Anticipation Guide

Item description: 

An Anticipation Guide is used to activate prior knowledge by having students agree or disagree with a set of topic-related statements. After the lesson has been taught, students then respond to the same statements. By comparing and contrasting their before and after responses they can identify specific areas where understanding has shifted. The point is to develop an accurate picture of students’ prior knowledge before the unit, and then to be able to come back after the unit and clarify any remaining misunderstandings.

For a few examples, see:


  1. Develop a series of statements related to the major topic of the lesson. This could be common misconceptions, or ideas from the Core standards for this grade level (and the previous grade). For non-fiction such as with science or history, choose interesting or compelling facts which students will read. Include some just as they are presented in the text; for others, reverse the truth of the statement to make it more controversial or more appealing to common sense.
  2. Prior to the lesson/reading, ask students to thoughtfully (and honestly) complete the Anticipation Guide worksheet. Be sure to explain your expectations and provide clear instructions.
  3. After students have completed their responses, you might want to choose a few at random and select a few key statements to read out loud to create a mental anticipatory set (An anticipatory set engages all the students' attention and enables the students’ minds to focus on the learning objective and make positive transfer). Remind them to keep these statements in mind while they experience the lesson.
  4. When the lesson or unit ends, ask students to revisit their Anticipation Guide worksheets. This time, however, have them explain the reasoning behind their responses.
  5. The teacher can either collect the worksheets or review them discussion-style with the class to address any remaining misconceptions or gaps in understanding.


During this activity, the teacher should monitor students' participation and review their responses. It would be difficult to assign grades, and may not be appropriate to the purpose of the activity, which is to bring to light any misconceptions before the lesson and to evaluate the specific concepts students have or have not mastered after the unit.

  • The teacher may choose to provide extra credit for those who showed a lot of changes from pre- to post.
  • Alternatively, the teacher may give a graded assignment for students to reflect on what they learned and write a brief summary.

Classroom Management

The teacher should review a few examples before assigning an Anticipation Guide for the first time.

Interdisciplinary Connections

English – When reading Hamlet, offer a series of morality based statements to acquaint the students with their own opinion and a major theme in the book.

Foreign Language – Before starting a culture study, offer a series of statements pertaining to geography, food, music, customs, etc.

History – Before studying the Civil Rights movement, offer a mixture of history and morality based statements.

Science – Before introducing the topic of dinosaurs, offer a series of statements about their discovery, physical appearance, etc.


Preparation time: 45 / Delivery time: 15

Microsoft Office document icon Anticipation Guide36.5 KB