Helpful Source Analysis Mnemonics

Helpful Source Analysis Mnemonics


S.O.U.R.C.E. Mnemonic


Source: where it comes from (date/provenance/author etc.)?

Objective: why was it written?

Usefulness: how useful for what you want/ need?

Reliability: how reliable for what you need?

Context: how does it fit in with what you know?

Example: always use source examples to back up what you say.


T.E.M.G.A.P.A. Document-Based Questions (DBQ)


T         Thesis (must be acceptable according to the prompt)

E          Evidence (supports thesis with appropriate evidence)

M         Meaning (understands basic meaning of documents)

G         Groups (number depends on question) PIEMASTER, etc

A         Analysis (for G and P, use Rule of 3)

P          Point of View (at least 3 documents)

A         Additional documents (identifies and explains need for 3 documents)


T.A.R.E.A. Continuity & Change Over Time (CCOT)


T         Thesis (must be acceptable according to the prompt)

A         Addresses all parts of the question

R         Relevant world historical context used to explain change

E          Evidence for both changes and continuities

A         Analysis (of process of CCOT)


T.R.A.C.E. Compare and Contrast (C&C)


T         Thesis (must be acceptable according to the prompt)

R         Reasons for similarities and differences through analysis

A         Addresses all parts of the question

C          Comparisons (relevant and direct)

E          Evidence (used to support thesis)












































How APPARTS can help create a POV statement for DBQ


  • This document is most likely biased because as an Italian, he probably doesn’t understand the local German Customs.
  • This man is probably saying this in an attempt to win favor with the working class since both the nobility and the workers share the bourgeoisie as a common enemy.
  • Sasson probably felt this way because as a soldier, he had witnessed the carnage of the First World War firsthand
  • This document is likely propaganda and therefore unreliable since it was created by the German News Service.
Place and Time
  • The brutality of the Germans is most likely exaggerated due to that fact that this document was produced by the French in the midst of World War II.
  • Because the Kaiser gave this speech at the beginning of the war, he is most likely trying to rally his people around the nation in order to get people to enlist in the military
  • Because this document was produced in 1928, ten years after World War I, it is most likely unbiased since the wartime fervor would had long since died down.
  • Because this document was produced in 1928, the author may be somewhat cautious of violence due to the growing influence of fascism in Europe at the time
Prior Knowledge
  • His irritation with the festivities of St. Andrew’s Day may come from the fact that he is a Lutheran and Lutherans don’t believe in the veneration of Saints.
  • Charles V may have felt this way because he had a very difficult time holding his large empire together and did not need impoverished souls hurting his image.
  • Rousseau probably had such a callous attitude toward child-rearing because he had several illegitimate children which he just dropped off in foundling homes without a second thought.
  • Since this was likely aimed at the illiterate masses, the spirituality of the church was probably exaggerated to gain more converts.
  • Since most educated people at the time were men, Pizan likely tempers her argument to appeal to men’s common attitudes toward women at the time.
  • Since Colin Powell was trying to convince the United Nations of the wisdom of attacking Iraq, some facts may have been distorted in order to better make his case.
  • Because Galileo was defending himself to the inquisition, he most likely muted his real attitudes toward science in this speech in an effort to save his life.
The Main Idea The Main Idea will be used to help you categorize docs and discuss them appropriately in each paragraph.
Significance The significance will be incorporated into each paragraph.   Demonstrating unique, insightful critical analysis will help you earn more points and reach a higher level of attainment.



24 Key Terms to use in Source Analysis


Provenance: The origin of a source (when, where, by whom/for whom was it made.


Content: The information inside a source. What does it tell us? What does it leave out?


Subjective: A source which persuades: a personal viewpoint, maybe biased and opinionated.


Objective: A source which informs: it is balanced and factual rather than biased and opinionated.


Incomplete: Every source provides an incomplete picture. It is only one piece of the jigsaw.


Purpose: Why a source was produced. Was it to inform (reliable), or persuade (unreliable)?


Primary: A source produced at the time and/or by someone who was there. Often subjective.


Secondary: A source after the event or by someone who was not there. Often objective.


Context: The situation in which the source was produced. Help in deciding reliability.


Biased: A witness who is one-sided, who takes sides, writing to persuade, not to inform.


Orthodox: the established interpretation of a historical event: e.g. Hitler planned WWII.


Revisionist: A fresh (revised) interpretation of historical event: e.g. Hitler did not plan WWII.


Anachronistic: An approach which mistakenly interprets past societies using present-day values.


Hindsight: “Hindsight Bias” treats historical events as inevitable; a deterministic approach.


Sacrosanct: A point of view which is held to be proven and so above debate or criticism.


Inconoclastic: A revisionist approach that challenges orthodox, sacrosanct interpretations.


Deterministic: An approach stressing that individuals have little influence on the outcome of events.


Nihilistic: An approach arguing that random events determine history.


Intentionalist: A nihilistic approach; argues that individuals determine historical events.


Structuralist: A deterministic approach; claims institutional structures determine history.


Empathetical: An approach, which understands the past in its own terms, not anachronistically.


Symbiotic: A “chicken and egg” relationship between two factors, which clearly influence each other.


Whiggish: A simplistic interpretation of history; sees events as moving towards a brighter future.


Paradigm: a fundamental assumption about the past upon which all other interpretations are built.