Irish Theatre and Population DBQ

Sample Q 4 – Press Freedom Index – Comparative Ireland and International

Press Freedom Ireland and International DBQ

Sample Q 5 – Corruption – IMF and Transparency International

Corruption DBQ – IMF and Transparency International – PDF

Corruption DBQ – IMF and Transparency International – MS Word

Worked Solutions‘ for Sample Q 5. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE bear in mind that the goal of providing a worked solution for this DBQ is to give an example of ONE way in which the questions could be addressed. It is ABSOLUTELY the case, that questions could be addressed in another manner and still achieve high/full marks. Remember, we have a very limited sample (#N number) upon which to base these samples.

Sample Answers for Corruption DBQ – IMF and Transparency International

Ordinary Level/Fifth Year – The following two Sample DBQs were specifically designed to fit the format of the OL exam, but might also be of use to teachers and students in fifth year as an introduction to the process of dealing with Data-Based Questions. But bear in mind that the format of the questions on the HL exam will vary in number and style from these. Nonetheless, I think they will be of use…!

Women in Politics OL (PDF )     Women in Politics OL  (MS Word)

OL Disability DBQ (PDF)             OL Disability DBQ (MS Word)

Again, though the sample size is small, it does seem that there are certain ‘types’ of question that are recurring. Maybe this list of question-types will help to focus students’ revision. I’ll do it up nicely when I get the time!

Types of DBQ Question

As I always remind my own students, “Any DBQ that you do, automatically becomes a CASE STUDY for you to refer to in future”. So the goals of the documents that I produce will be two-fold. Firstly, they should enhance the learning in specific areas that are directly relevant to the course content/subject specification. Secondly, they aim to familiarize students with the kinds of questions that have been asked thus far. These seem to range from questions that focus directly on ‘comprehension’ of the key content and arguments, to reliability and methodology, presentation of written and visual data, bias in authorship, and comparative views of the two documents. But bear in mind that we only have two past exams and an SEC sample paper to go on, so this will (by definition) be an imperfect set of sample questions. I’m forever telling students that they should look at the ‘N’ number (sample size) in any data they gather and so I should heed my own advice and not make any extravagant claims about anything I produce based on the ‘trends’ that I’ve tried to infer. Seeing the ‘backup’ paper in November 2020 that students were supposed to have sat in June will undoubtedly help with improving the relevance of future sample DBQs!

The following handouts might help students in their responses:

Intro to Data, Communication, and Social Action

DBQ Question (g) – 50 Mark Question – Suggested Approach

DBQ Question (f) – 50 Mark Question – Suggested Approach

(*** the marking scheme for the 50 Mark Question shifted between the first and second year of examination. I include the old format of my suggested approach for comparative purposes.)

***Please also note that 2021 Students will NOT be asked the normal ‘final 50-Mark Question’ in their exam. Specifically, the SEC said they will not ask any question that doesn’t directly relate to the documents presented. i.e. it seems like this means that they won’t asked a question which sounds like “Based on your own study/your wider learning in Politics and Society” question this year. We do not know how they will work around this issue??!!??***

The final problem with this process is that it takes A VERY LONG TIME to put these samples together. Each one of the samples took me about 3 ½ – 4 hours and there may still be a few typos. I have gotten a little bit of practice putting these together for the DEB Mock Papers, but even still, it’s a very labour-intensive process. Even more frustratingly, the sample answers become dated (if not obsolete) relatively quickly and there’s absolutely no way I’ll be able to go back and update them, so you’ll have to take them as they come! As always, if you have any (constructive) criticisms of this sample paper and/or suggestions on how to improve them, then please do get in contact. I’m always eager to improve.

Given that you don’t have to buy ‘Sample Papers’ now, if you felt like making a small contribution to the running of the site, I’d appreciate a donation here: Contact and Support