§ Author:Students should look closely at who authored the piece. What do they know aboutthe author that would affect the reliability of the document? Are they aware ofany bias the author might possess which would color the account? In AP Worldand AP European history, point-of-view factors heavily in the grading of theDBQ.
§ Placeand Time: When and where was the source produced, and how mightthis affect the meaning of the document? If time and place is not given in thesource, are there clues within the document as to the time and place of origin?
§ PriorKnowledge: Based on the author and time and place of the source,what additional knowledge can a student trigger from this document? An examplemight be a document from John C. Calhoun which doesn’t mention nullification. Astudent might know that John C. Calhoun authored the South Carolina Expositionand Protest which espoused the compact theory of government and the possibilityof nullification. A political cartoon might have drawings of an elephant anddonkey. Can the student determine what those symbols represent?
§ Audience: Whowas the source created for, and how might this affect the reliability of thedocument? Would we anticipate that Richard Nixon would say the same things tohis advisors in the Oval Office concerning the Watergate break-in that he wouldin a radio address to the American people? Why would Franklin Roosevelt say,"Your boys are not going to be sent to any foreign wars?"
§ Reason: Whywas this document produced at the time and place it was? Prior knowledge, timeand place, author, audience all factor in to a student being able to determinereason. Why would Andrew Jackson says, "John Marshall has made hisdecision, now let him enforce it" in 1832? Why would Joseph Keppler drawthe anti-immigration restriction cartoon "Looking Backward" in 1893?
§ MainIdea: What is the point the document is trying to make? It isessential that students be able to synthesize the information in the source andexpress it in a single sentence, rather than simply paraphrasing or directlyquoting the document.
§ Significance: On theAdvanced Placement exam, students are always asked to examine documentsrelative to a specific question. In the Significance component ofAPPARTS, students must ask themselves the question, "How and why does thisdocument support my thesis?" The AP Vertical Teams Guide suggests thatstudents ask themselves, "So what?"