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DBQ/FRQ Essay Writing Guide How the Exam Works. The APUSH exam consists of two parts. Part 1 is the 80 question multiple choice section in which you have 55 minutes to complete. Part 2 consists of writing a total of three essays. The first essay is called the document-based question (DBQ) because you are given 9-13 documents which should be used to answer the essay prompt. The next two essays are the free-response questions (FRQ). You will be given four essay promts to read. Two prompts are from pre-civil war era and the other two are from post-civil war