Longer essays may also contain an introductory page that defines words and phrases of the essay's topic. Most academic institutions require that all substantial facts, quotations, and other porting material in an essay be referenced in a bibliography or works cited page at the end of the text. This scholarly convention helps others (whether teachers or fellow scholars) to understand the basis of facts and quotations the author uses to support the essay's argument and helps readers evaluate to what extent the argument is supported by evidence, and to evaluate the quality of that evidence. The academic essay tests the student's ability to present their thoughts in an organized way and is designed to test their intellectual capabilities.
The document based question was first used for the 1973 AP United States History Exam published by the College Board , created as a joint effort between Development Committee members Reverend Giles Hayes and Stephen Klein. Both were unhappy with student performance on free-response essays, and often found that students were "groping for half-remembered information" and "parroted factual information with little historical analysis or argument" when they wrote their essays. The goal of the Document Based Question was for students to be "be less concerned with the recall of previously learned information" and more engaged in deeper historical inquiry. Hayes, in particular, hoped students would "become junior historians and play the role of historians for that hour" as they engaged in the DBQ.